This is a question that has been on the minds of many investors recently. Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of fraud or third party interference.
These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent ownership of property. This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.
The Ethereum network itself is fueled by Ether. Ether is a crypto asset that serves two purposes: it is used to pay for transaction fees and computational services on the Ethereum network, and it is also the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum platform.
So when people ask if Ethereum is a stock, they are really asking if Ether is a stock.
The simple answer is no. Ether is not a stock. It cannot be bought or sold on any stock exchange. However, there are some similarities between Ether and stocks.
Like stocks, Ether represents ownership in a company (in this case, the Ethereum network). And like stocks, the price of Ether fluctuates based on market demand.
But there are also some important differences between stocks and Ether. For one, stocks are issued by companies and represent partial ownership of those companies. Ether, on the other hand, was not issued by any company; it was created by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin as part of the Ethereum platform.
Secondly, while stocks can be bought and sold on exchanges, Ether can only be bought and sold on decentralized exchanges (such as EtherDelta) or through peer-to-peer transactions. Finally, while the price of stocks is determined by factors such as earnings reports and news announcements, the price of Ether is mostly determined by supply and demand.
So while there are some similarities between stocks and Ether, they are not the same thing.