Video Of The Week: Vitalik Buterin

In honor of Ethereum trading (briefly) at north of $1000USD this week, I thought we’d hear this weekend from Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin.

This is an interview that he sat for in October at the ETH Waterloo event (where, among other things, CryptoKitties was born).


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    “honor”? – it surprises me that you would use such a word to describe a price pump considering the scars you ‘bear’ from past web tech investment booms and busts.pumpeteering? I see the same play everywhere. those Japanese and Korean banks have executed the most audacious and scandalous manipulation I’ve yet seen in the crypto space. is there no limit to this behaviour?I said on here a year ago that Ripple’s original price pump was a Tokyo social elite networking insider trading scam. Soon enough the J & K axis will announce (with a flourish) that their test transactions performed flawlessly. I wonder how Beijing is planning a response to this threat?n.b. I’m always very interested in the mechanics of this kind of interview. Here we see him ‘just’ stroll in and sit down, and it’s always the same with Ethereum, the presentation of the project through a cult of personality projection. This kind of interview doesn’t just happen. It must have been very carefully planned and agreed, and probably right down to the very questions to be asked (and not asked). There are media managers/ minders, and a whole PR machine driving Ethereum forward, but we are not permitted to see any of that. We are being conditioned to think of Ethereum as still being a garden shed startup. My gut instinct is that Ethereum is not quite what it is being presented as.If the scaling and transaction bottleneck problem isn’t fixed it isn’t going to succeed. As i wrote here a few days ago, when a couple of dapps get traction and network effect they will dominate the transaction layer of the stack (power law of distribution). no other apps will be able to get distribution. All hinges on solving the scaling problem. no solution, no success. A group of people will have made a very good return on ETH, but that’s not the success I mean. The community grew too quickly. It wasn’t organic. It’s like factory forests in Scandinavia, where they grow pine trees at an absurdly fast rate of growth. The wood is cheap, of poor quality, knotty, with thick growth rings. Quality grows more slowly and lasts longer.

    1. fredwilson

      while i accept your assertion that the entire crypto sector reeks of pump, i think ETH and especially Vitalik, are the best actors out there.

      1. jason wright

        Fair response.Does the Ethereum Foundation still hold more than half of the total ETH supply? I don’t understand why it has to be that way for a distributed decentralised network. The market price of ETH would be dramatically lower if the total supply was out there. $1000 doesn’t seem like a real number…if we’re talking numbers.I would have liked the interviewer to have asked what contribution Gavin Wood made to launch of Ethereum. My understanding is that he wrote much of the early code. Perhaps VB can clear that one up to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion. I hate to mention something if it is wrong, but it’s never been made clear what Gavin’s role was.It still feels like a cult of personality play. Much like the Zuckerberg marketing spin that went on for years, and still does to this day even though it’s now a monster web corporation. I’ll say Wizard of Oz.Sure, the space stinks to high hell, and I’ve blasted one or two founders for their behaviour (i’ve been ejected from Slack channels, i’ve been targeted by vested interest group inside certain projects for daring to voice criticism of their beloved leaders et.c.), but i will not invest in projects and then later see shitty behaviour but say nothing about it.How did you come across the video? I know ETH is your new favourite crypto token.

        1. fredwilson

          youtube recommended it to me

          1. jason wright

            strong magic.I’m interested in the anatomy of media content. the way it has been manufactured, and by whom, and for what reasons. News stories generally begin with a press release, often written by a lobbyist in the pay of a vested interest, and it then gets reimagined by a journalist to ‘connect’ with the target audience. The whole process is fascinating, and largely hidden from the public. It’s a dark art. Journalists are modern day clerics. If this was the seventeenth century they would all be working for a European Church, serving power over the people.

        2. William Mougayar

          Jason, all of your questions answers are available online and via their blog. why are you constantly negative on ethereum and making subjective statements?

