As it turns out, the man Newsweek claims is the Bitcoin founder says that he is just a struggling engineer who isn't actually the founder of anything.
— felix salmon (@felixsalmon) March 17, 2014
Why did the story garner so much attention? Bitcoin breaks the barrier of traditional currencies by allowing two people anywhere in the world to exchange money — without the risk of fraud and with very low transaction fees. Exposing the founder's identity could put him at great risk, which is why many in the Bitcoin community have defended the founder's need for privacy. Companies and exchanges threatened by this readily available currency could target "Satoshi." One Bitcoin exchange CEO has already been found dead.
The Newsweek article claims to have revealed the "face behind Bitcoin" as a 64-year-old Japanese-American man living in Southern California. Reporter Leah Goodman found who she alleges to be the secret creator of electronic cash through his hobby of collecting model trains. Take a look back at how the story of the supposed Bitcoin founder came together.
Leah, who discovered that the alleged founder changed his name to Dorian, acquired Satoshi's email address from a model train company and initially contacted him about trains. The conversation quickly diverged to the supposed founder's professional background, but Satoshi responded vaguely. The reporter then showed up at Satoshi's home, which displeased him. Two cops descended upon Satoshi's home, and the exchange between the reporter and Satoshi was terminated.
The very active community on /r/Bitcoin was quick to cast doubt on the story. In what follows, we consider some of Reddit's most compelling theories about why the Newsweek exposé didn't reveal much at all.
There is no evidence.
Reddit user BobAlison claims there is simply no evidence that there is any connection between this man, Dorian Nakamoto, and Bitcoin.
As he puts it: "The story's background information suggests Dorian Nakamoto might have had the means and motive to create Bitcoin, but there's nothing directly pointing to him as the creator of Bitcoin. There's no electronic trail leading to him. There's no hard evidence that this man even knows what Bitcoin is.
"Dorian's statements in his driveway could be interpreted in a number of different ways given the sequence of events and statements by relatives."
Why would he use his real name?
It's a little surprising that the creator of a secretive crypto currency would use his real name, isn't it? Reddit user FT_clox_metoo says that this fact doesn't make any sense at all. Decentralized currencies operate in a legal gray area — and many who are involved in maintaining Bitcoin never reveal any information about their identity.
The writing style of the real Satoshi is very different.
The Dorian presented in the Newsweek article had poor grammar and spelling, whereas the Bitcointalk forum entries from the founder Satoshi read much differently. Reddit user digitalh3rmit compared the difference in prose between the Bitcointalk posts and the emails reproduced in the Newsweek feature.
Digitalh3rmit's analysis makes the disparity between the two writings very clear: "One look at the typos ('secruity', 'theives', 'recident', 'distorsion') and poor grammar from Dorian compared with the Real Satoshi's meticulous and smooth flowing prose strongly suggest these two are not the same."
If it is Satoshi, he must be defended.
There is a surprising amount of emotionally charged posts in a subreddit about a virtual currency. Posts defending the founder's privacy like Thank You Satoshi Nakamoto seemingly confirm his identity. One of Leah's sources, Bitcoin Project developer Gavin Andresen, tweeted that he regretted talking to the reporter. As you can see in the tweet below, Gavin expresses his disappointment in the publication "dox"-ing the Nakamoto family, which, in Internet speak, means to reveal their identity. Does this tweet verify that Leah found the right Satoshi?
I'm disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family, and regret talking to Leah.
— Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) March 6, 2014
In any case, the Bitcoin community knows that it must safeguard its creator at any cost. Redditor brian_fenton published a rallying cry and offered to "arrange a charter plane for him and his family and a secure safe house that no reporter can get to."
Reddit is right. There is very little evidence presented in the article, and the proof refuting Leah's claim is worth recognition. Read the Newsweek piece, and then tell us: do you think this 64-year-old man from California is the real creator of Bitcoin?