tv Laura Shin The Cryptopians CSPAN April 12, 2022 9:34am-10:45am EDT
never slowed down. schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality, because at media com, we're built to keep you ahead. >> media com along with these companies support c-span2. >> tonight we're happy to have a new book, the cryptopians. the big lie in the first big crypto craze. laura shin is a crypto journalist and hosts the crypto podcast, unchained. formerly a senior editor at forbes, she was the first mainstream journalist to cover crypto full-time. joining lore is a christine lee, first mover at 9 a.m. eastern standard time at nyc every weekday live. the flagship show and first look at the day's global crypto
news headlines. she also hosts all about bitcoin at 3 p.m. eastern standard time for markets analysis and all things bct. coin desk is the leading news and provider for the block chain and digital assets industry. previously christine worked at thompson reuters, bloomberg and pro publica. >> and the abatement laws, on a pulitzer prize for public service and sweeping changes to the law. follow her on twitter at christine news. without further ado, please welcome me in joining christine and laura to the stage.
[applause] >> hi. >> hi. >> hi, this is such a pleasure and an honor to be here with you all and to be a moderator for laura's and your new book. i've been a fan of laura's since you were forbes senior editor. >> well, thank you. >> and you had the big scoops in the crypto scene, followed by your hosting of the unchained podcast, which is still going strong. >> yes. >> and on my car rides to work i'd always listen to you and to get the latest like updates and end up knowledge on the folks in the crypto space. so, seeing this book come out, i was very highly anticipating it. >> thank you so much. >> and it's a fantastic read. it really goes into depth and into egos and struggles
involved in making this historic crypto project. so very incredible work. >> thanks, i had a lot of fun writing it and reporting it. >> so, maybe we'll start off with kind of getting a sense of our audience. how many people here are new to crypto? okay. i'd say about half. how about intermediate level? okay. and advanced, you know, you're advanced, working on crypto. half beginners, a quarter intermediate and a quarter advanced. interesting to know. >> the beginners are some of my personal friends. [laughter] >> maybe i'll start off by just starting to ask some questions. what do you think folks new to crypto will get out of this book? >> well, i think there's a lot of people conceive of crypto as just being like technology or machines, but i think when you read the book, it becomes
pretty obvious that actually people and personalties and influencing in a major way and so that's a major take away and i guess that you noticed that when you read the book because some of these, now, long, drawnout sagas, between different personalities clashing and the egos, battling it out, that can take up many pages in the book and it happens multiple times over and over again with different people. so-- >> well, i would say with a lot of crypto projects, they can be a little opaque. bitcoin is made by a pseudonym, and could be many people we don't know. etheorem, we know who the founders are, but it's hard to, even for me, that you map out how it worked.
the founders, the foundation, the, you know, for-profit, nonprofit entities. this were some serious fact finding, investigative work there. >> yeah, and one other thing i would say actually that i noticed in working on this, and i actually think that this is a trend that's been happening kind of overall in the world, is that the power centers are shifting from finance to developers, to coders, and so what you see happen in the founding of etheorem, there are these conflicts and especially in the beginning, a lot of conflicts between the groups, sort of known as the biz guys and then the other group known as the doves, and what's fascinating, the doves just prevail over and over again, and i sort of feel like that is a further reflection of how, you know, previously wall street kind of was the center of the universe and that's where young grads would want to
go work and then it became silicon valley and now silicon valley executives are leaving for crypto companies. and even one of the coin founders of the coin base. he started off as kind of like a programmer at goldman sachs, but he would treat it like an i.t. person, that the finance people would-- >> and feathersome and the people would stand in front of his desk and bark orders and even have their feet on his desk as they're ordering him about. they treated me like an i.t. person and now he's one of the kings of crypto. and you know, i feel like kind of this transition that we're seeing is reflected on a small scale in the book and in these conflicts that play out and it's very fascinating to watch. >> awesome. i'm wondering why did you decide to choose etheorem as
the project you want today tackle. >> anyone around crypto in 2017 that was a historical year after i lived through that in 2018, i realized, wow, this was something that was totally new in the world. >> it's something that was historic and i want today explain how that happened and i wanted people, like 100 years from now, to kind of understand like what caused this and how did this occur, and since etheorem was the main platform or coin platform. we're going to launch a coin and they would take bitcoin and etheorem as money to fund raise for the development of these projects that they were trying to launch and this was just happening on such a grand scale that billions of dollars were sent in crypto to launch these coins. and that just really had never happened before.
you know, to have capital flowing like that around the globe for brand new projects just from people, you know, that were not so-called accredited investors or vc's, and i wanted to explain that. and it's mostly a history of etheorem, but then it branches out. and there are already a couple of books out there, but i would say that laura's is the most detailed, comprehensive, really gets into the weeds of these these founders are. what makes them tick and where they've gone on to. she played a part role of a detective in breaking one of the mysteries in etheorem, founding out who the dow hacker is, and we'll go into that later. and tell us a bit about the fact finding process and the priceening of writing the book? because in approaching a
project like that, i mean, it's, again, crypto can be very opaque, shall we say. how did you go about starting out mapping out who these people were. finding about how these foundations, nonprofits or profits worked, and getting into it. >> so i created a big timeline, a massive timeline. i also had a very big document where we're collecting a lot of information, and i was just trying to kind of like organize it. a timeline because it's just the easiest way to tell a story and so i-- yeah, once i would kind of find-- i feel like, once i would find some information and sort of figure out where in the story that would go, i would put that in its right place and i was trying to find the people, also, trying to fill out the narrative around those moments
because it doesn't, you know, mean a lot if they say, well, this entity was formed at this time or that time, but a lot of this actually, you know, when you're creating different entities, a lot of it is like power plays amongst different people. so, you know, you then start to fill in the stories around each of these events and another thing with that, there were so many people, which frankly made it quite a challenge, but so when people would say something to me, i would then check it with the other people, and not-- that was very, you know, time consuming, but through that, you sort of get a better sense of what kind of happened because you might have one person that remembers something, and then you can't find any correspond ration, there are moments in the book where you might see and i mention he -- i only got that from one source and then the other, we found, and when i say me, i mean we.
