Recordings of Ethereum’s 2015 Crisis Reveal Naïve Idealism

Conversations between Steven Nerayoff and Vitalik Buterin surface detailing a high degree of inexperience at the project.

Man on top of the world in space celebrating Ethereum.
Created by Kornelija Poderskytė from DailyCoin
  • Recordings from 2015 between Steven Nerayoff and Vitalik Buterin surface.
  • The recordings detail Nerayoff’s advice to lift Ethereum from its bankruptcy struggles.
  • Charles Hoskinson is mentioned in a negative light.

Ethereum is undoubtedly the leading layer 1 smart contract platform with the biggest network effect. However, the early days of the project weren’t so rosy. Following the Bitcoin price crash in 2014, the project was left dangerously exposed and struggling to stay afloat. Fighting for survival, Vitalik Buterin brought in entrepreneur and legal advisor Steven Nerayoff to help save the fledgling project.

Recordings between Buterin and Nerayoff during that struggle have now been made public. The candid conversations detail Nerayoff’s guidance that transformed a ragtag crew of developers into an organized corporate structure, eventually leading to Ethereum’s success today. 

Nerayoff’s Advice for Ethereum

Transforming Ethereum into the success it is today began with Nerayoff blasting management for keeping the majority of its funding in Bitcoin. This left the organization exposed following Bitcoin’s crash from $1,200 to less than $50 as 2014 rolled around. Nerayoff called the lack of diversification and poor money management “absolutely inexcusable.” 


“Absolutely inexcusable. I don’t care--By the way, I don’t care if BTC went to $2,000. The point of this wasn’t to ride BTC. It was to make sure you had enough money to see this thing through,” Nerayoff told Buterin.

To keep things ticking over under these circumstances, Nerayoff proposed major layoffs and a “total restructuring” in order to salvage the project. This involved streamlining the number of entities and centralizing the company around Switzerland as the new base of operations.

At the time of the first recording, the team was around six to seven weeks away from launching ETH 1.0. To make the most of this, Nerayoff emphasized building “a marketing machine” to hammer home the upcoming launch. 

Moreover, on the matter of getting more developers on board, Nerayoff stressed the importance of releasing a developer kit geared towards making life as easy as possible for devs to build on Ethereum. 


Significant portions of the recordings related to people management, in particular the ousting of Charles Hoskinson. Although Nerayoff described Hoskinson as “a jerk” and “asshole,” he still advocated for Hoskinson’s return on the basis that Ethereum needed a tough guy to make difficult decisions and get things moving.

I know Charles has his downside. I am very aware of Charlesstrengths and weaknesses. And I’m aware that he has both. But he was the closest thing you had to both a strategic person… And you don’t have an asshole,” commented Nerayoff. 

Hoskinson has been the subject of such criticisms on the internet for some time. However, he addressed these concerns once again in response to the Nerayoff recordings

Bygones Be Bygones

Hoskinson refuted any mentions of being a negative influence on the Ethereum team during his response to the Nerayoff recordings. In the video message, the Cardano founder discredited the most common accusations leveled at him, including that he is a sociopathic liar, an unproductive straggler, and an egotist who overstated his contribution to Ethereum.

Despite enduring personal attacks over the years and regrettably lashing out in response in some instances, Hoskinson stated that he remains open to cooperating with everyone in order to drive the crypto industry forward.

On the Flipside

  • The recordings paint Nerayoff as a no-nonsense taskmaster, directing an inexperienced team
  • Nerayoff has since fallen out with Buterin, accusing him of character assassination and Ethereum of being fraudulent.
  • Hoskinson wishes to remain a neutral party in the fallout, stating that he doesn’t know Nerayoff‘s “aim or end goals” in attacking Ethereum.

Why This Matters

Ethereum’s journey from its early crisis to crypto stardom is a testament to its resilience and adaptability. The project has undergone several upgrades and forks, including the transition from a Proof-of-Work to a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. However, the Nerayoff recordings highlight that a degree of maturity and cooperation is still needed in crypto to enable stable organizations.

Learn more about Nerayoff’s latest criticism of Ethereum here:
Ethereum Slammed as Cardano Wannabe by Former ETH Advisor

Find out the latest on Floki’s plans to target the South Asian crypto market here:
Floki Looks to Indian Cricket Legends in Huge Marketing Move

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Samuel Wan

Samuel Wan is a finance professional turned crypto journalist, known for his insightful reporting on market trends, regulatory changes, and technological developments within the digital asset industry. His ability to simplify complex concepts and report the facts has made him a trusted source in the crypto community. Beyond his writing, Samuel is an active mountain biker and gamer.