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Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Bitcoin’s creator remains a mystery

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Elon Musk

Bitcoin was supposedly invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, a genius from Japan. 

But no one knows who Nakamoto actually is — and nobody has come forward to convincingly take credit for definitively being Nakamoto. Lately, more and more people are speculating that it could be Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Bitcoin started in 2008, when Nakamoto published online an open-source paper, introducing a new form of digital currency: designed to be used without the need for a central bank. Its initial worth was less than a penny. But it’s gone on to surge as much as $50,000-plus per coin.

As offered up by Nakamoto’s code, new bitcoins are created by solving complex calculations, found on the Internet, via extremely powerful computers. People who do this are known as miners. The number of bitcoins in circulation will top out after a finite 21 million are mined — unlike traditional currency, which can be endlessly minted.

Here are some of the people rumored to be the real Nakamoto:

Elon Musk

Elon Musk has denied he is bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

Sahil Gupta, a former intern at Musk’s SpaceX, which is building rockets and blasting them into outer space, speculated on the website Medium that “Satoshi is probably Elon.”

Musk has denied this, even though, as pointed out in Medium, he probably would “choose a pseudonym that’s an anagram for ‘So a man took a s–t.’”

Whether or not he’s the bitcoin founder, Musk showed his bullishness for crypto when Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of the virtual currency. It was part of a move to begin accepting bitcoin for Tesla purchases “in the near future,” he said.

In the process, though, Musk and Tesla drove up the price of bitcoin by 16 percent on Feb. 8, 2021 — to a then record-setting $44,801.

Twitter is also considering investing in the currency. “We’ve done a lot of the upfront thinking to consider how we might pay employees should they ask to be paid in bitcoin,” Twitter’s finance chief, Ned Segal told CNBC in an interview. “How we might pay a vendor if they asked to be paid in bitcoin and whether we need to have bitcoin on our balance sheet.”

The virtual currency is so volatile that it rocketed up 10 percent just from Segal’s vague show of faith.

Gavin Andresen

Gavin Andresen
Software developer Gavin Andresen also says he is not the bitcoin creator.

A software developer based in Massachusetts, Andresen worked alongside Nakomoto on bitcoin’s development. Andresen’s writing is said to closely resemble that of Nakamoto, and he became the “core maintainer” of bitcoin’s open-source code when the founder reportedly left the project in 2010.

To that end, some think that Nakamoto didn’t “leave,” but rather that Andresen just abandoned his dual identity.

So deep is Andresen’s knowledge of bitcoin that, according to a post on the software developer’s Twitter page, he provided the CIA with a tutorial on the virtual currency. He worked full-time at the Bitcoin Foundation advocacy group and, via his website, he maintains that it’s a “bad assumption” to “assume that the people who worked on bitcoin in the early years are fabulously wealthy.”

Andresen denies being Nakamoto, and other project developers have said he is not.

Vili Lehdonvirta

Vili Lehdonvirta
Is Finnish professor Vili Lehdonvirta behind bitcoin? He says no.

An early frontrunner for Nakamoto’s real identity who was singled out in a New Yorker article, Lehdonvirta is a former video-game designer based in Finland. He served on the advisory board of a Finnish organization that pushed for online privacy. He says he is not Nakamoto.

Paul Le Roux

Paul Le Roux
Coder and a criminal kingpin, Paul Le Roux’s name has also been floated as the real Nakomoto.

A Zimbabwe-born criminal mastermind who aimed to create a black-market version of Amazon, Le Roux pleaded guilty in 2014 to drug trafficking, selling technology to Iran and participation in several murders. In 2020, he received a 25-year prison sentence.

He is also a savvy writer of computer code. Evan Ratliffe, author of “The Mastermind,” a book about Le Roux and his crimes, heard about Le Roux being mentioned in a bitcoin-related lawsuit. That set Ratliffe on a quest for evidence that would tie his book subject to Nakamoto.

“Le Roux,” Ratliffe wrote in Wired, “was the odds-on solution to the mystery of who created bitcoin.”

But Ratliffe then admitted that most of the evidence could be attributed to coincidence.

Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo
Nick Szabo is known for his research work in cryptocurrency.

Szabo, an American computer scientist specializing in cryptocurrency research, once created a decentralized currency called “bit gold,” but never put it into operation. His theoretical crypto bore a stark resemblance to bitcoin. Some people believe that this makes him a potential candidate to be the real Nakamoto. But Szabo denies it.

Whoever Nakomoto is, Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at New York University, said, “He’s a billionaire now. He kept more than 1 million bitcoins.” And he’s not surprised by the creator’s low profile: “Bitcoin was designed by paranoid geeks for paranoid geeks.”

At least bitcoin has made some of those nervous nerds rich enough to afford new mansions and — yes — Teslas. 

