Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? In this two-part series we’re looking at six likely candidates to the title of being Bitcoin’s creator and the evidence that backs up the claims made by themselves or others on their behalf. In Part 2 we dive deeper into which of these six, if any, lays the strongest claim to be Bitcoin’s creator. We recommend you read Part 1 first in order to get an insight into the six figures we have picked out before we take you on this second part of the journey.
The Six Musketeers
In Part 1, we discussed the evidence behind the following six figures when trying to answer the question ‘who is Satoshi Nakamoto?’:
Paul Le Roux
After all the evidence, the arguments, and the denials from these individuals, what can we actually deduce? Debating the merits of one candidate over another is an interesting exercise, but, in our opinion, one grounded in futility. What little evidence that exists for all these individuals is either weak, incomplete, or circumstantial, and there is nothing in the public domain that can point conclusively to one person over another.
Given the lack of evidence supporting the hypothesis that one person was behind Bitcoin, we then have to consider the Murder on the Orient Express hypothesis – they were all the murderer. Clearly there has to have been one person who fired the starter pistol, the individual who emailed Adam Back in mid-2008 with a draft whitepaper of what would end up being Bitcoin. However, it is not likely that this person was one of the existing cypherpunks we looked at – after all, why would any of these individuals suddenly decide to hide their anonymity after years of developing their own projects in their own names?
Satoshi Nakamoto’s genius wasn’t in creating the components behind Bitcoin, because, by and large, he (or she) didn’t. Most of the elements were already there in one form or other, groundwork laid by the likes of Back, Szabo, Finney et al. What Nakamoto did was to take what was already there and meld it into a coherent, working system, using the great minds of those mentioned above to finesse the idea.
To back up the theory that Satoshi Nakamoto came to represent a group rather than an individual, we can look to the Bitcoin whitepaper, which refers to the author as ‘we’. This clearly clearly suggests a collective mind – Satoshi referred to himself in the first person in all communications, but when it came to the whitepaper the author is notably ‘we’. While this may be put down to being nothing more than an adherence to the standard for technical/scientific papers, it is nevertheless an irresistible nod toward the group mentality that had already taken over. It is also interesting that those behind such a radical movement were keen to confirm to certain standards and eschew others.
The whiteaper came out in October 2008, four months after Nakamoto’s first email to Back, not giving the group a great amount of time to finesse the whitepaper before moving to the practical stage. Clearly this required the work of more than one or two people, so while initially Satoshi Nakamoto probably was an individual, in many ways the concept of Satoshi Nakamoto became something more than a person – it became a guiding principle, the identity of the collective working to create and perfect the world’s first cryptocurrency.
Not a Clear Cut Question
So when we ask ‘who is Satoshi Nakamoto?’, the question is not clear cut. Are the likes of Finney, Back, and Szabo lying when they say they didn’t create Bitcoin? Yes, and no. They helped create Bitcoin, but they are not its creator – no single person is.
It is not hard to envision those who helped create Bitcoin taking a kind of vow that they would reject any and all suggestions from the public that they were Satoshi Nakamoto and would never release evidence pointing towards any of them. Doing so would undermine the collective enterprise – the decentralized nature that underpins Bitcoin’s very ideology. Bitcoin is not one person because one person suggests centralization – it came about through a decentralized collective, and those who helped create it understand what that really means.
Bitcoin is Stronger for Nakamoto’s Anonymity
Some claim that Satoshi Nakamoto is dead, which is why his coins have not been moved. The person calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto who sent an email to Adam Back in 2008 might well be dead, but the ‘we’ that authored the Bitcoin whitepaper lives on through the group of cypherpunks who helped bring it to life and continue to support the idea of decentralization and privacy to this day, and in many ways its growing army of advocates around the world.
Bitcoin is immeasurably stronger for not having an easily identifiable creator, and its founders know this. They will continue to play dumb and keep their evidence under lock and key, despite, or perhaps because of, what might come their way if they were to try and prove. Thankfully their understanding of what Bitcoin is and what it represents will prohibit them from shouting from the rooftops that they are, or they know, Satoshi Nakamoto – by definition, anyone who claims to have created Bitcoin is either lying or has decided to stab their colleagues in the back, and, in doing so, undermine the core principles of what they helped to create.
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto went almost immediately from being an individual behind a computer screen to a group of people working on a concept that they had each, in their own way, been striving for for decades. Satoshi was the spark that lit the fire, but the reason that Bitcoin is now burning brighter than ever is due to a joint effort from a group of conscientious, self sacrificing individuals who gave their time and their immense talents for something greater than personal recognition.
We will likely never know who the Satoshi Nakamoto was who sent the email to Adam Back in 2008 that kickstarted the Bitcoin revolution, and it’s time we stopped looking. This Satoshi Nakamoto didn’t invent Bitcoin. No single person did.
We don’t need to ask the question of ‘who is Satoshi Nakamoto’, because we already know. It was the team that had been working since the mid 1990s to bring a new economic and financial model to the world, and who were brought together by one man who could see the big picture.
‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ grew from being one pseudonymous name to encompass everyone who helped put the puzzle pieces together – the ‘we’ of the Bitcoin whitepaper. They will never reveal any insight about Satoshi Nakamoto, and nor should they. But we know who they are, and who they aren’t.
It’s time we stopped looking.