Whenever someone starts talking about the so-called "Ethereum killers" — a handful of blockchains that aim to overtake or even replace ETH by addressing its shortcomings of limited throughput and steep fees — one of the names that immediately pops into mind is Cardano. The brainchild of Charles Hoskinson, Cardano and its native token ADA collectively boast one of the largest and most active communities in the blockchain industry, rivaling the one of XRP. Even though Cardano has shed some TVL amidst the doom and gloom of the 2022 crypto winter, the chain is far from dead, and the strength of its community is a testament to Cardano's resilience and significance in the industry.
Given the proven popularity of Cardano, it comes as no surprise that many members of the crypto community developed a keen interest in all things Charles Hoskinson: his life philosophy, educational background, family life, and, most importantly, his net worth. If you are among them as well, you came to the right place: read one to learn more about Charles Hoskinson's crypto ventures, his estimated wealth, and his vision for Cardano.
Who is Charles Hoskinson?
Charles Hoskinson is a scholar and cryptocurrency entrepreneur most known for his creation of Cardano, a public Layer 1 blockchain based on the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. The Cardano founder is known to have a background in mathematics and computer science, which has been instrumental in his contributions to the crypto industry.
Although Cardano is, undoubtedly, Hoskinson's most prominent project that earned him widespread recognition in the community, it wasn't the only one on his track record: before Cardano, he contributed to a number of other crypto ventures and was even involved in the creation of Ethereum! Interestingly, it was the beef between the team of original Ethereum founders and Hoskinson that prompted the latter to quit and start a rival blockchain network.
Below, we'll try to picture a brief overview of Charles Hoskinson's journey in the blockchain industry so far, including his educational background, early crypto projects, involvement with Ethereum, creation of Cardano, and net worth estimates.
Charles Hoskinson's early life
Charles Hoskinson was born on November 5, 1987, in Hawaii, to a family of doctors. Although one would expect him to follow in the steps of his parents, young Hoskinson instead decided to pursue a career in math and computer science, rather than following his initial plans to become a surgeon. This change of heart comes from Hoskinson's childhood fascination with computers, which led him to a more in-depth study of technology.
Charles Hoskinson attended the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he had been enrolled part-time as a math major between 2006 and 2008 and again from 2012 to 2014, and the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he was a half-time undergraduate math major for four semesters from spring 2009 to fall 2011. However, Hoskinson never earned a degree from either.
During his time at the university, Hoskinson's topic of research interest was Analytic Number Theory, but later he switched to cryptography through a crypto industry exposure.
In 2013, Hoskinson became the founding chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation’s education committee. The emergence of Bitcoin impressed Hoskinson so much that he decided to quit his consulting job to focus solely on the Bitcoin Education Project. As an online school, BEP started on Udemy, offering introductory lectures on the Bitcoin currency, Bitcoin wallets, Satoshi Nakamoto, plus bonus lectures on cryptography with additional insight from other BEP fellows, such as Brian Goss.
According to Charles Hoskinson, his family wasn't very supportive of his new venture: quite the contrary, his parents thought he was crazy. "Everybody thought I was crazy. But I said, No, no, I got it all figured out," Hoskinson told Forbes in 2018.
Bitcoin Educational Project was conceived with an ambitious goal: to educate and add one million additional Bitcoin users to the Bitcoin ecosystem in one year by reducing the knowledge barriers to entry into the field. Back then already, Hoskinson was aware of the information asymmetry in the crypto community and aimed to bridge that gap, a testament to his visionary thinking and leadership.
Charles Hoskinson's involvement with ETH
Through his central role in the Bitcoin Education Project, Charles Hoskinson made a lot of valuable connections in the space, one of them being Anthony Di Iorio, one of the core members of the team that at that time just started to form around Vitalik Buterin and his ambitious project, Ethereum.
Anthony, a Bitcoin entrepreneur who created and sold a Bitcoin online casino called Satoshi Circle and founded the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada, was not a technical person, so he asked Hoskinson to look over Vitalik's white paper. Hoskinson found the idea of a distributed world computer that uses its own programming language and where developers can create decentralized applications quite enticing, so he vetted the idea. With Charles' approval, Di Iorio offered Vitalik a $150,000 grant to develop Ethereum and welcomed Hoskinson aboard.
In late 2013, he joined the team as one of the original co-founders of the Ethereum blockchain alongside Vitalik Buterin, Joseph Lubin, Anthony Di Iorio, Gavin Wood, Mihai Alisie, Jeffrey Wilcke, and Amir Chertit, and was even briefly appointed as the CEO of the project. However, the growing split between the team members on whether Ethereum should be a for-profit or non-profit entity made it apparent that the issue had to be settled — and that somebody would have to leave for this to happen.
Why has Charles Hoskinson left Ethereum?
As documented in Laura Shin's history of Ethereum, The Cryptopians, the divide between the team members widened as each day passed and became so stark that the emergency meeting was held in Zug, Switzerland, where Ethereum was headquartered. People on the business side of the project — Di Iorio, Lubin, Chertit, plus Hoskinson — were all in favor of the for-profit model, envisioning Ethereum as Google of blockchains that would earn money by selling user data and have the most typical corporation organizational structure. Vitalik and devs, on the other hand, wanted a Mozilla-like foundation to oversee the development of Ethereum as an open-source public good. Besides this core issue, there were also internal power struggles, Charles' personality quirks, and disagreements over the scope of individual contribution towards the project that decided the fate of two Ethereum co-founders, Hoskinson and Chertit.