my fact checker and i and we were able to corroborate with multiple people. >> you did have any interviews? >> i did more than 200. >> yes. >> it's definitely-- i mean, when you have these like decentralized technologies, then for sure, you know, it's not like following a start-up where there's going to be x number co-founders and it's those people you're mostly dealing with. etheorem alone had eight co-founders and two kicked out and two additional leadership people came and then the center of this moved to the taxing and then had been introduced others. and it was like, i have a list of 50 characters in the beginning of the book and that was after i trimmed it down so, yeah, the story that you're seeing actually doesn't fully represent everything, and yet, there are still 50 people they have to pay attention to. >> the interesting thing, you were able to talk to each of the initial co-founders, and then, also, talk to a lot of
their associates, so that you have more of a balanced approach and take on what happened. i wonder what -- what did you learn in your conversations with him and what was he like through the process. >> for those of how maybe are not so familiar with the creator of etheorem and people, i mention him in the beginning when i mention him as a character, and a lot of people describe him as being alien and he can be a little bit socially awkward so often times when i interviewed him, i found his answers would be very brief. they would be one word answers, you know, one sentence answers, so frankly, a lot of our conversations were me asking
questions, him answering briefly and me basically asking the same question with slightly different words and him giving a brief answer and me trying to milk it more and having another variation and so it went on and on and on. eventually there came a point where a large portion of our interview was actually done on chat apps and that kind of worked a little bit better, it felt like. it felt like, you know, maybe just taking out that personal interaction just helped it flow a little bit more, but he was definitely a kind of challenging person to interview. i've interviewed other people and when they will tell, but things they've done, they will give you their whole psychology. well, i was thinking this, and nothing happened and i thought oh, another way. no, there was none of that with him. it was literally me asking every single angle of the question and get that
information. >> it's interesting you say that, when i spoke about etheorem, whole bridges, exploits, canadian truckers, he was very fluid and eloquent and very well-rounded prosaic i would say answers. but when i asked him about his experience with your book, it was a one word answer. >> and can i ask what the one word was? >>. [laughter] >> did you read it? >> no. >>. [laughter] what do you have to say about your experiences, you know, apparently, you know, in the book i would say he came across as someone who was not and he would say i-- some of his owns were more in depth. i think he might not be comfortable with talking about
personal aspects of the creation etheorem and a hard time he can pressing feelings as well. he's fluid when it comes to technical and more personal things and feeling much more difficult and you had a chance to talk with more and your impressions about them. >> amir is somebody who is very confident in himself, but also very controlling and so he would only talk to me in certain ways and then he was very controlling what the messaging was going to be and of course, his messaging was very different from what all the other co-founders were saying and so, in the narrative you'll read about him and his response. from i can tell from my
reporting it seemed that pretty much everybody agreed on one narrative and he didn't. so i included what his version was. mehi is a good friend, and extremely gregarious, a great story telling and very physical and kind of, you know, he's just romanian and an anarchist and he was into bitcoin early. he's very entertaining and he founded bitcoin magazine, you know, it's kind of interesting that he's such good friends with vitalik. and maybe it makes sense because opposites attract. >> i would say there were some very -- nobody really looked good. like, in this book. >> well, not nobody, many people don't. >> when i think about reading
about charles hopkinson and some of the tales alleged about him and gavin wood and anthony diorio and even joe lubin in brooklyn. was there a common thread? was there anything you felt uncomfortable in particular speaking with? >> well, i definitely had tense conversations with, i think, with all of those people. maybe with gavin a little bit less so. so one thing that's interesting is, so gavin wood and joe lubin are two people that don't like each other in crypto. what's fascinating. they're similar in the face that people either love them or hate them, however there is a way that they're different, everybody agrees on gavin's personality. some people don't like it and some people do. when it comes to joe, people, i
think, either have a good experience with him or they have a really, really, really bad experience with him. so, it's more like dr. jekyll and mr. hyde and the people that, you know, kind of get on his bad side, as far as i can tell, they say, oh, well, it's because with joe, it's like a popularity contest and they say that, they used to be on his good side and part of the people who had won the popularity contest and when it switched, it switched, really dramatically. so it's kind of a fascinating thing. for anthony and charles, you'll read in the book, a large percentage of the book really don't have good recollections of them. [laughter] >> so is it a benefit or not to know the founders are, versus bitcoin, we could kind of -- the community could kind
of create their own narrative what bitcoin is all about compared to ethereum? >> you know, i leave that to the crypto community to judge. clearly the bitcoiners just love that he was the ultimate created the coin and walked away for almost no personal gain. ethereum, obviously, a very different story and now we've got my book that is kind of exposing all the messiness and frankly, some of the somewhat shocking, i guess, and distasteful and uncomfortable facts about the personalities involved in creating it, but my personal opinion this actually doesn't take away from ethereum itself. ethereum is clearly extremely successful. you know, that and bitcoin in my mind are the only two block
chains that are established and really succeeded. whether or not they'll succeed in the long-term is the question and for now they are. and i personally just don't think that that really would take away from ethereum. that's my opinion and i'm sure that many of the coiners would raise issue with that stance. >> well, my sense from reading this, is that you get into the weeds of how building a decentralized cryptocurrency protocol is like withholding those values and how messy can get throughout the process, with the egos involved. but what's really incredible is that these founders went on to-- in some cases create their own cryptocurrencies that have become wildly successful in their own right, the top 10 cryptocurrencies right now, by market cap. so at least in your book, there have been a lot of tensions in terms of getting the project together leading up to
incidents where eventually they were basically voted off the island, if you will, and they referred to that as the game of thrones day. >> yeah. >> and so-- do you want to put some context into that. >> oh, okay. >> and read the passage you want. >> so i'll do a reading on this section in a moment, but to give you the context, this probably was the first moment when that conflict between the doves and the business guys came head to head and essentially, the business guys kind of wanted to follow this more traditional business model of doing a start-up where, you know, they would get equity in the way the business model would work, the way that a lot of the tech giants today work, which is they take the user data and then they make a profit in that, they sell it or sell it for advertisements or whatever it might be.
