Exodus Top 10 Most Influential People in Crypto - Charles Hoskinson
Charles Hoskinson is the co-founder of Cardano and chief executive officer of IOHK, the development company behind Cardano. Charles graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in mathematics and has a long history of entrepreneurship in the cryptocurrency industry.
We’ve chosen Charles Hoskinson for our Exodus top 10 most influential people in crypto series because of the outsized influence that he’s had on the cryptocurrency ecosystem. As one of the founding members of Ethereum, and co-founder of Cardano, Charles has been heavily involved in two of the most successful cryptocurrency projects in the world.
In this article we’ll explore Charles’s many accomplishments and look to the future to see where Charles thinks Cardano and the cryptocurrency ecosystem are headed in the coming years.
Founding Ethereum and Cardano
In April of 2013 Charles quit a consulting job to start the online school, the Bitcoin Education Project. It was through that school that he met Vitalik Buterin. In late 2013 Charles and Vitalik began coding Ethereum, the world’s first smart contract platform.
Although Ethereum was a promising project, Charles had a vision for its future which was at odds with some of the other co-founders. Charles described the situation as a “boardroom brawl,” and in June of 2014 he left the Ethereum community.
Although he’d left Ethereum, Charles wasn’t inactive for long. In 2015 Charles teamed up with Jeremy Wood, another Ethereum co-founder, to create the blockchain development company IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong).
Initially the company sold blockchain solutions to companies, however, IOHK quickly pivoted towards developing its own cryptocurrency.
As per the whitepaper, the Cardano blockchain promised to provide a “more balanced and sustainable ecosystem that better accounts for the needs of its users as well as other systems seeking integration.” Crucially, Cardano would be developed by a process of rigorous peer review. Charles hoped that professional engineers, computer scientists and cryptographers could produce a more reliable blockchain than was possible with Ethereum’s ad-hoc development method.
Armed with a vision for a new type of blockchain, the IOHK development team set out to raise money. Even though other projects were creating tokens without any apparent concern for financial regulations, the IOHK team was careful to do their fundraising by the books. According to the Cardano website, “The initial distribution of ADA, essentially a pre-launch sales event, was the first in the cryptocurrency industry to set Know Your Customer guidelines, and an audit was performed on the distribution process.”
Twenty percent of all ADA created, 5,185,414,108 tokens, were given to three entities: IOHK, EMURGO and the Cardano Foundation. These tokens were to be used to fund the development of the Cardano blockchain. The remaining 80% of the tokens, 25,927,070,538 ADA in all, were sold via public sale.
In total the Cardano team raised $62 million, which they quickly put to work developing a next-generation blockchain protocol. Further information about the token sale is available on Cardano’s website.
How Cardano Works
By the time Cardano launched in the fall of 2017, Ethereum had already been live for more than two years. This gave Charles Hoskinson a chance to see how the protocol was growing, and an idea for how to use scientific research and formalized methods to build a better blockchain.
According to Cardano’s website, “Cardano began with and has grown through research. Before any technology we integrate is developed, it is specified. And before it is specified, it is researched. That research is peer-reviewed - a unique achievement for a blockchain platform - so that our ideas may be challenged before they are validated.”
That’s an abstract overview, but how does Cardano’s development process actually work? Here’s Charles Hoskinson describing how engineers use specifications to build a blockchain:
“The third part of our research portfolio is protocol-specific. How do we take those capabilities and actually put them into a system? Now, we go to engineers, a very special type of engineer called “the formal methods engineer”—they read a scientific paper and actually create the blueprint. It’s almost like an architect to a general contractor; the architect draws these blueprints up, shows you how to make the house, but they obviously don’t build it—the general contractor does that. That’s the hardest part.”
Rather than release a MVP (Minimal Viable Product) and then improve it over time, Charles and all of the developers at IOHK are trying to build the most polished and fully functional products before they release them.
For example, it took Cardano five years to release the Ouroboros staking mechanism. Since going live, however, Ouroboros has proven incredibly popular. Currently, 71% of all ADA coins are locked up in staking contracts. Crucially, now that smart contracts have finally gone live as of September 2021, Charles and the Cardano team can start catching up with other protocols like Tezos and Ethereum.
Charles Hoskinson’s Vision for Cardano
In terms of what the future holds for Cardano, Charles Hoskinson believes that blockchains are headed towards a “Wi-Fi moment,” a time when all protocols are interoperable and transitioning between chains is seamless.
In a Bloomberg interview Charles said, “I think over the next three to five years what will happen is our industry will converge to a Wi-Fi moment where it just works. And no matter what ecosystem you happen to be in, it will be very easy for you to migrate from that system to the next system with some notion of a timeout. You click a button, and now you're in Ethereum, and it takes a few minutes or a few hours until you're there. You click a button, now you're in Cardano. It takes a few minutes, a few hours and you're there.”
When asked what else IOHK is currently working on Charles replied that he’s excited about zero knowledge cryptography, which is, “about the closest thing to magic in our industry. If somebody sends you a Bitcoin, you need to be able to have the whole blockchain to know that it’s real and hasn’t been double-spent. But if you have zero-knowledge proofs, checking the proof gives you the same level of certainty.”
Zero knowledge proofs are an exciting new technology that promises to enable everything from high-throughput scaling to private transactions. Both Charles and Vitalik are excited about their possibilities and it’s likely we’ll be hearing more about ZK tech in the coming years.
Who will take silver and gold in the Exodus Top 10 Most Influential People in Crypto?
With Charles Hoskinson as number 3 on our Exodus top 10 most influential people in crypto series, we’ve entered the homestretch.
Stay tuned till next week to find out who’s coming in at the second spot on the list.
Cardano's ADA cryptocurrency is supported in the Exodus Cardano Wallet, where it can be easily staked.
Top 10 Most Influential People in Crypto; the countdown:
10) Vinny Lingham
9) Kathleen Breitman
8) Gavin Wood
7) Elizabeth Stark
6) Andre Cronje
5) Michael Saylor
4) Brian Armstrong
3) Charles Hoskinson
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