Vitalik Buterin created a ‘fellowship of the ring’ to build ethereum. But the founders have a history of feuds and are now competing for crypto dominance.

Vitalik Buterin ethereum founder
Vitalik Buterin brought together seven other people to help him build ethereum.

  • Vitalik Buterin has likened the eight ethereum cofounders to the “fellowship of the ring.”
  • Yet, they have a history of feuds and in some cases are directly competing against each other.
  • Insider takes a look at who the eight ethereum founders are and what they’re up to now.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Vitalik Buterin

vitalik Buterin ethereum
Vitalik Buterin dreamed up ethereum in 2013.

Vitalik Buterin has compared the eight founders of the ethereum blockchain to JRR Tolkien’s close-knit “fellowship of the ring”, according to the Financial Times.

Yet, the story of the group is one marked by feuds and competition, with two members splintering off to create ethereum rivals cardano and polkadot. Buterin recently said choosing seven other founders “nondiscriminately” to build the network was his biggest regret.

The 27-year-old is one of the most famous figures in crypto, having come up with the idea for ethereum – a cryptocurrency network on which decentralized applications can be built – in 2013. He was just 19 at the time and 21 when ethereum launched in 2015.

Before that, Buterin had become a fan of bitcoin and crypto technology after being introduced to it by his dad, and went on to cofound Bitcoin Magazine. Buterin still works on the network, driving research and providing new ideas.

Charles Hoskinson

Ethereum cofounder and Cardano creator, Charles Hoskinson
Ethereum cofounder and Cardano creator, Charles Hoskinson

Maths whizz Charles Hoskinson quickly became an influential member of the ethereum startup that emerged in 2013. Yet, his time on the project came to an end within months, in part because of his prickly relationship with other founders. Hoskinson wanted ethereum to be a for-profit company, but Buterin wanted it to be a nonprofit platform.

Accounts vary about what happened: Hoskinson says he left, others say Butern fired him. Either way, the two are known to not particularly like each other and occasionally still take digs at the other’s methods.

After leaving ethereum, Hoskinson founded the cardano blockchain platform whose ada cryptocurrency has recently soared to become the third-biggest. Cardano is known as an “ETH killer” as it also lets users build their own projects and is a competitor with ethereum.

Gavin Wood

Gavin Wood polkadot parity ethereum
Gavin Wood went on to found polkadot.

English computer scientist Gavin Wood became an important ethereum coder after joining the group in 2014. In fact, he created the first ethereum test network and made a number of other key programming contributions.

Wood left ethereum in 2016, and went on to found polkadot, another ETH killer crypto network focused on trying to link together different blockchains. Polkadot’s dot cryptocurrency has risen more than 500% in the last year as excitement has built around the project.

The polkadot founder has been known to take swipes at ethereum. For example, in 2020 he contrasted its “slow” transaction times with polkadot’s quicker speeds.

Joe Lubin

Joseph Lubin Joe Lubin ethereum consensys
Joe Lubin went on to found ConsenSys.

Although many of the ethereum cofounders were in their 20s, Lubin was older and more experienced when he came on board in 2013. The Princeton-educated computer scientist worked for Goldman Sachs before becoming disillusioned with traditional finance during the financial crisis.

Lubin founded the for-profit ethereum development company ConsenSys, which has launched a number of different projects on the network. One example is the widely used “wallet” MetaMask. ConsenSys raised $65 million from JPMorgan, UBS and others this year.

Anthony Di Iorio

AnthonyDiIorio
Anthony Di Iorio recently said he’s quitting the crypto world.

Anthony Di Iorio was an entrepreneur and bitcoin enthusiast before Buterin asked him to come on board to launch ethereum. Yet, he was reportedly also not so keen on ethereum non-profit direction and took a backseat. He went on to found Decentral, which launched the Jaxx crypto wallet.

Di Iorio hit the headlines earlier this year when he said he was quitting the crypto world and selling his company, partly because of concerns about his personal safety. He said another key reason was to focus on philanthropy.

Mihai Alisie

Mihai Alisie crypto ethereum
Mihai Alisie is now working on a crypto project called Akasha.

Mihai Alisie has known Buterin since 2011 when they founded Bitcoin Magazine, one of the first publications solely dedicated to crypto. Alisie was important in setting up the Swiss company that gave ethereum a legal and financial base in its early days.

He was vice president of the Ethereum Foundation – the non-profit organization which supports the network – until 2015. He stepped back to found Akasha, a crypto project looking to harness the technology for social purposes.

