Profiles of the blockchain industry: John McAfee
The Profiles of the blockchain industry series examines pioneers and leaders of the blockchain industry, with the hope of inspiring you to find your place in this nascent realm. It’s a world that is full of potential and is leaping forward through the innovations of key figures. What is your role in this new frontier? The possibilities are infinite.
It was during a cold autumn evening last year that I decided to take a bit of the crypto that I had set aside and traded the modest sum for a little-known currency called Verge. Across crypto forums and social media channels, it was being touted as the next big thing in privacy coins, and the market was growing so quickly at the time that it was worth taking a high-risk, high-reward shot at the obscure coin that was, at least at the time, of dubious reputation (many argue it still is).
About a week later, I read the tweet. So did thousands of other crypto fans. John McAfee released a proclamation via Twitter that Verge, along with other privacy coins like the much better known and trusted Monero and ZCash, were the currencies most worth investing in — coins that simply “cannot lose”. In fact, he suggested Verge could be worth much, much more than its market price at the time and was a sure bet for massive gains.
Verge rocketed from a value of less than a single cent to a peak of 27 cents USD, propelled by the enthusiastic momentum created, at least in part, by the resounding endorsement of John McAfee’s positive tweets. It turned out to be the best buy I ever made in crypto to this day, although I did not take full advantage due to the greed that kept me holding it for longer than I should have. The price plummeted soon after the peak when it turned out that certain highly anticipated key upgrades were not ready on time, scheduled to be released at midnight in New York on New Year’s Eve, but disappointingly missing in action days and even weeks later.
The astonishing rise of Verge currency pointed to a pattern that had developed in the crypto world. McAfee’s frequent Twitter endorsements were soon recognized to be creating a phenomenon known as the “McAfee Effect”. Such was his influence among crypto traders during the mad rush of late 2017 that the moment he declared a given project a “buy”, it was sure to skyrocket in value. The effect has subsided significantly since that time, but the influence McAfee continues to exert on market sentiment cannot be denied.
There are few personalities in the cryptocurrency world that have the same level of power and influence as McAfee. The enigmatic, often erratic, yet highly charismatic figure who originally made his claim to fame as the creator of McAfee Antivirus, has been one of, if not the most outspoken advocates of Bitcoin, Monero, and cryptocurrency technology in general (McAfee completely disavowed himself from the antivirus product and at one time even presented a crudely humorous video on how to uninstall the software — definitely NOT suitable for work, by the way).
Controversy has swirled around McAfee throughout his career, particularly after his time in Belize, which began with a stint reportedly creating antibiotics in a lab that was later suspected by authorities to be producing methamphetamines. No illegal drugs were found on the premises following a raid that McAfee insists was an act of retaliation for his refusal to succumb to extortion by the authorities in Belize.
Drama further ensued when a disagreement between himself and a neighbour over McAfee’s dogs was associated with the apparent poisoning of some of the dogs and the subsequent purportedly retaliatory murder of the suspected neighbour. No act of retribution was ever proven to be tied to McAfee, but the controversy has never left him, despite leaving Belize soon after the incident in a harrowing escape from authorities that involved deportations and even a fake heart attack.
To this day, McAfee continues to stir up controversy, freely speaking his mind without filter, promoting principles of individual privacy and independence and evoking Libertarian ideologies with an amusing mix of dark and bizarre humor along with a generous sprinkling of paranoia.
McAfee is, at the very least, a compelling figure who most certainly knows how to start a conversation on pretty much any controversial topic. To many, he remains a visionary authority, often speaking publicly about the future implications of a world that is freed from the oppressive powers of central banks and corrupt governments through the revolutionary tools of cryptocurrency — tools that are capable of circumventing the central controls of corrupt agents.
There is no doubt that McAfee is an entertaining and engaging personality who commands attention, provokes thought, and encourages discussion, particularly on the future implications of innovations in cryptocurrency. While it’s true that his spontaneous and impulsive tweets are often of a bizarre and paranoid nature, there are few people in the cryptocurrency industry who are more passionate advocates of the potential global paradigm shift that decentralized technologies might offer in the near future.
McAfee most certainly has a way with words and is worth following despite, or perhaps because of, his antics.
As for me, I just wish I’d sold that Verge on New Year’s Eve.