but as many of you probably know, in the crypto work, it's to make things decentralized. in decentralized world, the users themselves can retain their own data and the company at the middle isn't the one that's extracting value, but the users become the owners right, through the tokens. so you have these user-owners that own these tokens and they're sort of invested in the network at the same time and in a different way than in a start-up, obviously, because obviously we've seen these massive startups that have grown from nothing and then the founders are just gazillionaires. if these crypto, they can ride along to their own riches. so, all of this came to a head around how to manage ethereum, and at the same time, there weren't a lot of personal conflicts with the so-called
ceo at that time, charles hopkinson and people felt he was lying, kind of one of the things that he had told several people that he was nakamoto and that's an interesting part of the story and that was an interesting story. that's the back drop. one last thing, because they distrusted him so much, they had gone on the internet and they had collected a bunch of information about him that they considered damning so there was a dossier on charles that they'd all been passing around and kind of checking out before this big meeting. so charles is the founder of the cryptocurrency called cardono. just for a little more background. >> and top 10 crypto. he has something called the cardono army, so laura, be careful. okay.
does this work? yes. okay. can you hear me, oh, yeah, you can. okay. # finally, in the early afternoon, everyone began gathering on the top floor at the long table. six long and wide bleached wood kitchen counter top three by two, thin gray ships on table legs. some sat in high backed mesh chairs with cervical and lumbar reports and the wheels that rolled too smoothly on the floors. others stood. vital ik stood, he said a few words and then asked everyone to go around and say their piece. jeff, and jeff is one of the main developers, the three developers are jeff, gavin and
vitalik himself so they make the dove group. jeff thought that he, gavin and vitalik had made a pact that they didn't think that charles could lead and would there forehave to leave. they denied that. and jeff was surprised when it wasn't mentioned and gavin's turn and didn't specifically say that charles needed to go although others would later claim did say if charles stay, he would go and do a new project. he did, however, say something along the lines of, amir is contributing astoundingly little to the project. amir says that since he was on the business side and gavin was a dove, golf vin was not aware of what work amir did and that gavin was saying these things so he could consolidate power under himself. but his not mentioning that charles should be removed took jeff aback. jeff looked at him and gavin returned his gaze.
jeff felt betrayed by gavin and vitalik, why didn't you say anything? ever the honest dutchman, jeff told it like it was. charles, we feel you're leading us in the wrong direction, we don't want to be a google. we want to be mozilla and we'd like to you leave. i don't want you to be ceo. ... he was really letting charles have it. charles looked shocked, but jeff who had always found charles fake couldn't tell if it was sincere. then jeff invoked the nuclear option. he made it clear. he would no longer be part of the project if charles stayed. charles objected talking about all the things he'd set up but jeff charles object to document all the things he set upai but jeff said it doesn't matter. i don't believe in becoming a google. we need to build something for
people, not corporations. jeff also said, amir, i'm sorry i gave you the benefit of the doubt but it don't think you belongm you because i have not seen much contribution from you. he said he agreed with jeff with regard to charles. jeff was outraged. don't just agree with me. say what's wrong. he added he couldn't trust what was real or not. basically it seemed charles sometimes lied. joe said, and said joe is one of been discussed also -- joe said he trusted charles, lee charles once the best and support him staying with the project that he would support any final decision. someone felt he seemed flabbergasted. joe denies this. at least stephan also said charles had to leave. though stephan who felt that the dossier becoming public would be the end of it, didn't go to details. he just said, charles has got to
go. the guy is a liability and he gives more colorful language like the word sociopath. taylor pushed for a to go because i mirror was technically his boss but the other considered him mia. taylor did all the work but was not allowed on decision making calls. despite having compiled thehe dossier, he didn't say much about charles. gavin who had spoken earlier was watching thehe proceedings, appalled by how vitalik invited able to point fingers and name names. enabling happen to be in the house including joe's son was privy to the sensitive discussion. sitting through an hour of people proclaiming their enemies was excruciating. he felt charles didn't deserve a public bashing even if it was other people who had been living with him. gavin felt calling a meeting when vitalik knew in advance
that people were unhappy with charles was a poor decision. vitalik felt the meeting was spontaneous, rather than organize and doesn't see any smaller group with which the problems could of been discussed. one of the main orchestrator of this moment was conflicted so they were two staff that it kind of like plotted to oust charles. even though he knew this was right thing toh do, he always struggled with confrontation and the way everyone was anger grievances about charles made him feel awful. so in his time came to speak he held back and onlyle set a fraction of what he truly felt about charles. roxy was stressing about what to say but when the moment came she spoke her truth. so roxy is roxanne, and she at this point was executive assistant for the ethereum. she said she didn't trust anthony because he acted like he was superior to everyone else,
plus he was pushing for a for profit structure. then she looked them dead in the eyesai and said, charles and anthony are not trustworthy. you can't trust them. in one of the most uncomfortable moments in their lives she made the most h directly negative remarks. charles widened his eyes at her as if he was surprised she had to delete all his stories. she never said to his face that she thought he was lying. she thought it absurd that he hadn't realized she had her own thoughts. gavin watching from the otherd end of the table knew then that charles could not recover. to him, until then it had been all boys condemning charles so the disagreement have felt like a fight amongst the boys. but for the only girl f who livd in the house full-time to say she didn't trust charles felt decisive. thises would later say meeting was an hour of the
