Crypto Profile Series: #1 — Vitalik Buterin

EARLY LIFE

Born in Russia in 1994, his family emigrated to Canada when he was 6 in search of better opportunities, he found these opportunities as he progressed through school and was singled out as a talented and gifted individual. In 2011 his attention turned to Bitcoin and he eventually co-founded the Bitcoin Magazine and was the lead writer. He also wrote for other publications in return for Bitcoin. In order to pursue his vision of Ethereum, he dropped out of Univesity to focus on crypto full time.

ETHEREUM

Buterin’s whitepaper for Ethereum sparked some interest and he was soon approached by people who wanted to work with him, thus the Ethereum core team was formed with Charles Hoskinson, Joe Lubin, and others. They made the decision that in order to fund the project they’d carry out an ICO (Initial Coin Offering). The sale raised 31,000 Bitcoin, $18 million at the time, approx $124 million today, with this money they were able to focus on the development of Ethereum and create the non-profit Ethereum foundation. You can read more about Ethereum here.

CONTROVERSY

Buterin has not shied away from working on projects in Russia and China, despite their authoritarian leaders. In 2017, Buterin met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also gave a speech to thousands of people. He has had continued involvement with projects in China even though the Chinese government have not always been welcoming to cryptocurrencies and in particular ICOs. However, Buterin appears to do this whilst keeping the integrity of crypto in mind and the decentalisation and freedom that comes with it. Furthermore, much of the crypto development is happening in Russia and Asia so it is important for Buterin to stay connected.

PROOF OF STAKE

Perhaps the biggest debate in crypto at the moment is how should new blocks be validated and added to the blockchain. Advocates of PoW (Proof of Work), the system at play in Bitcoin, and currently Ethereum, argue it is more secure and argue that PoS (Proof of Stake) is not yet feasible and potentially less secure. Buterin has been a big advocate of switching to PoS and hopes to move Ethereum onto this system when possible. He argues it would save energy as there is no mining involved and will help reduce fees in the system. Critics of Buterin have argued that this shift is not feasible and could reduce the overall security of the network as people have less incentive to directly participate in the network through mining and running nodes.

SUMMARY

At only 23 years old, Buterin proves that age is no barrier in becoming one of the most important people in the Crypto space. He has asserted himself as a key figure and got Ethereum to be the closest runner to Bitcoin over the last few years, a big achievement in itself. As the Ethereum network grows he has admitted that he wants to have increasingly little to do with the core development and hand this over to the community, which is so strong in Ethereum. Buterin remains an eccentric but incredibly important figure in the crypto space.