Newsweek’s Leah McGrath Goodman spent months tracking down the mysterious founder of Bitcoin, “Satoshi Nakamoto,” a name that everybody seemed to believe was a pseudonym for either a single individual or a shadowy collective of programmers.
But if Goodman’s reporting is correct, “Satoshi Nakamoto” is really… Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old Japanese-American programmer living near Los Angeles. In an awkward confrontation with Goodman at the end of his driveway, Nakamoto alluded to some involvement in Bitcoin while refusing to detail his actual role (if any) in the crypto-currency’s creation. “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,” is how he framed it to her. “It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
If Satoshi Nakamoto, former government contractor and model-train enthusiast, is actually “Satoshi Nakamoto,” Bitcoin founder, then he’s sitting atop hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto-currency. Is Nakamoto’s personal security now at risk, given how many personal details (including a photo of his house) Goodman sprinkled throughout her article? Many in the Bitcoin community think so, and poured onto Reddit, Slashdot and other Websites to express that opinion:
“I could definitely see some of the people who lose a ton of money if/when the Bitcoin fad ends deciding to blame the guy who started it all rather than themselves for jumping in,” wrote Slashdot commenter Copid.
“Seriously, they put this guys life in danger. Shame on them,” wrote an Anonymous Coward a few postings later, a sentiment shared by others.
“The real inventor was Keyser Soze,” wrote Patent Lover.
And so on. (Over on Bitcointalk.org, many Bitcoin fans refused to believe that the Nakamoto found by Goodman is actually the crypto-currency’s inventor; on Reddit, many in the community seemed angry over the very public unveiling of someone who obviously wanted to preserve as much of his privacy as possible.)
However Nakamoto’s story turns out, it’s worth taking a moment to examine how far Bitcoin’s come in the past few years, evolving from tiny, scholarly project (PDF) to a growing financial force. To help visualize that growth, here’s an infographic from whoishostingthis.com: