Ex-Coinbase CTO Is Behind Mysterious Nakamoto.com, Sources Say

"Nakamoto is bitcoin country. HODL or GTFO." Sources tell CoinDesk this is the new project from former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan.

AccessTimeIconAug 7, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:17 a.m. UTC

Nakamoto.com is a website that's more than twice as old as bitcoin, and for most of its life, it has just redirected to a San Francisco developer's personal website.

Now, though, according to two industry sources, it's under the ownership of one of the best-known investors in crypto: Balaji S. Srinivasan, former Andreessen Horowitz partner, founder of Earn.com and former chief technology officer of Coinbase.

The current site says, "Nakamoto is bitcoin country. HODL or GTFO."

As of now, potential users can only enter their email address and await more information. Srinivasan never directly responded to multiple attempts to confirm he was running the site, but in a recent tweet he recommended a go-to-market strategy similar to the one the site appears to be using:

Put up the site/app, don’t make a big fuss about it, start gaining customers by individually emailing & signing them up.

Your first “launch” is then the announcement of a concrete traction milestone.

— Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) August 1, 2019

Balaji's backstory

Srinivasan led one of the best-funded early bitcoin companies, 21e6, which rebranded as 21 Inc and then again as Earn.com.

The original idea was to make home bitcoin miners for regular people. By March 2015, it had raised $116 million, but the idea met major headwinds as the realities of the bitcoin mining market became clearer. Later in 2015, 21 Inc was found looking for a way to pivot out of a straightforward mining hardware play.

Eventually, the company would take a major leap. In May 2017, it would open its bitcoin-powered email service to the public, allowing users to set up an account where correspondents would pay to get a reply in bitcoin. Later that year, it would change its name to Earn.com to better reflect the new mission.

Earn was then purchased by Coinbase in early 2018, a move many saw as an expensive acquisition of Srinivasan as much as it was an acquisition of the company itself. Nevertheless, Earn has evolved to take a prominent place in Coinbase's offerings, allowing assets listed by the exchange to make a bigger splash by allowing interested users to earn some crypto in exchange for going through educational modules about various tokens.

Srinivasan announced he was leaving Coinbase in May. An investigation by The Information found that Srinivasan's departure followed a tense year of internal debate inside the company. In short, now-former president and COO Asiff Hirji represented traditional finance aspirations; Srinivasan, in the CTO role, represented crypto's more rebellious ethos.

An old website

Now Srinivasan's next chapter may be Nakamoto.com.

While little is known of its future plans, the site's past is well documented. First registered in 1997, a quick scan of the Internet Archive shows the website belonged to a technologist who shares the last name of the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin. (CoinDesk's requests for comment to the former owner were not returned.)

a transfer was made in July 2018, however. The information on the current owner is masked by a proxy, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc.

The new site is sparse, yet very crypto. It's not yet clear exactly what it's been repurposed to do.

CoinDesk will update this piece as more information becomes available.

Balaji Srinivasan image via CoinDesk archives


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.