Home Crypto All You Need to Know About Vitalik Buterin: The King of Ethereum

All You Need to Know About Vitalik Buterin: The King of Ethereum

12 min read

The easiest way to describe Ethereum is as a decentralised blockchain system based on smart contracts. Most modern DeFi and NFT projects are created and run upon it. Like most decentralised networks, Ethereum has a native token called Ether (ETH). After Bitcoin, Ether is the second-biggest digital currency in terms of capitalisation on the cryptocurrency market.

Since its official launch in 2015, Ethereum has seriously rocked our world. The blockchain powerhouse has proven its ability to host a range of decentralised applications and currencies. The impending Ethereum 2.0 upgrade is set to iron out scalability issues the network was suffering from due to its popularity. 

After Bitcoin, the network’s native token of Ether (ETH) is the world’s second most powerful cryptocurrency regarding market cap. Like Bitcoin, it has made many people wealthy (if invested in correctly through safe-to-use platforms and brokers.

In mainstream life, we’ve also seen the Ethereum blockchain being used in various sectors and industries, from car manufacturing and international tourism to the aviation industry and defence sectors, says Blockchain.com. It’s a network that is here to stay, that’s for sure. But what about the man behind it?

Many people have heard of the name Ethereum, but there are many who have yet to learn about the young man who was the brainchild of the project. His name is Vitalik Buterin, and today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about him.

From a genius to the world’s youngest crypto billionaire and a fashion icon to a renowned philanthropist, he’s been labelled many things. Still, there are an equal number of fascinating facts that you probably don’t know. They’ll no doubt leave you fascinated. Now, let’s begin!

The Boy from Kolomna: Who Is Vitalik Dmitrievich Buterin?

As fascinating as the backstory behind this crypto icon is, it’s also a huge paradox. Buterin was a school dropout who became a billionaire and a man considered a genius in the world of decentralised technology. As a self-confessed geek, his opposition to centralised technology was said to have been born in the popular video game World of Warcraft, where Vitalik claimed to have been dissatisfied by the level of injustice within the gameplay.

But to get to the real story of Vitalik, let’s start at the very beginning. The future genius who would go on to create the Ethereum network was born on January 31st, 1994, in the historical city of Kolomna (more details) in Russia’s Moscow Oblast. However, the 1990s were a tough time to live in post-Soviet Russia, so Vitalik’s family decided to seek a better life abroad and moved to Canada.

Interestingly, Vitalik’s interest in technology didn’t come from nowhere. His father, Dmitry Buterin, worked as a programmer and a computer scientist in Soviet Russia. Naturally, Vitalik picked up a deep interest in IT from an early age, which would later develop into a fascination with the decentralised world of crypto technology.

From a young age, Vitalik also displayed immensely competent skills in the field of mathematics and was way ahead of all of his classmates. In addition, he showed a deep interest in the sectors of economics and programming. It was becoming clear that, even from a young age, this was a kid who was standing out from everyone around him and was going on to do great things. 

However, like many people in history who have displayed such high levels of intelligence, Vitalik wasn’t the most sociable of kids. Eventually, it was decided that the best option to meet Vitalik’s intelligence level demanded to send him to a specialised study program for gifted children.

The World of Warcraft Incident

Whilst some people assume that Vitalik, and other geniuses like him, simply devoted all of their time to education to get where they are, it’s not true. Like all of us, Vitalik enjoyed simple human pleasures throughout life. As mentioned earlier, he was a big fan of the World of Warcraft (WOW) role-playing game. This was a game that would play a fundamental role in his journey to becoming the crypto billionaire he is today.

In 2010, the Blizzard Games company behind World of Warcraft announced a global update to the popular game that would affect all players. Now, World of Warcraft is a game players invest countless hours into to build up their character. This update led to all of the work, achievements earned, and skills obtained by Buterin being wiped out. The aftermath made Buterin heavily resent centralised technology and large corporations for their actions. 

The University Years

As soon as he finished school, Vitalik was accepted at the University of Waterloo in Canada and began taking part in various advanced courses centred around computer science. It was here that his fascination with the relatively new sector of cryptocurrencies began to develop. Interestingly enough, Vitalik was one of the many crypto sceptics when he first heard out about it from others, but the following quote from him (and one of my favourites) perfectly sums it up:

“If you have heard about something twice, then you should spend time on it and study a little more.”

In the initial years after the release of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency community was a very niche group of enthusiasts drawn from all walks of life worldwide. Buterin was one of the people who got on board in the early stages and became heavily active in various online cryptocurrency forums, where he honed his education on digital assets and began to develop online networks and make friends with similar people.

Spurred on by his dissatisfaction with centralised systems that dominated the world, the idea of decentralised cryptocurrencies outside the realm of corporate control naturally drew Vitalik in like a moth to the flame. At the same time, many crypto enthusiasts online could see that this was a guy with immense skills in mathematics and a seriously enthusiastic interest in the technology. It didn’t take long for him to be offered a job that would pay him in Bitcoins. Vitalik naturally accepted.

The job saw Vitalik working as a copywriter covering various topics in the cryptocurrency space. He was paid 5 BTC per article and educated himself even further with each article. Shortly after, Vitalik became one of the co-founders of Bitcoin Magazine. Published in 2012, it would become the first significant publication on cryptocurrency topics.

The Drop Out

Vitalik’s newfound passion and job in cryptocurrency started consuming much of his time. He would inevitably be forced to choose between his university studies and his love for cryptocurrency. 

