As of October 2023, Ethereum’s native token, ETH, is ranked second, with a market cap of $192.8 billion. While Ethereum is less popular than Bitcoin, there is an argument that it plays a bigger role in the development of the crypto industry than its main rival. That’s because it allows Web3 developers to build dApps (decentralized Applications) and (DeFi) Decentralized Finance protocols.
As of this writing, Ethereum-based DeFi platforms account for roughly 90% of the TVL (Total Value Locked) in the decentralized finance space.
But who founded Ethereum? 29-year-old Vitalik Buterin is the brain behind the blockchain. The Canadian-Russian writer and programmer has been influential since his crypto project debuted about eight years ago. Keep reading this article to learn more about Buterin.
Early Interest in Programming Led to Crypto
Although Russian-born, Vitalik Buterin lived in Canada during his early years. He learned about programming from his father, who is a computer scientist. Buterin once said that the experience he got from playing the World of Warcraft game fueled his desire to create a decentralized project. Buterin argued that he did not like how the developers behind the game constantly made changes.
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The young programmer continued honing his programming skills when he joined high school and college. While in high school, Buterin got an opportunity to connect with several influential crypto players, including Ian Goldberg, the cryptographer who contributed to the development of the Tor Project.
Buterin first heard of Bitcoin in early 2012. He then began writing articles about the crypto asset and founded Bitcoin Magazine, one of the biggest crypto-focused news websites.
Buterin’s College Life and the Origin of Ethereum
While in college, Buterin connected with Goldberg again. He helped the cryptographer to build a crypto project he was working on. Buterin then realized that his involvement in crypto was taking up much of his time, so he quit college to travel across the world with the aim of connecting with Web3 developers.
Buterin said the majority of the developers he interacted with wanted to build projects for specific purposes while he was focused on creating a broad and versatile crypto project. To realize this dream, Buterin decided to pursue a programming language called Turing Complete.
A few months later, he wrote the first white paper for his crypto project titled Ethereum. Luckily, prominent venture capitalist Peter Thiel awarded Buterin a $100,000 grant to help him build the project. While creating the project, the programmer’s vision expanded, adding more concepts like decentralized autonomous organizations, decentralized apps, and smart contracts.
In January 2014, Buterin formally announced his project to the crypto community. He then conducted an ICO (Initial Coin Offering), raising more than $8.5 million in BTC. Buterin used a portion of the funds to create the Ethereum Foundation, intended to propel his project’s growth. Ethereum went live in late June 2015.
Activities Within the Ethereum Ecosystem Since Launch
Ethereum is the second-largest blockchain, only behind Bitcoin. Being the host of hundreds of decentralized apps and DeFi protocols, the network processes transactions worth billions on a daily basis. Moreover, Ethereum hosts thousands of altcoins and non-fungible tokens.
In September 2022, the blockchain abandoned the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism for Proof-of-Stake following increased concerns over environmental pollution. Today, instead of miners, Ethereum transactions are approved by validators.
Buterin continues to play a key active role in ensuring Ethereum achieves its objectives. He has been vocal about the dangers that the centralized banking system poses while touting blockchain technology as the solution to problems faced in traditional finance.
One of the main goals that Buterin seeks to achieve through his project is a universal basic income program, which will see people across the world receive monthly upkeep to meet their basic needs.
Finally, along with being a significant crypto player, Buterin is a well-known philanthropist. In 2021, he channeled over $1 billion to a Covid relief fund in India. He also donated millions to Ukrainian NGOs after Russia’s 2022 invasion.
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