others brutalizing him -- sorry, charles later would say this meeting was an hour of the other brutalizing him defended himself saying they could make things work, that he promised things would be better, that they could do the nonprofit. you seem to think the for-profit versus nonprofit issue was the crux of things. no one brought up the dossier. [applause] so that's just a tasf some of the struggles in the early beginnings of ethereum. so and that's one of the first challenges really was the the fight between i guess the for-profit. folks the biz guys versus the developers who wanted to make it a for-profit foundation. and and so on and so forth for-profit corporation or nonprofit foundation.
yeah. mm-hmm and eventually vitalik and the devs. won out yeah, because they wanted open source. they wanted to have this decentralized network. that wasn't going to profit from the customers, but have everybody share in the wealth creation with the users and even before then actually vitalik had these other ideas to make it more like bitcoin more the way satoshi had done it where there wasn't going to be what's called a pre-mine which is where the creators kind of create some of the coins before they launched the network to sort of like creating equity for themselves beforehand. but he was overruled by the business guys early on so well one of them in particular anthony. mm-hmm. so but eventually yeah the devs went out and then so then there was a second phase of am i would say and this took everyone to switzerland and to create a nonprofit organization, but then a whole new set of characters
were introduced and one of them was ming chan who became the executive director of the theorem foundation and and this was little well known about you know, how her processes were how the ethereum foundation worked. maybe you can shed a little light into that. so mink chain was definitely probably the most i think difficult person for me to write about just because the way people spoke about her was pretty much very different from the way that i've ever had. any people describe somebody to me. and she seemed a little bit unbelievable basically and kind of the extremity of what they were saying and the good thing is that actually in the course of writing the book i was able to get a lot of her own writings in texts and chat messages and things like that. and so that was good because then it sort of made sense what people were saying and then her character became more believable.
but hopefully, you know, i so i know probably not everybody has read the book so i won't give too many spoilers, but pretty much immediately there were major red flags. and there was an incident very early on which only became known to like a very small number of people but it was you know, she basically accidentally sent some communications to somebody she didn't mean to and they definitely showed something concerning about her character frankly. and i was able to obtain those messages and so they're they're in the book and i think it it kind of raises questions about what her intentions were and whether or not they were frankly good for ethereum and then as time on and she you know kind of stayed with the foundation quite a bit longer. i think than most people would have expected given kind of issues around performance and then kind of her own instability
and things like that, you know. yeah there. yeah that ends up being a quite long saga in the book and hopefully i was able to explain it, you know, some of the explanations are definitely, they don't seem very rational, but the fact that this person was kept for as long as she was does not seem a rational and so yeah, the only explanation that i have are ones that aren't irrational. it was also really interesting was the shadow. folks of the ethereum foundation who kind of controlled things in the background but we're never really named. how did you even find these people and what is their power over the ethereum foundation? you know, so this is toward the latter part of the book but a lot of people also talked about what they called the shadow government of the ethereum foundation. it's different people who wield a lot of influence or at least at that time because so my book ends in early 2018. so kind of in probably the 2017 era the shadow government started and there were a lot of
people that were wielding influence in ethereum in the foundation, but we're not necessarily people with official roles. and so a lot of people said to me, you know, this is going on and you know, we don't like it for for these reasons and what's interesting is the people that were named as being kind of the big power players in this shadow government. you know, it was fascinating people would be scared to even mention their names to me. they would be scared to say that they had even just been at an event not even that they'd been like doing anything at the event, but just that they've been there witnessing something, you know historic. so i mean people were yeah, they seemed frightened of them which was fascinating and even you know, i i mentioned so yeah, i am giving maybe a boilers, but when i asked metallic about one of them he whistled. you know like he was it just surprised i mentioned the name or just an easy about it or i
don't know. i don't know but that was his response. so yeah clearly, there's something well, there was there was a lot of concern about you know is ethereum sufficiently decentralized if italic has so much power over the foundation, and i've asked you this before, but maybe you can give your thoughts again. yeah, you know, actually my personal opinion is that it actually is but only because that theory was so big now. that i do feel that if the foundation went away people would figure out some other way to organize to keep the development going. there's just too many people that are invested in it and there's like this report that comes out every year about the number of developers working in different crypto blockchains and ethereum far and away. the most developers. i mean, it's like they're just no contest. it's like 4x the next highest or something like that and then 20% of all new developers to crypto do stuff in ethereum, which is
again, you know, there's just attracting so much mind shares. so i my personal belief is like even if the foundation went away, even if italic went away, like i just think that theory would keep on going. there were just people would figure out some other way to organize it to see still have the three votes over the if yeah, i don't know but do you remember that i write yeah, so you guys have to read the book, but there's a very very interesting subplot. where let's just say, yes, somebody might have lied about anyway, so vitalik himself may have been how should i put it vitalik himself? yeah, just may have been conned into thinking something about his status with the foundation by somebody who wanted to wield power over him and i wasn't able to resolve it, but i just left that hanging because i yeah anyway, so okay interesting aside from the personal dramas within ethereum.
