Who is: Vitalik Buterin?

Vitalik Buterin is the creator and inventor of Ethereum – the world’s most famous blockchain behind Bitcoin. Here’s some things to know about him. 

It started with Bitcoin

Born in Russia in 1994, he moved with his parents to Canada at the age of six. He was soon put into a class for gifted children due to his advanced skills in mathematics. He first learned about Bitcoin in 2011 at the age of 17, though at first, he wasn’t convinced it was anything special. 

He started to spend time on Bitcoin forums and answered ads looking for writers to write about the cryptocurrency. From there, his Bitcoin writing took off, and he co-founded Bitcoin Magazine – an online website and print magazine. In 2013, as a Bitcoin Magazine representative, he attended a Bitcoin conference in San Jose, California. 

It was at this conference where he realized how passionate the crypto community was. Vitalik dropped out of The University of Waterloo in Ontario, where he was taking five advanced classes, and traveled to Israel, Amsterdam, and San Francisco, connecting with like-minded g people who were trying to grow Bitcoin’s capabilities. He returned to Canada armed with the knowledge that led him to publish Ethereum’s white paper later that year.

What is Ethereum? 

Ethereum is a Blockchain with a built-in programming language. The platform can be used for a multitude of applications. It is designed to run smart contracts and decentralized applications. It is highly scalable – something which Bitcoin is not. The cryptocurrency Ether is built on its native Ethereum blockchain.

When Vitalik talks about the problems he was trying to solve with Bitcoin, he mentions functionality. He compares Bitcoin and Ethereum to a pocket calculator and a smartphone. 

“The pocket calculator does one thing and it does it really well, but really, people want it to do all these other things. On a smartphone, you have a pocket calculator as an app, a web browser as an app and pretty much everything else as an app. So it’s about taking that idea of increasing the power of the system by making it more general purpose and applying it to blockchains.” 

In July 2015, Ethereum went live. Vitalik wanted to test it himself first, so it wasn’t until 2017 that Ethereum’s benefits were shared with the general public. When they were, its price rose 13000%. Vitalik felt the general public would get over-excited about Ethereum. The cost would be over-valued, which is what happened. It was sold as much as $1400 at first, but by September 2018, the price decreased to around $200.

Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of Money | AI Podcast #80 with Lex Fridman

Fun Facts About Vitalik Buterin

  • In 2017, a rumor that Vitalik had died in a car crash spread from the forum website 4Chan. The scandal caused a $4 billion drop in value for Ether, highlighting Vitalik’s connection to the blockchain and the cryptocurrency world in general.
  • In 2018, an HR person from Google reached out to him via email, looking to hire him as an intern, not realizing who he was. 
  • In 2017, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss blockchain technology opportunities for Russia. The president apparently supported his idea.
  • Many people put Vitalik in the same category as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk – technological geniuses who have revolutionized and modernized society. Vitalik is regarded as a pioneer in the crypto world.
  • He’s fluent in Chinese Mandarin – he learned the language in a few months by using an app on his phone. 

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