Born Vitaly Dmitriyevich Buterin, known as Vitalik, is the creator and co-founder of Ethereum, the second most popular cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin. He is the youngest cryptocurrency billionaire.
Buterin was born on the 31st of January 1994 in Koloma, Russia, a city about 100km from Moscow, and when he was six, his family moved to Canada. He became intensely interested in mathematics, programming and economics in grade three when he was put into a gifted and talented class.
Upon initially hearing about Bitcoin, at the age of 17, from his father, a computer scientist, Buterin was uninterested. He dismissed the idea of cryptocurrency, thinking that it would fail. However, a second look led him to believe there might be more to digital currencies than he initially thought.
After high school, Buterin started attending the University of Waterloo in 2011. Whilst at university, he founded Bitcoin Magazine, which covered bitcoin and digital currencies. He honed his writing skills and was soon gaining recognition for his knowledge and skill in explaining cryptocurrencies. It was during this time that he became an expert in digital currency. Writing so much about Bitcoin, Buterin gained an intricate knowledge of Bitcoin’s restrictions and began obsessively devising a digital currency that would have greater capabilities than Bitcoin. This came to fruition in 2013 when he published a white paper proposing the concept of Ethereum. He dropped out of university at the end of 2013.
The publishing of the whitepaper was a considerable success for Buterin, with no significant changes to the Ethereum concept arising from critical readers. It also led to him getting a $100,000 scholarship from the Thiel Fellowship, created by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, which allowed him to focus on Ethereum full-time. He started going to every bitcoin and cryptocurrency conference he could, where he fell in love with the cryptocurrency community, which became a big motivator for him to create something that could contribute to and further the cryptocurrency movement.
Ethereum continued to be a concept until after a Bitcoin conference in Miami, where the co-founders all met in person for the first time. Buterin used the stage to generate hype for Ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, and ways that Ethereum will completely change the digital currency world. The platform went live in 2015 and quickly became popular. Nowadays, all the co-founders aside from Buterin have either left or been fired from Ethereum, with many of them currently working on their own cryptocurrencies using similar ideas to Ethereum. Recently, Buterin admitted on Twitter that one of his biggest regrets is having the eight co-founders and how he chose them quickly and non-discriminately.
Ethereum and cryptocurrency, in general, is continuing to gain value and rise in popularity; as this happens, Buterin net worth and influence globally increases too. He is one of the brightest minds currently alive and will probably go down in history as a technological revolutionary. As a final fun fact, when asked if he preferred cats or dogs, he answered monkeys.