Sunday, December 4, 2022

Gregory Maxwell and Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Square Off on Reddit

Gregory Maxwell and Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Square Off on Reddit

Former Blockstream CTO Gregory Maxwell and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin just got into a verbal tussle on Reddit over the beginnings of Ethereum. Maxwell accused Buterin of an “outright lie,” while Buterin offered a firm rebuttal. 

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Maxwell: “Your Little Scam”

Gregory Maxwell just took a swipe at Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin on Reddit, calling it an “outright lie” that Buterin built Ethereum separately from Bitcoin because Bitcoin’s devs had stalled his work for too long.

The incident began as Maxwell — under his Reddit handle /u/nullc — responded to an article from Channels that alleged “Vitalik Buterin tried to develop Ethereum on top of Bitcoin, but was stalled because the developers made it hard to build on top of Bitcoin.”

Such a statement in itself is materially incorrect, as Buterin has clarified in the past he created Ethereum separately out of fears the underlying Bitcoin protocol would be altered from beneath his feet, as it were.

But that didn’t stop Maxwell from firing off. He responded to Channels‘ statement on the Bitcoin Cash-focused subreddit r/btc as if Buterin had pronounced the false suggestion himself:

/u/vbuterin this is an outright lie; which you are presumably making to wave away your motivations for a premine now valued in billions of dollars.

If it were true, you’d be able to point to specifically public communication where you attempted any such thing. You cannot because you simply didn’t do it– not that it would have made any sense in any case.

You can run your little scam however you like, but if you tell lies like this you will get called out.”

Strong words, to be sure. A strong response was coming, too.

Buterin Fires Back

Vitalik Buterin, an active Reddit user himself, didn’t sit back and bite his tongue after Maxwell threw down the gauntlet.

Instead, he explained how the catalyst for Ethereum wasn’t that he was being “stalled,” but rather that he was afraid his own work would be made moot by diverging development paths:

“I recommend not reading sensationalist headlines and clicking through to my actual words:

‘The very earliest versions of ETH protocol were a counterparty-style metacoin on top of primecoin. Not Bitcoin because the OP_RETURN wars were happening at the time and given what certain core developers were saying at the time, I was scared that protocol rules would change under me (eg. by banning certain ways to encode data in txs) to make it harder, and I did not want to build on a base protocol whose development team would be at war with me,’ said Buterin.

It is true that I never actually attempted to make ethereum a meta-protocol on top of bitcoin, unless you count my few weeks working on the Mastercoin protocol and back in October as part of the “making ethereum” process. The OP_RETURN drama pre-emptively pushed me toward building ethereum on Primecoin instead of Bitcoin. The primecoin plan was scrapped because we ended up getting more attention and resources than we expected, and so we could build our own base layer and add upgrades like ASIC-resistant PoW and state trees.

And by the way, the ‘I made a separate blockchain so I could have a premine’ bit is itself very much fake news. I don’t remember whether or not Mastercoin had a premine, or the distribution was 100% sold to initial buyers, but Mastercoin is a separate currency despite being on top of Bitcoin, so it’s totally possible to make a Mastercoin-like thing with a premine.”

After Maxwell’s initial salvo and Buterin’s rebuttal here, the fireworks ended between the two. Each apparently felt content with their remarks.


Though this incident surely won’t be the last time these two cryptocurrency heavyweights butt heads.

Maxwell himself has been no stranger to being embroiled in controversy as of late, and he’s certainly never been afraid to make his thoughts bluntly known — for better or for worse.

What’s your opinion? Are you with Maxwell or Buterin on this one? Let us know where you stand in the comments below. 

Images via Reddit, Wikipedia

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