[Added comments from Buterin at 11 am. PST]
Ask and ye shall receive.
Responding to the needs of struggling devs, Ethereum founder Vitalik “Non-giver of ETH” Buterin just ponied up $300,000 worth of ETH to fund a few startups.
“I was excited and the most anxious I had ever been in my life. Nobody has sent me that much no-strings-attached, magical Internet money before,” Mikerah Quintyne-Collins said in an interview today. The 20-year old student at the University of Toronto was among the recipients of Buterin’s largess last night—to the tune of $100,000—during a discussion on Twitter about the viability of the platform that Vitalik helped created.
Buterin doesn’t normally give ETH—hence the Twitter moniker. That’s partly a response to so-called sockpuppet scams, by which bot/scammer-accounts masquerading as celebrities (such as Elon Musk) ask for small crypto-offerings on the false promise that they’ll grant the donor a massive return. The high-profile Buterin, in particular, who’s estimated to be worth around $36 million, is an obvious target for such things and often has people flagrantly pretending to be him.
But this time it really was him. And the $100,000 was just one of three donations to Ethereum-based startups.
One good deed begets another
The Giver of ETH surfaced during a Twitter debate between Buterin, Spankchain’s Ameen Soleimani, and Mythos Capital’s Ryan Sean Adams over the need for a broader, more financially viable Ethereum-scaling strategy. Adams said that Ethereum, tended as it is by a disparate, barely coordinated collective of developers, is “lacking basic operational leadership to get shit down [sic].”
So when Preston Van Loon, a developer with Prysmatic Labs — a firm working on Ethereum scaling solutions — mentioned that his team was “still working full time for other jobs” and that a full-time role would require “significant pay cuts,” Buterin immediately sent 1000 ETH (around $100,000) to Van Loon. This is, after all one of the advantages of digital currency: you can send it instantly and with almost no friction.
Next on Buterin’s Christmas list was Quintyne-Collins, who tweeted that $100,000 would motivate her to “quite literally drop out” of the University of Toronto, where she studies Math and Statistics and works on Ethereum’s Serenity protocol as a side-gig. Shortly after Buterin sent her 1,000 ETH, she changed her Twitter profile to read, in part: “Dropping out of @UofT to save Crypto."
Scores of people piled into the thread, asking for money for everything from startup ideas to caring for a sick child. Buterin, however, concentrated on sprinkling his magic ETH on projects of merit. And, no sucker, he asked that the recipients put their public keys on a site where he could “verify you're not an evil hacker working for @northkoreadprk gov trying to increase the world's centralization.”)
A life changed forever
We spoke to the newly enriched Quintyne-Collins, and asked—will she actually drop out of University? “I will be notifying my uni this Friday after my probability exam,” she said. After which she will endure one last semester, quit, then begin “ramping up my self-learning goals that I have set for myself since high school.” She added: “And work on ETH 2.0, obviously.”
Quintyne-Collins was no stranger to Buterin, having met him at conferences at DevCon, the University of Toronto and Edcon. Likewise, Buterin said the other people and projects he funded were well known to him and that he's "interacted with them quite a few times."
“All three [donations] went to teams that are working on Ethereum 2.0 clients,” he said in an interview. "Now that the ETH 2.0 spec is near completion, the main bottleneck in getting Serenity out there is not research or specification, it's development. So if the main client teams are underfunded, that's a clear target for something that could be sped up with more resources."
After the three donations, Vitalik tweeted that he was now returning to his life as a non-giver of ETH—for now :
He left open the possibility that he might fund additional projects going forward. "It depends whether or not there are projects that really deserve and need funding."
Tim Copeland did the reporting on this story. Way to hog the byline, Ben.
Well I wrote the damn thing—Ben.