Over the last few weeks, I’ve written several articles talking about the implications of a maturing Mimblewimble protocol for the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Here, here, and here. I wanted to write an article talking about my background and why I’m working on MWC.
I’ve been interested in computers since I was a child. I was always good at math and when I went to college at the University of California, Davis, I decided to major in math. One of the requirements, and this is way back in 1996 so there’s probably a lot more computer science required for math majors now, was to take an intro to computer science class. So as a freshman, I signed up. After taking that intro to computer science class, I was hooked and changed my major to computer engineering. This was during the dotcom boom and while I was in college, I got excited about the internet. Back then, most of the classes didn’t cover internet programming as it was a sort of a new topic. So, I took it upon myself to learn how to do html and perl cgi scripts among other things and made a few websites of my own. I learned a lot, but by the time I graduated in 2000, the dotcom boom had started to bust and while I was able to find a job at Sun Microsystems, the go-go internet startups were shutdown and the stories of recent grads making millions their first year out of college ceased to exist, so I kept my job at Sun Microsystems and learned a lot.
By 2006, things had started to turn around and with my experience I decided to leave Sun and go to startups. Over the next 8 years, I was at 3 startups that got acquired. This resulted in me finding out what the meaning of “Gold handcuffs” was and there was varying financial success at each of them. I went from being a Senior Developer, to Architect, to Engineering Manager/Director of Engineering.
It was during my startup days that I found out about Bitcoin and at first when I heard about Bitcoin, I didn’t think there was much too it. I read one of the Bitcoin is dead articles in early 2013 and decided that you can’t just create a currency on the internet. But then towards the later half of 2013, I heard Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, talk very positively about Bitcoin. In fact he invested millions into Coinbase and other Bitcoin startups. That made me research Bitcoin more and after understanding what it was, who was supporting it, and the problem it was trying to solve, I realized this was huge. I got the same feeling that I had when I was learning about the internet in the late 90s. I even tried to buy some Bitcoin on Mt. Gox in late 2013 but luckily didn’t do it because I thought the site looked too shady. By early 2014, I discovered Coinbase and bought my first Bitcoin at around $700. The whole year I bought pretty much as much Bitcoin as I could even to the point of taking out a home equity line of credit on my house to buy more and bought GBTC (the Bitcoin investment trust) with 100% of my IRA money from past jobs. My average price was about $500. I know this is a very bad idea and no one should do it, but for some reason that didn’t stop me.
I watched the price go down to $152 in early 2015, but I wasn’t really that worried. I had a good job at VMWare and I just had this overwhelming feeling about Bitcoin and knew it would work out over time. As time went on and the price went up and I never sold a single Bitcoin, up until this day. In late 2017, I did sell my Bitcoin Cash (for a higher price than my Bitcoin purchase price) and paid off all my loans. It was around late 2017 that I also decided I wanted to leave my job at VMWare and try to figure out what to do in the Bitcoin space. With my gains in BTC and other investments I would never need to work again, but I wanted to do something in this space. In early 2018, I started thinking seriously about moving to Puerto Rico for tax reasons. Puerto Rico has a program that allows you to pay 0% on capital gains (there are some requirements to this program, but that’s generally the rate after you move there). So, I moved my primary residence to Puerto Rico in May of 2018. I do frequently visit family in California though so I go back and forth a lot. I spent the next few months on the beaches of San Juan contemplating what to do in the Bitcoin space.
Back in 2016, I had read the Mimblewimble whitepaper and was amazed by this technological break through that was disclosed pseudonymously. If I had to pick three white papers to read, they’d be the Bitcoin whitepaper, the Lightning Network whitepaper and the Mimblewimble whitepaper. I had also registered for the BRhodium airdrop and I thought their method of getting the Bitcoin community involved was ingenious. Around this time, Grin was also getting close to launch and I thought about investing in Grin, but when I discovered that Grin had unlimited supply I thought that there was an opportunity to make a coin that was a version of Grin with limited supply and a airdrop to Bitcoin holders. I was kind of apprehensive about making my own coin since I knew there would be push back from the Bitcoin community, but I thought Mimblewimble is a technology that needs to be developed because it could one day be incorporated into the Bitcoin codebase and doing it as an airdrop also benefits the community, so I thought there was good reason to go ahead with this project. Even though these are my intentions, I understand that many people will not understand and attack this project. That’s ok, we’ll roll with the punches. It seems to be like that when you see something before others. Clearly the last thing I want to do is harm Bitcoin since I have a vested interest in it.
So, in late December, 2018. I wrote up a short summary of this idea and sent a message to my friend Adam Meister (the Bitcoinmeister), who I met when he visited San Juan earlier that year. I was on the fence about moving forward, but when he responded and told me he thought it was an amazing idea and that I should move forward ASAP, I was very motivated to work on the project. He put me in touch with Andy Hoffman who got involved as marketing consultant. It is really cool to work with someone that I had watched for years on SGT Report, X22Report, etc, etc.