Vitalik Buterin

Why Trust Techopedia

Who is Vitalik Buterin?

Vitalik Buterin is a Russian-Canadian computer programmer and the mastermind behind ethereum (ETH), co-founding the blockchain in early 2014.


He is a prominent figure within the crypto industry and laid the foundations for the largest and most popular smart contract platform in 2013 when he was just 19 years old. 

Prior to launching Ethereum, Buterin was involved in the bitcoin (BTC) community. He was a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine, one of the oldest news and print magazine publishers covering Bitcoin and digital currencies, and also wrote articles for the website. 

Buterin’s Early Life and Education

Born on January 31, 1994, in Kolomna, Moscow Oblast, Russia, Buterin’s life took a turn when his parents made the decision to immigrate to Canada in search of better employment opportunities, according to his page. At the time, Buterin was only six years old. 

Buterin’s exceptional abilities became apparent early in his educational journey. During his third year of primary school, he was placed in a program for gifted students, which set him apart from his peers.

With a natural affinity for math and programming, a keen interest in economics, and an astonishing ability to mentally calculate three-digit numbers twice as fast as his peers, Buterin stood out as a prodigious intellect. 

However, his exceptional abilities also made him somewhat of an outsider in social settings and extracurricular activities. People often regarded him as a math genius, a label that further emphasized his unique capabilities.

Buterin then continued his educational journey at the Abelard School, a private high school in Toronto where he spent four years. It was at Abelard that his perception of education underwent a profound shift, helping him develop a thirst for knowledge.

During this period, Buterin also found solace in the virtual world of gaming. From 2007 to 2010, he immersed himself in the popular game World of Warcraft. 

However, when the game’s developer, Blizzard, made changes that negatively impacted his favorite character’s abilities, Buterin realized the flaws of centralized systems. As a result, he made the decision to quit World of Warcraft, while recognizing the importance of decentralization and the need for better alternatives.

After high school, Buterin attended the University of Waterloo. There, he took advanced courses and was a research assistant for cryptographer Ian Goldberg, who co-created Off-the-Record Messaging and was the former board of directors chairman of the Tor Project. In 2012, Buterin won a bronze medal in the International Olympiad in Informatics in Italy.

Buterin’s Involvement in the Crypto Industry

Buterin initially learned about Bitcoin from his father, Dimitry Buterin, at the age of 17. However, his involvement in the crypto industry began after he joined a publication called Bitcoin Weekly in 2011, where he agreed to write articles in exchange for BTC.

The owner, who met Buterin on a bitcoin forum, offered five BTC (about $3.50 at the time) in compensation per article. Buterin wrote for the site until it shut down due to insufficient revenue.

In September 2011, Mihai Alisie, a Romanian technology & media entrepreneur and blockchain enthusiast, reached out to Buterin about starting a new print publication called Bitcoin Magazine. He accepted a position as the first co-founder and a leading writer in the publication. 

While working for Bitcoin Magazine, Buterin landed a job at Ripple. However, their proposed employment fell apart after Ripple was unable to support a U.S. visa for him. The crypto veteran also held a position on the editorial board of Ledger, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to digital assets, in 2016.

Buterin’s Launch of Ethereum 

In late 2013, Buterin published the Ethereum whitepaper. Titled “A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform,” the whitepaper outlined his proposal for a blockchain-based platform that would enable the creation of decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts. 

The primary idea was to create a new blockchain that would support more complex applications beyond simple transactions. While bitcoin was revolutionary in its ability to facilitate peer-to-peer payments, its scripting language was limited in functionality

To pitch his idea to the bitcoin community and garner support for Ethereum, Buterin embarked on a series of presentations and engagements at various Bitcoin conferences and meetups. He highlighted the limitations of Bitcoin’s scripting language and emphasized the need for a more expressive and programmable platform. 

Buterin’s deep understanding of blockchain technology and his ability to articulate the potential benefits of Ethereum resonated with many in the Bitcoin community who shared his vision.

In early 2014, Buterin co-founded Ethereum with a group of like-minded individuals, including Gavin Wood, Anthony Di Iorio, Charles Hoskinson, and Joseph Lubin. They launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the development of ethereum, offering ETH tokens in exchange for contributions. 

The campaign proved to be a remarkable success, raising over $18 million worth of bitcoin. With the funds raised, Buterin and the Ethereum team began developing the platform, building upon the ideas and concepts outlined in the whitepaper. 

They focused on creating a blockchain infrastructure that would support the execution of smart contracts and decentralized applications. Ethereum introduced a new programming language called Solidity, specifically designed for writing smart contracts on the platform.

In July 2015, Ethereum went live with the release of the Frontier network, marking the initial implementation of the platform. Since then, Ethereum has evolved through several upgrades, including the Metropolis, Constantinople, Istanbul hard forks, and most importantly the Merge, each enhancing the platform’s capabilities and scalability.

Buterin’s Net Worth

In 2021, Buterin became the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of just 27 when the price of ETH crossed above $3,000. At the time, Buterin’s public ether address held about 333,500 ETH, worth $1.029 billion. 

Per the latest estimates, the Ethereum mastermind is worth around $400 million. However, it is currently hard to calculate his net worth as Buterin has been sending his crypto funds to centralized exchanges, with his main wallet only holding $118,000 worth of crypto assets. 


Related Questions

Related Terms

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Cryptocurrency journalist
Ruholamin Haqshanas
Cryptocurrency journalist

Ruholamin is a crypto and financial journalist with over three years of experience. Apart from Techopedia, he has been featured in major news outlets, including Cryptonews,, 24/7 Wall St, The Tokenist, Business2Community, and has also worked with some prominent crypto and DeFi projects.  He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechatronics. Ruholamin enjoys reading about tech developments, writing, and nature-watching