Vitalik Buterin is a Russian-Canadian programmer and writer born in Moscow in 1994. He is most famous for co-founding Bitcoin Magazine in 2012 and the Ethereum blockchain project in 2015, which has grown to become the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

Buterin was introduced to Bitcoin in 2011 by his father, and his first contribution to the space was when he co-created Bitcoin Magazine in 2011 with Mihai Alisie. The website launched in 2012. Buterin contributed to the magazine as a senior writer until 2014. That year, he accepted a Thiel Fellowship and turned his full attention to developing Ethereum.

In 2015, Vitalik Buterin, Gavin Wood, Joseph Lubin and others launched the Ethereum blockchain, a platform on which users can create decentralized applications. Buterin sought to provide new use cases for blockchain technology, moving beyond the financial applications of Bitcoin. Ethereum works as a blockchain-based operating system where anyone can create and run smart contracts and decentralized applications

In 2019, Buterin (who is often referred to as simply “Vitalik”) proposed a significant update called Ethereum 2.0, which includes plans to decrease the blockchain’s transaction throughput traffic, decrease network costs, and increase rewards for the node validators. Ethereum developers expect it will take several years to complete the upgrade. In November 2020, Buterin poured $1.4 million worth of ether – Ethereum’s native token – into the initial contract that will eventually guide the new Ethereum 2.0 platform. Phase 0, the first of several phases, went live on Dec. 1, 2020.

Buterin is a philanthropist. In 2017, he donated $763,970 worth of ether to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, which aims to ensure artificial intelligence technologies have a positive impact on humanity. In 2018, he donated $2.4 million worth of ether to the SENSE Research Foundation, which develops solutions for health issues associated with aging. Later that year, he donated $1 million to charity for Ugandan Refugees.In 2018, Buterin was granted an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Basel for his innovative work in the blockchain space and his contribution to the ecosystem.

By John Metais and Alyssa Hertig