The Cryptopians is one of the first books to take a deep dive into the early history of Ethereum. And when I say “in depth”, I’m not kidding: journalist Laura Shin gives an almost daily description of the days of Vitalik Buterin and other developers for the period 2013-2018.
She interviewed hundreds of people and consulted thousands of documents of all kinds, both on the blockchain and in official reports from the Ethereum Foundation, to paint a picture of this historic crypto moment.
The book came out last February, I received it in early April, and I just finished reading it. Here is five things I learned!
1-Crypto is fundamentally a chaotic universe and full of drama
The first months of Ethereum were marked by disputes, dissension, power plays and total chaos. Developers bickered with financiers, financiers bickered with the Ethereum Foundation, the Ethereum Foundation bickered with community members, and community members bickered with each other… Many great people were involved in the project, and their egos often took precedence over the common good.
The book left me with the impression that chaos was inherent in the crypto world. No project, even the most popular and best built, escapes it.
2-Charles Hoskinson, founder of Cardano, is a liar
I am absolutely sorry, and this is not a judgment on Cardano’s blockchain, but there is no longer any doubt in my mind that Charles Hoskinson is a liar who has taken advantage of his proximity to Vitalik Buterin to build a reputation. He self-proclaimed himself “CEO” of Ethereum, an absurd title, and then spent his days talking about Lamborghinis while smoking cigars while the real developers did all the work. He also made it look like he was a PhD candidate, which is not true: he never got past the undergrad stage. Even worse: when confronted with the evidence by Laura Shin, he refused to admit the truth and continued to lie, Do Kwon style.
3-Money makes everyone lose their mind… except Vitalik
Initially, despite the bickering, there was generally a good-natured atmosphere in the Ethereum developer community. But when the price of ether started to rise, people started to show their true colors. The DAO hack is a perfect example: the person who executed this attack would have been a hero in the community if he or she had chosen the path of honesty, and he or she would have been rewarded; but the amount of money at stake – in the hundreds of millions of dollars – made him or her lose his or her mind, and the person tried to keep it all to himself or herself.
Conversely, there is Vitalik Buterin, whose personal fortune is valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but who couldn’t care less. Imagine what Ethereum would look like if a narcissistic megalomaniac had been at its helm…
4-The nerds always win
Several times in the early years of Ethereum, the project could have gone very wrong. Multiple “DOS” attacks were launched, financiers wanted to “sell” Ethereum to private companies, jealous developers wanted to convince regulatory authorities that Ethereum was a bad project…
But at the end of the day, the nerds won. Why did they win? Because they are the only ones who truly understand the full potential of blockchain technology. So they put their heart and soul into it, often at the expense of their personal lives.
Never bet against the nerds; in an increasingly digital world, they will always win.
5-Nobody knows what the future will bring
We are all convinced on this sub that crypto will play an important role in the economy of the future. But one thing I took away from my reading is that no one knows what the technology will be used for.
Vitalik Buterin, for example, never saw non-fungible tokens coming; at least, certainly not that they would be used to sell monkey pictures. If even the inventor of Ethereum couldn’t foresee the explosion in popularity of ERC-721, how can we mere mortals claim to know what crypto will look like in five years?
My takeaway is that you always have to keep an open mind if you want to survive in this universe. We are still in the infancy of crypto, no matter what the no-coiners say, and no one knows what the future holds. I find it exciting!
I hope this short summary was helpful, and I wish you all a very green weekly candle!