there were some massive technical dramas and one of them was the dow hack which was the first kind of app and ethereum about 150 million dollars was raised for this dow decentralized autonomous organization 16 million was stolen which was an ultimate represent. i think 14% of ethereum. yeah, so it's hard to put a dollar amount because the day of the hack the price of ethereum just dropped from like 21 to 14 dollars. so in the book i said well if you take it by the high prices, you know, 78 million or something by the low. it's like 59 or whatever. but yeah, it was so this dow had attracted almost 15% of all of all ether and then to fundraise and then the hacker took 31% so suddenly the hacker has 5% of all aetherium, which is you know, more than like the ethering foundation or anything.
and but then you actually kind of deduced to this person was it's one of the greatest mysteries in crypto. yeah, so this is crazy. so this this all hopefully won't be spoilers for anybody because i actually wrote a long article about this already was released on forbes the day my book came out last week. but yeah, this had been i would i called it cryptos greatest who done it because to my mind so the biggest mystery in crypto is who is satoshi and this was maybe the second biggest mystery but, you know creating the coin wasn't really like a crime or a theft or whatever and this was so i call this cryptos the biggest two done it. and you know i worked on this for very long time and for years. i really didn't have any leads. the main one that i had was from an investigation at that time, and i followed the lead all the way through i investigated everything i could about it. i interviewed the main suspects it was a group of people.
and the way i was going to write it in the book was just here's the evidence for you know why they came under suspicion here is their response and then i was just gonna leave it and you know people could do with it what they wanted, but i wasn't gonna say anything conclusive. and when you're wrapping up a book you do what are called three final passes which are you know, things like copy editing proofreading legal and then basically the publisher will have it and they'll pass it back to you after they make their changes then you check your change their changes and you know, maybe make your own tweaks and then they take it again and they look over what you did and blah so, you know you do that in three rounds. well one of my sources in brazil reached out to me right before we were going to turn in the second round my fact checker and i and he said oh, you know. i the brazilian federal police opened an investigation into the dow and extension by me on me. and so i want to exonerate
myself. so i would like to commission this report and i thought you might want the information too. and you know, these reports are kind of expensive so he was able to get a discount in exchange for me giving credit to this company in the book. and so we could report and what we're looking at is basically how the dow attacker was cashing out? so the so after this hack, so i'm just going to give you some background if you're not familiar basically as i mentioned the dow, you know raised all this money. it was actually the highest crowdfunded project in all history, which is amazing because they were collecting cryptocurrency that that's how and enthusiastic people were. and like i said eventually when they hacked it, they got 5% of all ether. well what the ethereum community did was they did this change where they essentially a new blockchain that had the same history as the old one, but at that moment of the change they just kind of like erased the dow and they took all the money that had been in the dow in all the related things and then moved it
over to a place where everybody who had been involved in it could just get their money back. however, since not everybody agreed with this decision some small group kept the old chain the original chain where the hack occurred going and that chain became called if you're in classic. so the hacker then had 5% of all ethereum classic and they were trying to turn it into something useful because the theorem classic, you know was only a few months old. it wasn't really usable as money and frankly everybody knew those were the stolen coins. so nobody was going to be like sure you can you know, turn those into some legitimate currency on my my exchange or you know, and so they were trying to turn it into bitcoin. because it's much more liquid and they were using an exchange that didn't take. customer identifying information so they wouldn't have to give their name or anything like that. and we were looking at these transactions and we were kind of like mapping them onto like a
utc schedule just to see like what hours are the caching out? and it was from like zero hours utc to 1500. and so then you know for the rest of it kind of look like they were sleep or whatever. and i had actually gotten a customer service email that the hacker had sent in the days before the hack when they were kind of like collecting the money and putting in all the smart contracts to do the attack and in that customer service email even it was so brief like two sentences. it was so obvious. this was a fluent english speaker like it's not even just that, you know, the english was fluent, but even they used shorthand. in that just shows another level of fluency and so i was like okay, the times are you know asian cash the cash out times are the map onto an asian like morning to night schedule. but i know from their communication like they're
affluent english speaker and the suspects i'd written about already they were all based in europe not asia. and so it's just i was you know, just trying to kind of figure this out, and i had been working with this other company on all kinds of things for my book and i sent some of the you know information to them. and i wanted more time to look into this right like we're literally at the moment where we're supposed to be sending the final changes, which is like very minimal changes. and i did ask the publisher for a little bit extra time and they were like what you know because this is not the time to be to be asking for for extra time. but meanwhile, you know this other company chain analysis what you know, they did have the information i sent them and so even though i didn't get that. okay from the publisher then of course later when she analysis felt like they had something and so i can't go into all the details around every last step of finding this person's name.
