Update: Elon Musk tweeted that the man who believes he created bitcoin is wrong, backing up my suggestion that the former intern had jumped to conclusions. Musk’s tweet is embedded below.
The pile of rumors and myths surrounding the creator of bitcoin is growing, and the latest story suggests that Elon Musk created bitcoin. We may never know whether it’s true or if it’s just satire, in the style of Chuck Norris.
ValueWalk's Raul Panganiban interviews Kirk Du Plessis, Founder and CEO of Option Alpha, and discuss Option Alpha and his general approach to investing. Q1 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The following is a computer generated transcript and may contain some errors. Interview with Option Alpha's Kirk Du Plessis
Former SpaceX intern says Elon Musk created bitcoin
In a post on Medium, Sahil Gupta argues that Elon Musk created bitcoin and builds his case for this theory. The rumored inventor of the cryptocurrency is Satoshi Nakamoto, although it’s widely known that this name is just a pseudonym, and the creator’s real name remains a secret.
His first point is that Musk is capable of creating bitcoin, which isn’t a difficult thing to argue, not only because of the Tesla CEO’s ingenuity and technology smarts but especially because he was one of the co-founders for X.com, which later became digital payments firm PayPal after being merged with Confinity. Gupta also notes that Musk’s background is in economics and that he coded software for X.com.
Gupta interned at SpaceX in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile, so he does have a better sense of Musk’s capabilities than what the average fan might have. According to him, Elon Musk “seems to have a firm grasp” of the programming language C++, which the creator of bitcoin would have needed to write the source code for it. He also describes Musk as “a self-taught polymath” who has innovated after simply reading books on various topics.
Would Elon Musk create bitcoin?
Gupta also believes that Musk would have wanted to create the cryptocurrency, as it was spawned out of the Great Recession in 2008. He postulates that Musk might have wanted to “solve the lack of trust in banks by creating a currency that doesn’t need them,” which is exactly what the creator of bitcoin said in the paper describing the cryptocurrency in 2008.
He even analyzed the writing style in that paper and also the forum posts that came after, and he feels that the written voice sounds like it could be Elon Musk. For example, he believes that the use of order-of-magnitude calculations and the “hallmark reasoning from first principles” fit with Musk’s writing style, as does the “casual use” of the phrase “bloody hard” in the forum posts.
Gupta also believes Musk would have kept his creation of bitcoin anonymous for a decade “on principle,” although he also thinks it’s possible that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO dropped a hint in this tweet:
@X4NWO Well, now that Satoshi Nakamoto has been discovered, I guess it is case closed … :)
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 14, 2014
Musk’s bitcoin-related comments have been guarded
If anything, this tweet might be the one thing which disproves his theory that Elon Musk created bitcoin. It seems pretty strange that Musk would keep this secret for so long and then out himself responding to a random tweet asking about it, especially when all of his other responses to questions about cryptocurrency have been so obviously guarded and careful.
One other argument some might have against the theory that Elon Musk created bitcoin is the fact that he has said publicly that he doesn’t own any of the cryptocurrency. Fans of cryptocurrency know that Satoshi Nakamoto was known to have kept 1 million bitcoins, a fact that some see as troubling for the cryptocurrency due to its meteoric rise because it would mean that the creator could crash bitcoin by selling them all at the same time and flooding the market.
However, Gupta believes Musk might have simply deleted those coins, which he says is consistent with the idea of a “Good Satoshi” who deleted all of the bitcoins he owned.
Do you think Elon Musk created bitcoin, or is this just the beginning of Musk myths and memes that will one day have him inventing everything from Velcro to time travel?
Update: Elon Musk tweeted this in response to the rumor, so it looks like we were right after all:
Not true. A friend sent me part of a BTC a few years, but I don’t know where it is.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2017