Bitcoin inventor: Paypal founder thinks he knows him

Temps de lecture : 2 minutes

At a conference in Miami, Paypal founder Peter Thiel said he may once have met bitcoin’s legendary inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, on a Caribbean beach.

Multi-billionaire Peter Thiel is chairman of Big Data company Palantir and head of several venture capital firms and hedge funds. At the turn of the millennium, Thiel co-founded Paypal. He is Facebook’s first equity investor. Some would probably call him a living legend.

Caribbean beach 2000: Thiel meets Nakamoto – maybe

Today, according to Bloomberg, Mr. Thiel confided in us that he himself may have met another living legend (who may no longer exist), on the beach of the Caribbean island of Anguilla, in February 2000. Mr. Thiel is convinced that this legend could be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto.

Mr. Thiel expressed this suspicion on Wednesday when he recalled an early meeting with the founders of E-Gold Ltd. at the time. E-Gold was the name of a now-defunct digital currency developed by the company of the same name.

“I met them on the beach in Anguilla in February 2000. We started the revolution against central banking on the beach in Anguilla. We wanted to make Paypal interoperable with electronic gold and blow up all the central banks,” explains Mr. Thiel. However, things didn’t go according to plan, he said. There were allegations of fraud, defamation and finally a legal settlement with E-Gold.

The lessons of e-gold: anonymous, decentralized, not a company

Satoshi Nakamoto, meanwhile, was perhaps one of the 200 or so people present at that first meeting on the beach. He said he’d probably learned from e-gold’s mistakes.

“Bitcoin was the answer to e-gold, and Satoshi learned that you had to be anonymous and not have a company,” reckons Thiel, adding, “Even a company, even any form of company would be too close to the government.”

Thiel says he hasn’t gone back to try to find out who exactly that person on the beach might have been. That would also be good advice at the moment, as speculation about Satoshi Nakamoto would only play into the hands of crypto-critics. For one thing would also be clear: “If we knew who he was, the government would arrest him”.

Who is the mysterious inventor of bitcoin?

The peer-to-peer digital currency Bitcoin first came to public attention on Halloween 2008. A person calling himself Satoshi Nakamoto published an article entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, but did not reveal his identity.

Since the rise of Bitcoin, the search for Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity has become a popular game. Over the years, the media have associated a dozen people with Nakamoto’s name. Australian entrepreneur Craig Steven Wright, however, is the only person to have openly claimed to be Nakamoto. Wright never proved his claim.

One of the most likely speculations at present seems to be that Satoshi Nakamoto could have been developer Len Sassaman, who died in 2011. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that Satoshi Nakamoto’s last known message was published two months before Sassaman’s death. What’s more, Sassaman would have used the same British English as Satoshi Nakamoto in his tweets.

The digital wallets attributed to Satoshi Nakamoto contain more than a million bitcoins, equivalent to more than US$64 billion. If Satoshi were Sassaman, the explanation for the presence of intact bitcoins would quickly be found.

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