Vitalik Buterin: "Facebook's Libra is wakeup call for governments"
Ethereum cofounder and blockchain technology leader Vitalik Buterin tells "Globes" about the risks and challenges posed by cryptocurrencies.
It is doubtful whether passersby in the Sapir (Poleg) Business and Technology Park in Netanya recognized Vitalik Buterin during his visit there late last week. The tall, geeky 25 year-old Russian Canadian has become an international celebrity in recent years, mainly among digital currency devotees, but also in other circles. At 19, Buterin was called the
blockchain prodigy when he cofounded Ethereum, which soon became the second largest cryptocurrencies platform after Bitcoin.
Ethereum's founders were enthusiastic when the idea of a
cryptocurrency first appeared in 2009 with the invention of bitcoin. They followed the innovative concept led by Buterin of creating a second generation of blockchain that made it possible to develop software apps and create smart contracts on a decentralized network. The big breakthrough into global consciousness by Buterin and the other Ethereum founders came in 2017 with the media buzz surrounding the leap in digital currencies prices. Ethereum's digital currency, called ether, was first listed on the cryptocurrencies exchanges in August 2015 at an initial price of less than $3. The price skyrocketed 8,600% in 2017 and reached a peak unit price of $1,390 in January 2018. Last year, however, taught a painful lesson to digital currencies investors; over 80% of ether's value was wiped out in less than a year. Ether's price in early December 2018 was a mere $90, but has now rebounded to $175, after rising 27% since the beginning of this year.
Buterin appeared unconcerned about the decline in Ethereum's value when we met him in the new offices of StarkWare Industries, a startup in which he invested. He is currently busy mainly in leading Ethereum's research for the Ethereum Foundation, a non-profit organization managed from Switzerland responsible for promoting the platform. Next week, he will take part in several events connected with the sector in the framework of Blockchain Week in Tel Aviv. One of them is a conference by StarkWare, one of whose founders is Technion Prof. Eli Ben-Sasson.