Wilcke and Wood, the two devs who were coding Ethereum alongside Vitalik, said that Hoskinson needed to go and threatened to leave if he stayed. Predictably, the votes split between business and tech people: Lubin, Chertit, Hoskinson, and Di Iorio voted for keeping Chertit and Hoskinson in the team, while Alisie, Wood, and Wilcke wanted them out. As the main originator of the entire project, Vitalik was granted two votes, so ultimately, the decision rested with him.
Although Vitalik was on good terms with Charles and would in every other situation prefer him to stay, he couldn't afford to lose two core technical people: after all, Ethereum was a software project, so devs were indispensable. As a result, both Hoskinson and Chertit were voted out and left Ethereum in June 2014.
What is Cardano (ADA)?
After Hoskinson quit Ethereum, he took a six-month break, contemplating a return to mathematics. But destiny had something else in store: Jeremy Wood, Hoskinson's personal assistant and ex-managing ops at Ethereum, to whom Hoskinson has bequeathed his entire founder share of ETH (293,000 Ether worth about $528 million at the time of writing!), approached the ousted CEO with a proposal to start a blockchain engineering company that would get big contracts from corporations, academic institutions, and government entities.
And this is how Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) was born, laying the grounds for its key project, Cardano. One of the top Ethereum contenders, Cardano is a decentralized public blockchain and cryptocurrency project that prides itself on its academic rigor, focus on empirical research, and peer review process. When launched in 2017, Cardano was the first blockchain to adopt the proof-of-stake consensus, a greener alternative to the classic proof-of-work algorithm first introduced by Bitcoin.
Although, unlike other crypto projects, Cardano doesn't have a whitepaper, it has a set of core design principles that guide its development. Some of them are cooperation between interdisciplinary teams and the early involvement of InfoSec experts, a long-term view on improving cryptocurrencies' compatibility with mobile devices, the inclusion of optional metadata into transaction history to conform to the needs of legacy systems, and the separation of accounting and computation into different layers, to name just a few.
Cardano's native cryptocurrency, ADA, is used to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions on the network, paying gas fees, and staking to secure the protocol and provide stability. At the time of writing, ADA is the eighth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, while Cardano is the sixth-largest Layer 1 blockchain in terms of total value locked (TVL).
What is Charles Hoskinson's net worth in 2023?
In 2018, Forbes magazine estimated Charles Hoskinson net worth at $500-$600 million, which at that time placed him among the top richest people in the crypto world. Unlike Vitalik Buterin, Hoskinson doesn't have a public blockchain wallet, a decision that, as he once explained on Twitter, is rooted in security concerns. According to Cardano's founder, some malicious actors could potentially send him transactions from sanctioned nations and wallets, which would lead to a blacklist of his account.
That being said, any estimates of Charles Hoskinson's net worth may vary, depending on how much ADA he holds and whether he has ever sold a significant part of it. Still, we will try to do some simple math to get an insight into what his net worth could be today.
At the time that the Forbes article was published in February 2018 — which was the last time any major outlet reported on Hoskinson's wealth — ADA was trading at $0.32, and his net worth was estimated at $500–600 million.
Now, nearly six years later, after going through epic highs and lows of several bull and bear markets, ADA is changing hands at $0.29, which, provided that most of Hoskinson's wealth is indeed tied up in ADA, would mean that his net worth remained virtually unchanged through years and should still be somewhere around $500 million in 2023. Of course, our estimates do not include any other sources of Charles Hoskinson's income, such as non-crypto investments, consulting gigs, or profits from other ventures, so these should serve as a mere baseline for his net worth today.
How did Charles Hoskinson build his net worth?
As mentioned before, the bag of ADA Charles Hoskinson owns likely makes up a significant part of his net worth, which sounds quite plausible given his commitment to Cardano and strong belief in the future of his brainchild. As a founder and CEO, Hoskinson likely received a sizable share of ADA cryptocurrency as compensation for his effort.
However, Cardano and other crypto ventures aren't the only source of income for Charles Hoskinson. The crypto entrepreneur is no stranger to old-fashioned brick-and-mortar businesses: he owns Nessie's restaurant and a whiskey lounge in Wheatland, Wyoming, and a ranch nearby. Finally, last year Cardano founder also launched his Hoskinson Health and Wellness Clinic, which focuses on anti-aging and life extension, aiming to make healthcare affordable not just for the highest strata of American society. And as befits the crypto evangelist that Charles Hoskinson is, all his businesses accept ADA as a payment method, expanding the coin's utility and adoption for non-crypto related goods and services.
Philanthropy and corporate giving
Cardano's founder is no stranger to philanthropic efforts, having contributed millions to various causes. In 2021, Hoskinson donated $20 million to his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, and established the Hoskinson Center for Formal Mathematics as a part of its philosophy department.
Hoskinson's company, Input Output Hong Kong, provided a $500,000 grant to create a blockchain laboratory at the University of Wisconsin. IOHK also donated an additional $4.5 million to a research hub at the University of Edinburgh to spur innovation in blockchain technology.
Charles Hoskinson's long-standing thought leadership in the blockchain space serves as a testament to his commitment and passion for the crypto industry. His focus on cryptocurrency education, evangelism of decentralization, and bringing crypto to the mainstream, combined with his technical expertise, have all influenced the direction of the technology and continue to shape it until today.
If you would like to learn more about the net worth of other crypto personalities, take a look at our articles on Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum, Sergey Nazarov of Chainlink, Caroline Ellison of Alameda Research, and Do Kwon of Terra.