Mpex founder and Bitcoin evangelist Mircea Popescu reportedly drowned off the coast of Costa Rica, adding to the mystery surrounding the man, his purported bitcoin fortune, and what it might mean for the future of the network.
Father of “Bitcoin Toxicity” Faced No Shortage of Controversy
Just like the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamato sparked a thrilling hunt for the true identity of the person or persons behind Bitcoin, the network has reportedly lost one of its most enigmatic and polarizing figures of the last decade.
Mircea Popescu, a Romanian national and noted Bitcoin maximalist who promised to dump over one million bitcoins if block sizes were adjusted, supposedly drowned off the coast of Costa Rica on June 23rd. Confirmation of his passing has been scant, with outlets originally reporting that a Polish national had drowned.
A relatively mysterious figure within the community, little is known about Popescu apart from his blogging on Trilema, support for security-focused open-source projects, and dedication to keeping the Bitcoin network unchanged despite calls for bigger block sizes.
After blogging on cryptocurrency in its early years, he founded bitcoin exchange Mpex in 2012, which later became the target of a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation. Satoshi DICE, a popular gambling website that only accepted bitcoin, was listed on Romanian-based Mpex by Eric Voorhees.
Eventually, the listing became a part of the SEC investigation after the offering was not approved by the regulator. Voorhees was later fined and forced to buy back the shares that were listed. During the situation, Popescu was famed for trolling the SEC, going so far as to post his correspondence with the enforcement team in his Trilema blog. His eccentricity was on full display as he set out to dismantle the SEC’s requests and lay bare the holes in their arguments for information about Mpex and client activities.
Despite the little known about his personal and professional endeavors, Popescu’s commitment to open-source systems is well known. After the open-source operating system Open BSD, which has been around since the 1990s, ran into funding issues, Popescu donated $20,000 in 2014 to keep the non-profit foundation behind the software running. Given the security-centric approach of the OS and Popescu’s leanings, Mpex also employed the technology in its platform.
Mired in controversy for years, Popescu left behind many quotes and sayings, some of which painted a fairly negative image of the man himself. Yet, none of his antics were taken so seriously as his promise to dump a million bitcoins in the market if changes were made to Bitcoin block sizes (this reportedly occurred in 2016), earning him the moniker “Father of Bitcoin Toxicity.” Eventually, Segwit2x, an initiative designed to double the block size to 2MB, was abandoned and cemented the network’s use of the 1MB block size.
Despite never being confirmed, it was inferred that Popescu actually did command control over that vast swathe of a million bitcoin, which, if true, made him likely the only bitcoin millionaire (owner of more than one million coins). However, this figure was never confirmed. It did create concerns in light of his alleged death, though, that one million bitcoins could hit the market and cause prices to careen lower.
For now, the situation remains shrouded in mystery amid the lack of formal confirmation of his passing.