Riccardo Spagni

Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 7:23 p.m. UTC

Riccardo Spagni, also known by his internet handle “fluffypony,” was the lead maintainer of Monero, a privacy-centric cryptocurrency project that aims to obfuscate the linkability of transactions across source, quantity, and destination. Spagni is an entrepreneur who started his career in software development, and upon discovering the Monero project in 2014, dedicated his professional work to the community. He stepped down as its lead maintainer in December 2019.

Spagni entered the crypto space in 2011 by mining bitcoin, previously having success with an import/export business he started with his wife. The success provided him with the flexibility to explore mining, and he later began building and selling GPU mining tools. His exposure to the GPU mining community, which focused mainly on coins other than bitcoin, led him to discover Monero at its inception.

The Monero whitepaper was released by an anonymous person utilizing the pseudonym Nicholas van Saberhagen, who later vanished and never contributed to the project’s launch. “Bitmonero,” the project’s initial title, was launched by someone with the pseudonym “thankful_for_today.” This character went on to demand changes that caused tension within the community, therefore Spagni and six other core developers forked to Monero, the well-known privacy project utilized today.

In 2018, Spagni launched Tari with cofounder Naveen Jain. Tari is a merge-mined sidechain of monero, which is intended to support non-fungible tokens (NFTs), representing unique digital assets such as tickets, loyalty points, and video game items.

A year later, Spagni stepped down as the lead maintainer of Monero citing the move would “better streamline developments and collaborations.” Another long-term contributor to Monero known as “Snipa” was announced as the successor, though Spagni confirmed he would remain available to help out during times when Snipa was away.

In 2021, a warrant for Spagni’s arrest was issued by South African police over allegations the former Monero lead developer had stolen $100,000 from a previous employer. Brian Klein, a leading crypto-focused attorney who had previously represented Erik Vorhees and Charlie Shrem, was hired by Spagni a month after the warrant was issued to defend him.

This article was originally published on Sep 9, 2021 at 1:56 p.m. UTC

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