One of the biggest mysteries in the cryptocurrency space is who created blockchain technology with the introduction of Bitcoin. The author of the Bitcoin whitepaper that explains the Peer-to-Peer electronic cash system is simply listed as 'Satoshi Nakamoto'. For over a decade, there has been wide-spread speculation on the founder of the largest and most popular cryptocurrency. In this article, we will look at the 9 most likely candidates behind the pseudonym Satoshi who coincidentally owns the most amount of Bitcoin.
Who Is The Founder of Bitcoin?
The identity of the creator of Bitcoin that is best known under the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto" is unknown. Since the release of the Bitcoin White Paper in 2008, the real identity of the owner of the first cryptocurrency has never been confirmed and remains a mystery to this day.
Bitcoin Creator Most Likely Candidates
There are a few candidates for the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates that have been put forth over the years.
1. Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto
At first, this seemed like it might be a slam dunk. This Japanese American with the same given name as the author of the whitepaper was also trained as a physicist. Additionally, he seemed to admit to being the creator of Bitcoin when he talked about being “no longer involved.” An article in Newsweek seemed to break the sensational news and start a frenzy around him. However, later on, he said that he didn’t understand the question and that he wasn’t the creator of Bitcoin.
2. Nick Szabo
Even though Nick Szabo insists that he’s not the answer to, “Who is Satoshi?” speculation has fallen on him for a long time. Szabo has long been known as an enthusiast for decentralized currency. Additionally, he once published a paper about “Bit Gold,” which shares many unique phrases with the paper on Bitcoin. As a result, many people think that Szabo had a hand in developing Bitcoin, even though he continues to deny being Satoshi Nakamoto.
3. Hal Finney
Involved with Bitcoin almost from the beginning, some people suggest that maybe Hal Finney is Satoshi Nakamoto. Before Bitcoin launched, Hal Finney was a pioneer in the field of cryptography. On top of that, he suggested improvements about how the blockchain could function better and often filed bug reports. In fact, Satoshi sent Finney 10 Bitcoin as part of a test, making Finney the first person to receive Bitcoin. Finney was also in correspondence with Nick Szabo.
Not surprisingly, some people speculate that the original Satoshi Nakamoto was a pseudonym designed to hide the identities of multiple collaborators — and Szabo and Finney often appear on this collaborator list. Finney died in 2014.
4. David Kleinman
David Kleiman, who died in 2013, is often cited as being a potential candidate as Satoshi Nakamoto. He was one of the earliest miners on the Bitcoin network and there’s also a claim that he sent an email to a friend, Craig Wright, asking for help with a whitepaper. Supposedly, this email put the idea of an electronic form of money out there — and was sent only a few months before the anonymous Bitcoin paper began circulating with Satoshi Nakamoto’s name attached.
5. Craig Wright
Craig Wright, the Australian computer engineering expert that David Kleiman allegedly went to for help, is another contender. Back in 2015, speculation that Wright was Satoshi was published, and it seemed to coincide with a raid on Wright’s home by the Australian Federal Police. However, the police said that the matter wasn’t related to Bitcoin.
Later, in 2016, Wright claimed that he could offer proof of his identity as Satoshi. However, he never provided the proof. In late 2021, a jury in Miami declined to award the estate of the deceased Kleiman, Wright's former business partner, a stake of the 1.1 million Bitcoin supposedly held in Satoshi’s wallet. However, Wright was ordered to pay money to a company that was formed by him and Kleiman.
Wright still claims that he’s Satoshi, although there is a lot of skepticism in the crypto community because he still hasn’t used his Bitcoin private keys to move the large amounts of Bitcoin in the origin wallet.
6. Paul Le Roux
Some believe that this man, who created open-source encryption software and dabbled in a number of illegal activities, might have been Satoshi. His software, called TrueCrypto, was released around 2004 and was designed to completely protect data. However, Le Roux is currently in jail due to activities that included arms trafficking, money laundering, and drugs. There is speculation that because one of the earliest uses for the Bitcoin network was the illicit Silk Road, Le Roux might have been involved.
