On October 31 2008 an eight-page whitepaper was published explaining the imminent release of some open source software that would offer a new stateless and borderless form of money. That was the Bitcoin white paper authored by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamato.
From the very start, whoever Satoshi is valued his/her/their privacy and has gone to great lengths to ensure there is no digital footprint tracing back to them, in spite of email trails and forum posts.
Initially, the only curiosity was coming from cypherpunks and cryptography enthusiasts. Bitcoin could have died off in the early days due to lack of interest, poor programming or an ill-thought out concept – but it didn’t. As time went on the virus (as Pomp inelegantly describes it) spread and as we look around today, most people have heard of Bitcoin even if they don’t understand it.
In the last quarter of 2017 we saw a huge rise in price from $4,200 at the start of October, up to above $19,000 in the final part of December – a 450% increase in barely 90 days.
The mainstream media had woken up to Bitcoin and commentators were rushing to call this new digital money a Ponzi, a bubble, a fool’s gold rush, and plenty of other terms. One point the media always referenced was that no one knew just who Satoshi was. Why had this person hidden themselves away, and why were they still silent?
There have been plenty of people try and find out and unmask this hidden figure. Fingers were pointed towards Hal Finney, Adam Back and even some Japanese American fellow by the name of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto – all have denied being the real Satoshi, and so the curiosity continues.
Over the years, we have seen various people claim to be Satoshi including the cantankerous Dr Craig S Wright. CSW (as he’s commonly referred to), is still in multiple lawsuits in regards to people who call him a fraud, even giving him the moniker of ‘Faketoshi’.
Just last week we had a new ‘Satoshi unveiling’, all done in conjunction with some PR and marketing firm (which I won’t name). So far, we’ve had a blog post from the apparent Mr Nakamoto revealing that he was inspired to name his new invention by using various letters from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International brand name(!). This person is yet to offer any credible evidence that they are indeed the creator of a new form of digital money with the ability to disintermediate our current banking infrastructure.
Personally, I am highly sceptical of any of the claims of all of these Satoshi wannabees, but more than that, I’m hoping that these “imposters” are outed and their claims rubbished.
So is it important for us to know who Satoshi is? I’d argue that almost 11 years on from the Bitcoin whitepaper being published, Satoshi the man is now irrelevant. Whatever his actual intentions written about in the whitepaper, we now have a living and breathing digital organism that continues to grow in strength, both in numbers of new HODL’ers and network security and almost every other metric you can think of – and this is in spite of the 80% collapse in price we saw from the 2017 highs to the 2018 bear market.
An industry has sprung up to support the growth of Bitcoin. We have more on-ramps than ever. We have companies now offering financial services such as custody and lending programs with Bitcoin as the asset. Bitcoin has grown up from the equivalent of a digital Beenie Baby to be viewed as a future store of value and real money. When the President of the USA (easily argued as the most powerful person on earth) talks about Bitcoin as a threat, you know it’s arrived as a form of money.
Bitcoin has outgrown Satoshi in every single aspect. Bitcoin doesn’t need Satoshi anymore. We have super bright and highly eloquent Bitcoin evangelists such as Saifedean Ammous, Andreas Antonopolous, Stephan Livera and many others, to help spread the message of Bitcoin in a non-technical way that focuses on the benefits that Bitcoin brings to society.
The media attention towards unmasking Satoshi is more about the media’s desire for clicks and views rather that any particular need the crypto and blockchain community has. We should focus on the product and not the creator.
I have little doubt that Bitcoin will reach new all time highs in the next 24 months and the media’s obsession with who the real Satoshi Nakamoto is will escalate again, and the community will continue to ignore this side of things, and my suggestion is that you do too. Who came up with this technology is probably the least interesting thing about Bitcoin.
Jon Walsh is a blockchain business strategist. Connect with him on Twitter… @walshjonwalsh.