Vitalik Buterin Talks Crypto Hype, Leadership in New Interview
Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum gave an interview where he spoke about a wide range of topics, including the state of cryptocurrency markets, the ICO explosion in 2017, his relationship with the Russian government, and what it’s like leading the second-largest cryptocurrency.
Altcoin Projects “That Never Had a Soul”
In an interview with the Financial Times, Buterin expressed his opinion on crypto projects that he views as being overhyped, saying, “There’s projects that never had a soul, that are just like, ra-ra, price go up. Lambo, vrromm, buybuybuy now!” He went so far as to single out one project, Tron, offering an unpublished criticism of it.
He stated his negative view of the initial coin offering (ICO) trend that gained popularity in 2017:
“We’ve created a culture where some totally random project raising something like $8m is like, oh yeah that’s peanuts. You know you’re in a bubble!”
No small irony then that it is Buterin’s own project, Ethereum, that is the primary platform used for raising funds via ICOs.
Further, one could question the valuation of Ethereum’s network itself, with its tokens having a market cap of $58 billion (down from around $120 billion in January) and there being relatively few functioning applications. However, Ethereum doesn’t look so bad when compared to certain blockchain projects, some of which have raised tens or hundreds of millions of dollars from the public and haven’t released any working product at all (or simply scammed their users).
Though Buterin criticizes the get-rich-quick mentality that exists in some parts of the cryptocurrency community, he himself has become wealthy enough to buy a fleet of Lambos. He told the FT that he is now worth between $10 and $20 million USD, although he was never a self-declared dedicated hodler. He said he sold parts of his crypto assets multiple times over the years and his net worth now would be three to four times larger had he held on longer.
Became a Leader Because “Ethereum Got Big”
As co-founder and lead developer of Ethereum, Buterin has had to assume a public leadership role that he has not always appeared comfortable with. He told the FT that he hadn’t set out to be where he is, and it only happened because “Ethereum got big.” In December 2017, he threatened to leave the Ethereum project if it lost sight of the goal of using technology to improve society.
If all that we accomplish is lambo memes and immature puns about "sharting", then I WILL leave.
Though I still have a lot of hope that the community can steer in the right direction.
— Vitalik "Not giving away ETH" Buterin (@VitalikButerin) December 27, 2017
He also identified a number of other downsides to his public profile, telling the FT that, “Last year it got to the point where [the fame] got more annoying than good,” and conveyed how he had been followed around an airport by someone trying to talk to him.
Buterin, who holds dual Canadian-Russian citizenship, met Vladimir Putin in 2017 and is advising the Russian government on a cryptoRuble project which he said could bring “crypto-y benefits for the people.” However, he told the FT that he’s “not sure how much of that is actually getting through.”
Whatever the negative effects of Buterin’s fame, it would be folly to argue that cryptocurrencies have not been beneficial to him. He was named on the Bloomberg 50 List in 2017 and he received a Thiel Fellowship, which allowed him to drop out of university and avoid taking exams. He has also had the chance to become a philanthropist, contributing part of a $1 million donation to charity GiveDirectly to help refugees in Uganda, and is also giving $2.4 million to the anti-aging SENS Research Foundation.
Shout out in the comments section below. What’s your take on Buterin’s remarks?
Images via Trading View, Flickr user TechCrunch