Is He the Next Steve Jobs?
A college dropout creates an alternative to Bitcoin that many change everything
The history of Bitcoin and the Blockchain is still being written.
In much the same way as it was difficult to fully gauge the impact that the early days of the internet and personal computing would create on society, the impact of digital currencies and the blockchain is still unclear. As the creators and disruptors associated with the internet and the rise of personal computers helped to put a human face along with incredible talent on the revolution that was going on around us, we’re seeing the same from the brave and creative personalities who are playing a role in the spread of Bitcoin and Blockchain technology.
One of these is a young man who has much in common with one of the most powerful and brilliant men from the past era of change. Steve Jobs didn’t create the personal computer; he just made it work the way that people needed it to work. Steve Jobs saw beyond the need for a college degree to chase his dreams in the real world even without a diploma that for most of us holds the key to a job and potential success. Steve Jobs had a way of convincing those around him that the vision that he had was one that was worth getting behind.
Vitalik Buterin may not be a familiar name to those who are not intimately involved with Bitcoin and the Blockchain, but he’s fast becoming THE person that people in this industry are looking towards to point “the way” forward.
At the age of 19, Buterin was a college dropout and Bitcoin enthusiast. His interest in Bitcoin was so strong that before his twentieth birthday, he created Bitcoin Magazine as a way to educate and inform others on this exciting technology that he had discovered and now wanted the whole world to know about.
The Russian-born, Toronto-raised Buterin dropped out of the University of Waterloo after a year of computer science so he could focus on his innovations around virtual currency. He also hoped to land the Thiel Fellowship, which awarded $100,000 to 20 promising innovators under 20 so that can pursue their inventions rather than a college diploma.
He did win the Fellowship and pursued his work with Bitcoin.
Before his twentieth birthday, he had became aware that Bitcoin had shortcomings and he had a way to create an even better technology that could improve on the Bitcoin platform and utilize the power of the Blockchain for a wide range of applications.
This idea was called Ethereum and its current success has led those in the Bitcoin world to chatter among themselves that it may soon be considered the “Apple” of the Blockchain industry. As one writer put it, to Buterin, “Bitcoin is a pretty interesting fish, but (for Buterin) Ethereum is poised to be the entire ocean.”
Buterin created Ethereum as a platform that would more fully utilize the potential and opportunity of the Blockchain and allow it to be used to record and execute any program you can code. This includes capabilities such as voting, financial transactions, and contracts in order to record them and make them widely accessible over a distributed network.
It was Buterin's intent to combine a bitcoin-like network with a universal programming language that would allow users to invent whatever tools they want.
In a similar manner as Bitcoin, these tools would allow inniovation on the network with a crypto-currency that he created called ether. In the white paper, he described Ethereum as a “Lego of cryptofinance.” His feeling was that this would be the natural evolution of Bitcoin and expand its capabilities.
Buterin’s idea soon found believers and many who were enamored with Bitcoin and the Blockchain soon saw the potential of Ethereum and many flocked to it. To address this interest and to allow for continued expansion of his vision, Buterin created a non-profit for Ethereum that would allow full access to his creation and allow others to utilize it to create their own applications.
Now the second largest digital currency (remember when Apple was second to IBM?), Ethereum continues to grow in market capitalization.
With the current battles going on in Bitcoin, it will be interesting to see the impact that Ethereum could have on society, but it's clear that Buterin has had an impact on the Bitcoin and Blockchain world.
Much like the impact that someone else had when he changed the way we use computers and so many other things.
Whether or not Buterin will ultimately have the same impact that Jobs had remains to be seen. It's very exciting however to see someone with many of the skills and vision that Jobs had working in the cryptocurrency world. One of my favorite videos is this video, which uses Jobs' famous "Crazy Ones" speech to showcase Buterin and other innovators in the Bitcoin and Blockchain world.
It's great to be living in interesting times, especially when there's interesting people leading "the way".