3 People Who Were Supposedly Bitcoin Founder Satoshi Nakamoto

One of the most enduring mysteries of bitcoin is the identity of its founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. Little is known about him, and his identity has never been fully confirmed.

In October 2008, a message signed by Satoshi Nakamoto titled "Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper" announced the creation of the cryptocurrency. For the next two years, Satoshi remained active in the community, communicating with others in the development of the blockchain. Satoshi's last message on the Bitcoin forums was posted in December 2010, though unverified private messages have surfaced from April 2011.

Key Takeaways

  • Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym used by the creator or creators of Bitcoin.
  • The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is not publicly known.
  • One of the first major public investigations ended with Dorian Nakamoto being identify as Bitcoin's creator, but he continues to decline the claim.
  • Some believe Craig Wright to be the founder, though critics believe he is using public attention on the matter for personal gain.
  • Others think Nick Szabo, founder of Bit Gold in 2008, is the real Nakamoto.

Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Nakamoto is important to the bitcoin ecosystem beyond his status as a founder. He is a philosophical figurehead of sorts and is frequently invoked among cryptocurrency proponents debating the future of bitcoin's development. For example, both sides in the contentious forking of Bitcoin Cash (itself a fork of the original bitcoin blockchain) claimed to uphold Nakamoto’s original vision for the currency.

It's difficult to truly know how much bitcoin Nakamoto owns, as it is suspected Nakamoto might have used different addresses when mining early blocks. Some estimate Bitcoin wallets associated with Nakamoto hold roughly 1.1 million BTC (worth roughly $30 billion as of June 2022). Given that just 21 million Bitcoin will ever be mined, Nakamoto’s holdings represent a significant portion of all bitcoin to be created.

Despite numerous efforts to uncover his identity, Nakamoto has proven elusive. Several individuals have been proposed but none have been proven to be Satoshi Nakamoto beyond a doubt. Here are three candidates.

With his identity in question, nobody knows if Satoshi Nakamoto is alive or dead. Should his bitcoin address no longer be accessible, a sizable portion of all bitcoin (roughly 5%) would no longer be in circulation.

Satoshi Nakamoto

Investopedia / Bailey Mariner

Dorian Nakamoto 

This perhaps was the most high-profile attempt to reveal bitcoin’s founder. Newsweek in March 2014 identified Dorian Nakamoto as the currency's creator. This was the first time a mainstream publication had attempted to learn the identity of bitcoin’s creator.

Newsweek claimed several similarities between Satoshi Nakamoto and Dorian Nakamoto. For example, both supposedly held libertarian leanings and a Japanese connection. (Dorian, who graduated in physics from California Polytechnic and worked on classified defense projects, is Japanese-American). The article’s author also claimed Nakamoto said he was “no longer” involved with bitcoin and that he had “turned it over” to other people. 

Dorian Nakamoto later denied the quote and claimed that he had misunderstood the question. He told the Associated Press, "I got nothing to do with it."

The magazine’s biggest mistake was to publish a photograph of Nakamoto’s home. A cursory image search could easily reveal its location. While many did not believe Dorian Nakamoto was bitcoin’s founder, the crypto community was aghast his privacy had been violated.

Still, the media circus was not without profit for Dorian Nakamoto. In March 2014, tech entrepreneur and crypto-enthusiast Andreas Antonopoulos launched a fundraiser to support Nakamoto. The crowdfunding campaign served as an apology for the damage and difficulty Nakamoto experienced during the ordeal. Approximately 2,000 supporters donated a total of 47.5 bitcoin, worth roughly $20,000 at the time of the campaign.

Craig Wright 

For the most part, individuals suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto have denied the claim or remained silent. That has not been the case with Craig Wright, an Australian scientist.

In December 2015, Wired Magazine wrote a profile on Wright, claiming it had "obtained the strongest evidence yet of Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity.” The article reported on Wright's appearance via Skype at that year's Bitcoin Investor’s Conference in Las Vegas. When asked about his credentials, Wright claimed he was “a bit of everything.” He listed his degrees, including a master’s in statistics and two doctorates. He also said: "I've been involved with all of this for a long time ... I try and keep my head down."

Wired's evidence consisted of references to a "cryptocurrency paper" on Wright's blog that appeared months before the bitcoin whitepaper began to circulate. In addition, there were leaked emails and correspondence with Wright’s lawyer that referenced a “P2P distributed ledger." Furthermore, leaked transcripts of meetings with attorneys and tax officials quoted him as saying: “I did my best to try and hide the fact that I’ve been running bitcoin since 2009. By the end of this, I think half the world is going to bloody know.”