          1. jason wright

            I ask questions. I seek opinion, POV, confirmation et.c.. That’s not negative. Blogs are PR (any project’s blog is PR). I ask questions about other projects elsewhere. Fred doesn’t really blog about other crypto projects. Therefore it may *seem* that here at AVC i’m always and only questioning Ethereum. It’s the iceberg perspective – 10%.I’m not a cheerleader. I’m not a nodding dog.Edit 09:34 GMT;Only in one AVC comment have I ever named a token that i have a vested financial interest in. That was eighteen months ago, and only to highlight an alternative system for securing a network and validating transactions in a discussion about proof of stake/ work. I do not abuse the goodwill of the AVC community by the soft and not so soft marketing of my token investments here.Ask Fred to post about some other token. I will read it, consider it, and then probably post some equally penetrating Ethereumesque-type comments to test perceptions of it to get to a greater truth about its state of being, if there is one. That’s how I find out if there is one. I don’t take things at face value. Crypto is the very last place anyone should take things at face value.p.s. I don’t think anything i have to say about a token is going to pump or dump its future prospects. I’m a decentralised atomic unit of one, and i like it that way.p.p.s.… You may remember that on here i very recently (the very end of December 2018 – I think it was Fred’s predictions for 2018 post) predicted (it’s for fools i know) that in the first month of 2018 ETH’s price would surge. It has, and by over $400 in less than the first week of 2018. The Ethereum blog post above is an admission that there is a fundamental flaw in the design of its architecture, one that they are unable to solve themselves. This news should depress the price, but we see the opposite. I have to conclude that it is an orchestrated pump, to blind investors about how serious the scaling issue is. Sorry if you dislike what I’m saying, but what has happened to the price this past week makes no sense at all, but I expected it because I have my own (unpopular) view of where Ethereum is and how it works the psychology of the crowd. The idea that it is a project lacking in marketing when it is now at +$1000 a token is an unreal POV. It suggests that *if only* they could get their marketing act together the real price should be +$5000. I would buy more ETH under these circumstances if it was at $30 as a bit of a punt, that someone on the outside might be able to solve the problem that those on the inside have not. That would be a bet worth making.The other possibility is that they have the solution to the scaling issue in their back pocket and are setting the market up for a fanfare announcement in due course. Investors should consider that as a possible scenario and invest accordingly. The entire crypto space should be viewed from the default position that everything is a deceit unless shown not to be. That’s not cynicism. That’s self preservation.

          2. Mark Essel

            This is a perfect short case for you. Bet with conviction, and reap the rewards. I enjoy dabling in different (very new) currencies but am concerned about long holding any of them.

      2. Twain Twain

        Everyone’s spent the last decade not having solved the real problems.Shervin Khodabandeh of BCG shared this, Oct 2017: “The best example of [bias in data] is the 2008 crash in which the models were trained on a dataset.”There’s endemic bias in the system — amplified by the last 10 years of social media and Big Data. Neither Blockchain nor Ethereum structures solve for that. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      3. awaldstein

        I agree.Never seen such poor communications in a world where community and its need are key.I’m a fan of him and of their coin.

      4. Shame on Fred "Crypto-hustler"…Fred Wilson should be castigated for cheerleading this bubble as it grows bigger and bigger. In other words, his behavior is despicable.”the entire crypto sector reeks of pump” is the obvious problem. The fundamental problem is that crypto is like “Monopoly money” (I mean the board game called Monopoly not a cartel… that people currently happen to consider valuable.Obviously many people are going to lose significant amounts of their wealth when the crypto bubble bursts. Sure. But it is worse than that.See, the Dutch still grow tulips and South Florida eventually recovered after the Florida land boom of the 1920s…. Tulips are still beautiful and much of South Florida is still a very desirable place to live.Bitcoin (better called, BitCon) and Etherium ((yup, it like selling ether… or fresh air is heading to zero)). It will almost certainly be worthless within a decade.In the meantime Fred Wilson and his ilk will almost certainly be allowed to keep the ill-gotten gains they have amassed and are continuing to amass from this obvious swindle. Casino capitalism… is generally a loose metaphor. However, with regard to crypto is not a metaphor at all but instead an accurate description of this current financial mania where the casinos are websites like, um, well, which Fred Wilson has invested in (presumably via a legal entity of some sort).Fred Wilson tends to portray himself as a soft-hearted Jewish secular humanist when—at least regarding crypto—he is acting like streetwise hustler. Thank G-d his is apparently not Jewish. The world has far too man streetwise Jewish hustlers who bask in the spotlight and unwittingly endanger Jews around the world.

        1. fredwilson

          pls don’t make disparaging comments about religions here. we don’t do are free to disparage me all you would like. that’s totally fine.

          1. JamesHRH

            Well, the problem with disparaging you is ‘ track record ‘.That makes the other, odious approach, the only option for a fact free slagging.You are still wrong on Blockchain though.Although, an alternate Asian financial system might be something that goes big.

