Vitalik Buterin

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Vitalik Buterin
Occupation Creator, Foundation Council Member; Head Writer
Employer Ethereum
Twitter @VitalikButerin
LinkedIn Profile

Vitalik Buterin is the founder of Ethereum[1] and co-founder and head writer of Bitcoin Magazine.[2]


Buterin was born in Moscow in 1994. He moved to Toronto with his father in 1999. He demonstrated exceptional ability and interest in mathematics from very early childhood; according to his father, at age four his favorite toy was Microsoft Excel.[3]

Cryptocurrency Career[edit]

Buterin told the cryptocurrency news website Decrypt in 2020 that one of the key moments in his life that inspired him to build decentralized computer networks was an update to the online multiplayer fantasy role-playing video game "World of Warcraft" in 2009. According to Buterin, the update significantly nullified the effectiveness of an offensive spell called "Siphon Life," which upset young Buterin (who was about 15 at the time) so much that he decided to quit the game. Buterin said of this event, "on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring."[4]

Buterin was introduced to bitcoin by his father in 2011. He took an interest in it, and began writing articles for a website at a rate of 5 bitcoins per post (at the time this amounted to about $4). In 2011, he began corresponding with a Romanian programmer named Mihai Alisie. The two decided to found Bitcoin Magazine in 2011. Buterin also wrote most of the articles.[5] Since inception, the magazine has developed a readership of 1.5 million.[6]

Buterin dropped out of the University of Waterloo after a year to begin career in cryptocurrency journalism and software development.[7][8]

He briefly lived in a cryptoanarchist commune in Barcelona with a dozen other programmers. He spent several years travelling, working on various projects with several teams before developing Ethereum.[9][10]

In 2018, Buterin was supposedly offered a position at Google. According to Buterin, the compensation offered was akin to that of an intern; by that time, he had a net worth of $500 million. Buterin said the offer was sent to him by a recruiter who was likely not familiar with him because he fit Google's algorithms for strong candidates for software development.[11][12]


Buterin decided to begin a new project building on the concept of bitcoin. He proposed his idea to a group of coders he was working with at the time, but did not gain the support he'd hoped for.[13] He decided to undertake the project by himself, and in 2014, he released a white paper describing a decentralized software platform that could be used to create new applications based off a blockchain, called Ethereum. This platform would be "in many way simpler" than bitcoin's architecture, and would work off of a similar proof-of-work function, [14]

Buterin worked with a small group of programmers, including Joseph Lubin - Ethereum's current CEO - who also provided some of its initial funding. In 2014 they formed ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based tech startup, to develop Ethereum.[15][16]

Clashes with other cryptocurrency figures[edit]

Buterin has, on numerous occasions, criticized other figures in the cryptocurrency and blockchain fields. Buterin accused Craig Wright, chief scientist of nChain and the self-proclaimed true Satoshi Nakamoto, of misrepresenting the technological capabilities of many projects due to ignorance, dishonesty, or both. Buterin even went so far as to publicly call him a "fraud" at the Deconomy conference in Seoul, South Korea in 2018. Buterin has repeated this claim numerous times over Twitter.[17][18]

Buterin has also had conflicts with Justin Sun, founder of TRON. In April 2018, Sun posted a diagram arguing that TRON is a superior protocol to Ethereum. Buterin responded over Twitter by accusing Sun of misrepresenting the capabilities of his platform, as well as referencing allegations of plagiarism made against Sun and TRON earlier that year.[19][20][21] Buterin made similar jabs at Sun in September while defending a controversial remark he made about the blockchain industry's potential market growth, insinuating that Sun is apt to encourage unrealistic amounts of hype for cryptocurrency products.[22]

Cryptocurrency luminary[edit]

Buterin has been a particularly outspoken figure in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, often stating his opinions in a blunt and unapologetic manner - not just about individuals, such as Craig Wright, but specific practices and technology as well. In July 2018, said that he hopes "centralized exchanges go burn in hell as much as possible" in an interview with TechCrunch.[23][24]

