Controversial cryptocurrency advocate and cyber security entrepreneur John McAfee really doesn’t want you to know where he is – but he does want you to know he still believes bitcoin is going to hit $US1 million by the end of next year.
To escape the clutches of various governments, including the US which is after him for tax fraud, the entrepreneur has been in hiding for the past four months, since being released from a Dominican Republic jail in July. He had been imprisoned there for a short time after authorities discovered firearms and ammunition on his yacht.
Speaking to The Australian Financial Review ahead of an appearance via video conferencing at tech conference StartCon later this month, McAfee says he only ever uses technology like smartphones while inside a special room in an undisclosed location. The room has been constructed with various materials to prevent signals from leaving it and is supported by signal jammers (just to be safe), which disrupt communications by transmitting signals on the same radio frequency as mobile phones.
“I’m [in] a Faraday cage. I’ve had to take extreme steps [to protect my privacy] because the IRS is looking for me and so are half of the world’s governments because I’ve been speaking about cryptocurrency and how it can free people from over-burdening governments,” he says.
“We carry no smartphones outside of this room.”
The anti-virus software pioneer founded the cyber security company bearing his name in 1987, making him a multimillionaire when it went public in the 1990s and he sold his stake.
Since exiting the business, McAfee has become an international man of mystery with a penchant for guns and tattoos and has been labelled as paranoid.
He’s been outspoken about his fear of various governments and authorities, in particular, those from Belize. McAfee believes that authorities in the Central American country, where he became a person of interest in a murder case in 2012, want to kill him.
While hiding from global authorities, McAfee became an outspoken proponent of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies generally and ran as a candidate in the 2016 US election. He has already mounted his campaign for 2020.
Having predicted in 2017 that bitcoin will be valued at $US1 million by the end of 2020, McAfee remains steadfast in his assertion that the cryptocurrency will hit $US1 million and that it’s the most disruptive technology ever created.
“Within 10 years I think everybody in the world will be using crypto. I don’t know what the curve will be between now and then… but eventually fiat will be viewed as useless,” he says.
“It’s the first world-changing technology that’s come from people rather than corporations and it has the ability to change everything. It offers an immutable record of reality and we’ve never had anything like it before. Tell me anything you’ve imagined or known about in terms of technology that could rival a technology that prevents deception.
“With your digital wallet, you are your own bank. It’s a paradigm shift of the highest order.”
McAfee was confident the scarcity of bitcoin would drive its price up to $US1 million by the end of 2020, despite it currently trading at just $US9300.
McAfee has become an international man of mystery with a penchant for guns and tattoos and has been labelled as paranoid.
“I’m a mathematician so I just ran the numbers. There are only 21 million bitcoin and 18 are already mined… Each day for each bitcoin that is mined, four are lost. We have a supply that’s diminishing rapidly,” he says.
Bitcoin can be lost when people lose devices or they end up in landfill and the bitcoins can’t be retrieved.
When asked about his latest run at the presidency, McAfee is realistic about his chances, admitting he doesn’t have a shot at making it into the White House, but insists it’s the best way for him to get a platform to share his views.
“There’s no chance in the world I could be president and I don’t even want the job,” he says.
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“I just want the national stage to talk about what I think is a serious problem in that we’ve lost our way as Americans and our covert agencies are ruling the government, President and Congress.
“The connection between corporate and government has been blurred. We don’t know where Google stops and the government begins. The system is broken.”
McAfee’s business roots ring true when talking about fellow presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposal of breaking up the big tech companies.
A libertarian through and through, McAfee is against the proposal and believes markets should be left to govern themselves.
“If companies become unresponsive to citizens, users and customers, then competition comes in. It doesn’t matter how big you are. A free market is the only way to go.”