        2. JamesHRH

          Labelling him by his faith is completely without merit.If you had an ounce of character, you would edit or remove the last paragraph.Its a weak mind that tosses racial, religious or cultural stereotypes around casually, as if stating facts.

      5. Michael Elling

        Yes, but even then, there is the undeniable law of unintended consequence which one must rationally consider and not just forge naively ahead. Maybe he should have thought about the inevitable tyranny around token sales and deriving consensus (see my comment to Lawrence Brass) before he started down this path: https://people.cs.uchicago….

    2. Bruce Warila

      Jason, interesting comment. I wanted to read more of your Disqus comments but your profile is locked down. Do you exist someplace else on the web?

      1. jason wright

        My Disqus profile was public until the end of 2017. I changed it to private because one or two recent events suggested that i was being ‘profiled’ by bad actors. It’s unfortunate because i belief in the principles of openness, but when people behave badly (and hypocritically) I have to take action. sad state of affairs.I am thinking about starting a personal blog. I need to pose a few questions to myself about that, and be satisfied with my answers before i get going with it. I have to clear about it first. I like riding my bicycle, but not every day. The body (and the mind) do need a rest to keep things fresh. I wouldn’t want to expose an audience to mediocre content, and some days i just don’t have anything to say. Perhaps on those days I might just upload a work of art, or some such. I certainly would not run out of energy for challenging much of the nonsense inflicted upon people on a daily basis by the mass media, but i wouldn’t want my mind occupied with that crap day after day after day. People only went to church on Sunday, and I get why that was.

    3. Gayatri Sarkar

      Interesting Jason Wright. So what’s your thought about the bitcoin market economics?

    4. LE

      This sounds like something that I would have said. But even after researching the interviewer (her job shows she gains by doing the softball interviews) [1] it’s not entirely clear who is responsible for the production values. While they don’t appear on the other CIGI videos (which by the way have, with the exception of this one, very low views) this could have just been also a spur of the moment creative twist trying to duplicate what you see on network tv (setup for a ’60 Minutes’ interview if you are familiar with that or any of those news magazine shows).This kind of interview doesn’t just happen. It must have been very carefully planned and agreed, and probably right down to the very questions to be asked (and not asked). There are media managers/ minders, and a whole PR machine driving Ethereum forwardSure but that is good not bad eh?The fact that there are ‘lawyers guns and money’ makes me more confident and willing to take a gamble, not less.Watch and learn? It’s not like Sergey and Larry didn’t have handlers crafting their image.[1] Check out Julie’s CV…

      1. jason wright

        What we see is mostly what we are allowed to see. These interviews don’t just happen. They are planned, considered, crafted events. I like to get behind the presentation layer, strip things back, work out the mechanics of what’s going on behind the scenes et.c. I think we are both like that. It’s necessary. Have to have a critical mind. Not cynical though. The two can be confused. Need to keep a good self reflection about that possibility.

        1. LE

          Watched ‘The Big Short’ the other night. Obviously it’s a movie. But what struck me was that part of the story line was driven by someone who actually put ‘feet on the street’ to see what others simply took for granted as being correct and found it it wasn’t. What I call ‘the assumption of legitimacy’. But there is another very important concept that I have seen (and everyone has seen) in business and in life. It’s called ‘fake it until you make it’. By that I mean that if enough people believe something (even if they are all stupid) it often becomes the truth. So detractors to crypto and Jamie Dimon will talk about bubbles and tulip mania. But there are probably more cases where a group of people has believed something and then it becomes legit that we don’t discuss at all because, well, many years later it is legit. The base is solid. The stock market in general is one of those things. Ditto for art collecting, car collecting and so many other things.

      2. William Mougayar

        You are right that it was planned between Julie and Vitalik, but this is not correct “There are media managers/ minders, and a whole PR machine driving Ethereum forward”Actually, it’s the opposite. They are poor at marketing, and don’t even like the word.

        1. jason wright

          The chosen name Ethereum is marketing. The first Bitcoin Talk post “Welcome to the Beginning” was reminiscent of Genesis 1:1. Ethereum the religion? In ETH We Trust?How’s the scaling problem being addressed?https://www.financemagnates

        2. LE

          Just to be clear I wasn’t saying that it was correct that there were media managers/minders just that if it was true that’s not a bad thing.They are poor at marketing, and don’t like the word even.So they see marketing as ‘bad’? (That is exactly the type of naivete that seems to work so well for some people that is confounding.)

          1. William Mougayar

            Yup. The project is (mostly) technically driven. Anything else is done by the community in a decentralization fashion.

