Vitalik Buterin: ‘I Tried to Be an Intern at Ripple Back in the Day (Mid 2013)’

Siamak Masnavi

On Friday (April 19), Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-Canadian computer scientist who invented Ethereum, revealed a "fun fact" about himself: 'I tried to be an intern at Ripple back in the day (mid 2013).'

Before we look at the context of Vitalik's remarks, we need to remember that the earliest ideas behind Vitalik's original proposal for Ethereum in December 2013 came about as a result of his visit to Israel in October 2013:

"Let us first begin with the very earliest version of what would eventually become Ethereum, back when it was not even called Ethereum. When I was visiting Israel in October 2013, I spent quite a bit of time with the Mastercoin team, and even suggested a few features for them. After spending a couple of times thinking about what they were doing, I sent the team a proposal to make their protocol more generalized and support more types of contracts without adding an equally large and complex set of features."

Vitalik's admission about trying to get a job at Ripple came via a tweet sent in reply to the following tweet by Brian Armstrong, Co-Founder and CEO at Coinbase:

Vitalik admitted that back in mid 2013, when he was living in Canada, he had tried to come to California to work as an intern for the company that later got renamed (in September 2013) to Ripple Labs, but had failed to do so since the company sponsoring the visa had to be at least one year old: 

It is important to note that OpenCoin (which was the original name for Ripple Labs), the company that Vitalik must have been applying to back then, was co-founded by Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb in September 2012, which means that Vitalik must have applied for a job sometime around June 2013.

Then, Justin Sun, the founder and CEO of TRON Foundation, who apparently (according to his Linkedin profile) was hired by Ripple Labs' in December 2013 "as the first employee at [sic] Greater China area" and worked for the company until January 2016, decided to join the conversation:

Another person who replied to Vitalik's tweet was Ripple CTO David Schwartz, who joked:

One interesting tidbit not mentioned in Vitalik's tweet is that his interest in Ripple did not disappear following his failure to get a U.S. work visa to work for the Californian company. In fact, in February 2013, Vitalik wrote a "Ripple: Getting Started Guide" article for Bitcoin Magazine, which he co-founded with Mihai Alisie in May 2012. This was the closing paragraph of Vitalik's article:

"Hopefully, soon more merchants will start accepting Ripple for payment, and even before that happens there is always the option of buying goods or labor over-the-counter on or For now, good luck exploring the latest and greatest that cryptocurrency has to offer!"