Hoskinson, a mathematician by trade, became involved with digital currency in the early days of Bitcoin, and quit his consulting job in 2013 to go “all-in” on crypto. He was introduced to Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum whitepaper and became one of the original founders of Ethereum, briefly holding the position of Ethereum’s CEO. A public fall-out between the co-founders led Hoskinson to leave the project in 2014.
He went on to create Cardano, a proof of stake blockchain platform, with the goal of overcoming problems found in previous crypto projects, focusing on the flexibility, sustainability, scalability, and security of the blockchain. Cardano has historically been among the largest cryptocurrencies by market cap and Hoskinson is often mentioned as one of the richest people in crypto.
He is an outspoken advocate in the crypto ecosystem, frequently voicing his opinion about crypto news, issues, and technology, and giving frequent interviews. He has over 300,000 subscribers on YouTube and is active on Twitter and other forums.
“I’m kind of polarizing. People either like me or they hate me. There’s not a lot of people in between,” he said in an interview.
Hoskinson was born in 1987 in Hawaii to a family of doctors. He attended the Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Colorado Boulder to study math but did not earn a degree.
He joined the presidential campaign of Ron Paul in 2008, a US politician known for his libertarian views. Hoskinson was intrigued by Austrian economics and monetary theory, which state that an economic system based on fiat currency is inherently unstable, an issue that Bitcoin attempts to solve.
Role in the cryptocurrency community
Hoskinson briefly worked a consulting job after college but quit in 2013 to focus on cryptocurrency. He started The Bitcoin Education Project, providing free, peer-reviewed content on Bitcoin and the digital asset environment. The project’s goal was to reduce knowledge barriers within cryptocurrency and to bring one million users into the space by 2014. The project gained some traction, with Hoskinson giving interviews and securing partnerships with Udemy and Bitcoin Magazine.
Hoskinson was introduced to the Ethereum whitepaper by Anthony Di Iorio, a fellow Bitcoin enthusiast, and knew Buterin through The Bitcoin Education Project. Hoskinson was excited about Ethereum and started to attend early meetings on the project. In 2013, he was invited to be part of the original team of founders who would lead development of the project.
He met with his fellow co-founders at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami in 2014, known as Ethereum’s foundational gathering, and where Ethereum was officially announced. The group continued to meet in the months afterward, laying out the framework and vision for Ethereum and anticipating any legal repercussions of selling new coins to the public.
Hoskinson helped to designed Ethereum’s first initial coin offering (ICO) and made the decision to register the Ethereum foundation in Switzerland. He also briefly served as CEO of the project.
However, the relationship between the co-founders soured as they debated which direction to take the Ethereum project. Buterin wanted Ethereum to be a non-profit foundation with independent oversight, whereas Hoskinson pushed for a for-profit approach funded by venture capital. "It was a boardroom brawl," he later said. The founders agreed to let Buterin decide and Hoskinson left Ethereum shortly after.
Hoskinson took a six-month sabbatical after leaving the Ethereum team and briefly contemplated going back to mathematics. However, one of his fellow Ethereum co-founders, Jeremy Wood, approached him with an idea to start an engineering and research company that would build blockchains and cryptocurrencies for corporations, public entities, and academic institutions. They named the company IOHK, short for Input-Output Hong Kong.
Cardano, IOHK’s key project, started when a client proposed developing a “Japanese version of Ethereum.” Cardano was launched in 2017 as an open sourced, decentralized public blockchain platform, originally focused on the Japanese market before expanding globally. At its launch, it was the largest blockchain to use the proof of stake mechanism, considered an energy-efficient alternative to the more widely used proof of work.
The project does not have a whitepaper like other well-known blockchains. However, Hoskinson envisioned a multi-layer development scheme that would address the problems of other crypto ecosystems, focusing on themes of foundation, governance, decentralization, scaling, and smart contracts.
Hoskinson calls Cardano a “third-generation, smart contract platform and cryptocurrency,” with the goal of being faster and more flexible than Bitcoin, and more scalable and secure than Ethereum. It uses a UTXO ledger similar to Bitcoin as well as a multi-layer approach that developers can build upon. It currently hosts over a thousand decentralized systems and applications.
ADA, Cardano’s native token, launched in 2017. It is named after Ada Lovelace, a 19th century English mathematician known as the first computer programmer. The maximum supply of ADA is 45 billion tokens, which are programmed to be released over time through minting.
Philanthropy and corporate giving
Hoskinson donated $20 million to Carnegie Mellon University in 2021 to build a center for mathematics.
Hoskinson’s company, IOHK donated $500,000 to create a blockchain laboratory at the University of Wisconsin. IOHK donated an additional $4.5 million to a research hub at the University of Edinburgh to fund new projects in blockchain technology.
Charles Hoskinson essentials
- Charles Hoskinson is a crypto entrepreneur and mathematician known as the creator of Cardano, a public blockchain platform, as well as its native token, ADA.
- Hoskinson is one of the original co-founders of Ethereum, briefly holding the position of CEO before leaving the project in 2014.
- He created Cardano to address problems found in other crypto ecosystems including security, efficiency, and scalability.