Hoskinson was briefly the CEO of blockchain platform Ethereum before a boardroom brawl led him to quit. He then went onto to start IOHK, a builder of cryptocurrencies and blockchains for corporations, government entities and academic institutions.
A Fight Over Ethereum Led A Cofounder To Even Greater Crypto Wealth
Cofounder, Ethereum, IOHK
Crypto Net Worth: $500 million-$600 million*
In April 2013, when Charles Hoskinson quit his consulting gig to start an online school the Bitcoin Education Project, “my parents thought I was crazy,” he says. “Everybody thought I was crazy. But I said, No, no, I got it all figured out.”
Smart or lucky, Hoskinson wound up meeting Vitalik Buterin at the online school and became one of the eight original cofounders of Ethereum. Soon after, disagreements arose about how to structure the project. “It was a boardroom brawl,” he says. Hoskinson wanted to accept venture capital and create a for-profit entity with a more formal governing structure. Buterin wanted to keep Ethereum a nonprofit organization with an open-source, decentralized governance. Hoskinson left Ethereum in June 2014.
“At the time I was pretty pissed off,” says Hoskinson, 30. “Ether went up [to a market cap of] $120 billion, so what the hell do I know?”
After taking a six-month sabbatical — in which he contemplated going back to mathematics — he was approached by former Ethereum colleague Jeremy Wood to form a new project called IOHK, an engineering company that builds cryptocurrencies and blockchains for corporations, government entities and academic institutions.
“We put in a few hundred thousand dollars initially and started getting contracts to build cryptocurrencies,” says Hoskinson. With all their revenue coming in the form of Bitcoin, IOHK saw huge returns as the coin soared in value.
“When the crypto market exploded, we decided to liquidate,” Hoskinson says. He refuses to share when they sold. “Relative to our burn rate, though, IOHK can now stay open for decades.”
IOHK’s key project: Cardano, a public blockchain and smart-contract platform which hosts the Ada cryptocurrency. At $16 billion, Ada is now the fifth-largest in market cap, just two spots behind Ethereum. IOHK’s position in Ada is worth over $1 billion. IOHK also runs Ethereum Classic, which has a market cap of around $3 billion.
*All cryptocurrency/U.S. dollar conversions are as of January 19, 2018.