The Broken Bitcoin: The launch of Bitcoin in 2009 promised to be as transformative as the introduction of the ‘horseless carriage’ was to 20th century transportation. However, following Satoshi Nakamoto’s withdrawal from the public stage, the Bitcoin Core developers who assumed control of the protocol had imposed a new protocol.
However, the timely intervention of Calvin Ayre and Stefan Matthews, who helped facilitate Satoshi’s return in the form of Dr. Craig Wright and steered Bitcoin back onto its original path.
CoinGeek have delved into the history of the Original Bitcoin Protocol to retrace the steps through which the Bitcoin protocol was restored to its original form.
Betting on Bitcoin
In the first decade of this millennium, Matthews was working as Chief Information Officer at Australian online sports betting operator Centrebet. In 2005, Centrebet’s owners were planning an initial public offering and brought in the BDO accounting network to perform the necessary audits.
Among the three staff members that BDO sent to Centrebet was none other than Dr. Wright, who served as audit lead. Being Sydney-based, Wright was the BDO staffer who spent the most time at Centrebet engaging with Matthews’ team.
Fast forward to 2008 and Wright contacted Matthews to let him know he’d left BDO to set up his own company. Wright asked Matthews to consider him for any future contracting/consulting work and Centrebet did occasionally hire Wright to handle firewalls, security policies and the like.
In time, Centrebet decided it needed a board subcommittee to oversee security matters. Matthews was asked to chair this subcommittee and recommended Wright as an independent advisor on governance.
On one of Wright’s visits in July or August 2008, he handed Matthews a USB stick, said it contained a document he wanted Matthews to read.
Matthews does not recall if the document was credited to Satoshi Nakamoto, but does remember it being titled ‘Bitcoin’ and the text was close to the white paper released later that year.
Then in March or April 2009, Wright walked into Matthews’ office and asked him for $500. Matthews thought Wright was asking for a loan but Wright said he wanted to give Matthews 50,000 Bitcoins in exchange. Matthews declined.
Something in the Ayre
Not long after this, Matthews left Centrebet and moved to London to work at online gambling operator Bodog UK. Matthews later moved to Manila to head up the global IT group for both the main Bodog brand as well as Bodog Asia.
In 2014, Matthews was looking for new challenges and traveled to Antigua to meet with Ayre, who was looking to start a venture capital arm. Ayre encouraged Matthews to return to the Philippines and explore predominantly tech-focused investment opportunities in Asia.
That April, Wright again contacted Matthews, this time with a more concrete concern. Over the past few years, Wright had assembled a 45-member team to work on Bitcoin-and blockchain-related research, funding these operations by liquidating his Bitcoin holdings. He had been selling coins that weren’t associated with Satoshi, as moving coins linked to Bitcoin’s creator would complicate issues Wright was having with the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
Wright hadn’t previously explored the commercialization of his research but was now pitching Matthews on the idea of investing in his operations. Matthews had a trip to Sydney on his schedule and agreed to meet Wright to discuss the matter further.
Before the meeting, Matthews finally got around to googling Bitcoin, which led him to a copy of the white paper. Sitting at his computer in his hotel room, Matthews realized he’d read this document before.
Following this meeting, Matthews contacted Ayre, asked if he had heard of Bitcoin. Given payment processing’s critical role in online gambling, Ayre was obviously aware of Bitcoin. Matthews then asked if Ayre knew who Satoshi was. Ayre said no, although he was aware of the mystery surrounding Satoshi’s real-world identity. Matthews related his dealings with Wright and suggested the three of them meet.
The trio later met up in Vancouver, a meeting that laid the groundwork for saving the original Bitcoin protocol. At the conclusion of these talks, Ayre gave Wright his “marching orders”—go back to Australia and “prepare for due diligence.”
Not long afterward, a term sheet was prepared for Ayre’s approval. The term sheet was signed at Wright’s office on June 29, 2015.
The deal, brokered by Ayre, would set up a company to acquire 100% of the IP belonging to all of Wright’s Australian companies, as well as Bitcoin/blockchain-related IP personally owned by Wright, along with the rights to Wright’s life story. In exchange, Wright received funding to rehire staff, restart his research and pay his ATO-related legal bills.
nChain Holdings was set up in London with office space and Wright and his wife Ramona found a place to live in Wimbledon.
Matthews was at the Sydney airport waiting to fly to Manila when he got a call informing him of the Wired and Gizmodo stories outing Wright as Satoshi. Shortly thereafter, Matthews received another call informing him that Australian federal police were swarming Wright’s former Sydney office.
Matthews left the airport and drove to Wright’s office. The ATO had asked the police to seize digital records to determine if Wright’s office was a front to justify fraudulent grant claims. Expecting to find no research whatsoever, a member of the forensic team sheepishly told Matthews that he was surprised by the volumes of data they discovered. Matthews later said the sheer number of Bitcoin-related patent applications that nChain subsequently filed is ample proof that Wright’s office was not engaged in any fraudulent activity.
Next, Ayre funded the launch of CoinGeek Media to promote Wright’s vision of restoring the Bitcoin protocol’s big-block, multi-functional utility, culminating in original protocol Bitcoin being freed of all artificial constraints in 2018. However, it was forced to trade under the new ticker BSV.
Ayre and Matthews also invested in a public cloud computing data infrastructure company that supported global blockchain applications. This company rebranded as TAAL Distributed Information Technologies (CSE:TAAL | FWB:9SQ1 | OTC: TAALF), with a dedicated focus on mining and BSV’s future transaction economy. TAAL is now the world’s largest writer of transactions to a public blockchain.
Matthews served as CEO of nChain, later taking on the role of TAAL’s CEO/chairman. Ayre funded the launch of the Bitcoin Association, of which both he and Matthews were founding members. The Association is the group behind the original protocol now exactly following the white paper, including rolling out Simplified Payment Verification (SPV), aka the secret sauce to unbounded Enterprise scaling.
Ayre also created Ayre Ventures, the first and largest venture capital fund supporting start-ups that leverage BSV’s superpowers. Ayre Ventures has also funded nChain, which is now the world’s largest owner of base blockchain IP to enable enterprise-level scaling and adoption.
In 2018, Ayre debuted the CoinGeek Conference, which will hold its 10th event in London in 2023 under its new name BSV Global Blockchain Convention.
Wright continues to file more patents and is now a global keynote speaker on the IEEE conference series alongside Professor Latif Ladid explaining how original Bitcoin was always designed to integrate with IPv6 and enable the next generation of data valuation over the internet. Only those supporting rival technologies or with axes to grind refuse to accept Dr. Wright as the sole inventor of Bitcoin.
The small-block developers that changed the Bitcoin protocol a decade ago allowed users onto proprietary side-chains by eliminating on-chain capacity. In the process, they also sought to neutralize the original Bitcoin protocol via the legacy financial giants that supported these developers.