but so the key thing that shane nelson was able to do was so once this person had turned their money into bitcoin. they were using a bitcoin mixer which basically is the way that it kind of like mixes your coins with other people will anonymize the trail. so it makes it difficult to follow so they'll take you know, like let's say if all of us are doing a bitcoin transaction at the same time when we all want to kind of make our activity a little bit more private it would mix all our coins together and then when it spits on the other side, it's harder to follow the trail back to you know, where the coins originally came from. well jane analysis disclosed for the first time with my article in my book that they are able to demix these transactions. and so then they could see okay, the bitcoins went to four different exchanges. and then eventually you know, i did a lot of stealth reporting on this but i one source at one source was able to find out from one of the exchanges what happened to the money in that
exchange and it was converted to a privacy coin called grin and then withdrawn to a grin node, which had human readable address, which was grin.toby.ai. and my sources and i looked at the ip address for grand.toby.i. we saw these other what are called bitcoin lightning nose, which is like another type of crypto thing. it's related to bitcoin. and when we looked at those bitcoin lightning nodes on what's called a lightning explorer meaning like a website where it just gives you information about other lightning notes. we saw the name of the lightning node was 10x. so, you know when you google 10x then the ceo of 10x comes up in his name is toby honus and his alias is toby. i and then i realized like oh he uses to be a on, you know, angelus fatalist github reddit, you know twitter like i mean pretty much medium, etc, etc that were i think 16 places that
i found and then two weeks after that we were also able to get the email address on that account. which was the name of the exchange at toby.ai? so, you know, he he controlled that domain. i also eventually later found out he used with another source that he used an email address and that person knew that to end and at toby.ai. so, you know i felt that evidence was very good and the publisher definitely agreed like okay. this is definitely a good scoop. and so we pushed the publication yet again. and so yeah, so then finally it came out last week on 22 22, which somehow sort of sums up how magical that whole last bit of it. like, you know, just i described it as like a comment from out of nowhere is very rude goldbergian. it was so last minute. but yeah, that's that's how we were were able to break that. wow, is there any chance of
bringing this suspected alleged hacker to justice? you know that that is about my pay right? i'm sure there's people like i did have some people tweeting about that to me, but i was like you guys i have not been a law school. i don't know these things but there's a limit to what laura has journalist by day detective mind by night can do so but incredible work in finding this potential hacker from so from there. i think what is your biggest takeaway upon learning about, you know, the people and going through this journey and learning about the technical aspects of it. like what's the biggest takeaway? from writing this book and learning so much in-depth into ethereum. what are you going to take away from it? well so i do feel that one that
i mentioned earlier about kind of like this really represents this moment where coders are kind of overtaking business people. i do feel that there's something very significant about that, which i don't want to understand one other thing. you know that i feel like i mentioned is also i just feel like a lot of people feel that these technologies are sort of bloodless and sterile and know like the personalities involved really make a difference. i mean, you know one thing that we've talked about a lot like with the people that created the dow once i went to them and i said, oh, you know, i think i have a good suspect. because he was a thing actually not only when i got the name, you know, did i have that evidence just around that transaction, but later when i went back i realized. okay at the time of the doubt, he was really into the doubt to the point. where in the slack i could see he was making a lot of comments about the technical difficult like kind of vulnerabilities in
in the dow and then he had had emails with the dow creators saying like, you know, these are the things that i think are wrong with it. these are the things that you you need to fix and then after the hack he was tweeting things that were kind of against the side of erasing the hack and sort of like for the side of keeping the hack. so all of then, you know, it's like once you have the name then when you go back and film the story then the rest of the picture just really it really fit and you know, what one of the creators said when they were talking with me about this person that person's identity is they said oh, wow, you know, it's amazing because so just one other technical aspect. is that the way that dad worked is that once he had the money he couldn't just take it and run because they were all these rules about like you were withdrawing money, then there were like 28 days where it had to be locked in this one area and i was a complicated thing. it's sort of like a video game or something, but you know, he had basically a month when he could have sent the money back.
he could have made things right he could have come forward and said hey, i wanted to make a point that the funds are vulnerable in this way. but you know now i'll send the money back and like let's let's make it better or and they just one of them just expressed surprise that he never once tried to you know, fix it and the other one said, oh, wow, you know this guy really messed up because reputation is so much more valuable than money and he was saying oh if he had rescued the money instead of taking it then he would be a hero today. you know, he would be like there are these people for the crypto people you'll know like sam sees his son this like one of these famous hackers and crypto who often will find vulnerabilities and like rescue the money before anybody knows that it's vulnerable and like hundreds of millions of dollars are saved or whatever and he's really treated. like a hero, he was like a lot of fans and you know the person that i alleged to be the hackers definitely not, you know, somebody who has like this kind of massive following is definitely obviously now who
especially not seen as a hero so, you know, those are kind of interesting lessons and i think yeah, they're they apply for anything but but yeah here they really come out i would also say that, you know crypto. there's a sense that you can hide behind this cloak of anonymity but everything you do every transaction you have on a blockchain is seeing publicly at least with the theorem with bitcoin even and that's why we're seeing you know in recent weeks. big hacks that were mysteries are coming to light and we're discovering whose was potentially behind it. i mean just a month ago. we learned who the hackers of one of the biggest hacks the 2016 hack of bitfinex. and yeah, although we don't know if they're the hackers they sorry under the money launderer. sorry alleged alleged money launderers, but the crypto from that hack has been seized. it was worth 70 million dollars
back then now it's worth over for about four and a half billion dollars and you can see the transactions on the blockchain and in this case you were able to trace back the transactions back to this person who could be toby. a honest, yes. yeah, i i actually i noticed after my story and then the other one the bitfinex one. i feel like there was no i can't remember but i noticed a bunch of people mentioning. oh, whoa, like all of these hacks from 2016 were now figuring out who did them and yeah, i'm kind of feeling like oh, you know if you're thinking about stealing some crypto, you better know that forensics is gonna catch up to you because that's how it feels like the space is going so all right, i think. now we can open up the audience to q&a. so if anyone wants to come up and have a question for laura, we have a mic here and you can come on up.
