Who is John McAfee and what is his link to cryptocurrency?

20 Sep, 2018
by David Robb
Who is John McAfee and what is his link to cryptocurrency?

From cyber-security, to presidential candidacy, to yoga, to conspiracy to murder, John McAfee has seen a lot over the course of his remarkable life. He is one of Bitcoin's most enthusiastic evangelists, and he never fails to be an engaging presence and influential figure.

Born in England in 1945, McAfee started working as a programmer for NASA in the late 60s, after studying maths at Virginia's Roanoke College. He first saw real success in the early 90s, when his company McAfee Associates launched one of the earliest anti-virus software solutions. 

McAfee has since distanced himself from this company, which was eventually bought out by Intel, as well as the product that bears his name. He was later made CEO of MGT Capital Investments, a technology holding company, and he soon moved them towards the mining of Bitcoin and other cryptos. This was around 2016, as the emerging field of cryptocurrencies was just starting to capture the public's imagination.

McAfee initially became interested as he believed that blockchains were an important breakthrough for cyber-security. He grew increasingly bullish over the next few years, particularly as the Bitcoin rally of 2017 really started to kick into gear. One of his most attention-grabbing claims was that the Bitcoin price would hit $1 million by 2020, and his confidence about this was demonstrated in pretty blunt terms.

Read more: Prediction behind by 51%: Will John McAfee be forced to eat his... words?

He eventually stepped down from his position at MGT, in January 2018. This was apparently due to his desire to focus more on cryptocurrency, but many have suggested that investors wanted to distance themselves from McAfee and the many controversies in which he has been mired.

Probably the most serious of these was the allegation that he ordered the murder of another American ex-pat, Gregory Faull, when they were both living in Belize. Faull was McAfee's neighbour, and was found dead from a gunshot wound in his own home in November 2012.

McAfee fled the country shortly after, claiming that he didn't trust the police in this "third-world banana republic" not to kill him. He unsuccessfully tried to seek political asylum in Guatemala, where he was detained for a while before eventually being deported back to the U.S in December 2012.

His past seemed to partially re-emerge in June 2018, when he was laid low in hospital for a week or so after someone apparently tried to poison his food. This was shortly after he claimed to be fearing for his life. He received further death threats a month later that caused a conference appearance to be cancelled. It remains unclear if this was a serious threat, paranoia, or just some big publicity stunt.

Read more: McAfee cancels live attendance at conference amid death threatsJohn McAfee unconscious for two days, claims his enemies poisoned him

An avowed libertarian, McAfee ran unsuccessfully for the Libertarian Party's presidential candidacy in 2016, and will run again in 2020. He is also a yoga instructor, and has written several books on the subject. 

McAfee's engagement with crypto is mostly in the form of promotion, publicity, and personal threats, with the typically hyperbolic McAfee tone. For example, he has been highly critical of the way the SEC is dealing with cryptos, and has encouraged action to be taken against individuals to change their opinions. 

Read more: John McAfee sicks his Twitter followers on the SECMcAfee continues fight against HitBTC and other crypto exchanges

He continues to be involved with several cryptocurrency projects, including the apparently "unhackable" crypto wallet BitFi as well as healthcare-based token Docademic (MTC). Whether his enthusiasm is genuine or just cynical 'shilling' is a source of debate amongst the crypto community.

Read more: McAfee doesn't believe his BitFi wallet has been hacked

Whether you think this gun-toting maverick multi-millionaire and "simple, free soldier" is an important part of the crypto eco-system, or a figure who represents everything that's wrong with the space these days, it's hard to deny that McAfee has made his mark on the world and entertained us along the way.

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