TL;DR: CoinSpice caught up with Primitive Ventures‘ Eric Meltzer, advisor and public face of Satoshi’s Treasure. One million USD worth of bitcoin has been offered to anyone who can find a wallet broken into 1,000 keys. The split was done using a cryptographic method for breaking a single secret thing up into many fragments. That same tactic, combined with clues divulged periodically by the site, “can be used to reconstitute a private key with 400 of those splits,” according to Meltzer. The hunt is on.
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Eric Meltzer Talks Satoshi’s Treasure and Bitcoin
“Our fund uses Shamir’s secret sharing for our cold storage,” Meltzer, who also runs the site, Proof of Work, told CoinSpice, “and I was playing around with the tool that generates the key splits and decided to see how long it would take my computer to split and recombine 1,000 keys. It turned out to be pretty fast, and I suddenly had the idea for the game.”
So far, three hints have been released. “The first of one thousand, they are hidden in locations around the earth,” the site explained, “in places where many dwell and one with only a small number of inhabitants. These locations can be discovered by monitoring the output of the primitive orbitals,” which seems to imply a satellite or something similar.
There’s always a danger, especially with $1,000,000 USD worth of bitcoin at issue, of folks going off the rails in search of cracking clues, perhaps mistaking certain language and causing real havoc. “The do no harm rules,” Meltzer stressed, “are to prevent people from doing anything stupid in search of keys. No keys will EVER be in private property, etc., so there’s no reason to trespass or anything like that in search of a key.” And to the topic of his personal safety, he insisted, “I personally do not and will not know the location of more than a few of the initial keys. The people running the game have a complicated opsec procedure around that that means no individual knows where very many keys are.”
Obsessed, Minimal, International
Satoshi’s Treasure is minimalistic and reminiscent of 1980s video game coloring and font. CoinSpice asked if the design was on purpose rather than expedient. “Yep. I miss the days when sites on the web loaded in 5 milliseconds. The site will get some interesting features in the future including collaboration tools, etc., but it will remain minimalist in design,” Meltzer assured.
He described himself as “obsessed” with the idea of bitcoin. “I first bought some bitcoin in 2013,” Meltzer recalled. “I run a crypto fund with Dovey Wan called Primitive Ventures, and I’m a venture partner at INBlockchain, the largest Chinese crypto fund. I was the first investor in namebase.io, and Mobilecoin, and one of the first investors in Handshake as well. I’m super excited about what cryptocurrency can bring to gaming and financial privacy.”
He won’t reveal just yet who is involved with the project besides himself, but CoinSpice did ask about the hunt’s international flavor. “I love international collaboration and we’ve taken steps to ensure that no country will have enough keys to win, so the winning team MUST be international,” he emphasized. Asked if there’s a real chance the treasure won’t be found, “It will run until someone wins,” he noted. “The clues will be released daily starting pretty soon. There is definitely a chance the treasure won’t be found! If the clues are too hard, or if more than 600 people destroy their keys, then the bitcoin is permanently lost. However I would be SHOCKED if that happens, the internet is insanely insanely good at solving puzzles. I’m much more worried they will solve them too fast than too slowly.”
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
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