Vitalik Buterin is one of the most influential personalities today in the crypto world. The 27-year old genius of one of the co-founders of Ethereum, one of the leading blockchain networks next to Bitcoin. He is also the world’s youngest crypto billionaire. In a report by Forbes, Buterin’s main ether address holds 333,521 ETH or $1.439B with ETH (ethereum) current price at $4,316.

But aside from founding the Ethereum blockchain, the young genius has also a passion for writing. In 2011, he co-founded Bitcoin Magazine with Mihai Alisie and became the head writer while attending his university.

With uncertainties surrounding cryptocurrencies particularly of BTC (bitcoin) in its early stage, what made him decide to enter the world of blockchain when he could have pursued another career in other major industries?

The Young Buterin Story

The young genius who has an IQ of 257 created Ethereum when he was only 19. You might be wondering what was life before entering the crypto space? Let’s take a closer look at the life of the young Vitalik Buterin.

Buterin was born in Kolomna, Russia, and stayed there until the age of six. His family later moved to Canada to seek greener pasture. His father was Dmitry Buterin, a computer scientist who has been engaged with software startups and B2B companies. He was the first person to introduce him to BTC (bitcoin) in 2011. His mother was Natalia Ameline (née Chistyakova).

After finishing high school, he attended the University of Waterloo and took up advanced courses. He also became a research assistant to cryptographer Ian Goldberg. In 2012, he won a bronze medal in the International Olympiad in Informatics. In 2013, he visited developers who share his interest in code from other countries.

Buterin on Founding Ethereum

Although he initially dismissed the idea of Bitcoin when it was first introduced to him, his curiosity on decentralized payment systems later served as his motivation in entering the blockchain space. In an interview with CNBC, he stated:

“Back then, I had a much more cartoon mentality. I saw everything to do with either government regulation or corporate control as just being plain evil. And I assumed that people in those institutions were kind of like Mr. Burns [on “The Simpsons”], sitting behind their desks saying, ‘Excellent. How can I screw a thousand people over this time.’”

His involvement with bitcoin was initially fuelled by his desire to adjust the balance of power between “the big guy” and “the little guy.” He further stated:

“Because ultimately power is a zero-sum game. And if you talk about empowering the little guy, as much as you want to couch it in flowery terminology that makes it sound fluffy and good, you are necessarily disempowering the big guy. And personally, I say screw the big guy. They have enough money already.”

He recognized the potential of bitcoin but he also realized that it has too limited functionality. To illustrate this, he compared bitcoin to a pocket calculator and the creation of a new blockchain to a smartphone.

“A pocket calculator does one thing and it does one thing well, but really, people want to do all these other things. And if you have a smartphone, then you have a pocket calculator as an app. So basically, taking that same kind of idea of increasing the power of the system by making it more general purpose and applying it to blockchains.”

In November 2013, he published a white paper about Ethereum. He dropped out of college in 2014 after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Thiel Fellowship, a scholarship created by venture capitalist Peter Thiel and went to work full-time on Ethereum.

Currently, there are 244 DeFi projects in the crypto space and 221 were built on the Ethereum network. Although scalability, interoperability, and bloating gas fees remain a major concern on the network, it remains to be a favorite niche for developers. 

Life Outside Ethereum

Aside from being busy with developing Ethereum, Buterin was also engaged in charity works. During the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, he donated $1 billion worth of the cryptocurrencies Shiba Inu and Ether to charity institutions in India which include India Covid-Crypto Relief Fund, Methuselah Foundation, and GiveWell. Indeed, a genius with a gold heart.

On August 16, in an announcement by the Dogecoin Foundation, Buterin was named as one of its board members along with Jared Birchall, Elon Musk’s adviser.

He has always been admired by the people he worked with and they are more than willing to contribute to Buterin’s colorful, often hilarious hagiography. Michael Perklin, the head of security at the Canadian blockchain consulting firm Ledger Labs was a close acquaintance of Buterin shared a brief story of him.

“I saw him on the commuter train and he was wearing mismatched Hello Kitty socks. And this is the person building the infrastructure that is challenging the power structures of the most important financial institutions out there.”

A brilliant mind with a gold heart could best describe Buterin. What could be his biggest obstacle in achieving his goal given his status in the crypto space today? His influence has even spawned in the real world.