Jeffrey Wilcke

Jeffrey Wilcke ethereum crypto
Jeffrey Wilcke is now a video-game designer.

Computer programmer Jeffrey Wilke was a key player in the early days of ethereum, writing a version of the platform in the Google Go language. That turned into Go Ethereum, or Geth.

He has since left to form a games company called Grid Games with his brother. Wilcke has said he felt his energy was better spent elsewhere, “away from the drama” of ethereum.

Amir Chetrit

Amir Chetrit is the most mysterious and publicity shy of the group, but was working on a crypto startup called Colored Coins – which Buterin also worked on – when he joined ethereum.

Yet, according to journalist Matthew Leising, who wrote a book about ethereum called “Out of the Ether,” other members thought Chetrit wasn’t pulling his weight. Leising wrote that this led to Buterin kicking him out of the project with Hoskinson.

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Solana’s network crashed this week, but developers say the DeFi altcoin is still on track to succeed as an alternative to ethereum

In this photo illustration a Solana logo seen displayed on a smartphone with binary code on a laptop screen
In this photo illustration a Solana logo seen displayed on a smartphone with binary code on a laptop screen

  • Solana has attracted developers as a faster and cheaper blockchain than Ethereum.
  • The founder of one major Solana-based project said he’s not discouraged by the network’s outage earlier this week.
  • Insider also spoke with a partner at a crypto investment fund, who sees a “multi blockchain world” where solana, ethereum, and other networks coexist.
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Michael Wagner has large ambitions for his blockchain-based multiplayer game, Star Atlas. He sees his beta-stage product where players explore outer space eventually morphing into a “metaverse,” and told Insider he wants the user base to expand to “the entire global population.”

A game that can support that kind of user base needs a web-scale, layer one blockchain protocol that’s scalable and low-cost, Wagner said. That’s why he and his team chose to build Star Atlas on solana in August 2020, joining about 20 other projects that had been built on the blockchain.

A year later, Wagner says there’s over 500 projects built on the network, and solana’s SOL token has soared to over $150, boasting a year-to-date gain of nearly 8,300%.

The gain has been in part driven by developers like Wagner, who were looking for a network that could process transactions faster and cheaper than ethereum, the blockchain where most decentralized projects currently exist.

While solana was processing 2,000 transactions per second on Friday, ethereum was only processing about 14, and while each transaction costs about $5 on ethereum, solana boasts a transaction fee of less than a penny.

Developer interest and activity on solana grew so much over the last few months that the network’s transaction load peaked on Sept 14, resulting in an outage of over 17 hours. The company said ”intermittent instability” had disrupted some services on Tuesday, after solana’s transaction load peaked at 400,000 transactions per second.

The network is back up and running now, and Wagner said he wasn’t discouraged by the outage, but rather impressed with the network’s “expediency of resolution.”

“Solana was capable of handling greater than 400,000 transactions per second prior to the failure, which is being rapidly resolved, ” Wagner said. “This demonstrates the true potential of a web scalable blockchain, and furthers my resolve in building Star Atlas with solana as the foundational protocol.”

In the wake of the outage, investors may be wondering where solana will fit into the ecosystem of layer-one blockchains, especially as ethereum stands as the dominant platform for decentralized applications.

Seth Ginns, managing partner at investment firm CoinFund, sees a “multi-blockchain world,” where developers examine the trade-offs of each protocol and choose to build their project on whichever blockchain best provides what they need.

Traditional financial applications that need fast transaction speeds are well suited for Solana, Ginns told Insider. Meanwhile, applications that need strong censorship resistance or a more decentralized protocol may be better suited on ethereum, he said.

Ethereum will soon undergo a massive upgrade known as “Ethereum 2.0,” which will culminate in the blockchain pivoting to a proof-of-stake concept, among other technical updates. That could change how it stacks up against solana, Ginns said, but before that upgrade, developers are flocking to what works for them.

“Both from a utilization perspective and an investor awareness perspective we’re seeing solana really come into one of the top positions among base layers,” Ginns said. “That’s likely to remain the case, even as ethereum goes through upgrades.”

However he noted that solana is still a fraction of ethereum’s network value, and the token is unlikely to unseat the second largest cryptocurrency any time soon.

“We have a saying, ‘you never bet against ethereum,'” Ginns said. “It would be surprising to me if you ever hear me completely writing off ethereum. It just has such a vibrant developer community.”

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Ether should be 55% lower and is facing tough competition from solana and other blockchains, JPMorgan strategist says

Gold coins with the Ethereum logo stacked in front of a U.S. 1 dollar bill.
The cryptocurrency ether runs on the ethereum network.

