“I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
— Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old man living in the Los Angeles area who Newsweek tracked down and says is the founder of bitcoin. Since the decentralized, unregulated online currency began circulating in 2009, the identity of its creator (or creators) has been a mystery.
Now the Newsweek story by Leah McGrath Goodman has upset some bitcoin fans for various reasons: If the story is true, Bitcoin’s founder is no longer a mythical figure — the story says he likes model trains and drives a Toyota Corolla, although apparently he has done top-secret work for corporations — and bitcoin itself doesn’t seem so decentralized and community-driven. (By the way, his family members characterized him as libertarian.) Also, Nakamoto is thought to have an estimated $400 million fortune, and some reddit users speculated he could now be in danger.
The Newsweek article comes amid other big news about bitcoin, including the recent bankruptcy filing of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox after hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. And Autumn Radtke, CEO of bitcoin exchange First Meta, was reportedly found dead in Singapore last week, and some news stories mention speculation that she killed herself. First Meta is partly funded by Plug and Play Tech Center, a business incubator based in Sunnyvale.
Photo illustration from Chicago Tribune/MCT archives