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Where to start with Mircea Popescu
Popescu is a Romanian by residence, provocateur by profession and proclaimed the “greatest erotic writer in the world”. So let’s start with what we think we know.
Popescu, who is reportedly one of the largest Bitcoin holders – he has claimed to hold 1 million coins, although more conservative estimates put his holdings in the tens of thousands – reportedly died at the age of 41, according to a story that first appeared in a Costa Rican news report this week .
Though inconclusive on its own – the article only mentions his name – the news has since been confirmed by three different women with whom he is known to have long-term, allegedly consensual master-slave relationships. (More on that later).
But if much of the early Twitter rumblings have focused on the size of its alleged holdings (and whether they’re for sale), the rest of this article will focus on Popescu’s controversial legacy in Bitcoin.
One of the earliest and most ambitious entrepreneurs in technology, Popescu is known for launching MPEx, a self-proclaimed “Bitcoin exchange”. Founded in 2012, the website was once an early breeding ground for early Bitcoin IPOs, a practice that earned him the wrath of the Securities and Exchange Commission, an agency whose power he has been happy to openly undermine.
From then on, Popescu rose to fame for being among the first to fight public fraud and appeared as a vocal critic of Ripple (the company that launched XRP) and Bitcoin Savings & Trust, which later became the Pyramid scheme turned out to be.
The behaviors, which were novelty at the time, would gain him an early following and set the tone for what would become Popescu’s signature – an aggressive type of unmistakable bitcoin evangelism that would have endured its influence despite documented cases of sexism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism made.
His blog – Trilema.com – contains all of this. Indeed, there are those who believe Popescu should get no credit at all for his long and demonstrated use of hateful language.
For others, however, its influence on the Bitcoin conversation is – and has been – undeniable.
As an avid antagonist of Bitcoin coders, he would do much to undermine early lead developer Gavin Andresen’s claims of a connection or ancestry to Satoshi Nakamoto, revaluing the code as ego-driven, misguided, and generally infantile.
“The self-proclaimed ‘developers’ are, by and large, a bunch of retarded kids looking for ‘sexy projects’ and who knows, maybe if they spit out more they’ll become spunk rock stars and some fat guy will throw them their bra,” he said wrote in a passage that shows his stark and atmospheric writing style.
While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where in his sprawling anthology (it was common for him to publish between 70 and 100 blog posts per month), in it he made some of the earliest and most passionate arguments for why the description “Bitcoin- User “must be restricted to those who run nodes (and who own a copy of the blockchain) only.
“Popescu used the metaphor of peasantry and aristocracy to illustrate this distinction. People who don’t have their own hubs are farmers, and that’s the reality. He phrased it in such a way that everyone can understand, ”said Akin Fernandez, founder of Aztecs.
Sometimes he even successfully combined his unconventional sexual lifestyle with his Bitcoin reflections in posts advocating the freedom and ecstasy that could result from submission to the rules of the software.
However, all of this could be buried under blogs that could be demeaning to others if they weren’t downright violent and offensive. His most memorable act remains spending a bounty on the death of Bitcoin developer Pieter Wuille, although the blog post itself can be read as a multi-faceted technical argument about transaction validation.
Equally powerful was his argument that the software had to remain backwards compatible, without hard forks, in which he (loosely) linked the dense technical concept with the claim that Bitcoin had to be defined by the end user’s software choice, not by a developer group.
Was Mircea a flawed character? No doubt. But only software mattered in his worldview, and at a time when Bitcoin was still in its infancy (and still in danger of losing its essential properties), he proved to be one of his bravest defenders.
“Bitcoin is not here for you to comment. Bitcoin is here to change your life profoundly and often painfully, ”he wrote. “Whether you agree or not, whether you give permission or not, whether you think it’s ‘acceptable’ or ‘appropriate’ or whatever. Nobody asked you.”
A selection of some of his more memorable quotes can be found here, although this is by no means an exhaustive overview of his extensive writings.
The author intends to explore Popescu’s canon further in the coming months, he can be reached here.
Image via TheWhet.net