Charles Hoskinson and the Infinite Machine. Part I
Recently we heard the recommendation of “The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum” book, where Charles Hoskinson is one of the main heroes. Moreover, Charles himself spoke about this book on youtube and even suggested that this book might be even screened. We decided to read it and write a review specifically for the Cardano community.
The book itself is very exciting and non-technical, therefore it’s highly recommended to read not only for crypto-enthusiasts but for the broader audience. The author, Camila Russo started her crypto-journey covering Argentine markets in Bloomberg and now she is the founder of The Defiant, a content platform focusing on decentralized finance. Camila’s crypto-journey continues and she is definitely an insider who knows almost everyone important in the blockchain space and conducted thousands of hours of interviews with them. “The infinite machine” is a very fresh book, most of the events start in 2013–2014 and end in 2019, and the author is focusing on the personal stories of people involved in Ethereum and crypto development. This makes the book exciting to read and the only problem is to remember all those names of bright personalities. Definitely among those characters, there is the one who stands out for the Cardano community — the Founder and visionary — Charles Hoskinson.
First steps of Charles in crypto and the first investment
In 2013, after quitting his teaching job at the University of Colorado, and working on consulting contracts doing programming work, Charles noticed Bitcoin for the second time when the price shot above $100. He already read the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2011 and thought it’s a good idea, but lacks infrastructure.
«He decided to learn everything there was to know about Bitcoin and use his academic background to structure that knowledge into a class that anyone would be able to understand. From his laptop at his home near Boulder, he methodically pored through all the Bitcoin Wikipedia pages, read the source code, and talked to Bitcoin core developers. He put together PowerPoint presentations and videotaped himself talking over them. After a month he had about ten classes ranging between thirty minutes to two hours, and put them all up for free on Udemy, an online platform. The course was called “Bitcoin or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Crypto.”»
Many of us know about this course, which is still popular on Udemy, (almost 100 000 students took it) but that’s interesting to observe that this was the first step of Charles into the crypto-world.
One day Charles got a message from one of his students Li Xiaolai, that said something like, “Hey, I love your class. I’ll invest $500,000 for you to start another crypto project.»
«He named his new project Invictus and created a thread on BitcoinTalk announcing it: “It is clear a P2P exchange needs to be developed to ensure the long-term survival of all cryptocurrencies. There seems to be a great deal of innovation and different approaches to building a P2P exchange thus I think it is prudent to aggregate those actively working on an exchange into a single project for the purposes of collaborative innovation, funding, brainstorming and also reducing needless replication.”
The first to reply a little over an hour later was someone who went by the name “bytemaster,” with just two words: “I’m in!” That was Dan Larimer.»
Dan Larimer — the same guy who is now more known as the founder of EOS, and who is a bit critical about Cardano on Twitter. The above quote how the times were much easier back then for the early crypto adopters. They met on the forum, and then Charles became CEO and Dan — CTO of the new project, for which they used the above-mentioned investment.
That’s amazing to notice that this thread still exists on the Bitcointalk forum. We can see the account of Charles Hoskinson and even observe that he is still active on the forum, unlike many CEOs who stopped using the forum (i.e. Dan Larimer didn’t log in for more than 2 years).
Invictus grew into Bitshares, «But by that time, Charles and Dan had started to fight. Their grand plans required additional funding, and Dan was pushing to raise money by holding a crowdsale like Mastercoin’s, but Charles thought it was too risky. He joined the growing group of skeptics who saw these funding mechanisms as undercover securities offerings. Finally, Charles gave up and asked to be bought out.»
Charles went back to Colorado and created content for the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada. When Anthony Di Iorio showed him Ethereum whitepaper, he saw big potential in it.
«Anthony invited Charles to get on a call with Vitalik, Mihai Alisie, and Amir Chetrit, who had joined the project after receiving the email with the white paper. They decided on a rough timeline: Vitalik would unveil Ethereum at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami at the end of January and hold a crowdsale the week after the conference.»
Ethereum was announced at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, in January 2014.
«In the few weeks after Miami, Ethereum’s original group of five — Vitalik, Mihai, Anthony, Charles, and Amir — grew to eight with the addition of Gavin Wood, Jeffrey Wilcke, and Joseph Lubin. Gavin got his wish of becoming CTO, while Charles had been named CEO in the very early days when the group gathered via Skype»