The inside story of how a few people saved Bitcoin from those trying to destroy it can now be told.
History is full of examples of individuals taking the initiative to change the course of world events. Think of Joshua Chamberlain ordering his brigade to repair bayonets and charge towards Little Dome, repel the Confederate army and help secure the Union victory at Gettysburg. Or Stanislov Petrov, the Soviet officer who violated military protocols by not informing his superiors of false radar signals he (rightly) suspected, preventing a retaliatory Russian ICBM launch and protecting the planet s life.
For the financial sector, Bitcoin’s launch in 2009 promised to be as transformative as the introduction of a “horseless carriage” to 20th century transportation. However, after Satoshi Nakamoto stepped down from the public arena, the Bitcoin Core developers who assumed control of the protocol imposed restrictions akin to dismantling a car engine and tying the now-dead framework to the Clydesdales team.
If it weren’t for the timely intervention of Calvin Ayre and Stefan Matthews, Bitcoin could have been permanently relegated to the role of a financial whip. So settle in as we fire up the time machine and retrace the steps in which Bitcoin was saved.
Bet on Bitcoin
In the first decade of this century, Matthews was CIO at Centrebet, an Australian online sports betting operator. In 2005, the owners of Centrebet planned an initial public offering and brought in the BDO accounting network to conduct the necessary audits.
Of the three BDO staff sent to Centrebet was Dr Wright, who was the head of audit. A Sydney native, Wright was a BDO employee and spent most of his time at Centrebet with Matthews’ team.
Fast forward to 2008, and Wright contacted Matthews to let him know that he had left BDO to start his own company. Wright asks Matthews to consider him in any future contract/consulting work, Centrebet does occasionally hire Wright to handle firewalls, security policies, etc.
In time, Centrebet decided it needed a board subcommittee to oversee safety matters. Matthews was asked to chair the subcommittee and recommended Wright as an independent advisor on governance.
With Wright now regularly coming into Centrebet’s office, Matthews recalled that because Craig liked to barge into Matthews’ office to discuss his personal projects, regardless of what Matthews had on his plate or anyone else at his ‘s office. “Craig was the same as he is now. When he walks into a room, he doesn’t know anything about the environment.”
Much of Wright’s discussion has centered on fintech, especially early efforts by others to develop cryptocurrencies. Matthews added that “Craig had this passion to get me involved” in his projects, but Matthews always refused.
During an interview in July or August 2008, Wright handed Matthews a USB drive that he said contained a document he wanted Matthews to read. Matthews doesn’t like reading documents on the screen, so he copies them and prints them out for later reading. He eventually read the abstract and skimmed through the topic headings, but since it largely reminded Matthews of Wright’s previous discussions, Matthews ended up throwing it in a pile of papers on his desk and forgetting it.
Matthews can’t recall whether the document was from Satoshi Nakamoto, but did recall that it was titled “Bitcoin,” and as far as he could tell, the text was close to a white paper published later that year.
A month later, Wright returned to ask Matthews if he had seen the document. Matthews said he had reviewed it, but it wasn’t anything he was interested in, and Matthews said Wright accepted the response and the matter was dropped.
Then in March or April 2009, Wright walked into Matthews’ office and asked him for $500. Matthews thought Wright was applying for a loan, but Wright said he wanted to give Matthews 50,000 bitcoins as an exchange. Matthews refused, calling Bitcoin “the biggest piece of junk I’ve ever heard of and it wouldn’t make any sense.”
stuff in the ale
Shortly thereafter, Matthews left Centrebet and moved to London to work at online gaming operator Bodog UK. Matthews later moved to Manila to lead the global IT group for Bodog’s main brands and Bodog Asia.
Ayre gave up any operational role in the gaming industry a few years ago, but retained the rights to the Bodog brand and licensed it to a number of independent operators in different markets. Over time, he got to know Matthews and came to respect his judgment and ability.
In 2014, Matthews was looking for a new challenge and traveled to Antigua to meet Al, who was looking to start a venture capital arm. Ayre encouraged Matthews to return to the Philippines and explore technology-focused investment opportunities in Asia.
