Vitalik Buterin is a programmer and writer who created Ethereum. He is a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine who has been involved in the Bitcoin community since 2011 and has contributed to Bitcoin both as a writer and the developer of a fork of bitcoinjs-lib, pybitcointools, and multisig.info. He also acts as the main developer of the Ethereum project, a Blockchain platform that acts as a world computer for decentralized applications. Its cryptocurrency, Ether, has seen its value skyrocket in 2017 (Ethereum's market cap is nearly $70 billion).
He was born on January 31, 1994, in Kolomna, Moscow Oblast, Russia to Dmitry Buterin, a computer scientist, and Natalia Ameline. At the age of six, his parents emigrated to Canada in search of better employment opportunities.
How did Buterin Create Ethereum?
Being involved in the cryptocurrency world since around 2011, Buterin started envisioning a platform that would go beyond the financial applications and technical limitations of Bitcoin. The result is the open-source Blockchain application he named Ethereum.
Ethereum was first formally described in a document published by Buterin in 2013. In this white paper, Buterin argued that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for application development. But when he failed to gain agreement in the Bitcoin community, he proposed the development of a new computing platform that would be an open-source, public, Blockchain-based alternative, which would support cryptocurrency services and enable developers to build and deploy decentralized applications running on a global and autonomous peer-to-peer network.
After the paper’s initial impact, other important developers joined the project. Co-founder Dr. Gavin Wood wrote the Ethereum yellow paper, which outlines the specifications for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) that handles the ledger and runs smart contracts. Co-founder Joseph Lubin also founded ConsenSys, a startup that focuses on building decentralized apps (DApps).
Buterin and the other founders launched a crowdfunding campaign in July 2014 where participants purchased Ether tokens that would function as shares in the project. (See our What is a DAO? article). This effort yielded more than $18m, then the most successful crowd-sale to date. The smart contract platform has evolved immensely in today’s Blockchain development ecosystem and even drawing the attention of tech giants like IBM and Microsoft. The funds from Ethereum's initial $18m sale and project development are now managed by the Ethereum Foundation, a non-profit entity based in Switzerland.
About the Ethereum Project, Buterin has said: "I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work in such an interesting and interdisciplinary area of industry, where I have the chance to interact with cryptographers, mathematicians, and economists prominent in their fields, to help build software and tools that already affect tens of thousands of people around the world, and to work on advanced problems in computer science, economics and philosophy every week." ("Students". Abelard School. Retrieved 17 December 2017).
What is Buterin Up to Now?
Buterin was a student at the University of Waterloo but dropped out in 2014 when he received the Thiel Fellowship in the amount of $100,000 and went to work on Ethereum full-time. Besides leading the Ethereum project development efforts, Buterin has also contributed as a developer in other open source software projects. Some early examples are Kryptokit and BTCKeySplit. He also contributed to DarkWallet by Cody Wilson, Bitcoin Python libraries, and the cryptocurrency marketplace site Egora.
Buterin has recently been included in Forbes’ 2018 30 under 30 list at #4 and he is ranked #10 in Fortune’s 40 under 40 list.