Yesterday, nChain chief scientist and self-proclaimed Bitcoin creator Craig Wright played his final card in his four-year game of either pretending or admitting to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the name on the Bitcoin whitepaper that kicked off the blockchain revolution.
Wright’s attorneys told a judge that they had turned over public addresses from the Tulip Trust—now three trusts—on Jan. 14. Wright has long maintained that Nakamoto’s 1.1 million bitcoins were encrypted with keys that would be returned to him by a “bonded courier” in January 2020.
Wright is being sued by Ira Kleiman, the brother of Wright’s late partner Dave Kleiman, for half of that cache, currently valued at about $9.6 billion. Kleiman also wants half of the intellectual property of Bitcoin. (Previous to this, many in the cryptocurrency industry said Kleiman is wasting his time, and others claim that Wright is a fraud.)
The courier’s arrival would likely delay the tumultuous trial in which Wright has been accused of producing forged documents, and two judges have flat out called him a liar. Ira Kleiman’s lawyers said in response on Jan. 14 that Wright gave them 16,404 public bitcoin addresses for the Tulip Trust (or Trusts).
Wright has another gig: evangelist for the Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (Bitcoin SV, or BSV) championed by nChain. Wright calls it a return to the “real” Bitcoin created by Satoshi Nakamoto—aka, himself.
In an interview conducted before his Jan. 14 revelation, Modern Consensus talked to Wright about a number of subjects, ranging from his opinion of his detractors’ love lives and why he locked this fortune away to why the Bitcoin blockchain’s genesis block linked to an article in that day’s newspaper—Jan. 3, 2009—about the British Chancellor’s plan to bail out banks.
Editor’s Note: Craig Wright has sat for several interviews with Modern Consensus’ Brendan Sullivan over the years. He gets a lot of hate mail—excuse me, “user engagement”—on the topic.
Sullivan’s opinion on the subject is this: Whether Wright is or isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto, this is still the most interesting story in crypto. A year from now there may not be Ethereum. And who will care who ran that company? But there will likely still be Bitcoin. And we still don’t know who invented it or why. That’s a cool story in itself.
Brendan Jay Sullivan: What do you have to say to your critics?
Craig Wright: Are you creating anything? No. We (at nChain) have new things being built every week, we have patents being filed every week—technology, the updates of the SDK (software development kit), the blockchain being scaled—so who cares?
They can sit there and go, “We think it should be—” So what? There’s a quote from Terry Pratchett that I can’t remember exactly. It’s, “If you wish upon a star and you pray upon the sky and you call out to your fairy or whatever else, then someone who’s been working harder and putting in the effort will beat you and you’ll be left in the dust.” I’m probably misquoting that a bit (laughs).
(Editor’s Note: “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.” —Terry Pratchett, “The Wee Free Men.”)
BJS: If you moved the Satoshi blocks today it would shut up a lot of people.
CW: I don’t think it would shut people up. I think it would stir things and what would end up happening is people would be running around saying I stole coins. Or some other bullshit. I disagree.
BJS: I would have questioned you on that. But now that it’s happened to me, I know for a fact that it wouldn’t shut anybody up.
(Editor’s Note: Sullivan scored a phone interview minutes after Wright walked out of a hearing in which a judge declared that he owed Kleiman half of the Satoshi bitcoins and intellectual property before the trial even began. Kleiman’s attorneys then tried—unsuccessfully so far—to subpoena all of Sullivan’s notes and hard drives dating back to 2006. This led to him being trolled harder than usual by Wright’s detractors.)
CW: There’s an agenda. Bitcoin unfortunately inherited the end of e-gold, and then the end of Liberty Reserve currency, both of which were used extensively by criminals. They had some legitimate things, but 99% of those people ended up being criminals. And all of those people flushed into Bitcoin, (because they) thought Bitcoin was going to be anonymous. Which it isn’t. And they thought they could get away with things.
Idiots in Silk Road (the now-shuttered dark web drugs and guns site) are discovering (this) as they try and move (bit)coins. That ain’t happening. Bit by bit all these things are causing problems for them. Hey, should have realized there’s an immutable evidence trail.
Unfortunately, at the time, we had to inherit all the idiots who came over. Everyone saying Bitcoin was “anti-bank.” But am I a time-traveler? Think about it, if it started in 2007, that whole global financial crisis hadn’t happened yet! I don’t know why that’s hard to explain to people! Yeah, I created bitcoin because I knew the whole global financial crisis was going to happen. And I would be there—ready for the Occupy people who’d be grabbing bitcoin and twisting it to suit their needs.
BJS: Do they extrapolate all of this because you linked to that one Times of London article about the recession? About the Central banks? (“Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks”) Does everybody get that one wrong?
