Everyone familiar with the origins of Bitcoin likely knows about the anonymous founder Satoshi Nakomoto. But a lesser known fact is that shortly after launching Bitcoin via a online chat forum, the Bitcoin founder met with skepticism and had some difficulty locating early adopters or even a second person to verify whether his new cryptocurrency was functioning properly.
Shortly thereafter, Nakamoto met Hal Finney who verified some of the early software builds and performed some of the early mining operations. I found several aspects of this working relationship intriguing:
-There was no formal agreement in place between the two – Nakamoto required assistance and Finney answered his informal solicitation based on curiosity
-Despite being very thorough in coding the early software, Finney discovered bugs – to include the installed software launching upon program execution
-Finney was ultimately compensated via the proceeds of his early mining proceeds – which totaled approximately $60K
-The relationship between Nakamoto and Finney was fairly mechanical and professional, neither knew one another personally
The previous arrangement is very different than what is typical in many entrepreneurial environments today. Most people will caution you to formally evaluate someone prior to working with them and even go as far as requiring legal documentation prior to beginning work. The relationship between Nakamoto and Finney was markedly different in that the two just began working with one another shortly after meeting online. The momentum of the performed work served as a vetting process of sorts.
Beyond providing usability testing Finney provided another and perhaps more important element to the overall Bitcoin project in the early days – he had provided a degree of momentum. Once Nakamoto and Finney began working with one another and testing the initial software builds other anonymous miners referred to as zombie miners began to join the network. Once Finney stepped up and expressed interest in the fledgling cryptocurrency it gave others the courage to do so, even if anonymously at first. Finney provided both technical and social validation for Bitcoin.
One lesson that I have taken away from this story is that sometimes you just need to put something out there and see how it is received and who comes along. Another lesson is that informality is likely best when getting something off the ground. A third lesson is that despite your technical progress, a second person is needed to build momentum and serve as an outside set of eyes.
To learn more about the origins of digital currency and Bitcoin refer to The Age of Cryptocurrency by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey.
Image Credit: ExtremeTech