The Ethereum network is a distributed economy like Bitcoin, except it is much, much more powerful. The essential difference is that Ethereum is programmable. In fact, it only takes a few minutes to program a whole new currency like Bitcoin. There’s been a lot of attention on Ethereum recently as its market capitalization has risen 500% since the beginning of the year to reach $400m (at the time of this writing). Some of this increase might be attributed to Microsoft’s tacit approval of the technology with their release of the “Ethereum Blockchain as a Service” platform on Azure.