“Yeah, I met him once”
Metal Pay CEO Marshall Hayner told Cointelegraph a story he heard from Back at a party in Los Gatos some years ago. The party was thrown to celebrate the formation of Blockstream and its successful capital raise.
Hayner said that he was invited to the party by Austin Hill, who was Blockstream’s CEO at the time. The community was small and closely knit, with only a select few people in attendance. Allegedly, after a few drinks, the topic of Satoshi Nakamoto came up. This supposedly prompted Back, who has often been seen as a popular Satoshi candidate himself, to say: “Yeah, I met him once”. When pressed for more details, Back reportedly refused to elaborate further, stating:
“I don't want to say too much. But he is a British guy and I met him in London and went to the pub and had a beer. I think he might be an MI6.”
Hayner does not remember Back specifying when this meeting took place, but assumes it would have been sometime between 2009-2010. It is interesting to note that rumors have percolated for years with regard to Bitcoin originating from one or more intelligence agencies.
Back and Maxwell deny it
Hayner recalled that several individuals closely associated with Back and Blockstream were present as well. Among them were the aforementioned Austin Hill and Gregory Maxwell, a Bitcoin Core developer. Cointelegraph contacted Back, Hill, and Maxwell about their recollection of events.
Back unequivocally denied that he had ever met Satoshi Nakamoto, and maintains that he never told this story:
“No, I would not have said that for it is not true; as far as I know no one (who is not making up stories) has claimed to have met Satoshi in person.” — He added “Also I do not know who Marshall Hayner is and did not interact with him on this topic.”
Maxwell’s response echoed Back’s. He confirmed to be present at the party, but denied hearing this story:
“I have no recollection of Adam saying anything like that, and I would remember it if I'd heard it: It would have been inconsistent with everything I've ever heard Adam say on the subject before or since, and also inconsistent with my understanding of the history of Bitcoin (it's my belief that --as far as we know-- no one in the community has met Satoshi).”
Maxwell also added that he consulted with his partner, who was also present at the party. They did not recall this conversation either.
Hill did not respond to Cointelegraph’s inquiry.
Why would Satoshi want to meet anyone?
Before retelling this story to us, Hayner said there is no way Adam Back would ever acknowledge it. If Hayner’s recollection is accurate, this would be the first confirmed “sighting” of Satoshi. Although Back did not corroborate Hayner’s supposed recollection, the story would seem to confirm the often posited British origins of Bitcoin’s creator.
Had Satoshi wanted to meet someone from the crypto community in person, perhaps to show their gratitude, there would not be many better candidates than Back, whose Hashcash served as one of the main building blocks of Bitcoin.
This article was amended on July 20 2020 4:30 PM ET.
After this article was published, Cointelegraph received an email from Austin Hill in which he in no uncertain terms denied Hayner’s account of events, calling his story “bullshit”. Hill noted that from the beginning, the Blockstream team agreed to not speculate on Satoshi’s identity as it “ran counter to cypherpunk ideals”. He stated that best to his knowledge, Back never veered from this policy and had he done so, he would have “taken Adam to task for violating policy.”