Jed McCaleb is the co-founder and CTO of Stellar, a top 20 cryptocurrency and primary competitor to bitcoin. In a recent interview, McCaleb explains how he got his start in the crypto industry, and what it was about the space that attracted him.
MCCaleb: I was Interested in BTC Because It Was a Disruptor
McCaleb comments that he’s fond of crypto in that it works to defy and disrupt traditional finance, which he says doesn’t always work for everyone. Describing his feelings when he first found out about bitcoin, he said:
I was super excited. I didn’t think it was possible to solve [the double-spend] problem before I read the whitepaper. It was super interesting to me and, about two weeks later, I made the Mt. Gox exchange because at the time, there wasn’t really a good way to buy or sell bitcoin, and I wanted to experiment with the technology to learn the system.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work out the way he hoped. Mt. Gox, stationed in Japan, is widely considered to be one of the biggest hacks to occur within the space. Nearly half-a-million in BTC funds disappeared overnight, and to this day, very little of that money has been recovered. Executive Mark Karpeles, who oversaw the exchange at the time of the hack, served time in a Japanese jail, but for the most part, the outcome has led to more questions than answers.
McCaleb says he handed Mt. Gox over to Karpeles long before the hack took place. He described Mt. Gox as something of a hobby, or a way to get into the crypto space. He comments:
The bitcoin world back then was much different than it is today. When I joined Bitcoin Talk, which is where everyone that knew about bitcoin had an account, there were about 2,000 people. By the time I gave Mt. Gox to Mark, there were like 5,000 or 10,000 people. Something like that.
McCaleb says Bitcoin Talk is how he met Karpeles. He later described him in the interview as an “incompetent” leader.
After the Mt. Gox project came Stellar, which came to fruition because he felt there were problems with bitcoin’s mining process. He says too much money is spent on extracting new coins, and it’s a huge problem for the economy.
Fixing the Mining Problems
Stellar, on the other hand, allows people to mind directly from their mobile devices, which he says conserves energy and money. He states:
Bitcoin is obviously extremely decentralized, and there’s no central company driving it forward. That’s an awesome model, but it’s very hard to replicate. There is some middle ground between that and just like a fully centralized Uber-type thing where there’s a company that is helping to get the network started and then you kind of step back and let the thing run once it reaches a certain level of maturity