In 2016 Ethereum was split into two separate blockchains - Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic, after a malicious actor stole more than $50 million worth of funds which had been raised on The DAO, a set of smart contracts originating from Ethereum's software platform. The new Ethereum was a hard fork from the original software intended to protect against further malware attacks. As of July 2018 Ethereum was the second-largest virtual currency on the market, behind only Bitcoin. It is much faster to acquire ether currency than bitcoin (about 14 or 15 seconds to bitcoin's near-uniform 10 minutes) and there are far more ether units in circulation than there are bitcoin.
It is interesting to note that a major bitcoin rally started right after the Silk Road shutdown, somewhat dispelling critics arguments that the virtual currency was mainly used as a tool for facilitating drug trafficking. In the months following the site’s closure, several major online and offline businesses started accepting bitcoins. These include major US retailers like and Tiger Direct. The CEO of reported that the company logged more than 800 purchases using Bitcoin on the first day they started offering the new payment solution, totalling $130,000. The company estimates that Bitcoin buyers have made $500,000 in purchases in the first 14 days since the new payment option was offered.

An initial coin offering (ICO) is a controversial means of raising funds for a new cryptocurrency venture. An ICO may be used by startups with the intention of avoiding regulation. However, securities regulators in many jurisdictions, including in the U.S., and Canada have indicated that if a coin or token is an "investment contract" (e.g., under the Howey test, i.e., an investment of money with a reasonable expectation of profit based significantly on the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others), it is a security and is subject to securities regulation. In an ICO campaign, a percentage of the cryptocurrency (usually in the form of "tokens") is sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, often bitcoin or ether.[47][48][49]

I understand that this is simplifying things to the extreme, but that's why an entire series of guides is needed! It's a complex landscape to understand, but the core is simple: miners are people independently verifying transactions on the coin's network, and when that happens more coins are created. Miners effectively keep the network running and increase the coin's global supply.
With the 2008 financial crisis still fresh in people’s minds, most wrote off Bitcoin’s rising price as just another ‘’bubble’’. But what a lot of people failed to grasp is why the price is going up. While speculation and betting on higher prices certainly played their part in the process, a major reason behind the gains is very simple, increased adoption of the cryptocurrency.
When you pay someone in bitcoin, you set in motion a process of escalating, energy-intensive complexity. Your payment is basically an electronic message, which contains the complete lineage of your bitcoin, along with data about who you’re sending it to (and, if you choose, a small processing fee). That message gets converted by encryption software into a long string of letters and numbers, which is then broadcast to every miner on the bitcoin network (there are tens of thousands of them, all over the world). Each miner then gathers your encrypted payment message, along with any other payment messages on the network at the time (usually in batches of around 2,000), into what’s called a block. The miner then uses special software to authenticate each payment in the block—verifying, for example, that you owned the bitcoin you’re sending, and that you haven’t already sent that same bitcoin to someone else.

Ether is a cryptocurrency whose blockchain is generated by the Ethereum platform. Ether can be transferred between accounts and used to compensate participant mining nodes for computations performed.[4] Ethereum provides a decentralized Turing-complete virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. "Gas", an internal transaction pricing mechanism, is used to mitigate spam and allocate resources on the network.[3][5]

The silence of the Chinese authorities was seen as a subtle acceptance signal by market participants. The situation didn’t last long however. On December 7th, The People’s Bank of China barred financial institutions from buying or selling virtual currency or Bitcoin related products. The Bank also demanded that businesses stop with the practice of pricing their products in Bitcoins. BTC/USD opened the day at $906.50 on BTC-E. After the news hit the wires, bitcoin prices crashed from to a low of $551 in only 9 hours, a fall of 39%.

Many users forgot one of the most important features of Bitcoin—controlling your own money—and left more than 800,000 bitcoins in Gox accounts. In February 2014, Gox halted withdrawals and customers were unable to withdrawal their funds. The company’s CEO claimed that the majority of bitcoins were lost due to a bug in the Bitcoin software. Customers still have not received any of their funds from Gox accounts.
Ethereum is also being used as a platform to launch other cryptocurrencies. Because of the ERC20 token standard defined by the Ethereum Foundation, other developers can issue their own versions of this token and raise funds with an initial coin offering (ICO). In this fundraising strategy, the issuers of the token set an amount they want to raise, offer it in a crowdsale, and receive Ether in exchange. Billions of dollars have been raised by ICOs on the Ethereum platform in the last two years, and one of the most valuable cryptocurrencies in the world, EOS, is an ERC20 token.

All disputes or claims arising out of, relating to, or in connection with the Terms, the breach thereof, or use of the Ethereum Platform shall be finally settled under the Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce by one or more arbitrators appointed in accordance with said Rules. All claims between the parties relating to these Terms that are capable of being resolved by arbitration, whether sounding in contract, tort, or otherwise, shall be submitted to ICC arbitration. Prior to commencing arbitration, the parties have a duty to negotiate in good faith and attempt to resolve their dispute in a manner other than by submission to ICC arbitration. The arbitration panel shall consist of one arbitrator only, unless the ICC Court of Arbitration determines that the dispute is such as to warrant three arbitrators. If the Court determines that one arbitrator is sufficient, then such arbitrator shall be Swiss resident. If the Court determines that three arbitrators are necessary, then each party shall have 30 days to nominate an arbitrator of its choice -- in the case of the Claimant, measured from receipt of notification of the ICC Court’s decision to have three arbitrators; in the case of Respondent, measured from receipt of notification of Claimant’s nomination. All nominations must be Swiss resident. If a party fails to nominate an arbitrator, the Court will do so. The Court shall also appoint the chairman. All arbitrators shall be and remain “independent” of the parties involved in the arbitration. The place of arbitration shall be Zug, Switzerland. The language of the arbitration shall be English. In deciding the merits of the dispute, the tribunal shall apply the laws of Switzerland and any discovery shall be limited and shall not involve any depositions or any other examinations outside of a formal hearing. The tribunal shall not assume the powers of amiable compositeur or decide the case ex aequo et bono. In the final award, the tribunal shall fix the costs of the arbitration and decide which of the parties shall bear such costs in what proportion. Every award shall be binding on the parties. The parties undertake to carry out the award without delay and waive their right to any form of recourse against the award in so far as such waiver can validly be made.