CW: No one reads anything. Everyone sits there and reads the headline. That article was about the fact that U.K. Chancellor Alastair Darling was threatening to nationalize the banks, in the same way that had happened just after WWII, 1946-48. Then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came and removed all the nationalization and handed it back to private control, and then you’ve got this complete wanker, threatening to nationalize everything and turn it socialist again. Because of their own problems that they caused.
(Author’s Note: In Andrew O’Hagan’s London Review of Books article about Wright, he gave this reason: “As you know, I am rather anti-central/reserve bank,’ he wrote to me. ‘I see them as the true cause of these issues and the bubbles and collapses. But the date was important as a timestamp. It means that I could not have been “pre-mining” and gaming the system. The first iteration of the code was finalised on 9 January 2009. The run was started when I was at the farm in Macquarie (Australia) later that week. It means that I cannot have been mining for months ahead and had collected a pre-mined set of solved hashes to game the system. I ran more than 50 machines, so the headline was a marker.”)
BJS: Interesting. Everyone takes that headline to make you anti-government.
CW: I mean, if you read the article you’ll see what it’s about! It was basically telling the banks, “I’m going to make you give out more home loans because politically, the price of houses falling is not good for us politicians.” I know that you can’t give away home loans because the interest rate’s just about zero, but I don’t care what you want: Lose money or we’re going to nationalize you. This doesn’t make the banks the bad guys, it makes it that freaking (obscenity that goes a bit too far for non-Australians).
BJS: When Silk Road blew up in 2011, the exchange price of bitcoin was about a dollar. It just happened to be one of those perfect-storm things where a bunch of idiots said “I can’t send money through PayPal, but this bitcoin thing is worth a dollar, let me send it that way.”
BJS: Did that make you not want to be a part of this universe anymore?
CW: I could have accepted something like a Canadian weed store, anything like that, but this whole idea of a heroin store coming in July/August 2010 as a concept. And people ranting about it, saying “Yay, this is going to take down the government!”
What a stupid thing to do! “We can send heroin and things through the post!” and then they start with this “Haha, we can start sending guns and weapons and explosives through the post!”
What if people want to commit suicide? “Then we should be able to have a market where we do it for them.”
What fucking morons! I mean, honestly. I wonder if these people drink Drano and kill their brain cells intentionally.
BJS: That’s one of the most annoying things about this crypto world, is it’s just full of a bunch of lame idiots. I hate to say it.
CW: Yep. “You can’t be Satoshi, because you got a degree and we want to drop out. How dare you be a coder if you didn’t work as a coder, you just worked as a university lecturer?” Oh no, how evil.
BJS: My first book is about being a DJ so all these idiots who come out of the woodwork are like, “You’re not a real journalist, you’re just a DJ-turned-blogger,” and I’m like “I know! I’ve also had a girlfriend before, dork!”
CW: (Laughs) I’m sure most of them haven’t.
BJS: What am I missing?
CW: The reality of how courts and everything work. If you want to look at these things, follow the money and follow who benefits. Who benefits if there’s a partnership? Why would someone create a fake partnership document? (This is referring to the document between Wright and Dave Kleiman, which is the grounds for the lawsuit.—Ed.)
BJS: That’s your argument, that there’s no partnership. Or that it’s run out.
CW: There wasn’t one. Not in the legal, technical sense. I form companies. The question is always: Follow the money and see who benefits.
BJS: It would be a cool story if a courier shows up with new information.
CW: (Long pause) Um-hum.
BJS: Is that a likely cool story that I’ll get to write about? And get a huge book advance?
CW: (laughs) I do not know whether you will get a book advance.
BJS: Right. Well. I heard an answer to part of the question. Anything you’d like to add?
CW: Nope. I still don’t know whether you’d get a book advance or what writing Satoshi stories will get you these days. But there are so many trash books out there these days you probably would get one.
BJS: Do you think this is a story that will have an ending or do you think it’ll just be the story until the trolls move onto something else?
CW: Stories have endings and don’t. I’m not going away. Eventually I’ll die. But that hopefully is 40 or 50 years from now. So the reality here is I’m still going to be inventing, still going to be creating. As much as people throw at me, I’m not going to stop. Eventually they’ll wear down and get used to the fact that I have not given up. I’m not going to go away.
I’ll still be inventing and creating new things, and they’ll be looking back going “Oh bugger, this guy’s got most of the intellectual property in this field tied up” and doing their little anarchist rants and saying “It’s evil, he shouldn’t have the things he invented. He should give them away for free, because I didn’t work and I want to have things without working. He’s got more drive and discipline than me so therefore he has a benefit I don’t have so I should be able to take his shit.”
BJS: That is where our tech utopia world has taken us.
CW: Technosocialism! (laughs)