yeah, just come on up. yes. oh, so hi, laura. sorry i work at coin desk. oh cool. congratulations on the book. i guess following up the discussion about this big revelation of this person behind the hack. were you able to confirm with him? try to get him to comment on your findings? and also what are you exploring next? i know the book just came out, but you probably already exploring the next subject to yeah. yeah, so i can't talk about that too much. i will have an announcement at some point when when it's all ready, but i will say about the attacker. so yeah, i didn't mention this part. so while we were reporting the book i sent him super why i tried to get an interview with him multiple times. no response. so and i finally just sent him what's called the fact-checking meaning just a document with like all the statements that i was going to put about about him in the book. and ultimately he actually wrote me and he said your statement is
your statement and conclusion is factually inaccurate. i can give you more details if you like and so i wrote him back immediately, and i said, yes, please give me the extra details and i said, you know, do you want to talk on the phone? no response, and i gave him the deadline very clearly five times. i literally, you know said like like by midnight on this day and this time zone, but again no response and then when we did the forbes article later because there was even more information and i had to give him more fact-checking again and also let him know was going to come out in forbes given given the opportunity to respond. but no response and you know, i sent him emails about that multiple times as well. you know a few things. i did kind of expect that maybe he might delete some of his social media. so i actually saved everything before i reached out to him and he did delete some of it although on his twitter. he said the reason he was
leaving his twitter was to do like a decentralized kind of twitter. so he was one tweet left saying that you know, he's gone to this other platform. but yeah, i saved all the tweets, so i have pdfs. who and so if you want to ask a question, it's probably but oh okay, go ahead. hi, my name is eric. i work in eric doyle. i work in crypto. what would you say? the biggest thing you learned about human nature and/or yourself in the process of writing this book. i've talked about human nature. but i so people who listen to my show know that i'm really into meditation and i was medit. a lot. well, i was working this book and when you when you meditate a lot and you're also wearing out a book a lot and you know, i live alone so i was kind of like
just you know in meditation trying to turn off my mind and then when i'm by myself, i'm in my head. the meditation makes you very okay, i don't know what i'm doing. but okay, i'm just gonna turn a little bit. i'm so meditation makes you very aware of your mind and i suddenly realized oh when i am working my book if i feel that i'm like if i feel like i made some kind of mistake, even if it was something very minor like i didn't phrase that question to that source the exact perfect way. i would make myself feel so bad about it that like i wouldn't even be able to work on the book for a few days and i suddenly realized i was doing this to myself and i and because like honestly i highly advise if you ever have a bad habit that you want to get rid of i would just meditate for a little while and just getting habit because you just start noticing things about your how your brain works. and so yeah. i just noticed that and i when i realize that like i just stopped from that moment and i now i
like never would criticize myself in my head to the point where like, i just can't even function because it's highly unproductive. but yeah, that was probably the the most important thing i learned about myself. nature. yes. yes, or at least my own human nature founding i'm supposed to move. okay. congratulations on the publication of your book, so i just got back from i just got back from east denver and i found it to be an incredibly inspiring experience as a woman who's hopefully going to be working in web 3, but i also found it to be i'm gonna be crass now at -- measuring contest and i'm wondering what you think. the space what's the future of women and non-binary and queer people? in the web 3 blockchain space oh gosh, that's that's definitely hard question. i agree with you about like
sometimes again because i meditate a lot. i'm very aware of like people's ecos. and so i sometimes when i'm uncrypted twitter, i'm like, oh this is just people's egos fighting each each other all day long. and it is very fascinating to watch. you know, like i'm totally well aware that if i were to engage in a lot of fights on twitter, i probably would have like a much bigger following, you know what i mean? and you know, i do see people that kind of employ that strategy which is sort of disheartening but you know, whatever it works for them. um, but in terms of you know more women in the space, i mean you know one thing granted, you know, i've been covering this for almost seven years. so one thing that's heartening to me is the fact that there's a lot more women now than there were back in 2015. and i definitely would say that like nfts have brought an even more women in which is great and one other thing. i don't know if you've heard of the web 3 investment clubs, but this is syndicate dow. so by the way, so as we
mentioned, you know dow stands for decentralized autonomous organization, but there are these like many dows now where there are groups of 99 people or less and the reason why it's 99 or less is because the sec would regulate you if it was more than 99 but there are these groups of people that are getting together and then they basically have, you know, like a crypto wallet and they share and they invest together. and so when this company syndicate down launched their web reinvestment clubs, they were going to launch with a with some kind of like initial set of of weary investment clubs and at the end of kindf getting the group together. they realize oh wait half of them are either all women dows or women led and that's very unusual in crypto, but they realized oh the kind of natural ideals and mission we have with these web free investment clubs. it's just attracted more women. and or more women, you know, then then you see traditionally