He boldly decided to drop out of his highly sought-after place at the University of Waterloo and devoted himself full-time to the world of cryptocurrency. A brave decision indeed because cryptocurrency at that time was still very experimental and laughed off by many people as a joke that wouldn’t go anywhere. How wrong they were. 

But after putting in so much time, effort, and sheer devotion to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Vitalik knew how they worked better than most people and was already identifying flaws in the current systems. He was already laying the blueprints for his own cryptocurrency project. Its name was Ethereum.

Of course, Vitalik wasn’t a one-person band. A close-knit team of crypto enthusiasts with a similar mindset to Vitalik was working on the Ethereum project. To muster the funds needed to develop the project, the developer team announced an initial coin offering (ICO) of the network’s native token of Ether. The ICO was successful and bagged them more than $18 million.

In fact, the crowdfunding drive of the Ethereum project was so well-done that it took its place among the top 3 most successful campaigns worldwide. As a bonus, Vitalik Buterin was given a $100,000 grant from a project that strives to sustain young entrepreneurs called the Peter Theil Foundation.

Vitalik was still young, and many people were concerned about how a man of his age would handle so much money at once. But Vitalik kept his word and handled the money wisely. Towards the end of 2013, he created the initial white paper for Ethereum and launched the foundation version of the network. The following year, in 2014, Vitalik was awarded the World Technology Award in recognition of his role in the Ethereum project. 

The World’s Youngest Crypto Billionaire

In the beginning, the mission of the Ethereum network was to create a solid foundation that could introduce the world of blockchain technology to an unlimited number of projects, sectors, and businesses. Various startups heavily supported it from the very beginning. But as it began to surge in popularity and become a technological powerhouse, it was later joined by various major companies like Microsoft. Of course, crypto trading as a whole became very popular, which is why apart from giants such as Microsoft, crypto platforms have increased in number drastically. It is as easy as registering at a scam-free platform such as BitiCodes to try trading Ethereum. If you are interested you can find more info on their website.

Incredibly, Vitalik was recognised as the world’s youngest cryptocurrency billionaire on earth in 2021. Because, in that year, the value of Ether skyrocketed from a couple of hundred dollars to more than $3,000. Naturally, this didn’t just boost the market cap of Ether. It also made Vitalik a very wealthy man.

Just a quick word of advice! Ethereum has surged in value and made many people very wealthy. Still, it’s important to be aware of the volatility of cryptocurrencies before investing and know that prices can rise and fall in seconds. Also, when investing in cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, it’s crucial to use a well-liked and popular platform to stay clear of scam platforms and illicit brokers that sadly plague the crypto environment. 

By May 2021, Vitalik’s assets were now worth more than $1 billion and were still growing. But, in an incident that defined the volatility of the crypto space, the cryptocurrency market dipped drastically, and so did Ether. The reason was a tweet by Elon Musk that announced he would not accept BTC from people hoping to buy Tesla cars with crypto.

The Philanthropist

So, Vitalik’s title of a crypto billionaire is never permanent and relies on the market itself. Whether he’s currently riding high or now, Vitalik is a passionate philanthropist and is heavily involved in various charity projects worldwide. Here are some examples:

  • During the brutal impact of the coronavirus upon India at the pandemic’s peak, Vitalik gifted the country $1 billion to battle the virus that was claiming so many lives. 
  • Vitalik also gave a $54 million donation to Givewell, an organisation that allocates funds to charities worldwide. 
  • Most recently, following the outbreak of the War in Ukraine, Vitalik used Cryptomixer to donate funds to the Ukrainian people. 

All of this philanthropy has meant that Buterin has become quite a high-profile figure. In 2017, he was in the top ten people featured in Fortune Magazine’s list of the “40 most influential young people under 40”. Not long after, he was also featured in Forbes Magazine’s similar list. One of his greatest achievements came more recently when, in 2022, he was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine. This issue of TIME was a fitting one to feature Vitalik, as it was initially released as a non-fungible token (NFT) version.

However, this popularity and the various features in major magazines have also led to a negative impact. Vitalik is now a high-profile figure, meaning he is subject to many false rumours too. For example, a rumour on 4chan in 2017 claimed that Vitalik had been killed in a car crash. 

It didn’t take long for the mainstream press (and even Wikipedia) to spread fake news. As Vitalik is not active on any social networks, he couldn’t stifle the rumours quickly enough. The impact of the fake news was damaging to the Ethereum network and caused the price of Ether to plummet by around 15%.

Vitalik was forced to make a Twitter account to combat the rumours of his death in the car crash. However, he did so in style, posting a selfie that showed the last transaction on the Ethereum network along with the block number.

The Future of Buterin and Ethereum

Ethereum is used by everyone from banks and car manufacturers to global airlines and video game producers. As the surge of companies seeking to get on board grew larger, the network began to need help with the amount of traffic, but Vitalik was already working on a solution.

Ethereum has a well-designed roadmap that is crafted to allow the project to scale and become the dominant leader of all blockchains worldwide. Through the process of implementing Ethereum 2.0, the network currently undergoes regularly scheduled updates that work to improve the services offered, overhaul the architecture of the network, and solve any commonly faced issues amongst users.

From its humble beginnings, Vitalik and the Ethereum development team have taken the network to incredible levels, and it’s now classed as one of the largest and most powerful in the entire cryptocurrency market.

Recently, Ethereum underwent a process known as The Merge. This was an important event that saw the network transition from the Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanism to the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm and laid a key foundation for the future of the network.

Speaking of the future, who knows how high Ethereum will go and where its journey will take it? But one thing is for sure, its journey from the beginning to now has been nothing short of fascinating. But the story of its founder, Vitalik Buterin, is even more interesting. 

Last Updated: February 3, 2023

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