You may have heard of Bitcoin.
It’s a digital currency which, depending on your point of view, is either the greatest thing since the transistor or a giant Ponzi scheme. It was invented by someone named Satoshi Nakamoto. It’s a hugely volatile currency but is beginning to gain acceptance by merchants as a payment method for goods and services. It’s not small either: there were transactions of nearly $500 million a day at its peak. With me so far?
The weird thing about Bitcoin is that no one knew who this Nakamoto guy was. Rumors ranged from he was a young whiz kid programmer living in Japan to an “entity” that is a composite of a number of people who worked on the project. Nakamoto owns about $400 million in Bitcoin yet won’t talk on the telephone so people who work with him have never heard his voice. In fact, many people wondered if Nakamoto was his name at all since lots of folks in the Bitcoin community use pseudonyms. He (and Bitcoin) have been the subject of much discussion and analysis on tech blog and programs yet other than swapping rumors no one seemed to be checking this guy out.
Along comes Leah McGrath Goodman of Newsweek who does some good old-fashioned reporting. She found the 64 year old Nakamoto living in California very quietly. She wrote this piece about the process and the man she found at the end of the trail. It’s a great read, great journalism and, more importantly, makes our business point today.
Many businesses have “Nakamotos” – important people or facts or policies about which little is known. There is uncertainty about how they came to be or how they operate. There are a lot of rumors but very little fact-checking. That’s not smart business. This reporter’s commitment to pursuing the facts as opposed to repeating rumors or unverified “facts” resulted in solving the mystery. Frankly, it gives me a bit (pun intended) more faith in the Bitcoin system now that I understand who this fellow is.
We need to unearth the Nakamotos in business and not be deterred by the common wisdom. The truth is generally hiding in plain sight but you have to be looking in order to see it. Are you?