The first part of Ethereum’s next update, codenamed Istanbul, is getting ready to launch on October 16. Ethereum developers finalized the approved updates on Github two days ago, greenlighting six changes to its code. The mainnet upgrade promises to make the network more efficient, among other things.

But this time, one thing was missing. The co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, was notably absent from its development.

“This happened with zero involvement from The Great Dictator™,” Buterin tweeted today, sardonically acknowledging the criticism he has received over his previous levels of involvement in Ethereum’s development. The comment also nods to complaints that his involvement makes Ethereum centralized—as he tweeted back in November 2018.

Since then, he has distanced himself from the project as it gears up towards Ethereum 2.0. Buterin has pointed out that much of the research for Ethereum is being done by others, including Danny Ryan, Justin Drake, and Hsiao-Wei Wang. Istanbul’s development was lead by Péter Szilágyi and his team.


But some in the Ethereum community felt Buterin’s absence was a drawback. Szilágyi said that his absence is not a feature. “[Buterin] has a brilliant mind and I'd much rather have him pinch [sic] in on ideas than keep him away due to politics,” he tweeted.

But Buterin isn’t going anywhere. As he clarified last October, “‘detaching’ meant detaching from needing to participate,” not withdrawing completely. He later said he had no plans to stop posting blog posts or proposing code changes to the Ethereum blockchain in Github, where the open-source code is stored.

Istanbul’s second update, to be released sometime early next year, will contain another bout of changes. The proposed updates include the divisive ProgPoW, also known as Programmatic Proof-of-Work, an algorithm designed to reduce the advantages specialized mining software has over regular hardware in order make mining more accessible.

But the proposal is still being debated, showing the hallmarks of a system where nobody is truly in charge. Ethereum might not be perfectly decentralized but it’s on the right track.


Update [August 21, 16:12 UTC] This article was amended to correct ProgPoW from Progressive to Programmatic Proof-of-Work.

Stay on top of crypto news, get daily updates in your inbox.