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Publisher's Summary

The thrilling story of one of the largest digital heists in history, set in the world of cryptocurrencies.

In 2016, $55 million was stolen as computer programmers all around the world sat at their screens watching helplessly. It was one of the largest digital heists in history. This daring theft played out in the world of blockchain, the technological breakthrough that enabled Bitcoin to go from an idea in 2008 to a $130 billion digital currency today. Out of the Ether takes an in-depth look at the most prominent successor to Bitcoin, a radically improved type of computer software invented by 19-year-old genius Vitalik Buterin. Known as Ethereum, its shaky beginnings allowed for the incredible hack that led to the $55 million heist. It’s a real-life cryptocurrency thriller that’s sure to capture your imagination, whether you’re an investor, investment professional, or simply interested in learning more about blockchain innovation and cryptocurrencies.

The story of Ethereum begins with Buterin, from his earliest days in Russia to Canadian émigré to wunderkind writer and coder. After pulling off one of the largest crowd sales in history at the time, Buterin and his cohorts built the Ethereum blockchain to become a world computer. But early on things went horribly astray. A futuristic automated investment fund created using Ethereum received an astounding $250 million in investment cash, yet a bug was mistakenly inserted in the code on line 666, allowing a hacker to steal a fifth of that money. Since there's no federal deposit insurance for digital currency, the theft created a crisis that only a group of good-guy hackers who had helped build Ethereum could combat. Think of ninjas battling on the blockchain and you’ve only scratched the surface of this fascinating real-life adventure.

In the end, Buterin advocated for an extremely controversial fix: reversing time to a point before the theft happened to erase it and reinstate the stolen money. This controversial move sent a concerning message: cyber transactions could be wiped out after the fact. In light of the Ethereum crisis and its founders’ actions, stakeholders in the multibillion-dollar virtual economy were forced to reexamine digital currency’s future.

This book goes behind the scenes of the Ethereum theft, making it a true pause resister. You’ll also discover the never-before-told history of the Ethereum developers and the struggles and triumphs they endured.

Understand the background behind a historic theft of ether. Dive into the Ethereum blockchain that hosts smart contracts. Learn more about the team that established Ethereum and kept it alive. Keep pace with what’s happening in blockchain and what the financial future may hold. The potential of blockchain to transform industries, from finance to health care, has garnered the attention of corporations and individuals all over the world. A heist of millions demands evaluation, whether you’re a blockchain investor or financial professional weighing the potential risks and opportunities waiting in the world of cryptocurrencies.

©2020 Matthew Leising (P)2020 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bruno
  • 15-05-21

Boring and meandering

Terrible narration, wrong pronunciation on many parts, very reporterly-pretentious sounding. Boring book, could have been a very small chapter rather than this beating around the bush to get nowhere. Looking for an eth history book? Read Camilla Russo's Infinite Machine instead.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Philo
  • 27-12-20

Well told, but a small sliver of the big picture

Let me point out, this author has a great gift for explaining technical things in easy-to-grasp terms. The business and personal histories are well laid-out too. That said, I see this book as written from a generally fan-booster perspective. My guesses as to why, are (1) this is how the author got access to the inside players, and (2) this is where the author's journalist-author career has wound up, as the author committed to this corner and moment of the crypto and tech world. So we have Buterin and the author each "talking their own book," as we say in finance. Buterin is exceedingly polished and clever in playing the dreamy boy-genius schtick. Already some reviews here suggest the cheer section is comprised of people looking for (1) confirmation of their investments, emotional or financial or (probably) both, in Ethereum and its narratives, or (2) their emotional investment in the Vitalik Buterin personality/celebrity fan crowd. This story IS well told, and well-performed,and the author gets points for some faint critical thinking and discussion about Ethereum, the key plot points and the personalities. But I cannot pretend this is balanced. To instill some balance, I recommend pairing this with the straight-up skeptical book, Attack of the 50-Foot Blockchain, by David Gerard (2017), which is hilarious as well as spot-on in many of its critiques. What do I, as a business law prof, see in this story most? I see the utterly typical (by now predictable and banal) error of the youthful change-the-world types in this arena, launching into their change-the-world projects and then having to start, far too late, to learn fundamentals of business development 101 right in the middle of the movie, and they (rather their projects) keep getting burnt badly as their dreams crash on reef after reef of reality in plain sight the whole time. Or rather, these supposed rebel geniuses get rich on their little fascination and the real grunts, the rank and file retail investors (even more ignorant), pay for it. And since lifespans and information conveyance are short and inefficient, people are newly born and have to learn everything all over again, so this ceaseless fantasy (and some might say, grift) continues forever. Case in point: missing the very most obvious and fundamental ideas in contract theory (and the real world experience of contract formation and administration) that assured the grand showpiece use case, the DAO, would promptly blow up in their faces. So they are, by the end of the book, seemingly (in my opinion) drifting to the side of the road as more smartly-implemented versions of their inspiration find their way into the world in the hands of others (principally others these day-dreamy rebels despised), and the rebels keep spouting the same old gee whiz rewrite-the-world drivel. It's great people try these things, but I am just warning the reader here to not be a sucker and bag-holder in crypto situations which are fraught with gauzy dreams and risk. You will not be sophisticated if this (or its ilk) are all you read. And the positive reviewers here, I suggest, just might be "talking their own book" too. Many probably have crypto assets they would like you to buy (for that awful old fashioned fiat money they so despise). All that said, it's worth a listen.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazons Customer
  • 30-10-20

Great book

Great read for a crypto lover. Bring on more books like this one really shows you the full aspect of things