7. Gavin Andresen
Satoshi Nakamoto supposedly entrusted Gavin Andresen with the source code for Bitcoin. Additionally, Andresen was the first person to create a Bitcoin faucet. Andresen is a computer scientist and was long respected in the cryptocurrency community. He did a lot to get other software developers involved with developing the Bitcoin blockchain. However, he surprised many people in 2016 when he publicly announced that he believed Craig Wright's claim of being Satoshi Nakamoto.
8. Len Sassaman
After he died by suicide in 2011, Len Sassaman received a memorial on the Bitcoin blockchain. He was an expert in cryptography, some thought that made Sassaman a good candidate to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Additionally, he worked with Hal Finney that led some to believe that he might be part of a potential group that created the whitepaper together.
The original Bitcoin whitepaper was circulated on a cypherpunk email list, and Sassaman was a contributor to the mailing list. Combined with the fact that Satoshi made an announcement that he was leaving the Bitcoin project in 2011 to work on other things seems to lend credibility to those who think Sassaman could have been involved in the development.
9. Adam Back
Another member of the cypherpunk email list, Adam Back is also a cryptographer. He was identified as one of the first people who received an email from Satoshi Nakamoto. The British cryptographer co-founded a company called Blockstream and is the inventor of Hashcash, which was referenced in the original Bitcoin paper. Hashcash was a proof-of-work algorithm designed to repel DNS attacks and became the basis for mining Bitcoin. He was known as a digital innovator prior to becoming involved with Bitcoin and blockchain technology, which makes him one of the potential candidates to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
Unraveling Who Satoshi Nakamoto Is
Trying to answer the question, “Who is Satoshi?” is difficult because no one — other than Craig Wright — is willing to claim to be the elusive author of the Bitcoin whitepaper. While a Miami jury agreed that Wright at least doesn’t owe Kleiman’s estate any of the Bitcoins in Satoshi’s wallet, the reality is that so far no one has been able to provide hard proof.
For the most part, it’s all speculation about who Satoshi could be. There are many theories, but no concrete answers. One of the reasons that the crypto community is skeptical of Wright’s claims is that Satoshi’s wallet remains untouched. As Bitcoin transactions remain on the public ledger, it will be possible to see when someone accesses the wallet of 1.1 million bitcoins, which is worth billions of dollars at current prices.
To obtain 100% proof of the person behind Satoshi Nakamoto and the creator of Bitcoin, someone would need to access Satoshi Nakamoto’s private keys and perform a transaction to prove they are the legitimate owner of the wallet. Otherwise, cryptocurrency enthusiasts will continue to believe that the identity of the person — or persons — behind the whitepaper are a mystery.
What Would Happen If Satoshi Nakamoto Were Revealed?
There’s also speculation that knowing who Satoshi is, especially if they returned to the project and unlocked their cache of Bitcoins would cause disruption in the cryptocurrency space. If Satoshi’s wallet were unlocked, that could potentially inject more than a million bitcoins into the market. Right now, part of the value of Bitcoin is in its presumed scarcity in which the number of Bitcoin's created through mining reduces even further with the Bitcoin halving process.
Bitcoin is designed to be capped at 21 million tokens, with approximately 19 million and 2 million Bitcoin left to be mined. However, part of the presumed scarcity has to do with the fact that at least one million of those bitcoins are locked up and permanently out of circulation. What happens if Satoshi re-emerges and releases what’s in the wallet? It could lead to even greater volatility and could result in a crash in the value of Bitcoin (even if it’s only a temporary crash, it could be serious).
Finally, truly knowing who Satoshi is could potentially cause rifts in the community, or even impact the enthusiasm of the movement. Part of the excitement of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology is that the person or persons who started it all are still unknown.
While there’s a lot of speculation as to the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, there’s no way to know, for sure, who they are — unless they come forward with proof. There are a few people, especially early developers who came from the cypherpunk mailing list and were among those who worked on the blockchain, that could feasibly be the author of the paper or at least one of the collaborators on the paper. However, unless someone accesses Satoshi’s Bitcoin wallet and can prove they did it, we probably won’t know for sure.