        3. JamesHRH

          They are poor are marketing ops.They have great instincts.

    5. JamesHRH

      To be clear, if you are ANY good at PR, no one ever thinks that you are doing PR, let alone sees ‘ a whole PR machine driving Ethereum forward. ‘Single Greatest Talent List, Tech Billionaires Edition:Bill Gates – Product MarketingLarry Ellison – SalesLarry & Sergei – Product MarketingZuck – Product Management (Move to Mobile a HoF Mgmt move)Steve Jobs – PromotionLots of other high level skills there, but all the giants were awesome marketers, at some level.Vitalik needs to be one too.

      1. jason wright

        but isn’t that why we only ever see VB? That in itself suggests to me that a very particular marketing decision was made some time ago to promote the project through the singularity of just one person, the cult of personality gig. Is there no one else working on Ethereum with time to talk on camera?

        1. JamesHRH

          I believe that a surprising number these people turn out to be naturals. It is not a concscious decision they just do it.For sure there are other people.For sure it is smart of them to only have him speak. It makes it easier to break through.

    6. Adam Sher

      Regarding this purely pumping ETH, Vitalik is open about some significant issues. Early in the interview, Vitalik says that most of the mining is done by a group of hardware in China that is manufactured by 1 company that specializes in manufacturing hardware for solving block chains. He then says that there is not yet a good way to screen for groups of hardware that collude.

      1. Paul Williams

        He was describing bitcoin mining and the fact that the biggest manufacture of sha256 asic mining rigs is bitmain in china controlled by Juan Wu.Ethereum was designed to be asic resistant(hence the DAG) so mining is only done using high end GPU cards made by many different companies but using amd chips mostly, nvidia based GPUs also work but not as efficient as amd(last time I checked).…THe ethereum protocol has a build in “bomb”( from first release) that will push the difficulty factor sky high and make mining unprofitable to force the move to POS(casper). Being second has many advantages 😉

    7. Michael Elling

      Have you started looking at hashgraph approaches?

      1. jason wright

        No. Can you say more?

        1. Michael Elling

          A somewhat salesey overview of crypto and where hashgraph fits in:…Explains how hashgraph voting/consensus works in detail…Explains how hashgraph consensus fits into world of DLT…How to build an app on the platform:…As well, go to the telegram chat group for devs, lot’s of good discourse there: disclosure: I believe networks can neither be fully distributed nor fully centralized, rather are in a constant state of both and hierarchical; they scale horizontally, but clear supply and demand both horizontally and vertically. I also believe that value is not necessarily in quantity, but quality of effort that ultimately reduces risk of the unknown in the next second. It’s the hierarchy and the incentives/disincentives between the actors/agents in and between networks at the margin that needs to be better understood and developed. Pareto and normal distributions are the way of nature; no getting around them.I am researching whether sharded, private/public hashgraph like solutions can be used to handle the complexity of IoT and vastly distributed gigabit access networks to ensure universal access, sustainability and generativity. I started looking at Consensys/Ethereum 2 years ago and found that they couldn’t do that. See my comment elsewhere in this thread re Vitalik’s own comments about scaling.

  2. NS

    Great interview. Will be interesting to see how the transition from proof of work to stake plays out, especially when trying to separate signal from noise with $$$ at play.

  3. Gayatri Sarkar

    Great interview

  4. Liam Horne

    Thanks for sharing! For those interested in learning more about ETHWaterloo, check out The next event like it will be ETHDenver in February. 🙂

  5. Kirsten Lambertsen

    That was really interesting and easy to watch. It’s the first time I’ve seen him speak, and I expected to be left in the dust. But he puts things in such plain language, it’s refreshing. Will definitely look for more video of him to help me level up my understanding of the space.I don’t have any sense for these things, but right now ETH feels like the rational member of my modest ‘mad money’ crypto portfolio.I couldn’t help but think about some body language stuff I was reading yesterday. Vitalik gives the body language experts nothing 😉