Later that year, Wright contacted Matthews, who had heard that Matthews would be in Sydney around New Years, and suggested they meet. They met in a Sydney hotel lobby on January 2, 2015, and Matthews said Wright kept talking about how Bitcoin has come in the six years since its launch. But at the end of the meeting, Wright made no proposals for cooperation, and Matthews was puzzled that the meeting seemed pointless.
In April of that year, Wright contacted Matthews again, this time with more specific concerns. Over the past few years, Wright has assembled a team of 45 people working on bitcoin and blockchain-related research, funding these businesses by liquidating his bitcoin holdings. He has been selling coins not related to Satoshi Nakamoto because moving coins related to Bitcoin’s creator would complicate Wright’s problems with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Matthews said Wright had “hit a wall” with the ATO over his claim to apply for a research grant under the government’s AusIndustry scheme and his relationship with the taxman was “toxic at best”. Wright has alienated some of the ATO’s top officials, including the deputy chief, by calling them “damn idiots”. Matthews points out that Wright’s Asperger’s syndrome means he “isn’t the most cooperative — or diplomatic — guy. If he thinks you’re a fucking idiot, he’ll tell you whether you’re tax or not auditor.”
Wright has not previously explored the commercialization of his research, but is now approaching Matthews with the idea of investing in his business. Matthews travelled to Sydney as planned and agreed to meet with Wright to discuss the matter further.
Before the meeting, Matthews finally found time to Google Bitcoin, which led him to a white paper. Sitting in front of the computer in the hotel room, Matthews realized he had read the document before. “It’s like I’m in a room with ghosts. That damn hair on the back of my neck is going numb.”
Later, Matthews asked Wright a pointed question: “Who is **ck Satoshi Nakamoto?” Wright replied that Matthews already knew the answer, prompting Matthews to tell Wright “to stop using Craig. The riddle speaks”. Matthews wanted to answer a straightforward question: “Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?” Wright replied: “You’re looking at him.”
Wright reminded Matthews of his offer to exchange $500 for 50,000 bitcoins in 2009, joking that Matthews may regret not taking his offer. Matthews replied, “If you were a jerk, you’d give them to me.” (Spoiler alert: he didn’t.)
let’s make a deal
After the meeting, Matthews contacted Al to ask if he had heard of Bitcoin. Ayre clearly knows bitcoin, given the pivotal role of payment processing in online gambling. Matthews then asked Al if he knew who Satoshi Nakamoto was. Al said no, even though he knew the mystery surrounding Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity. Matthews recounted his encounter with Wright and suggested the three of them meet.
The three later met in Vancouver, a meeting that laid the groundwork for preserving the original Bitcoin protocol. They spent three days discussing all things Bitcoin, and Al said Wright “helped connect the dots in my brain” about how the technology works. At the conclusion of those talks, Al gave Wright his “march order” to return to Australia and “prepare for due diligence”.
Once in Australia, Matthews found Wright’s office empty as Wright’s financial woes forced him to lay off staff. After about five days of due diligence, Matthews found a room full of documents that included blockchain-related research dating back to 2006, long before Bitcoin’s launch. Soon after, a term sheet was prepared for Al’s approval.
The term sheet was signed on June 29, 2015 at Wright’s office. After signing, Wright rushed home with an expensive bottle of champagne (Krug 2009 – a fitting vintage). Due to lack of suitable stemware, they drank toast from mismatched coffee cups.
The deal, brokered by Ayre, will create a company to acquire 100% of the intellectual property of all of Wright’s Australian companies, as well as Wright’s personally owned bitcoin/blockchain-related IP, and the rights to Wright’s life story. In exchange, Wright received funding to rehire staff, restart research and pay legal fees related to the ATO.
nChain Holdings was founded in London with office space, and Wright and his wife Ramona found a place in Wimbledon. Their furniture and other items are transported on the high seas, so they rented an apartment in Sydney’s business district for a few weeks. Then all hell broke loose.
wright where they want him
While Matthews was waiting at Sydney Airport to fly to Manila, he received a call informing him that Wired and Gizmodo’s story had come out of Wright as Satoshi. Shortly thereafter, Matthews received another call informing him that the Australian Federal Police was pouring into Wright’s former office in Sydney.
