A Profile of Vitalik Buterin – The Unassuming Mastermind Behind Ethereum
Buterin’s journey has been a long one, one that has seen him make his way from Russia to Canada more than a decade and a half ago, a move that would one day put him at the helm of the decentralized finance (DeFi) revolution that has swept the planet since early 2020.
Born in Kolomna, a quaint little Russian town with a population of less than 150,000 people, Buterin and his family made their way to Canada when young Vitalik was just six old, primarily as a way of finding a more financially stable life. In this regard, at a very early age, it became fairly evident that young Vitalik was not your average child, with the tech savant being recognized as being “extremely gifted” by his local school authorities when he was just in the third grade.
All through his pre-teens, it was quite obvious to almost all of Buterin’s peers and teachers that he was destined for greatness. In this regard, by the time he turned 17 (circa 2011), he had already co-founded and become the head writer for a prominent crypto publication Bitcoin Magazine.
It was during this period of his life that stories of his digital prowess — particularly related to programming — started to really come to the forefront. To put things into perspective as to how mythical young Vitalik’s reputation had become around that time, Ripple’s Jed McCaleb made him an offer to join his firm, all before he had barely just crossed the tender age of 18.
After a year or so of independent development activities, things started to turn around for Buterin, with the final breakthrough coming when he authored and published the official whitepaper for Ethereum, a decentralized, open-source blockchain designed to utilize smart contracts.
Upon its release, the project was met with somewhat of a lukewarm response, however within just months of going live, people started to realize the true potential of what Ethereum has to offer, something that was made evident by the fact that the development of the project was entirely crowdfunded. Not only that, by the time 2015 rolled around, the network’s popularity had already risen to mammoth levels — with around 72 million coins already having been premined by then.
Also, around the latter half of the previous decade, Buterin’s varied interests started to come to the surface, with the tech savant showcasing his affinity for things such as philosophy, competitive chess over the last few years. Not only that, he also started collaborating with other like-minded devs including self-proclaimed crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson, working on projects such as DarkWallet as well as cryptocurrency marketplace Egora.
Back in 2017, as Buterin’s notoriety started to spread, he recognized the impact he could have on this birth-country of Russia, especially in terms of its social and economic development. In this regard, he met with President Vladimir Putin on 2 June 2017, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). It was during this meeting that the President was quoted as saying that he saw real value in establishing ties with young pioneers like Vitalik.
Another interesting fact worth noting regarding Buterin is his holistic outlook towards reforming the global financial system. In this regard, he recently initiated a series of discussions with well-renowned economist Glen Weyl about the creation of a new wealth tax framework. The two even came together to pen down a manifesto called ‘Liberation Through Radical Decentralization, so as to bring to attention their combined work on cryptocurrencies as well as capitalistic solutions for eradicating various social problems affecting humanity.
Last but not least, Buterin recently collaborated with Harvard’s Zoe Hitzig, with the two authoring a paper regarding the creation of a system that allows for the optimal positional distribution of public goods using a unique variant of the ‘quadratic voting’ model.