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Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin Will Get Back $100M of Donated SHIB Funds

The Ethereum founder will use the funds for “very-high-value” bets in biotech and medical science after Indian charity faces hurdles.

3 min read
Vitalik Buterin is the creator of the Ethereum blockchain. Image: Siam Blockchain

In brief

  • Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin will receive $100 million in USDC stablecoin, pulled from the $1 billion worth of SHIB he donated in May 2021.
  • Buterin will use the funds for biotech and medical science endeavors after the Indian charity faced issues with deploying crypto donations.

When the creators of popular meme token Shiba Inu (SHIB) sent half of the supply to Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin in May 2021, he did something unexpected in turn: he donated about $1 billion worth to Indian COVID-19 relief fund, CryptoRelief, before “burning” the rest.

However, now $100 million of the donated funds will be sent back to Buterin. Today, CryptoRelief founder Sandeep Nailwal—also co-founder of Ethereum sidechain scaling solution Polygon—announced that the funds will be returned to Buterin with his blessing.

In a Twitter thread, Nailwal explained that Buterin can use the funds more effectively for charitable aims as a non-Indian citizen. CryptoRelief has to be “extra cautious” to stay in “full compliance of Indian jurisdiction,” and Nailwal wrote that as a non-resident Indian citizen, he has likewise has to be cautious about which projects receive donations from the organization.

“Vitalik being a non-Indian can do it in a more accelerated way by being able to do faster decision-making,” Nailwal wrote, “and deploying to projects which have higher risk but high rewards too.”

Nailwal added that Buterin’s original donation made up 98% of the organization’s total contributions, and that $100 million of the remaining funds will be sent back in the USDC stablecoin. Buterin added that he has co-founded a new organization called Balvi, and will work with scientific advisors to focus on biotechnology and medical science-related causes.

Interestingly, the $100 million may not be pointed to causes that focus exclusively on India. Buterin said that his new organization will focus on bets that are “very-high-value and global in nature and bring great benefit to Indians and non-Indians.” He mentioned vaccine research and development, testing, and air filtration and ventilation as potential focuses for the funds.

According to Nailwal, CryptoRelief has disbursed about $70 million worth of funds within India, and retains $302 million worth outside of the $100 million that will be sent back to Buterin.

That’s quite a bit less than the original ~$1 billion value when Buterin donated the 50 trillion SHIB back in May. However, the value of SHIB fell dramatically following the donation—in part due to the wider crypto market crash that began that month—thus cutting the overall value of the donation once converted from SHIB into other coins, such as ETH or USDC.

The CryptoRelief website provides an accounting of previous fund transfers, current balances, and how funds have been deployed to various causes and relief projects. Bloomberg reported in July that CryptoRelief had faced challenges in deploying the funds due to regulatory compliance issues, paired with the complexities of disbursing crypto funds.

Last week, on the Up Only podcast, Buterin discussed the process of handling nearly $7 billion in total worth of SHIB. He donated a portion of the tokens to CryptoRelief and “burned” the rest, or sent them to an unusable crypto wallet address.

SHIB, the second most-valuable meme crypto by market cap after Dogecoin, later surged in value last fall, reaching a peak price of $0.00008616 on October 28, per data from CoinGecko. It’s down almost 76% at a current price of $0.00002101 following recent market-wide declines.

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