Reports have emerged that the co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, transferred 30,000 ether (ETH) to Bitstamp sometime in the middle of December 2017, sparking uncertainty and doubt in the cryptocurrency market.
Mass Withdrawal Sparks Concerns
Indeed, if Buterin’s known public Ethereum addresses were to be inspected, three transactions can be found, each indicating precisely 10,000 ETH. According to data obtained from this blockchain analysis, the transfers took place on December 15, 2017.
If Buterin did cash out a large sum of his holdings, the incident would make him the second major cryptocurrency co-founder to do so in the past month. On December 20, 2017, Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin, announced on Reddit that he had sold or donated his entire stock of LTC because of a “conflict of interest.” Lee did, however, also state that he would continue to work on the cryptocurrency in the future.
Whether Buterin’s withdrawal of his share of ether was for a similar reason is not known at this time as there has been no public announcement on the matter. Since the 23-year-old is not known to be a cryptocurrency trader, that possibility has since been ruled out as well.
The Canadian programmer could, however, have used his ether reserve to pay contractors working on the digital currency. Just a couple days prior to the transfer, he tweeted the following, “I just paid ~10 contractors in ETH with amounts calculated based on exchange rates from USD, SGD and TWD today.” This explanation seems the most plausible in the absence of other convincing theories.
Notably, the co-founder has also made several critical comments concerning the current state of the digital currency market over the past few weeks. In one such tweet, he questioned whether the cryptocoin market capitalization deserved to be at half a trillion dollars given that the technology has not proved to be useful or practical to the masses yet.
Another Twitter thread involved him bashing the community’s outlook on digital currencies, condemning the immature behavior and price-fueled speculation raging the market. In fact, in a later tweet he even hinted at the possibility of his departure from the space if things within the community did not improve.
Today, Buterin still sits atop a reserve of 375,003 tokens of ether, valued at around $300 million in total, which is a relatively significant amount and beaten perhaps only by the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. The only difference here is that Nakamoto’s tokens have never actually been traced to a single bitcoin wallet.
The last time the Ethereum co-founder sold any of his earnings was in April 2016 when the cryptocurrency was trading at a modest $10. He later clarified that the move to sell 25 percent of his ether holdings was to diversify his cryptocurrency portfolio.
Considering the relative success of Ethereum, and the imminent release of the Casper protocol, Vitalik Buterin is probably not going to exit the market anytime soon.