It might be strange to consider that an individual that has changed the world so much is still unknown to the world, but that truly is the case with Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown inventor of Bitcoin. While there are certain clues as to the question of just who is Satoshi Nakamoto (he claims to be a man living in Japan, for example) – the truth is that we still, to this day, don’t know who he is, or even if he is still alive. Regardless, this hasn’t stopped many cryptocurrency enthusiasts and proponents from coming up with theories as to who exactly Nakamoto is. Here are some of the most common theories about who Nakamoto could be, and we will explore why some possibilities might be more plausible than others.
Elon Musk is one of the most famous entrepreneurs of our generation, and maybe compare him to some of the most interesting figures in history, from Thomas Edison to Howard Hughes. For those that are unaware, Musk is a technology entrepreneur and engineer that co-founded Paypal, which is an American company that operates a worldwide online payments system. He is extremely well-known today as the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, and boasts almost 25 million followers, which is more than many celebrities in the entertainment industry.
Is it possible that in between founding some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world, and thinking about space travel and revolutionizing the car industry, that he was also thinking about Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency? He may have had the skillset – but he has publicly denied that he was Satoshi Nakamoto. Also, since he is such a public figure, why wouldn’t he simply be outspoken about being Bitcoin’s creator? He has denied it, and claimed that he also misplaced .25 Bitcoin – and that’s all the Bitcoin that he is. Is it possible that he is lying?
In all honesty – Musk has racked up achievements that would be astounding for multiple lifetimes. When would he have the time to create Bitcoin? This might not be realistic, but the theory exists.
The U.S. Government
There is an idea that the U.S. government is actually Satoshi Nakamoto, and that Bitcoin was developed by a government agency. In this case, it might be that Nakamoto is not even one person, but developed by a team of people. Many believe that the CIA or the NSA might be behind the creation, and that Bitcoin could have been developed as a way to economically galvanize the country. After all, if the U.S. has massive Bitcoin holdings, and it rose in value (like it eventually did) – it could certainly benefit the country.
Satoshi has about 1 million Bitcoin – which means that Satoshi is currently a billionaire. However, it does take a lot of computing power. The government certainly has that.
Another idea that it could be the U.S. government is the fact that in this day and age, it’s easy to uncover the identity of almost anyone. However, if the government itself is behind Bitcoin, would Satoshi’s identity ever truly be revealed? Either way, the CIA neither “confirms nor denies” that they know who Satoshi is – which typically means that they know more than they are saying.
There are some individuals whose words have a lot of weight in the tech sector, and one of those is Ted Nelson, widely considered to be a pioneer of information technology. It doesn’t take much digging for you to find out that he also considers himself quite the philosopher, as well. When many had no idea what a computer was, in 1960, Nelson was busy trying to create computer networks. He has one answer to the question: who is Satoshi Nakamoto? That answer is Shinichi Mochizuki. In a Youtube video in 2013, Nelson praises the brilliance of Bitcoin in general, and puts forward his theory that Nakamoto is, in fact, Mochizuki. The video has since garnered over 140,000 views. You can view the video below:
First and foremost, Mochizuki is brilliant. In addition, not only is he brilliant – he also doesn’t seem to crave attention. He presented four papers on the Internet with zero kind of fanfare, which might be considered strange for an absolute mathematical breakthrough. Given the fact that Nakamoto literally keeps his identity, and Bitcoin is known worldwide by millions of people – does this fit the idea of Nakamoto, personality-wise? Many would say yes. Nakamoto’s English is great, which is why many consider him to be either American or European. Mochizuki graduated from Princeton as salutatorian, so he definitely has command of the language. To be fair, Mochizuki doesn’t have developer experience, which is the main reason why the theory doesn’t have that much traction.
Dave Kleiman led quite the life, even though he passed away in 2013. As a result, we will never get to hear confirmation from him as to whether he was actually Satoshi Nakamoto. However, one thing is for sure, Kleiman was a former soldier/police detective and computer forensics expert that truly knows how to persist no matter the circumstances. Specifically, he attained the rank of detective even after being paralyzed in a motorcycle accident.
