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Satoshi Nakamoto – Bitcoin’s anonymous founder – may be the largest Bitcoin whale on the planet.
However, there’s no evidence that Satoshi has or will spend his coins. The crypto community isn’t sure how many coins belong to the founder.
Just how rich is the father of Bitcoin? And what implications could his ancient stash have for the network and the asset?
The Patoshi Pattern
One of the most popular theories is that Satoshi Nakamoto mined anywhere from 750,000 to 1.1 million Bitcoin. That’s a blogger stack than Grayscale and MicroStrategy combined – and about 5% of the network’s total supply.
The theory maintains that Satoshi mined his fortune within 13 months of Bitcoin’s inception: from January 2009 to January 2010. Between blocks one and 36288, cryptocurrency security consultant Sergio Demian Lerner posited that the same computer mined about 22,000. He nicknamed the computer “Patoshi.”
His thesis is based on a distinct pattern left behind by that computer’s mining method. When comparing the nonce values of his re-mined Patoshi blocks to those of Patoshi, he noticed the latter’s “clear tendency” to choose higher numbers.
This strongly implies that Patoshi scanned the numbers downwards when looking for the winning lottery ticket,” Lerner told CoinTelegraph last year. “Even if we don’t know if he started with a high or low number, he always did it by decrementing the ticket number until some time had elapsed or he won the Bitcoin block lottery.
One of the blocks included in the pattern was block 0 – the unspendable genesis block mined before Bitcoin’s first implementation was publicly released. Therefore, Lerner assumes that Satoshi was the only computer responsible for mining all subsequent blocks.
The Patoshi pattern also mimics the nonce pattern of nearly all blocks mined within two weeks after the chain started. Altogether, it has become a widely accepted form of evidence for Satoshi’s secret Bitcoin stash.
Granted, the Patoshi pattern is not absolute proof. It’s entirely possible that all of that early Bitcoin was not mined by the same entity or that Satoshi never mined. For example, block 1, mined 24 hours after Bitcoin’s release, could have been solved by another person.
But what if Satoshi does own over 1 million Bitcoin? Is this an existential threat? Should Bitcoiners be worried?
Why Satoshi’s Coins are a Non-Issue
Knowing that a pseudonymous ultra-billionaire Bitcoin progenitor could lurk anywhere on Earth may sound intimidating. What if he moves his coins to an exchange and dumps the market? What if a hacker seizes his funds and does the same thing?
For two reasons, both of these events are worth worrying about.
1. A Wish to Stay Private
Firstly, one must consider that Satoshi was a cypherpunk who advocated for the widespread use of privacy-enhancing technologies.
The founder personally used a pseudonym when interacting online. When discussing his identity in old BItcoinTalk forums, his answers did not appear congruent with his behavior. Come 2011; Satoshi left Bitcoin without a trace.
Given these details, it’s safe to assume that he, she, or they wished to keep his identity under wraps. As such, it’s unlikely that he would ever attempt to move his coins.
For one, every Bitcoin transaction leaves an on-chain footprint. So if any coins suspected to be Satoshi’s were to move, the transactions would be subject to unending scrutiny by blockchain analysis firms. Many such firms already use their intel to track down financial crime. This alone could aid the community in uncovering his identity.
More importantly, if Satoshi ever tried to sell his massive stash, he would need an exchange with adequate liquidity. Unfortunately, large exchanges today are virtually guaranteed to subject users to KYC / AML regulations, thus necessitating them forfeiting their identity.
Satoshi moving his coins would be an act against his interest in privacy. He’s undoubtedly noticed his invention’s growth and the potential threat it poses to legacy institutions worldwide. If he were to reveal himself now, it would put a massive target on his back.
2. Love of Bitcoin
Secondly, Satoshi’s behavior suggested that he was more interested in seeing Bitcoin succeed than extracting profit from it.
His decision to make the Bitcoin genesis block unspendable is evidence that he wished to create a system with a fair start. Bitcoin’s proof of work mechanism and clean conception are arguably what makes Bitcoin a true commodity of money.
Satoshi’s Bitcoin – assuming he mined it – may not have even been mined for profit reasons. Instead, it’s possible he mined to enhance Bitcoin’s difficulty algorithm during its most vulnerable days and earned coins as a byproduct.
If so, it would explain why he has never sold his coins. In 2009, mining Bitcoin in pursuit of financial gain and HODLing it until 2022 would have taken unbelievable foresight.
If Satoshi truly wished to dump the market, he’d have likely taken profits back at $100 in 2013 and fled. In reality, it’s much more likely that he never intended to sell his Bitcoin – or even threw away the private key to access it.
Satoshi’s Bitcoin stack may be immense, but viewing his Bitcoin wallets as burn addresses is best. Based on probabilities and his intentions, it’s unlikely that his 1 million coins will ever move again.
Ultimately this reduced the effective Bitcoin supply to under 20 million – making everyone else’s Bitcoin more valuable!