If you’ve heard of cryptocurrency and made it to this website, then you’ve probably heard of Ethereum.
What you might not’ve heard of on the other hand is the Ethereum presale, one of the most significant events in the history of Ethereum and the entire crypto space.
Interested? Good - keep reading to learn what the presale was all about, how it worked, and why it was so important.
What was it?
The Ethereum presale was an initial fundraising campaign that took place in 2014 to finance the development of the Ethereum blockchain.
Over 42 days, investors were given the opportunity to purchase Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, at a discounted rate.
The sale was conducted through a smart contract, which automatically allocated Ether to the investors' Ethereum wallets.
Durring the 42 days of the presale, a total of 60 million Ether were sold. Equivelant to around 31,500 BTC at the time.
The Ether was sold at a price of 2,000 Ether per Bitcoin, which was significantly lower than the market price of Ether at the time.
The Ethereum presale attracted a diverse range of investors, including individuals, institutions, and cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Some of the notable investors who participated in the presale include Barry Silbert, Digital Currency Group, and Tim Draper.
All these investors saw the vision and jumped at the oportunity to board the ship. What a call.
So, was the presale a success?
Overall, the Eth presale was a resounding success.
It allowed the Ethereum team to raise the funds needed to develop their L1 blockchain. It also helped to create a really strong community of early adopters, passionate about the potential.
The importance of funding to the Ethereum team cannot be overstated.
The presale paved the way for the success of Ethereum and the emergence of the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem we see today.
The presale was also significant because it provided funds for the development of the Ethereum blockchain.
These funds were used to finance the research and development of the Ethereum platform, including the implementation of smart contract technology.
This community of developers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts has continued to grow over the years, with many people joining the Ethereum ecosystem to build new dApps and innovate in the DeFi space.
Today, the DeFi space has exploded, with billions of dollars of value locked in various DeFi protocols. Many of these protocols are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, showcasing the presale's long-lasting impact on the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.
A fork in the road
Now that we've covered the impact of the Ethereum presale on the crypto industry, let's explore some of the challenges the Ethereum network faced in its early days.
One of Ethers main challenges was the DAO hack, which occurred in 2016.
The DAO was a decentralized autonomous organization built on top of the Ethereum blockchain that aimed to provide a platform for decentralized decision-making and funding.
Unfortunately, a hacker exploited a vulnerability in the smart contract code, resulting in the theft of approximately $50 million worth of Ether.
The DAO hack highlighted the need for greater security measures in the crypto industry and resulted in a contentious hard fork of the Ethereum network.
The hard fork resulted in two separate blockchains, with the majority of the community supporting the forked chain, now known as Ethereum, and a smaller group sticking to the original chain, now known as Ethereum Classic.
Despite these challenges, the Ethereum network has continued to innovate and evolve, with many new dApps and DeFi protocols being built on top of the platform.
Additionally, the Ethereum network has continued to undergo significant upgrades, including the recent transition to Ethereum 2.0, which aims to enable greater scalability and sustainability on the network.
Stories of Locked Away Millions
Buterin’s message was very clear to anyone that wanted to participate in the presale, also calledthe premine, crowdsale, and genesis sale.
He wrote, “If you purchase Ether, DO NOT lose your wallet file or your password, or you will never be able to access your ether.”
Sometimes things went wrong during the presale. For instance, a DC family claims that it’sstruggling to access about $6 million locked away in an Ethereum presale wallet.
ABC’s News 7 reports that Art and Yuki Williams claim that even though they created a password for the wallet, the “very important JSON file which acts as a private key to open a crypto wallet never completely downloaded online.”
While the Williams’ claims have received quite a bit of press attention, many Ethereum presalewallet passwords were lost.
Hundreds of other stories like this have surfaced over the years which is what promped our research into the number of lost Eth presale tokens.
Here’s what we found.
How did we determine the number of lost presale tokens?
When determining the amount of ETH Lost in the presale there are a number of factors toconsider.
Is a wallet considered lost if it received payment from the genesis block and sent out 50 - 80% of the funds immediately?
What if a wallet received its genesis block but did not move funds until 2018 - is that considered a lost wallet or a HODL wallet?
For our purposes here, an Ethereum presale wallet is only considered “lost” if funds have never moved since they were received from the genesis block.
After determining the criteria for a “lost” Eth presale wallet, the remaining work comes down to searching for every Eth wallet that received funds from the genesis block.
This can be easily accomplished as the genesis block is block number 0 and holds a record of every transaction mined in that block.
With a basic scraper we were able to extract a list of 8,893 wallet addresses that received Eth in the genesis block.
Now, with the list of participating addresses in the Eth presale, it became a matter of writing a script to walk the blockchain and check each address for its transaction history.
Seeing as we are only considering a wallet “lost” if it has never moved funds, the process was to check each address for those which had only 1 transaction - incoming payment from the genesis block.
What percentage of Eth presale wallets have been lost?
Since the genesis block, 621 of the 8,893 addresses - representing just over 7% of the presalewallets - have never moved.
While 7% of these wallets may seem small, the amount of Eth stored away in these wallets is staggering. Locked away are 521,574.608 Eth, valued at roughly 939,000,000 USD at current market prices (March 2023).
These numbers become even more interesting as you dig into the value of each wallet.
Of the 620 wallets that have never moved, the average wallet value is just under 840 ETH (roughly 1.5 Million USD at current market price). The largest of these wallets holds more than $36 Million USD in lost Ether.
Here is a sample of the top 10 presale wallets ranked by value:
- 0x253f1e742a2cec86b0d7b306e5eacb6ccb2f8554 - eth value 20040 - $36,072,000
- 0x5bd23547477f6d09d7b2a005c5ee650c510c56d7 - eth value 10000 - $18,000,000
- 0x066647cfc85d23d37605573d208ca154b244d76c - eth value 10000 - $18,000,000
- 0xcd59f3dde77e09940befb6ee58031965cae7a336 - eth value 10000 - $18,000,000
- 0x352d29a26e8a41818181746467f582e6e84012e0 - eth value 6000 - $10,800,000
- 0x2de31afd189a13a76ff6fe73ead9f74bb5c4a629 - eth value 6000 - $10,800,000
- 0x0d1f2a57713ebc6e94de29846e8844d376665763 - eth value 5000 - $9,000,000
- 0x135cecd955e5798370769230159303d9b1839f66 - eth value 5000 - $9,000,000
- 0xd5ea472cb9466018110af00c37495b5c2c713112 - eth value 4997.8 - $8,996,040
- 0x854691ce714f325ced55ce5928ce9ba12facd1b8 - eth value 4380 - $7,884,000
Is lost Eth lost forever?
Recovering your Ethereum presale wallet requires both the wallet file and the password.
If you have forgotten the password, you can attempt to recover it by generating a list of possible passwords based on the wallet's password requirements and your personal password patterns.
The Ethereum presale wallet password must include at least 10 characters with a mix of capital and lowercase letters, special characters, and digits.
To jog your memory, examine other passwords you have created and look for common patterns or themes.
Consider words you commonly use, numbers based on significant dates, or special characters you favor. Create a spreadsheet to document these patterns and generate possible passwords.
Be sure to keep this spreadsheet secure and delete it after use.
We have a more in-depth guide on recovery if you’ve lost your presale wallet. You can check it out here.
Best of luck - and if you decide you’d like professional help - feel free to drop us a message at our contact page!