The mysterious founder of bitcoin, the popular online cryptocurrency, may have finally been identified.
Until now bitcoin’s founder was known only by his pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. But parallel investigations conducted by Gizmodo and Wired reveal that Dr. Craig Wright, an Australian businessman, may have been using this pseudonym in order to protect himself from public speculation and inquiry.
Police searched for his whereabouts during a raid on a suburban Sydney home registered to his name, and also conducted an official inquiry at the office building that houses two of Dr. Wright’s businesses, DeMorgan Ltd. and Panopticrypt Pty Ltd.
Dr. Wright’s LinkedIn profile lists his affiliated industry as “Information Technology and Services,” and as a participant in the Information Systems Security Association discussion forum.
He founded DeMorgan as a research firm “focused on alternative currency, next generation banking and reputational and educational products with a focus on security and creating a simple user experience.”
Panopticrypt, one of his several other businesses, deals in providing cybersecurity intelligence to governments, individuals, and businesses.
Why were the police raiding Wright's rented residence?
The Guardian reports that Australian Federal police said in a statement that the raids were not related to the bitcoin claims. “The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.”
The Guardian notes:
The treatment of bitcoin for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The ATO ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset for capital gains tax purposes.
In e-mails obtained by Gizmodo, Dr. Wright apparently revealed himself as the man behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym.
“I cannot do the Satoshi bit anymore,” he confessed in an e-mail to a friend and colleague. “I am better as a myth… [M]y pseudonym is more popular than I can ever hope to be.”
It's unclear what, if anything, the apparent unveiling of the bitcoin founder means to the future of the currency.
Because of its hard-to-track nature, bitcoin has seen its most popular use on Silk Road, a "deep web" black market trading site that in itself is also hard to track: users can only access Silk Road through cryptographic software.
But despite its popularity in the Internet’s underworld, many mainstream businesses have been wary about adopting bitcoin. And in September, Australian banks announced that they would be closing the accounts of bitcoin-operating businesses, perhaps as international concerns over cybersecurity continue to spread.
The Silk Road has also been beset by legal challenges. Its original founder, Ross Ulbricht (who operated under the screen name Dread Pirate Roberts), was arrested in 2013. Ross was found guilty in February of narcotics, hacking, and conspiracy in connection with Silk Road’s operation and sentenced to life in prison.