  • Ether’s fair value is around $1,500 based on measures of network activity, a JPMorgan strategist has said.
  • That’s roughly 55% lower than Friday’s price of around $3,470 for ethereum’s token.
  • Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said ethereum is facing growing smart-contract competition from other blockchains.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ether’s fair value is around $1,500 based on measures of network activity, a JPMorgan global market strategist has said. That’s roughly 55% lower than Friday’s price of around $3,470 for ethereum’s token.

Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou told Insider that the ethereum network is less attractive than the current price of ether suggests, as it’s facing growing competition from blockchains such as solana and cardano.

Panigirtzoglou, who has become JPMorgan’s crypto expert, said he and his team have looked at various measures of activity on the ethereum network to try to work out a fair value for the token.

JPMorgan reckons that a larger base of miners and users implies greater adoption and makes the network more attractive for product developers.

“We look at the hashrate and the number of unique addresses to try to understand the value for ethereum. We’re struggling to go above $1,500,” he said.

“There is a question mark here. The current price is expressing an exponential increase in usage and traffic that might not materialise.”

Ether – the cryptocurrency that runs on the ethereum blockchain – has climbed more than 850% in price against the dollar over the last year during a widespread crypto boom.

Read more: The founder of a gold-backed cryptocurrency breaks down why now is the perfect time for investors to buy stablecoins – and explains his prediction that inflation could become ‘even worse than the 1970s’

Yet Panigirtzoglou told Insider recently that ethereum’s key selling point – that developers can build decentralized apps and smart contracts upon it – “can easily be replicated by other networks.”

“It’s not unique,” he said. “You’re already seeing competition from binance, competition from solana. And there are going to be more in the future.” Panigirtzoglou also cited cardano, which has recently upgraded to allow the creation of smart contracts.

However, Jack O’Holleran, CEO at ethereum development company Skale Labs, told Insider that ethereum is likely to remain the dominant decentralized finance blockchain, especially given upcoming network changes that should help it become larger and faster.

“The vast majority of smart contract developers are building in the ethereum ecosystem,” O’Holleran said. “Despite major partnerships being announced on other chains, we still see the absolute majority of (developers) being pulled into the ethereum vortex.”

Decentralized finance, or DeFi, uses crypto technology to create financial products that don’t require centralized authorities. For example, they could enable trading without clearing houses or “smart contracts” that automatically pay out interest on loans.

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A single bitcoin transaction creates as much waste as throwing out two iPhones, economists find

bitcoin mining
Bitcoin mining is hugely energy intensive.

  • Each bitcoin transaction creates at least 272g of e-waste, the weight of two iPhone 12 minis, a new paper says.
  • This is because “bitcoin miners cycle through a growing amount of short-lived hardware,” the authors said.
  • They found that the average lifespan of bitcoin mining devices is just 1.29 years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One bitcoin transaction creates the same amount of electronic waste as throwing away two iPhones, economists have found, because of the short lifespan of “mining” computers.

The bitcoin network annually generates 30.7 metric kilotons of waste as mining equipment is thrown away, according to a study by economists Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll.

There were 112.5 million transactions in 2020, so that “equates to at least 272 g of e-waste per bitcoin transaction,” they said in a paper published this week.

That is equivalent in weight to two iPhone 12 minis, as The Guardian pointed out, or to 0.5 of an iPad, according to Digiconomist.

Critics have long focused on bitcoin’s enormous electricity consumption, but De Vries and Stoll said people have “thus far ignored that bitcoin miners cycle through a growing amount of short-lived hardware.”

Bitcoin mining is the process whereby computers solve complex puzzles to verify transactions and are rewarded with new coins. It is very energy intensive, and most miners use specialist computer chips known as ASICs.

The computers are competing against each other, meaning miners are driven to use the newest and most powerful devices. And because mining computers often only serve one purpose, they’re quickly rendered obsolete.

“The lifespan of bitcoin mining devices remains limited to just 1.29 years,” De Vries and Stoll wrote.

Read more: An ex-Goldman exec turned crypto trading head explains why he thinks bitcoin can still reach $70,000 by the end of the year – and shares ‘a safe play’ that’s off the beaten track

They said the 30.7 kilotons of waste bitcoin produces each year is comparable to the amount of small IT and telecommunication equipment waste produced by a country like the Netherlands.

The ethereum network is trying to tackle the problem of waste from crypto mining by changing to a so-called “proof of stake” network. In that system, users put forward a stake to gain the right to verify transactions, rather than use vast amounts of computing power.

However, De Vries and Stoll, from the Dutch central bank and MIT respectively, noted that the traditional financial system also generates huge amounts of waste, from servers in bank branches to old ATMs.

“The six billion payment cards that are produced annually – with a lifetime of three to four years – illustrate the large scale,” they said in the paper, published in the Resources, Conservation & Recycling journal.

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A crypto hedge fund manager was sentenced to over 7 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme

Bitcoin
Bitcoin

A former cryptocurrency hedge fund manager who pleaded guilty to securities fraud after prosecutors said he ran a Ponzi scheme was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York said Wednesday.

From 2017 to 2020, 24-year old Stefan Qin stole and dissipated nearly all of the assets of his $90 million flagship hedge fund, and attempted to steal millions from a secondary fund to pay back investors, according to the Department of Justice.

Qin pled guilty to one count of securities fraud in federal court in February. Now the trader, who was the subject of a Wall Street Journal profile for his cryptocurrency arbitrage skills in 2018, is facing a prison sentence.

According to the US attorney’s office, Qin lied about returns on his $90 million fund and took money from its accounts to fund personal expenses, including a penthouse apartment in New York City. The office also said over 100 investors in Qin’s fund were scammed.

“Qin’s brazen and wide-ranging scheme left his beleaguered investors in the lurch for over $54 million, and he has now been handed the appropriately lengthy sentence of over seven years in federal prison,” US Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, federal sentencing guidelines called for nearly 20 years in prison, but US District Judge Valerie Caproni said those recommendations were draconian. Qin’s lawyers had asked for a two-year sentence, but the judge landed on a sentence that would dissuade others from committing similar white collar crimes, the Journal said.

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Coinbase applies to offer trading in crypto derivatives and futures on the exchange

Coinbase
Coinbase

Coinbase, the largest publicly listed crypto exchange, said on Wednesday it plans to expand its product offering to include trading in futures and derivatives.

The company said in a tweet it had submitted an application with the National Futures Association (NFA), a US regulatory body that focuses on derivatives.

Coinbase is joining CME Group, as well as crypto exchanges like Binance, OKEx, FTX and Kraken, in offering derivatives.

“This is the next step to broaden our offerings and offer futures and derivatives trading on our platforms. Goal: Further grow the crypto economy,” Coinbase said in a tweet.

The company, which listed on the US stock exchange in February, has been making strides in growing its business.

Earlier this week, Coinbase said it planned to raise up to $2 billion through a bond sale and would use the proceeds to fund future takeovers, develop new technologies and products.

The NFA website showed Coinbase Financial Markets had a pending membership application.

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AMC ticket buyers will be able to pay in ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash by the end of the year, the movie chain’s CEO says

People walk outside the AMC Empire 25 movie theater in Times Square
  • AMC expects to add ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash as payment for movie tickets and concessions by the end of 2021, CEO Adam Aron said Wednesday.
  • In August, Aron said the theater chain will have the tech in place to accept bitcoin later this year.
  • AMC’s share price is up more than 2,000% so far in 2021, largely driven by the meme-stock frenzy.
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AMC CEO Adam Aron said on Wednesday that the movie theatre operator expects to accept ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash as payment, in addition to bitcoin, by the end of the year.

Aron revealed the company’s plan to accept bitcoin at its US locations in August, and said AMC was exploring how else it could participate in the crypto economy.

“Cryptocurrency enthusiasts: you likely know @AMCTheatres has announced we will accept bitcoin for online ticket and concession payments by year-end 2021,” he said in a tweet Wednesday. “I can confirm today that when we do so, we also expect that we similarly will accept Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.”

Many Twitter users responded by urging him to include dogecoin in the mix. One brought up the fake news release that said Walmart would allow shoppers to pay with litecoin, asking Aron whether he was really sure about the decision.

Bitcoin, the first token to be earmarked for acceptance by AMC, is the biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, while ether has shot up in popularity as its ethereum network is valued for its smart contract capabilities. Litecoin and bitcoin cash, by contrast, are less mainstream as they don’t get the same level of recognition from crypto enthusiasts.

Billionaire Mike Novogratz, one of the most vocal advocates for crypto, doesn’t seem to be a fan of litecoin. He said at the SALT Conference on Tuesday that news of the Walmart tie-up made no sense to him. “I scratched my head – like, who would buy litecoin and why?”

AMC stock

AMC’s shares are up more than 2,000% year-to-date since it became a Reddit darling on Wall Street Bets, the forum that entered the mainstream during January’s GameStop frenzy. The company has cashed in on the craze by selling more shares.

