- Satoshi Nakamoto publicly walked away from Bitcoin in 2010 and hasn’t been heard from since
- With the protocol vastly bigger and his personal wealth some $32 billion, would he likely be tempted to out himself?
- We look at the reasons why the real Satoshi Nakamoto might or might not stand up
The question of who created Bitcoin is an enduring mystery that many have tried to answer but, as yet, all have failed. More than ten years after he walked away from Bitcoin (we’re using ‘he’ part in assumption, part for the sake of ease), the temptation to reveal himself to the world has not yet gotten the better of the father of cryptocurrency. After a decade away, could anything convince Satoshi Nakamoto to reveal himself, and what would happen?
Fame and Money?
When considering if Satoshi Nakamoto might ever choose to reveal herself, we have to look at why he would choose to do so now. One argument is that he is currently heir to a $31.3 billion inheritance from the coins in the original Satoshi Nakamoto wallet. However, the fact that he hasn’t claimed even a penny of them in all this time reinforces the notion that personal financial gain was not his reason for creating Bitcoin, and still isn’t.
If Satoshi Nakamoto doesn’t want the money, then what other reasons could he have for breaking his silence? Some may argue that he would do so if he wanted the adulation and the hero-worship that would inevitably come from the revelation. As we saw when poor Dorian Nakamoto was mobbed by reporters when he was wrongly identified in 2014, being considered Bitcoin’s creator, even wrongly, means a life of instant fame.
Given that Satoshi Nakamoto was desperate to keep his identity a secret during Bitcoin’s creation, that he left the project less than two years after it launched, and that he has kept a stony silence ever since, it is unlikely that the thought of unbridled fame would force his head up now.
Fed Up With the Pretenders?
A third option could be that he is fed up with others claiming his crown. Craig Wright has maintained that he is Satoshi Nakamoto ever since 2015, despite never backing this claim up with any credible evidence, and it might just be that the real Satoshi is fed up with Wright trying so vehemently to steal his thunder. Whether this is enough to prompt him to break cover is purely down to his personality and whether he is bothered by such things, although if he has kept quiet until now it is unlikely that he will do because of this, no matter how egregious the attempts.
We also need to consider the repercussions if Satoshi Nakamoto did reveal himself. As well as the adulation from the Bitcoin community, if Bitcoin suddenly had an identifiable creator, could he or she face sanctions of some sort from a government? Many governments have criticized Bitcoin’s use as a medium for illicit activities, so could the person who is formally identified as its creator meet the same fate as those who have utilized it for such means?
Would Satoshi Nakamoto be in line to receive the same treatment as, say, Ross Ulbricht because his creation enabled such people to carry out their alleged crimes? Fear of reprisals could well be enough to frighten him off, although it hasn’t stopped the pretenders to the crown thus far.
Satoshi Nakamoto Will Likely Never be Known
The fact that the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto remains unknown is not just a nice story to tell, it is critical to Bitcoin’s identity as a decentralized entity…and is the reason why the real Satoshi Nakamoto will probably never reveal himself. In the same way that Sherlock Holmes couldn’t reveal to Dr Watson that he didn’t die at the Reichenbach Falls, Nakamoto might wish to tell someone that he created Bitcoin, but for the sake of the protocol, his own privacy, security, and liberty, he can’t.
And he probably prefers it that way.