Who’s afraid of Satoshi Nakamoto?

JINOY JOSE P | Updated on March 12, 2014


A weekly column that helps you ask the right questions

Satoshi who?

Nakamoto, the elusive founder of virtual currency bitcoin.

Yes, but he was found right?

Well, that was the wrong Nakamoto, it turned out.

Oh, but I heard Newsweek ran a cover on him.

Yes, it did. By the way, this was Newsweek's comeback as a print edition, after going Web only in 2012. In the latest issue, Leah McGrath Goodman wrote and published a story on Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, who Goodman claimed was the bitcoin inventor the world has been searching for since 2009.

Goodman said she spent more than 60 days tracking down Nakamoto and her search led to the 64-year-old Japanese-American living outside of Los Angeles. She said she had all the evidence to believe her findings. And the publication backed her.

But did this Nakamoto admit he was the one?

To be fair to Newsweek, he did say a couple of lines that sounded like a confirmation. “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,” Nakamoto said. “It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.” But to confirm the identity of one of the most mysterious characters the world has seen in recent history, one would expect more detail.

Remember, this was not the first attempt to track down Nakamoto. The Sunday Times in the UK once ran an investigative story on the master geek, but it couldn't trace him.

The Telegraph too tried, but in vain. The New Yorker's Joshua Davis wrote a long, enchanting piece on Nakamoto, but even he couldn't reach the man (or woman).

As expected, the world of coders, bitcoin fans and tech enthusiasts reacted to the 'expose' with disbelief. Most of them preferred not to believe it. Some even blamed the reporter for breaching privacy. And just a day after the news report came out, on March 7, the man at the centre of the expose himself denied having any links to the digital currency, much to the dismay of those who believed in the story.


Nakamoto told news agency Associated Press, “I got nothing to do with it.” And a swarm of geeks across the world supported him. To them, the bitcoin founder would never compromise on his anonymity, something which they have felt goes in tune with the basic philosophy of the bitcoin project. Nakamoto (the real one), who introduced the idea in a white paper in 2008, has always been an advocate of anonymity.

Speaking of which, where's the real one?

The plot thickens. On March 7, a post by “Satoshi Nakamoto” appeared on the P2P Foundation’s Ning page. It said, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” Interestingly, the post appeared on the same thread where the invisible Nakamoto first mooted the concept of bitcoin in February 2009. The P2P foundation confirmed the originality of the new message.

And what of bitcoin itself?

After touching a peak of $1,200 in 2013, bitcoin fell to $130 just a few weeks ago after one of the most popular bitcoin exchanges, MtGox, crumbled. Now it is bouncing back and is currently valued at $625.

Time to buy some, eh?

Your call. Mind you, Indian investors are said to have lost around Rs 20 crore already punting on the crypto currency. And the 28 year-old CEO of a Singapore Bitcoin exchange was found mysteriously dead last month…

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Published on March 12, 2014
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