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“Satoshi is Dead. Long Live Satoshi”: The Curious Case of Bitcoin’s Creator

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78743-907-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-906-1

Publication date: 5 February 2018


Purpose: In this paper, we focus on the mythic nature of the anonymous Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Drawing on ideas from Foucault and Barthes on authorship, we analyze the notion of the absence of the author and how that sustains the brand. Design/methodology/approach: Based on interview data, participant observation, archival data, and a netnography, we examine the discourses that emerge in the wake of multiple Satoshi Nakamoto exposés that serve as both stabilizing and destabilizing forces in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Findings: We analyze the different interpretations of Satoshi Nakamoto through his own text and how his readers interpret him. We identify how consumers employ motifs of myth and religiosity in trying to find meaning in Satoshi’s disappearance. His absence allows for multiple interpretations of how the Bitcoin brand is viewed and adopted by a diverse community of enthusiasts.

Implications: Our findings provide a richer understanding of how, in a period of celebrity brands, Satoshi Nakamoto’s anti-celebrity stance helps sustain the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Originality/value: Our analysis examines the nature of anonymity in our hyper-celebrity culture and the mystique of the anonymous creator that fuels modern-day myths for brands without owners.



Humayun, M. and Belk, R.W. (2018), "“Satoshi is Dead. Long Live Satoshi”: The Curious Case of Bitcoin’s Creator", Cross, S.N.N., Ruvalcaba, C., Venkatesh, A. and Belk, R.W. (Ed.) Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 19-35.



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