The dust has finally cleared around Craig Wright’s public claim that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator. After publicly coming out and presenting evidence to the media, this was quickly dismissed as dubiously insufficient proof. Wright then promised to provide irrefutable proof by moving some of the first Bitcoin ever mined, which was met with much doubt and derision. Finally, he bailed on his promise to provide the undeniable proof, disappearing into the night with a vague and cryptic apology.
Where does that leave us? Craig Wright is very likely not Satoshi Nakamoto. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t right to disappear as he did, and it certainly doesn’t mean we have nothing learn from his untimely departure from the limelight. Here’s why the real Satoshi Nakamoto should absolutely stay out of public.
The resulting media circus
Wright’s announcement was followed by a veritable torrent of publicity, as was surely his original goal. With it came intense scrutiny as writers and pundits the world over speculated, gossipped, and attempted to disprove the claim. Any further attempt by anyone else to claim the mantle of the legendary Nakamoto will be sure to trigger a similar media circus, forever shattering any hope of privacy.
The aftermath of Wright’s announcement produced a significant dose of vitriol from the cryptocurrency community. While his promises to definitely prove his secret identity by moving Bitcoin from some of the first blocks were still pending, Wright was assailed with accusations of being a liar, a fraud, and a con-man. While these condemnations ultimately found themselves on the side of reason, they were nonetheless both plentiful and harsh. Bitcoin Core developer Wladimir van der Laan wrote a blog post condemning the “atmospheric toxicity” of the cryptocurrency community, while Gavin Andresen (who had himself been convinced by Wright’s claims) urged an end to “making tempests out of teapots.” Andreas Antonopoulos neatly summed up that sentiment:
“Stop bashing each other, we have a financial revolution to deliver to the world.”
Trouble from the government
Worst of all, going public as a creator of the world’s premier cryptocurrency, something governments have by and large regarded with suspicion, can lead to some unpleasant interactions with authorities. Arthur Budovsky, the creator of Liberty Reserve, considered by some to be Bitcoin’s predecessor, received a 20-year prison sentence for money laundering because of his work in digital currency. Seeing how Craig Wright’s home was raided by officials last year around the time the first round of Satoshi suspicions around him became public, one can easily see how coming out as Bitcoin’s creator could come with some serious legal implications. Justly or not, Satoshi can easily be a wanted man.
The real Satoshi Nakamoto is out there somewhere, whether he is an individual, a collective, or a mere concept. Whatever the reality, though, Craig Wright’s stunt revealed exactly what happens when someone comes out as the legendary founder of a cryptocurrency: instant celebrity gossip cycle, quick derision and ugliness, and legal trouble in short order. The message to Satoshi is clear: stay hidden as long as you can.