Matthews left the airport and drove to Wright’s office. The ATO has asked police to seize Crypto records to determine whether Wright’s office was a frontline defending the fraudulent grant application. A member of the forensic team, who did not expect to find any findings, told Matthews coyly that he was surprised by the amount of data they found. Matthews later said that the number of Bitcoin-related patent applications nChain subsequently filed was large enough to prove that Wright’s office was not engaged in any fraudulent activity.
Matthews called some criminal lawyers and they told him there was nothing stopping Wright from leaving Australia. In fact, they advised him to do so while they sort out what was going on. Matthews quickly booked Wright’s first flight to New Zealand.
Matthews then arranged for Wright’s wife and their children to fly to England. Wright eventually flew to Manila, where Matthews picked him up and took him home. The next day, Matthews put Wright on a plane to London, and the next chapter of the story unfolded in very public fashion.
Not ready for prime time
What happened next has become legendary, or at least an example of how quickly the best plans can go off track. At the time nChain filed the patent application, Wright was undergoing media training to reveal his identity as Satoshi. Wright would suffer in these meetings—mostly centered on how to answer questions—but minutes before each actual interview, he would suddenly be reluctant.
Both Ayre and Matthews said it was now clear that Wright wasn’t ready to deal with his signing. Matthews said the plan was “a very natural way of doing things,” assuming it involved anyone other than Wright. Matthews believes that during the turbulent 2015-16, Wright saw him as “the only consistent authority figure in his life”, saying he was eventually forced to inform Wright that he was “almost obligated” to go through the process . Not that it makes it any smoother.
Despite Wright’s media blowout, neither Al nor Matthews said they had lost faith in him. However, now that they understood Wright’s limitations, they did change their tactics going forward. Ayre funded the launch of CoinGeek Media to advance Wright’s vision of restoring the Bitcoin protocol’s large-block, multi-purpose utility, ultimately freeing the original protocol Bitcoin from all artificial limitations in 2018. However, it was forced to trade BSV (Bitcoin Satoshi Vision) under the new code because corrupt crypto exchanges stole the previous ones. (The BTC transaction code is now used for a non-scaling protocol fork, which is definitely not Bitcoin as described in the whitepaper.)
At the same time, Ayre and Matthews invested in a public cloud computing data infrastructure company that supports global blockchain applications. The company changed its name to TAAL Distributed Information Technology (CSE: TAAL | FWB: 9SQ1 | OTC: TAALF), focusing on mining and BSV’s futures trading economy. TAAL is now the largest public blockchain transaction writer in the world.
Matthews was the CEO of nChain and later CEO/Chairman of TAAL. Ayre funded the creation of the Bitcoin Association, of which he and Matthews were founding members. The association, the group behind the original protocol, is now fully following the white paper, including the introduction of Simplified Payment Verification (SPV), the recipe for unlimited enterprise scaling.
Ayre also created Ayre Ventures, the first and largest venture capital fund to support startups leveraging the BSV superpower. Ayre Ventures has also funded nChain, now the world’s largest owner of foundational blockchain IP, to enable enterprise-level scaling and adoption.
Wright went on to file for more patents and is now a global keynote speaker at the IEEE conference series with Professor Latif Ladid explaining how the original Bitcoin will always integrate with IPv6 and enable the next generation of data evaluation over the Internet. Only those who support competing technologies or await research reject Dr. Wright as the sole inventor of Bitcoin.
The cabal of small block developers that hijacked the Bitcoin protocol a decade ago aimed to force users to use proprietary sidechains by eliminating on-chain capacity. In the process, they’re also trying to eliminate the threat proto-Bitcoin poses to the traditional financial giants that back these developers. Their conspiracy is now in tatters thanks to the timely intervention of a few and their commitment to seeing Bitcoin fulfill its original vision.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin section for beginners, the ultimate resource guide to learning more about Bitcoin (as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto) and blockchain.
Source of information: compiled from COINGEEK by 0x information, the copyright belongs to the author Steven Stradbrooke, and may not be reproduced without permission