Sometimes, the word ‘WOW’ just doesn’t do the point of reference justice. John McAfee was one of those points of reference. Undoubtedly an icon of his generation.
The self-confessed “Most hated man in Cryptocurrency…” was almost as elusive as the Higgs Boson, I’m convinced that even the Large Hadron Collider would have struggled to pin the man down. I doubt the most accomplished psychologist would have been able to analyse and interpret him.
McAfee was a wonderfully colourful, antagonistic entrepreneur, pioneer, innovator and ultimately a fugitive and enemy of the US Government. In an era where our gaze is drawn by lacklustre, vanilla and cringeworthy role models of the Zuckerberg and Gates genre, McAfee was something else entirely.
Arguably the closest thing to a rock star the Cryptocurrency sector had. McAfee was a pantomime villain and ultimately a fugitive with fabulous stories woven into his legend. The kind of stories full of intrigue, near-death experiences seasoned with a huge dollop of good luck.
I’d love to say I’d interviewed him, but my experience is based wholly upon being in the same venue at the same time and witnessing the furore around the man. Some people have a certain level of charisma, an aura, and a presence around them, but McAfee had much more. This man was a force, a walking talking bundle of electro-static energy that just consumes the atmosphere and the environment around him.
Love him, or hate him, you just know that you’d love to spend a night in the bar with the man, who for me, was the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger or maybe even the Who’s Keith Moon to the Blockchain, Crypto and early-stage technology sector.
This was a man who claimed that if you are ever going to spend time in jail, make sure that it’s a Mexican jail. He would talk animatedly about having the time of his life with marijuana, hookers and alcohol galore whilst under arrest in Mexico. Seriously, McAfee could probably have taught El Chapo a thing or two about evading capture, Pablo Escobar would probably be the President of Columbia if he’d hired McAfee as his Consigliere.
However, you’d be both rash and naive to under-estimate McAfee as just some celebrity with a past within the disruptive technology space. The man was brutal in his analysis of the space and the market. Clear but common sense prevailed; his opinion isn’t merely the classic soundbites he’s become infamous for. As he stated quite clearly (and his peers agreed with him), 9 out of 10 companies in the Crypto space are questionable.
McAfee recited a tail of recent due diligence of a company in Africa. When he dug deep under the skin of this entity, it was a complete fabrication. The directors and even the specified legal counsel didn’t even exist. The whole company was a very polished, highly convincing fabrication, a money mirage, an investors nightmare.
He also recounted a candid tale of a discussion with an online fake Crypto exchange, that was basically an almost identical version of a real exchange. In his own words, the fake was technically and visually better than the real deal. Designed and marketed purely as a means of phishing your wallet and stealing your hard-earned currency. Something, McAfee admits, has even happened to him, despite a plethora of hardcore security both tech and physical in the form of ex-navy Seals and Intelligence specialists amongst his entourage.
“If they can steal my crypto, they can sure as hell steal yours…”
McAfee spoke with verve about the amazing opportunity the whole Blockchain and Cryptocurrency space offered to humanity, but he always added a sense of caution that people need to be diligent.
This level-headed; must listen to advice is, however, tempered with a sense of exasperation that people just simply don’t get it.
“Spend your fucking money” McAfee would plead:
Sitting on your bitcoins does nobody any good he would exclaim. Get out there and spend it, use it, force it to become the unadulterated, incorruptible, monetary system that is driven by mathematics and not corrupt human beings and a financial system built on a debt policy (that most people don’t even understand).
It was an absolute pleasure to be in the same room as the almost mythical John McAfee. It was an even more interesting and rewarding opportunity to secure what felt like 30 minutes but was more like 2 minutes in his company 1 to 1 in a bar in Malta one evening.
He may have gone rogue, may have had some serious questions against his name but he will be missed by many and rightly so. We need colourful renegades; we need entrepreneurs that are brave enough to push boundaries and challenge the powers that be. In a world with so many conspiracy theories merging into reality, we need distractions like John McAfee.