In September 2018, Buterin was interviewed by Bloomberg. During the interview, he stated that he believes the blockchain space "is getting to the point where there's a ceiling in sight," and that the technology has become too well-known for opportunities such as bitcoin's spike in December 2017: "If you talk to the average educated person at this point, they probably have heard of blockchain at least once. There isn't an opportunity for yet another 1,000 times growth in anything in the space anymore."[25]

In November 2018, Buterin was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Basel in Switzerland. The university's Faculty of Business and Economics awarded the doctorate in recognition of his work in blockchain development. In the announcement, the university's business faculty said that Buterin is an "exceptionally creative and innovative thinker who has played a decisive role in shaping the digital revolution of our time." The faculty also noted Buterin's interest in researching game theory, economic incentives and governance as additional reasons for awarding the honorary degree.[26]

"Instant billionaire?"[edit]

On October 10, 2018, New York University professor of economics Nouriel Roubini accused Buterin and Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin of instigating "the criminal pre-mining sale/scam that created Ether" over Twitter. He said the two "stole 75 percent of the Ether supply and became instant 'billionaires' of fake wealth." Buterin responded over Twitter by saying he "never personally held more than 0.9 percent of all ETH" in circulation, and that his net worth "never came close to $1 billion." He also said that there are "no criminal laws against pre-mining." [27] A story published by Forbes in February 2018 estimated Buterin's net worth at $400-$500 million.[28]

Deconomy 2019 debate with Nouriel Roubini[edit]

In April 2019, Buterin participated in a debate with Roubini regarding the value of digital assets. Some highlights from the debate include Buterin saying that he believes current blockchain networks are too centralized, that true decentralization is still possible and worth pursuing, and that the rise of cryptocurrencies had changed broad social expectations regarding the privacy of individual users of payment systems.[29]


  1. About the Ethereum Foundation. Ethereum.
  2. Vitalik Buterin. Bitcoin Magazine.
  3. Can This 22-year-old Coder Out-Bitcoin Bitcoin?. Fortune.
  4. Happy 5th Birthday Ethereum: this is your life. Decrypt.
  5. Can This 22-year-old Coder Out-Bitcoin Bitcoin?. Fortune.
  6. Vitalik Buterin. Bitcoin Magazine.
  8. Vitalik Buterin. Linkedin.
  10. Can This 22-year-old Coder Out-Bitcoin Bitcoin?. Fortune.
  11. Vitalik Buterin Net Worth: Google Wanted To Hire Ethereum Founder For Intern's Salary. International Business Times.
  12. Vitalik Buterin, the multi-millionaire founder of Ethereum, says that Google tried to hire him on an intern's salary. Business Insider.
  13. Can This 22-year-old Coder Out-Bitcoin Bitcoin?. Fortune.
  14. Ethereum: The Ultimate Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform. Web Archive.
  15. How Dubai's Blockchain Advisor ConsenSys Is Creating A Community For The Emerging Tech. Web Archive.
  16. Can This 22-year-old Coder Out-Bitcoin Bitcoin?. Fortune.
  17. Vitalik Buterin About BCH Fork “Bitcoin SV:” A ‘Fitting Succesor’ Of Bitconnect (BCC). Ethereum World News.
  18. Hating On Craig 'Satoshi' Wright Has United Crypto. Coindesk.
  19. Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Forks and Fights. Bitcoin News.
  20. TRON Plagiarized its Whitepaper, Community Claims. CCN.
  21. TRON’s Whitepaper Appears to Plagiarize from Filecoin and IFPS. CCN.
  22. Vitalik Buterin Clarifies ‘1000x’ Market Growth Comment, Mocks Backlash and Justin Sun. CCN.
  23. Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Blasts Centralized Crypto Exchanges: ‘I Hope They Burn in Hell’. Cointelegraph.
  24. Vitalik Buterin: "I Definitely Hope Centralized Exchanges Go Burn In Hell". YouTube.
  25. Another Crypto Boom Impossible Says Vitalik Buterin. BitGuru.
  26. Vitalik Buterin Awarded Honorary Doctorate from University of Basel. Coindesk.
  27. Ether Creator Claims He's No Billionaire in Twitter Crypto Fight. Bloomberg.
  28. The Richest People In Cryptocurrency. Forbes.
  29. Vitalik takes on Roubini in Seoul to defend crypto’s offer of anonymity and social change. The Block.
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