    1. fredwilson

      Mine too. An island of good sense in a sea of madness

    2. aminTorres

      Funny you say this. I ‘ve seen interviews of him in the past and this included and I get a lot from his body language actually. But before I say anything, I should say I am a big fan of him and ethereum and this is by no mean a negative commentary or an attack.I am no doctor but Vitalik is provably somewhere in the autism spectrum. There are certain things about how he interacts with other people that are quite prominent. When it comes to this sort of interviews, he has certainly become much better and comfortable with it though.I think his mindset has shifted to a more novel place too. If you saw interviews of him from a year or two ago, some of the examples he repeatedly used to illustrate what was possible with blockchain were troubling. I see less and less of that and now I am able to listen to what he is saying more and get less distracted by those things.In any case, agree with Fred that he is the real deal and hope that history will judge him favorably and I am rooting for him and ethereum.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yeah, I probably should have been more specific. I was sort of joking that if a body language expert was looking for signs that V was hiding anything or being misleading, there weren’t any physical ‘tells’ coming from him. But of course to your point, lack of body language is a type of body language, itself 🙂

  6. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Question for those speculators in crypto-currency.When and not if a group or person mines with a Quantum computer the remaining BTC be worthless. Now if you have no idea what this question is alluding too you have no business in crypto-currency.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

    1. Adam Sher

      Upvote for the proper call-out of speculators. I asked that same question, and don’t know how it will impact block chain. It could render block chain worthless or it could be a concurrent way of computing (at least for a while).

      1. Richard Carlow

        Concurrent, and not equally distributed. Scaling is an issue today, crypto itself will fast become the issue as Quantum computing expands. How do you have a crypto currency in a world with no crypto?

  7. Jordan Jackson

    that was excellent – thanks fred

  8. Lawrence Brass

    He has a fresh, intense and powerful mind which I think is fully devoted to Ethereum.Because of specialization in CS, I thought the age of dropout geniuses was over, Vitalik proves the contrary. He is a genius.

    1. Michael Elling

      Genius or naivete? Here’s a recent tweet from him: “All wise things to do in the first month of a new application’s existence. And if there’s a serious conflict between owners and community any time soon, I suspect the community will just hard fork the kitties.”…What we see here is someone who hasn’t been reading 2400 year old treatises from Greek Philosophers who well knew and discoursed on human nature, socio-political and economic issues and conflict, and, unknowingly, digital network effects 2230 years before the first “digital” networks. Vitalik cares not a wit about property rights and believes in the tyranny of the mob. Tyranny follows democracy in Plato’s Republic.This is really dangerous s–t!

      1. Lawrence Brass

        Yes, it is dangerous for the established world as we know it.I think that geniuses have the ability to think out of the box, with very little baggage from the past. Vitalik didn’t need Plato, Socrates or the Holy Books. The only thing he needed was Satoshi Nakamoto papers.It is refreshing to see him recognizing all the weaknesses that current crypto has, working in the solutions and saying things like “We are here to help humanity”.

        1. Michael Elling

          Black Mirror here we come!

          1. Lawrence Brass

            Haha..Bitcoin + Ethereum + Ripple + Bitcoin Cash market capitalization gives me USD $ 505,996,688,872That is not smoke and mirrors, it is the sound of the world changing and it is diverse!source:

  9. Michael Elling

    Hashgraph.”At TechCrunch Disrupt 2017, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin sat down with AngelList founder Naval Ravikant to discuss the main hurdles that blockchains must overcome to achieve widespread adoption. Buterin explained that blockchains may be suitable for some niche use cases, but they do not work well for mainstream use due to scaling issues. For instance, Bitcoin and Ethereum are only processing three and five transactions per second (tx/s), respectively. To support Visa, Buterin explained, Ethereum would need to scale to thousands of tx/s, which he believes may happen in the next few years.The New York Stock Exchange, however, would need tens-of-thousands tx/s. Internet-of-Things, social media networks, massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, and other non-financial applications would need hundreds-of-thousands to millions of tx/s, Buterin continued. Scaling blockchains to this capacity would likely require a significant tradeoff in security. Blockchains, therefore, are unable to support most interesting financial applications, let alone the entire internet. Fortunately, there’s a brand new approach to distributed consensus that does not suffer from the shortcomings of blockchains.”…

  10. jason wright

    thanks for the encouraging words. the web can be a maelstrom, a thousand voices screaming, and a brain blender.Ideally I would like there to be a decentralised blogging platform up and running. That’s where I would prefer to start something that for convenience I will call a ‘blog’, but a blog seems to be an end in itself. I’m looking beyond that.

  11. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Witalik Buterin is one of our brightest. But he is definitely resembles one of the aliens on the Twilight Zone. (A joke)The best Twilight Zone episodes: Can you actually recognize the Stars before they were stars. The episode masks was the only Twilight Zone episode directed by a woman. The outer masks match the inter character.