There’s a narrative that’s grown up around Ethereum’s two most important co-founders, Joe Lubin and Vitalik Buterin, to explain how they went in different directions almost a decade ago.
It suggests the pair fell out over the blockchain’s future direction, with the idealistic 20-year-old Buterin determined to turn Ethereum into a nonprofit foundation, while Lubin and others wanted to commercialize the technology via a for-profit company.
“That wasn’t really what happened,” the billionaire founder of Ethereum infrastructure and software firm ConsenSys tells Magazine during an in-depth interview in Tel Aviv.
“What happened was people were looking for a way to explain why these two people were bumped out of the project. And that was a convenient way to label it. But that wasn’t the reason they were moved.”
Lubin’s referring to Ethereum’s infamous “Red Wedding” in 2014 when the eight co-founders and the team gathered to incorporate Ethereum as a company.
The meeting descended into bickering and infighting over internal politics that saw a devastated CEO Charles Hoskinson pushed out of the team, along with underperforming co-founder Amir Chetrit.
“I think it’s true that I and several people on the team — like maybe everybody else — believed that you need to draw businesses in, you needed economic, commercial validation in order to build better things, even open-source software,” the 58-year-old says in his slow, measured tones.
“But that wasn’t the root of why I started ConsenSys or why two people were bumped off the project.”
Red Wedding and Crypto Google
As documented in Camilla Russo’s history of Ethereum, The Infinite Machine, the co-founders had gathered in Zug, Switzerland on June 7, 2014, to sign a document transforming Ethereum into a for-profit company. But instead of signing the contract, tensions boiled over Hoskinson’s management style and personality, Chetrit’s contribution to the project, Ethereum’s future direction and other internal political issues.
After much back and forth, the decisions were all left to the gangly 20-year-old math genius who’d created the project in the first place. After some time alone on the terrace, he returned to say Hoskinson and Chetrit were out, and Ethereum would become a nonprofit foundation instead…
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