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Vitalik Buterin’s Zuzalu Retreat Spurs Ethereum-Backed ‘Zu-Villages’ – What’s Behind This Mysterious Gathering?

Trent Alan
Last updated: | 1 min read
Zulalu secret event organized by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.
The exclusive Zuzalu blockchain retreat started by Vitalik Buterin is now funding new invite-only pop-up cities globally. Image by Kerem Goktug Kaya, DALL-E 3.

Last year in May, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin helped organize an exclusive two-month gathering called Zuzalu in Montenegro.

Around 200 invitees discussed topics like cryptography and longevity while enjoying dinners and swims along the Adriatic Sea coastline. Details were scarce, but the hush-hush retreat has now inspired a new initiative—spinoff “Zu-villages” funded by Ethereum grants.

Ethereum Funds New ‘Zu-Villages’ Inspired by Invite-Only Gathering

A recent post on the blockchain crowdfunding platform Gitcoin announced quarterly matching pools totaling 250 ETH, around $590,000 at current prices. This has fueled speculation that Zuzalu may reconvene this year.

The stated goals are advancing “pop-up city” events and supporting technology-driven projects. Recipients can tap into two pools—166.5 ETH for events and 83.5 ETH for tech projects.

To qualify for the matched funds, at least one team member must have been invited to Zuzalu last year and participated for a minimum of one week. The blog post does not state if Zuzalu is happening again this year or provide details on timing or location.

Buterin is supposedly contributing a big portion of the ETH grants, although a representative later backtracked, telling CoinDesk there is no record of Buterin committing funds. His precise involvement is unclear as of now.

Zuzalu Retreat Shrouded in Mystery

The Zuzalu retreat itself is shrouded in some secrecy. It was never announced beforehand and details trickled out after the fact via social media posts. Some paint it as a glorified camp discussing esoteric topics, while others reference a Silicon Valley exclusivity.

But it seemingly made an impression on Buterin and other creators who hope to replicate the temporary community under the Zu-village banner. The requirement of at least one core member who attended Zuzalu 2023 hints at an air of exclusivity around the new pop-ups as well.