By Jared Polites.
Elon Musk is many things. A billionaire, a visionary, the owner of companies such as Tesla and SpaceX and overall one of the most inspiring and intriguing figures we have in business today. With this appeal comes a never-ending supply of rumors and fake news, from quitting Tesla to join a bitcoin startup, to being called national disgrace and thief.
Given the meteoric rise of mainstream cryptocurrency popularity, it should be no surprise that the elusive hunt for Satoshi, often referred to as the father of Bitcoin, has led to the theory that Elon Musk has been hiding a big secret from all of us. Sahil Gupta, a computer science student at Yale University and former intern at SpaceX, believes just this.
Why Elon Musk Could Be Satoshi
Gupta, who interned at SpaceX in 2015, provided a few “oddball” ideas on why Musk is the probable founder of Bitcoin:
1. Technical capabilities: Bitcoin was written by someone with mastery of C++, a language Musk has utilized heavily at SpaceX. Musk’s 2013 Hyperloop paper also provided insight into his deep understanding of cryptography and economics.
2. Passion for solving global problems: Bitcoin was founded in 2008, the year of the global financial crisis and widespread distaste of banking in general. If there was a time to create a currency for the people, without bank intervention, this was it.
3. Relative silence on the issue: Musk has only been quoted speaking about Bitcoin a handful of times. He has publicly stated that he does not personally own any Bitcoin and even published this sneaky tweet when asked about cryptocurrencies:
4. Musk doesn’t need the money: Satoshi’s stash of unused Bitcoin was estimated at $700 million back in June 2016 when the price of one Bitcoin was $719. Going by today’s price, Satoshi’s Bitcoins are worth over $8 billion – less than half of Musk’s current estimated net worth of $19.7 billion.
Additional Supporting Arguments
One week before Gupta’s Medium post on Musk, another Medium blog was published with a theory that Musk invented Bitcoin for future use on Mars. As radical as this may sounds, the point around Paypal in this article was relevant. Musk has already revolutionized digital currency his founding role in Paypal, which he sold to eBay in 2002. The author claims Musk is under a non-compete from this deal, leaving him to secrecy about his role in Bitcoin.
Arguments Against This Theory
- 2008 was Musk’s “worst year”: 2008 was a notable year for Musk, who publicly claimed it was his worst year ever due to early challenges with SpaceX and Tesla and his personal finances and relationships in jeopardy. One could argue that working on Bitcoin was probably a challenge not even Musk could handle at this point.
- Musk lives in the spotlight: When the subject of Musk being Satoshi was brought up on Reddit in 2016, the Reddit community had a field day. Popular opinion is that Musk could never keep a secret this large and would have stepped in already to combat bank and regulatory attempts to destroy the cryptocurrency.
- Musk’s public statements can be negative: When asked about Bitcoin in this interview, Musk was notably careful about how he responded. Musk called Bitcoin “probably a good thing” but referenced its main use as a facilitator to illegal transactions.
Arguments for and against this theory create a compelling topic nonetheless. Whether or not Musk created Bitcoin is yet to be seen, but it is technically possible. As Gupta puts it, even if Musk is not Satoshi, “thanks for the Tesla Roadster”.