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Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak wants to build crypto-run private desert cities

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Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak wants to build crypto-run private desert cities

Nevada, the state of legalized gambling, prostitution and marijuana, is about to add another layer to its Wild West reputation: Desert cities formed by companies and run entirely on blockchain technology.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak held a press conference on Friday to lay out his futuristic plan to open “Innovation Zones” on thousands of acres of privately owned desert that would allow private corporations specializing in emerging technology to form local governments complete with the right to impose taxes and create school districts or even courts.

It was Sisolak’s most detailed discussion of the plan, which has not yet been introduced to the legislature. He said the cities would be run entirely on blockchain technology, the digital ledger primarily used to transfer cryptocurrencies, allowing residents to buy goods, pay bills, transfer property deeds and obtain marriage licenses all using cyber coins. 

One big winner would be Jeffrey Berns, the founder and CEO Blockchains LLC, who purchased almost 70,000 acres of Nevada desert east of Reno in 2018 and said he wants to found a blockchain-based community.

Elon Musk’s massive Tesla battery gigafactory is also located in the same county as Berns’ recent landgrab. While there’s no indication billionaire electric car tycoon wants in on the plan, he would seem to be an ideal candidate given Tesla’s surprise and market-moving $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin earlier this month.

Of course, for Tesla to build its own autonomous zone, Musk would need to add almost 48,000 acres to meet the 50,000 acres of contiguous, uninhabited land required for a company to meet the rules of the proposed legislation. The rules would also require a $1 billion investment over 10 years.

During a Friday afternoon press conference addressing the plan, Sissolak said Nevada needs a bold new vision to recover from the ravages of the pandemic on the state’s tourism-centric economy.

“This is different than anything that’s ever been proposed before,” he said, hammering home the vision of interconnected modern communities bringing jobs and commerce to unused land. “Companies can collaborate on a future together that would make Nevada not just a national but global leader in Blockchain technology.

While short on some details, like how a so-called Stablecoin would be designed to facilitate a fully Blockchain economy within a US state, and who would pay for roads in and out of what would be essentially private cities, the governor asked Nevadans to think big.

“There’s gonna be a lot of naysayers,” he said at the end of the presser. “I get that, but take a moment to look at the proposal.”

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United Airlines to pay $49.5M to settle mail contract probe

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United Airlines to pay $49.5M to settle mail contract probe

United Airlines agreed to pay $49.5 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims relating to fraud on Postal Service contracts for transportation of international mail, the US Justice Department said Friday.

“United defrauded the US Postal Service by providing falsified parcel delivery information over a period of years and accepting millions of dollars of payments to which the company was not entitled,” the Justice Department’s acting criminal division chief Nicholas L. McQuaid said.

United did not immediately comment.

The Justice Department said between 2012 and 2015, United defrauded the US Postal Service (USPS) by submitting false delivery scan data. The government said United submitted automated delivery scans based on aspirational delivery times. The government said some individuals at United sought “to hide the automation practices included efforts to revise the falsified delivery times to make the automated scans appear less suspicious to USPS.”

United agreed to strengthen its compliance program and to submit yearly reports to the Justice Department detailing the status of remediation and implementation of United’s compliance program and internal controls.

The government cited United’s prior history, including a 2016 non-prosecution agreement relating to potential criminal bribery violations arising out of United’s establishment and operation of a non-stop route between NJ’s Newark Liberty International Airport and Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina.

In 2019, American Airlines, paid $22.1 million to settle claims it falsely reported the times it transferred possession of US mail to foreign postal administrations or other intended recipients, the Justice Department said.

USPS contracted with American to take possession of receptacles of US mail at six locations and then deliver it to numerous international and domestic destinations. The settlement resolves claims American Airlines falsely reported the times it transferred possession of the mail. American did not immediately comment.

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Bill Ackman tells investors to follow him on Twitter

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Bill Ackman tells investors to follow him on Twitter

Billionaire Bill Ackman appears to be taking a page from Elon Musk with plans to start announcing market-moving news on Twitter.

The billionaire investor’s blank check company, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, issued a press release on Friday highlighting Ackman’s Twitter feed and saying it may be used as a venue for official announcements.

“Investors should follow this account for information about the company,” the release said.

Ackman’s #FollowFriday campaign comes as retail traders wage their second campaign on “meme stocks” like GameStop, prizing sentiment and social media posts over fundamentals and pumping so-called “stonks” unloved by mainstream Wall Street investors.

Ackman was up late Thursday night engaging with Twitter users who asked him about a second Pershing Square blank check company, aslo known as a SPAC. His terse answers thrilled some followers who seemed to read into the ambiguous responses.

When asked if investors in the first SPAC could be given priority to invest in the second, Ackman tweeted “We have the technology” leading users on Twitter and Reddit to proclaim that Ackman was about to acquire payment platforms Stripe, Plaid, or even trading app Robinhood, with dozens of users posting that Ackman’s tweets indicate he would announce a merger on Friday, on Twitter.

Despite Ackman appearing to have gained more than 1,000 new followers in a matter of hours, shares in Pershing Square Tontine were trading slightly down at midday after spiking in early trading.

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