Who could such an accolade go to? With the blockchain space growing at an exponential rate, those with the potential to influence the development and direction of the ecosystem become more important. The prominence of these figures will also change as the technology evolves, just as computers and smartphones first had the likes of Bill Gates before the accession of Steve Jobs.
The co-founder and creator of Ethereum, the de facto decentralized blockchain platform for applications and smart contracts – a completely revolutionary pivot of Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin vision. Developed as a protocol to offer a more general scripting language, programmers are able to build on a powerful shared global infrastructure and network, and digitally represent every conceivable concept within the protocol. Vitalik Butin, a Russian-Canadian programmer born in Kolomna, Moscow, first learned about Bitcoin at the age of 17, before achieving a bronze medal in the International Olympiad in Informatics.
He quickly gained status as an influential cryptocurrency thinker, writer, and programmer, contributing to peer-reviewed scholarly journals such as Ledger, as well as Bitcoin magazine and Bitcoin Weekly. Development of the Ethereum project began in late 2013 after publishing his seminal white paper, rejected by the wider Bitcoin community. Despite this, fundraising for the platform began in July 2014, with the launch of Ether, at an exchange rate of 1BTC (roughly $600) per 2,000 ETH. The rest, as they say, is history. Ethereum took off, becoming the platform for ICO’s in 2017, and Ether’s unprecedented levels of popularity reaching over $1,200 per coin.
Despite the subsequent brutal market corrections and controversies – namely Vitalik ‘killing’ the proposed DAO in favor of saving the funds of frozen Ether wallets, as well as his misinterpreted negative price ‘predictions’ of Ether – the platform and co-founder’s influence on blockchain continues to grow. International symposiums, government meetings, and further platform development, as well as an entire community and wider ecosystem, fixated on every word, blog and statement demonstrate the breadth and far-reaching nature of his influence. How Ethereum continues to develop and evolve remains to be seen. One fact remains clear, however; the stratospheric achievements that Vitalik has attained clearly cements his position as the most influential person in blockchain, and for some time yet.
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