Even as his face towered 10 feet above the crowd at the Bitcoin Investor’s Conference in Las Vegas, Craig Steven Wright was, to most of the audience of crypto and finance geeks, a nobody.
The 44-year-old Australian, Skyping into the D Hotel ballroom’s screen, wore the bitcoin enthusiast’s equivalent of camouflage: a black blazer and a tieless, rumpled shirt, his brown hair neatly parted. His name hadn’t made the conference’s list of “featured speakers.” Even the panel’s moderator, a bitcoin blogger named Michele Seven, seemed concerned the audience wouldn’t know why he was there. Wright had hardly begun to introduce himself as a “former academic who does research that no one ever hears about,” when she interrupted him.
“Hold on a second, who are you?” Seven cut in, laughing. “Are you a computer scientist?”
“I’m a bit of everything,” Wright responded. “I have a masters in law…a master’s in statistics, a couple doctorates…”
“How did you first learn about bitcoin?” Seven interrupted again, as if still trying to determine Wright’s significance.
Wright paused for three full seconds. “Um. I’ve been involved with all this for a long time,” he stuttered. “I—try and stay—I keep my head down. Um…” He seemed to suppress a smile. The panel’s moderator moved on. And for what must have been the thousandth time in his last seven years of obscurity, Wright did not say the words WIRED’s study of Wright over the past weeks suggests he may be dying to say out loud.
“I am Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin.”