- Dmitry Buterin, father of Ethereum inventor Vitalik, is a Russian-Canadian entrepreneur and angel investor.
- He has strong views on everything from parenting to Vladimir Putin and is an advocate for political reform in Russia.
- He explains why ETH’s 2017 highs were premature, and highlights some of the best projects building on the platform.
The jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny last month unleashed a tide of protest around the world. But it touched an especially painful splinter at the heart of one prominent Russian emigre, Dmitry Buterin, who resolved to do something about the tragedy.
Buterin is the father of creator Vitalik Buterin, whose revolutionary blockchain platform reached a record market cap of $196 billion last week. Ethereum’s decentralized, transparent, censorship-resistant ethos is the very antithesis of the world Buterin senior left behind.
So last week he tweeted a heartfelt plea to his followers to retweet Navalny’s video and asked the Ethereum community in Russia to set up donations toward the cause. The video details the widespread and systematic corruption perpetrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies, over twenty years.
Dmitry Buterin loathes Putin: “He’s KGB, and those are the people who tortured and killed millions of Russians and Ukrainians. Can we trust him?” he said recently, during a call with Decrypt.
These days, his home is in the heart of Toronto, where he lives with his wife and two young daughters who are Vitalik’s halfsisters. The city’s CNN tower was visible in the background, as he spoke about his Russian heritage, his approach to raising the boy who would create Ethereum, and why—unlike in 2017, when ETH reached its previous all-time-high—this time, it’s different.
The man who raised Ethereum’s genius inventor has myriad interests, which span from spirituality to software, aging, parenting, and of course Putin. He has strong views on all of it, though his Twitter persona —he has 13,000 followers—tends to come off as warm and fuzzy and light-hearted, even when he gently spars with Twitter troll Udi Wertheimer, a notorious Ethereum skeptic. The social media version differs from the man in person (on Zoom) who projects a steelier, more guarded core.
Buterin was born in 1972 in the Chechen capital of Grozny, in Russia’s wild, southern reaches. As a child, he was bombarded with incessant propaganda—“brainwashed” people, the dregs of the cult of Lenin, he said. He endured the usual shortages of toilet paper and other essentials, as well as the low-level corruption and duplicity that permeated life in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. It did not make him love his country.
Dmitry Buterin said that his upbringing made him ideologically predisposed toward Ethereum, which is “aligned with my deeply-seated passion for openness, transparency, [and] freedom. Because of growing up in the Soviet Union, and seeing the authoritarian regime and their oppression and their bigotry, for me, decentralized systems hold so much promise for us building a better future.”
But it was in the Soviet Union, in Grozny, where a friendly neighbor named Vitaly taught the teenage Dmitry Buterin how to code. At 17, the aspiring young software developer and entrepreneur moved to the Russian capital to study Computer Science at the Moscow Institute of Electronic Engineering.
After graduation, he married Natalia Ameline, a Cybernetics student at the National Research University of Electronic Technology. He worked as a software engineer and then a business consultant, while the couple lived in Kolomna, a city-suburb, some 70 miles southeast of Moscow. That’s where their only child, a son, Vitalik was born in 1994.
Dmitry said that the boy was named after the man that taught him how to program. Then he…