Ripple Protocol Developer Jed McCaleb On Discovering Bitcoin, Founding Mt. Gox, And Launching Stellar

Jed McCaleb, co-founder and CTO of Stellar, a value-transfer network that strives to be a faster and cheaper way to send money, doesn’t consider himself a disruptor — but he was drawn to things that disrupt.

“I just like working on things that are interesting to me, and that can change the world for the better,” he told Michael Terpin during a talk at CoinAgenda 2019, which is hosted by the Transform Group, where he also recalled his journey to Bitcoin.

He worked first on a peer-to-peer application, called eDonkey, a decentralized, server-based, peer-to-peer file sharing network for large files. After that project, as he browsed the internet, he came across the Bitcoin white paper on slashdot, a social news website for nerds.

“I was super excited,” said McCaleb. “I didn’t think it was possible to solve [the double-spend] problem before I read the white paper. It was super interesting to me and, about two weeks later, I had 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.”

In an effort to better understand the Bitcoin technology, McCaleb decided to make a Bitcoin application. Ultimately, running an exchange did not interest McCaleb, so he began searching for suitors to take the exchange over, deciding upon Mark Karpeles. McCaleb recalled that process, which took place at a time when Bitcoin wasn’t the cultural phenomenon it is today.

He had made Mt. Gox as a hobby, and people were using it. Running an exchange long term was not what he was interested in. He started looking for someone to take it over.

“The Bitcoin world back then was much, much different than it is today,” he said. “When I joined BitcoinTalk, 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, 10,000 people––something like that.”

He came across…

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