Why or how could he be Satoshi? Well, he certainly had the cybersecurity knowledge. While there are smart individuals in the security world, Kleiman appears to be above the rest, as he was able to create an encryption tool that surpassed even NSA guidelines. When you consider that Kleiman was named U.S. Army Soldier of the Year at age 21, while also being part of the same mailing lists that were discussing cryptography and “crypto systems” around the same time of the creation of Bitcoin, one does start to wonder whether Kleiman is possibly Nakamoto. Kleiman has written many books about security, and has been a speaker at security-related events and conferences, as well.
If you need more? Consider this: Jeff Garzik is a Bitcoin pioneer that wrote software code for BItcoin early on and has given away millions in Bitcoin. He claims that the coding style that matches well with Nakamoto’s is none other than Kleiman, and told Bloomberg this in November 2018.
What if Nakamoto actually wasn’t a man, but a woman? After all, even though Nakamoto claimed to be a man, “he” is also anonymous – and it might be a great way to throw off those who are trying to find out the real identity of the Bitcoin creator. There are many who believe that the one who actually created Bitcoin was Margaret Runchey.
Why, you may ask? Well, Runchey patented the Model For Everything. It is actually incredible how similar cryptocurrency is to the Model For Everything, and literally refers to “smart contracts” and “miners”. It even seems to subtly reference offline wallets, as well. This might not sound too revolutionary – but when you realize that Runchey was doing this in 2007, you start to realize that the timeline might make sense. Could Runchey have taken her Model For Everything ideas in order to create Bitcoin?
Runchey also appears to value her privacy, as well. There seems to be no real information about Runchey, with regards to her location or background. Maybe it’s because Runchey is actually Satoshi?
In one of the weirder possibilities, would Satoshi Nakamoto have his last name as a potential clue as to his real identity? Dorian Nakamoto was called the creator of Bitcoin thanks to a 2014 Newsweek story, in which he claimed that he “cannot discuss it” (with regards to Bitcoin), and that “I no longer have any connection.” Nakamoto is probably used to secrecy, considering that he is a California-based physicist that has worked on classified defense projects.
He has since pushed back against the story, and the 64 year-old claims that he did not understand the reporter’s question, since his English isn’t fluent. However, was this a moment of honesty by Bitcoin’s creator? He has since claimed that the entire ordeal has been stressful for his entire family, but he has, over the years, seemed to embrace his role as “Satoshi”. Is this his roundabout way of admitting that he did, indeed, create Bitcoin? Interestingly enough, he also lived very close to the next person on our list – Hal Finney.
Many believe that Satoshi Nakamoto isn’t someone who simply came out of nowhere and decided to create Bitcoin. They believe that he/she was an individual that had been thinking about cryptography for a long time. Hal Finney is an original “cypherpunk” that has been studying and examining cryptography from the 1990s, until his passing in 2014. While there is much speculation about Satoshi’s identity, Finney’s name is always coming up in the discussion.
Consider this: he is an early Bitcoin contributor, but that’s not all. He was literally the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto. When you consider that he had “direct contact” with Satoshi, and ALSO that his writing style seems to match up with Satoshi Nakamoto, is the case closed? Is Hal Finney actually Satoshi Nakamoto? We might never know for sure.
How many people can claim that they were thinking about the same kind of principles that Bitcoin upholds, a decade before it was even created? Well, Szabo was involved in bit gold in 1998, and many believe that it is essentially a pre-cursor to Bitcoin. He is also an original cypherpunk. It truly is hard to deny the fact that Szabo has the skillset and passion to create something like Bitcoin, given that he is a cypherpunk and also a computer scientist and legal scholar. He even is credited with coming up with the original term “smart contracts”.
Szabo has denied this, although that certainly doesn’t mean anything, considering Nakamoto doesn’t want his identity to be publicly known. A New York Times article has pointed out that “much of the most convincing evidence pointed to a reclusive American man of Hungarian descent named Nick Szabo.”