in crypto. so another part of me things like oh well, maybe because personally it does feel that the ideals of crypto and web3 are probably something that would appeal to a lot of women, but it is true that you know, there are a lot of reasons in our society why there's probably fewer women in tech and finance which has led to this, you know situation where we have a lot a lot fewer women in this space than you would see in a different. industry, but yeah, i would hope that naturally people will figure out that it makes a lot more sense to have more women involved. i think we're getting the time is up thing. but but we do have two more questions. i don't know do we have time for this? okay, so we'll do the last two and then i'll try to speak quickly and i'll be quick to congrats again on the book. um, i hope this isn't too much of a spoiler, but it was just kind of an interesting thread toward the end of the work it kind of where you talk about how
vitalic seemed to really i guess prioritize depriotize competence at you know, and prioritize his echo chamber and people sort of echoing all the right things back to him. i'm curious if you think that has changed any with the you know, the introduction of or the evolving of what three and the theory i'm or whether you think this is still i don't know an issue with ef and issue with the space overall. so, i don't know if i would necessarily say that he's only looking for people to echo certain sentiments back to him i do. know and again, so, you know, my book ends in early 2018 and i really didn't do that much investigating and what's happened in the years since but i do know some of the people that i interviewed that had criticisms about the shadow government etc. did say things like, you know, they felt that he still because he i think he he probably frankly after his early
experience with etherium doesn't always trust himself when it comes to judging people. so that's why i think he uses these sort of like trusted advisors or at least that was the case in early 2018 late 2017. so, you know, i don't know if i would say that that necessarily means that he's just looking for people to reflect his own view because frankly it almost looks like he's kind of looking to them for guidance in a way. but you know granted he's also a lot older than when i then when the book start. know he's like nine years older or something like that. so he's just grown a lot. frankly, you know, i think that that's one other part of my book that i didn't expect when i went to write it but the book ends up being kind of a coming of age story for vitalik, which i literally it wasn't until i had done my reporting. i suddenly realized that that's what it was. so and frankly, you know, i would just imagine that he's just continued to mature, you know, so. yeah, i beginning it seemed that
this metallic. he was just trying to get money and or get people who believed in his project and just anyone who was interested and showed some, you know interests support, but then he realized you know, it it takes more than folks. just being nice to you to understand that they're really with you or not, and he seemed to after that. she's folks who had values and shared similar principles. and so i feel that's what he the carries on with him now i feel that. in the ethereum community, you know, they're all about rainbows and unicorns and vegan and it's it's very vitalic. so hey laura, you're out on the book. i was just really curious cuz it's such an interesting world to cover and and you do such a good job with it.
but i'm curious if you personally are like a cryptobian or an idealist in the crypto space like do you buy into it? being this revolutionary technology for better or worse probably i i do think that that is likely to happen. you know that the technology will develop and become life or world-changing at the same time. i am completely prepared to cover it if it goes crashing to the ground, so i try not to have fixed views on what i think is going to happen because i like never want to miss what the story will be. you know, the journalist job is sort of to be like trailing the action a little bit and so i don't ever want to come out and just be like, oh, i think this is gonna happen and then have some invested interest in like not being proven wrong or something. so probably the the reason why i said yes, though is just because
you know my so i graduated from college in 1997 and hilariously, so i went to stanford and i remember at the reunion, i showed up and you know, i'd been working for like whatever like 50k or something at my journalism jobs, and i by that point i had classmates like marissa mayor was in my class. i never knew her but if i had classmates by the five-year reunion, he would already launched startups and then become millionaires and you know, they'd sold them for like millions of dollars to these other companies and then they like gone backpacking around south america or whatever and i i like i showed up i had no idea this was going because i've been living in new york in new york and and so, you know if i just think about how much technology has changed in the 20 whatever five years since i graduated, i mean, it just seems unlikely that this crypto stuff isn't going to develop and and become something big so when i say, yes, it's more really just around that. it's just feels common senseical that it's gonna, you know, continue to develop and become
something big. well a no-coiner. no, um, so i'm not in no cleaner in spirit. and actually my company does own some eve for things like just having my.eave name so in crypto you can have a an address that's like a url and you've receive money in it. so i own laura shin.eith or like unchained.eath and that's more just because i get a lot of imposters and so i had to buy them to prevent people from scamming people with my reputation. but yeah me personally no, i don't all right, we gotta wrap it there. but again, thank you so much laura shin. you got to read the cryptopians. >> you've got to read "the cryptopians." [applause]e >> and i believe you'll stay behind a bit, get some sign copies of the book so if you want to sign the book i think they will -- >> yeah. >> i canch take this moment to
leap in. if you get to purchase the book you can purchase it at the registers and back. my colleague will bring you up in just one second. if you're staying to have your book signed i'm going to ask that to remain seated for just a minute while we set up the signing, then we're going to call youou up in rows and and on that note, thank you, everyone for coming. [applause] >> there are a lot of places to get political information. but only at c-span2 you get it straight from the source. no matter where you are from or where you stand on the issues, c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased, word for word. if it happens here, or here, or here or anywhere that matters, america is watching on c-span. powered by cable.
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