The evening also contained the bombshell (not for the information itself but for the honesty) that part of the reason the Ethereum cofounders have traditionally not put much emphasis on the price of ether is so that it would not be seen as something that should draw the scrutiny of financial regulation.
I also asked him about another regulatory issue: the fact that the SEC has indicated that ether is currently not a security, but when reading between the lines, seems to imply that the Ethereum crowdsale was an unregistered securities offering. When asked whether he worries about an enforcement action against him for that, he said, according to consulted lawyers, Ethereum cofounders likely do not have to worry.
Buterin also explained why he thought it was “inevitable” Ethereum would lose some of its lead, when he would be upset if Ethereum were overtaken by a competitor (let’s just say if Tron surpasses Ethereum, it wouldn’t just upset Buterin — it would make him lose some hope for humanity), and dismissed the notion that the Ethereum 2.0 road map was too long considering that a slew of competing next-generation platforms have recently launched or will be launching soon.
Noting that every project is overly optimistic about its prospects, he said, “All of these things are harder than they seem, and even after launch, things are harder than they seem.” Then he chuckled over how, back in 2014, some surmised that Bitcoin so-called side chains would make Ethereum obsolete, when as of 2019, there is just one small side chain. (Meanwhile, Ethereum is the leading smart contract platform with a $15 billion market cap.)
And yet, he said he understood why a strain of Ethereum “maximalism” — the belief that there will be one blockchain to rule them all — is emerging. “People are at their most evil not out of greed, but of fear,” he said.
Buterin and I also discussed how the Ethereum Foundation sets its funding priorities and what his opinion is of new experiments in funding development, such as MolochDAO (which was also featured on my podcast) and attempts at “inflation funding,” in which a portion of the newly minted ether goes to fund development of the blockchain. Plus, I asked him how much he and other Ethereum developers factor in the price of ether when working on facets of the network such as fees, block rewards, staking and inflation.
We took questions from podcast listeners, including one who created a video of Vitalik taking a “Lambo time machine” back to give advice to Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous person or group of people who created Bitcoin. (Vitalik initially said his advice to Satoshi would be the Ethereum 2.0 Github repository and then said he would suggest Satoshi create some process for upgrading the system.)
Listen to or watch the full episode to find out whether or not the audience agreed that Ethereum is losing its lead, whether or not the audience thought the developers were focusing enough on price, and who Buterin considers crypto’s “demon.”