Is Craig Steven Wright the real creator of Bitcoin?
Conceived in 2008 and created in 2009, the famous cryptocurrency is collectively worth $5 billion just six years later. It's used around the world and, despite naysayers and crooks, a single coin is worth $397 today.
The man behind Bitcoin calls himself Satoshi Nakamoto but has never revealed his true identity, even as dozens of international reporters and fans have hunted for his name.
Now, reports from Wired and Gizmodo name Dr. Craig Steven Wright, a 44-year-old Australian, as the most likely candidate for the creator of Bitcoin. Wright himself hasn't commented on the claim, but it's clear that evidence provided to Wired and Gizmodo, while not conclusive, makes the strongest case yet for the true identity of Nakamoto.
The Wired reporters making the claim, Andy Greenberg and Gwern Branwen, began receiving leaked emails, transcripts, accounting forms, and deleted blog posts that led them down the path of old online activity. It all pointed toward a man that, Greenberg and Branwen argue, is very likely behind the world's first cryptocurrency.
"If Wright is seeking to fake his Nakamoto connection, his hoax would be practically as ambitious as bitcoin itself," they write. "Some of the clues added to his blog were made more than 20 months ago—a very patient deception if it were one."
Gizmodo's reporters, Sam Biddle and Andy Cush, add another person to the mix: Dave Kleiman, an American computer scientist whom they say may have helped Wright create Bitcion. Biddle and Cush also spoke with Wright's wife, who said he was involved in cryptocurrencies, as well as a brother of Wright's friend, who said Wright told him he helped create Bitcoin.
Regardless, none of the evidence in either report definitively proves Wright was involved in the creation of Bitcoin. It could all be a hoax—albeit, and elaborate one.
It's important to note that 20 months ago, Bitcoin was fresh off the heels of a rapid ascent to $1,200 in value. The whole world was focused on Bitcoin, so if anyone was going to start a hoax, that seems like a likely time to have it happen. And Bitcoin has no shortage of ambitious swindlers.
The reports make an undeniably compelling case but, as Greenberg and Branwen openly stipulate, there are significant questions that still have to be answered.
On Wednesday, police raided Wright's home, reports the Guardian. Despite the timing, police say the raid was not triggered by the reports about Wright's potential involvement in Bitcoin, but instead are related to tax matters.
Update 11:07am CT, Dec. 9: Added details from the Gizmodo report, as well as news that Wright's home had been raided by Australian authorities.
Clarification: The white paper introducing the idea of Bitcoin to the world was released in 2008. The currency first went live in 2009.
Illustration by Max Fleishman