Who is Vitalik Buterin?

05 Oct, 2018
by David Robb
Who is Vitalik Buterin?

Vitalik Buterin is the founder of Ethereum (ETH), currently Bitcoin's main rival as the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap. Despite his youth, he is arguably the most influential figure in crypto, driven by a combination of programming expertise and techno-utopian idealism.

Vitalik was born in Russia in 1994, and his parents moved to Canada when he was six years old. He was a gifted child, particularly skilled in mathematics, computer programming, and economics. He became interested in Bitcoin around 2011, and started contributing to a blog before co-founding Bitcoin Magazine. This was the first print publication dedicated to the subject of cryptocurrencies.

A couple of years later, Vitalik drew on his knowledge of Bitcoin to propose a new project addressing some of the project's shortcomings. He believed that the protocol needed a new scripting language that would facilitate the development of applications, and published a whitepaper on this subject in 2013.

After failing to get support from other Bitcoin contributors for his idea, Vitalik decided to create an entirely new platform. With the help of Canadian businessman Joseph Lubin, the Ethereum network was eventually rolled out in 2014. Shortly before this, Vitalik dropped out of the University of Waterloo and received a Thiel Fellowship worth $100,000.

Ethereum combines decentralized ledger technology with software development functionality, and rapidly grew to be one of the most popular crypto projects. It contributed greatly to the ICO boom, as many of the token sales for new blockchain startups are based on the Ethereum network's ERC-20 token.

Read more: What is Ethereum?

Vitalik is a vocal presence in the crypto space, communicating through social media as well as public talks and conferences. He tends to act as a technically-minded voice of reason, and speaks honestly about issues facing his own project, as well as other cryptos. 

Read more: Explosive crypto growth has 'likely' come to an end, Vitalik Buterin says

As interest in cryptocurrencies grows and capital floods in from various different sources, Vitalik remains singularly focused on the ideology of decentralization, and is strongly opposed to any developments that he sees as holding up or reversing progress in this direction.

Read more: Binance CEO 'CZ' responds to Vitalik's 'burn in hell' comments

The last few years in particular have seen the Canadian-Russian prodigy adopt a more confrontational tone towards any corrupting influences in the crypto space. Centralized crypto exchanges have been a target of his ire, as have a few individuals that he feels are profiting from the boom without contributing anything of value or being worthy of their status.

Read more: Co-founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin gets into twitter spat with Kevin Pham

With increasing concerns over the Ethereum blockchain's scalability, and the ETH price decreasing, many observers are questioning whether Ethereum will hold on to its spot as the second-biggest crypto after Bitcoin. Whatever happens to his project, Vitalik's legacy has already been secured at a remarkably young age, and he should continue to provide essential guidance to the crypto community for many years to come.

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