Late last month, the crypto world was rocked by the death of John McAfee - the internet pioneer who believed so much in crypto that he made some wild speculations and bets. McAfee was the type of man who never strayed from his belief in libertarianism, and his love for cryptocurrencies was quite striking.
With the millionaire now confirmed dead, there have been speculations and rumors about what could have caused it. However, it is also worth taking a look back at his life and the contributions he made to the crypto space.
Early Life and His Rise to Wealth
Just about anyone in the tech world is familiar with John McAfee. The British-American computer programmer became famous when his McAfee Antivirus turned into a regular on computers and other devices.
McAfee wrote his first commercial antivirus software in 1987, and he went on to found McAfee Associates to sell the software to consumers. In 1994, the programmer sold his remaining stake in the company and resigned as its CEO. Since then, he has made a point to consistently criticize McAfee Associates and the company’s flagship antivirus.
With a war chest of money, McAfee soon began espousing his libertarian beliefs. He moved to Belize in the mid-2000s, but he returned to the United States after fleeing the island nation on suspicion of murder.
Full Blown McAfee-ism
Soon after news of his murder suspicion became public, McAfee was seemingly unmasked. The computer programmer began to show his libertarian beliefs, regularly complaining about what he believed was government overreach into private life.
With such views, it was no surprise that McAfee became a vocal proponent of cryptocurrencies. The programmer was one of the first internet personalities to show support for digital assets, especially appreciating their ability to allow anonymous money transfers between people.
If it was just a case of McAfee loving crypto, things could have been normal. As with everything he does, the programmer took things a bit too far. In early 2017, McAfee predicted that Bitcoin’s price would reach $500,000 by 2020. Replying to a Twitter user, McAfee explained that he would “eat my own d*ck on national television.”
The news at the time wasn’t great, especially with Bitcoin retracing after a major bull run. But, Bitcoin got back and was on a course for what would be a high of $19,600 that year. When the bull run kicked off again, McAfee doubled down on his bet - now, he believed Bitcoin would hit $1 million by 2020.
Of course, neither of his predictions came true - and McAfee didn’t fulfill his promise. But, a non-fungible token (NFT) of him making good on that promise is available on the Rarible marketplace.
To the White House
McAfee eventually took his beliefs with him as he ran for the highest office in the land. In 2016, the eccentric millionaire launched the first of his two attempts at the United States presidency, and he shared a link to a BitPay donations page for anyone who would like to be a part of it.
This was following approval from the Federal Elections Commission, which claimed that political campaigns and political action committees (PACs) could accept Bitcoin as donations. Besides McAfee, Rand Paul - a Republican presidential candidate at the time - also started accepting Bitcoin donations for his presidential campaign.
McAfee had been running on the libertarian party’s ticket. Sadly, he lost out twice - both in 2016 and 2020. His checkered past and controversies had been too much, and probably he even knew that his chances were slim to none. However, it at least brought Bitcoin to the limelight. Now, the Republican Party itself will be accepting crypto donations going forward.
The Eventual Downfall
Eventually, the same thing that helped McAfee rise to fame in the hearts of crypto heads also led to his downfall. This year, the programmer was indicted on fraud and money laundering charges after allegedly promoting several investment schemes to his Twitter followers.
Per reports, McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., made about $13 million from the schemes. This was after McAfee had been arrested in Spain after being found guilty on tax evasion charges. He was found guilty of not filing tax returns between 2014 and 2018 and failing to disclose earnings from promoting cryptocurrencies and other activities like consultancy, speaking engagements, and more.
The United States government had been looking to extradite him to face charges on home soil, but they wouldn’t get their chance. He reportedly committed suicide in his Spanish prison, and that was that.
McAfee was the subject of ridicule and scorn for many reasons - including his belief in crypto, to some degree. However, his contributions to the industry were significant in their own way.