PayPal co-founder and noted VC investor Peter Thiel announced the latest class of Thiel Fellows today, with Ethereum co-creator and Bitcoin Magazine co-founder Vitalik Buterin being named as one of the new set.
The 20-year-old Toronto native, along with 19 other fellows, will receive $100,000 over the next two years to use toward current and future projects.
Noting that today's innovators face more challenges than ever given current global economic issues, Thiel stressed the need for his programme while expressing optimism about what this year's class could achieve:
"We hope the 2014 Thiel Fellows inspire people of all ages as they demonstrate that intellectual curiosity, grit and determination are more important than credentials for improving civilization."
To make the class, Buterin beat a lengthy field of applicants that included representatives from 44 countries and every US state. Applicants of all ages also sought entrance to the programme, with candidates coming from high school and college competing against those with no formal higher education or only some higher education like Buterin.
Despite his youth, Buterin has already built an impressive resume in the budding digital currency industry. For example, Buterin has been involved in several notable projects outside of his initial editorial endeavour, Bitcoin Magazine, including Dark Wallet, KryptoKit and Ethereum.
Buterin is also a regular on the bitcoin conference scene, having unveiled the second-generation digital currency platform Ethereum at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami this January.
More recently, Buterin spoke at the Texas Bitcoin Conference in March and at Global Bitcoin Summit, the controversial Beijing-based gathering held this May.
Ethereum and beyond
Buterin has more recently, however, become involved with what may be Bitcoin 2.0's most notable project to date, Ethereum. Styled as a decentralized mining network and software development platform, the project has sought to further expand the applications of bitcoin's underlying technology into the field of smart contracts and decentralized applications.
CoinDesk reached out to Buterin to determine how he will use the fellowship funds and whether they will be used to bolster Ethereum as it looks toward launch. However, at press time, we had received no comment.
For more on why he gravitated to this project and its implications for the digital currency economy, read our most recent interview with Buterin.
Image via Vimeo