Those claims were soon thrown into doubt. Wired followed up its report to note several inconsistencies in Wright's story. For example, the blog entries appeared to be backdated. Evidence also suggested that public encryption keys linked to Satoshi Nakamoto were also backdated. Even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who is otherwise reticent about politics in the cryptocurrency world, came out against Wright, publicly calling him a fraud.

But Wright remains unfazed by the criticism and has parlayed the media attention to carve out a prominent role within the crypto community. He led a contentious fork of Bitcoin Cash, forming Bitcoin SV. He is also chief science officer at nChain, a blockchain solutions business that serves enterprise customers. As of 2021, Wright is embroiled in a series of legal entanglements that may eventually prove or disprove his claims, should evidence be presented in court.

The pronoun "we" is used throughout Nakamoto's Bitcoin white paper. Some suspect Nakamoto was a collection of individuals using a single anonymous identity.

Nick Szabo 

Nick Szabo is a computer engineer and legal scholar. He is credited with pioneering the concept of smart contracts in a 1996 paper. In 2008, he conceptualized a decentralized currency he called Bit Gold, a precursor to bitcoin. He described Bit Gold as “a protocol whereby unforgeable costly bits could be created online with minimal dependence on trusted third parties.” This is similar to the bitcoin concept, whereby a series of bits created by a network of computers without a leader verify and validate transactions.

Author Dominic Frisby makes the case that Nick Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto in his book, Bitcoin: The Future of Money? Frisby consulted a stylometrics expert who concluded that Szabo’s writing style was similar to known writings from Satoshi. Another clue is that both Szabo and Satoshi reference economist Carl Menger. In addition, Frisby learned Szabo had worked for DigiCash, an early attempt to bring cryptography to digital payments. In the author's eyes, this strongly suggested Nick Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Who Created Bitcoin?

The identity behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto is not known, but Nakamoto is credited with developing Blockchain in 2008. Nakamoto penned the Bitcoin white paper and is often credited with mining the first block of the blockchain.

Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The public identify of Satoshi Nakamoto is not known. It is not known whether Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonymous or real name, and some believe Satoshi Nakamoto is a collection of people instead of one individual.

How Much Is Satoshi Nakamoto Worth?

It is not publicly known how many bitcoin Nakamoto possesses, as it is suspected that Nakamoto used different addresses to mine different blocks. Some believe Satoshi owns roughly 1.1 million bitcoin, which would be valued at just over $30 billion as of June 2022.

The Bottom Line

There are many theories about who Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, really is. While news organizations continue to investigate, his identity remains unknown.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Satoshi Nakamoto Institute. "Bitcoin P2P E-Cash Paper."

  2. Satoshi Nakamoto Institute. "Bitcoin 0.3.19 Is Released."

  3. The Atlantic. "Former Coworker Regrets Helping Reveal Identity of Bitcoin's Founder."

  4. Mashable. "Bitcoin Cash Is Set To Hard Fork, and People Are Losing Their Cool."

  5. Cointelegraph. "The Value of a Legacy: Hunting Down Satoshi's Bitcoin."

  6. The Wall Street Journal. "Bitcoin USD."

  7. The Next Web. "Here’s Why Satoshi Nakamoto Set Bitcoin’s Supply Limit To 21 Million."

  8. Newsweek. "The Face Behind Bitcoin."

  9. Associated Press. "Man Said To Create Bitcoin Denies It."

  10. Los Angeles Times. "Reddit Users Launch Fundraiser to Help Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto."

  11. CNET. "Dorian Nakamoto Thanks Bitcoiners for Donating $20,000."

  12. Wired Magazine. "Is Bitcoin's Creator This Unknown Australian Genius? Probably Not (Updated)."

  13. Wired Magazine. "New Clues Suggest Craig Wright, Suspected Bitcoin Creator, May Be a Hoaxer."

  14. Vice. "Satoshi's PGP Keys Are Probably Backdated and Point To a Hoax."

  15. YouTube. "Deconomy 2018 Heats Up."

  16. nChain. "About."

  17. Reuters. "Australia's Wright Launches Lawsuit Over $5.7 bln Bitcoin Haul."

  18. CourtListener. "Kleiman v. Wright."

  19. Reuters. "London Court Allows Australia's Wright To Serve Bitcoin Copyright Claim."

  20. Bitcoin. "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System."

  21. Nick Szabo. "Smart Contracts: Building Blocks for Digital Markets."

  22. Blogspot. "Unenumerated - Bit gold."

  23. Dominic Frisby. "Bitcoin: The Future of Money?" Unbound Publishing, 2014.

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.
Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.