Bitcoin was last trading 0.6% higher at $47,800. Ether was up 4.9% at $3,600, litecoin rose 4.7% to $191, and bitcoin cash rose 0.6% to $640 on Thursday, according to data from CoinDesk.

Read More: Buy these 3 little-known altcoins instead of ‘ethereum killers’ before a big October crypto rally, the chief technical analyst of a crypto firm says

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Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin joins Joe Biden and Billie Eilish on Time’s 100 most influential people list

Vitalik Buterin
Vitalik Buterin launched ethereum in 2015.

  • Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin is one of the world’s most influential people, according to Time magazine.
  • He was named on the prestigious list alongside US President Joe Biden and pop superstar Billie Eilish.
  • Buterin’s inclusion is a sign of the growing power of cryptocurrencies, which have boomed in 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin has been named on Time magazine’s prestigious list of the world’s 100 most influential people, six years after founding the booming blockchain and cryptocurrency.

In a sign of the growing power of crypto, Buterin appears on the 2021 edition of the long-running list alongside US President Joe Biden and pop superstar Billie Eilish.

Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian wrote Buterin’s profile for the magazine, saying: “What makes Vitalik so special … is that he is a builder’s builder.

“No one person could’ve possibly come up with all of the uses for ethereum, but it did take one person’s idea to get it started.”

Buterin came up with the idea for ethereum – a cryptocurrency network upon which decentralized apps can be built – in 2013, after being introduced to bitcoin by his dad. The network was developed by Buterin and seven others, and launched in 2015.

Read more: 5 altcoins to buy as institutions adopt crypto, according to a financial advisor who works with retired millionaires and predicts bitcoin will surge to $90,000

As the cofounder of the second-biggest cryptocurrency after bitcoin he is a highly respected figure in the crypto world, and has racked up 2.4 million Twitter followers.

Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency ether has soared over the last year during a crypto boom and thanks to growing excitement about the network’s uses. It had a market capitalization of $426 billion on Thursday, according to Coinmarketcap.

Ohanian wrote that he’s “never been more excited about the potential of the internet, and that’s largely thanks to Vitalik Buterin.” The Reddit cofounder cited non-fungible tokens – tradable crypto collectors’ items that largely run on ethereum – as one reason for his excitement.

Fellow cryptocurrency enthusiast and Tesla CEO Elon Musk was also named on Time’s list, as were Apple boss Tim Cook and Nvidia chief Jensen Huang.

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Fidelity pushed for approval of its bitcoin ETF in a private meeting with the SEC as the regulator drags its feet

In this photo illustration a Bitcoin logo seen displayed on a smartphone with the stock market graphic in the background
  • Fidelity officials met the SEC privately to push for its bitcoin ETF as the regulator still hasn’t approved one.
  • The investment firm argued that the bitcoin market has matured and can support such funds.
  • They also pointed to the existence of these products in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden.
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Fidelity Digital Assets met with SEC officials privately to push for the approval of their proposed bitcoin exchange-traded fund and argued the cryptocurrency market is now big enough to support it.

The investment firm’s president, Tom Jessop, and other executives attended a virtual meeting with the regulator on September 8, according to a presentation that lays out the investor demand for the product.

They cited an in-house survey that found bitcoin exchange-traded products hold massive appeal, US institutions have a strong interest in digital assets, and a significant number of institutional investors currently hold cryptocurrencies.

Fidelity also said market regulators have already approved bitcoin ETPs in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden. The firm held the meeting with the SEC as the US continues to delay approval of these investment products.

Although no similar product has been approved in the US yet, the securities regulator is considering applications from more than 20 companies, including Galaxy Digital, VanEck, Valkyrie Investments, and FirstTrust/SkyBridge. It has extended the decision to approve VanEck’s ETF by 60 days to November 14.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has been somewhat open to bitcoin ETFs, suggesting those that comply with the strictest rules for mutual funds could provide investor protection. He has also seemed to lean towards approving a futures-based ETF, over a physical one.

But Fidelity’s argument didn’t seem to line up so well with Gensler’s preferences.

“We believe bitcoin futures-based products are not a necessary interim step before a bitcoin ETP; firms should be able to meet investor demand for direct exposure to bitcoin through 1933 Securities Act,” Fidelity said in its presentation, adding that the bitcoin market has matured and can support them.

The firm submitted paperwork in March to launch a bitcoin ETF called Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust that would track the digital currency’s price performance. If approved, it would trade on Cboe Global Markets.

Read more: Buy these 3 little-known altcoins instead of ‘ethereum killers’ before a big October crypto rally, says the chief technical analyst of a crypto firm

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