Charles Hoskinson has led an interesting life, taking on endeavors in the cryptocurrency community like the founding of Cardano. He has worked to co-found Ethereum as well, and he sat down with Mpho Dagada to discuss the many roles he has taken on, and what he believes the crypto world is in for next.
One of the areas of interest during this discussion is about how Bitcoin has grown since he started learning about it in 2011. At the time, Hoskinson had decided to purchase Bitcoin and even mine it. Unfortunately, there was a “Crypriot crisis” that happened shortly after, which ultimately pushed Bitcoin to grow in a way that it hadn’t performed before then.
He was sure to note,
“But I didn’t professionally get in until about 2013, that’s when the Cypriot crisis happened, and Bitcoin went from nothing to over $250. And there was a huge wave of people entering the space… So, either I get on the truck or it’s going to leave without me. I need to do something in the movement.”
After he got involved, he eventually started a project called Bitcoin Educational Project, which included free content that he added to platforms like YouTube to engage others in the conversation about crypto. Overall, there were 80,000 students that participated, leading Hoskinson to meet other influencers in the industry, including Roger Ver and Andreas M. Antonopoulos.
By 2013, Hoskinson was approached by an investor in China that wanted him to start a company and was offering over $500,000 to do it.
Even though he considered it at the time, due to the volatility of Bitcoin, he said,
“The very first person to answer that was Dan Larimer on the forum posts that I created, and He said: Oh, I have this thing called BitShares that I have just come up with. You might be interested. So, Dan and I, actually started talking and eventually I flew down to Virginia met with him.”
Ultimately, Hoskinson developed a company called Invictus Innovations Inc, which made BitShares possible. Hoskinson later left the company, due to differences between himself and Larimer. He was then asked to create content by Anthony Di Lorio, who was the reason that Hoskinson met Vitalik Buterin and became the fifth member of the Ethereum endeavor.
“[Anthony said] There’s this kid called Vitalik, at that time he was 19, and he’s written this great white paper. I can’t really make heads or tails of it. Can you read it? Let me know what you think. And I said sure, Anthony. So, I read the paper, was very rough but I said, there’s something here and that’s how I met Vitalik Buterin.”
Once the team met up for the North American Bitcoin Conference in 2014, Ethereum was born shortly after.
Regarding this transition, Hoskinson said,
“The North American Bitcoin conference in January 2014. So, Anthony rented a beach house, we all bought her own way. There we met everybody, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood came, a lot of the big guys now who were not so big guys back then came and that was really the birth of Ethereum.”
It seems that Hoskinson may have taken on some different choices with the team, if they had expected Ethereum to grow as big as it did.
“So, we got Vitalik… his presentation was really swarmed. Like a rock star… he kind of had a second tier speaking slot and he goes on and they only gave him 25 minutes. He says, let me introduce Ethereum. He put this thing on the slide, shows you how you can do master coin and 20 lines of code and then 13 lines of code or something like that. And then he [Vitalik] says, any questions? everybody in the room raises their hands. And I felt so bad for the speaker that had to follow them because they had only time for like 3 minutes of questions. So, when Vitalik left, everybody just left the room and the speaker comes up there and the room is empty.”
Ethereum soon had two separate groups in the company, dealing with the business side and the technical side. Lubin and Di Lorio were in charge of the business side, while Buterin and Wood headed up the technical side. Hoskinson took on a managing position for both groups.
When the project started, Hoskinson had two ways that they could build up the platform. While one option was to work in a similar way to Ripple for multiple sectors that would ultimately be a profit company with plenty of discipline and focus, the other was to establish a non-profit company. This second option would involve a crowdfunding campaign, where the company would use funds for the development of necessary protocols. To summarize the options, the company basically saw them as “crypto-Google” and “crypto-Mozilla.”
Apparently, the business side favorited crypto-Google, though the technical side believed that the integrity of the entire project would be challenged with this option. Hoskinson believed that proper structure was necessary to avoiding many problems, including the loss of capital. When the group met together in June 2014, Buterin opted for the non-profit option – crypto-Mozilla.
Hoskinson left the team after working together for quite a while and was followed soon after by other members. Hoskinson believes that their 50% loss of funds raised had a lot to do with Bitcoin’s drop from $600 to $250 in price.