By Spencer Kellogg | USA
Another chapter in the long and winding road of cybertech pioneer John McAfee has come to an end. The founder of McAfee Antivirus and former Libertarian presidential candidate has stepped down from his leadership position at MGTI. His time at the forward-thinking Durham based tech startup was marred with controversy and later heralded by bold cryptocurrency ventures. Originally MGT Capital, McAfee and associates grabbed the former companies trading symbol on the NYSE and the penny stock rocketed behind his cult celebrity with the share price reaching almost $8 from a base of .25 cents. Showing incredible volatility, MGTI raised eyebrows across the stock market before being delisted amid scandal in February of 2017. McAfee argued in public with developers and his time with the company can be best summarized by his progressive ideas regarding Bitcoin, a culture of missed deadlines and a general atmosphere of crazy that seems to follow McAfee wherever he goes.
MGT stockholders greeted the news with excitement and cryptocurrency fans displayed typical juvenile backlash, poking fun at a man who possesses one of the most divisive and powerful voices in the space. Recently, McAfee has been best known not for MGTI, but for his “coin of the week” (which used to be “coin of the day” or “whichever coin will pay me”) cryptocurrency shills on his Twitter page. His open faced speculation of the cryptocurrency Verge (XVG) sent the privacy coin on a parabolic move into the Top 20 of the cryptocurrency marketcap with the bold suggestion that the coin could one day achieve a valuation of tens of billions of dollars. As throughout much of his career, McAfee has been lampooned by some as a scammer and championed by others as a rebel.
In response to the news from MGT, McAfee had the following to say:
I would like to thank Steve, Rob Laddand the entire board for giving me the opportunity to return to corporate life, but I am very happy with my decision. I am looking forward to toiling in obscurity as the world’s foremost authority of all things cyber and crypto! In all candor, the past two years have been action-packed and productive, and I want to thank all shareholders for their support.
During his time at MGT McAfee was dogged by claims of wrongdoing and misleading of his investors & employees. Eijah Anderson, the creator of the privacy tool Demonsaw, was once an integral part of the MGT roadmap and you can find beaming photos of the pair after they moved offices to North Carolina. Their relationship has long since soured and Anderson took the opportunity to attack McAfee on Wednesday when he tweeted:
At first, MGT aimed to provide security to phone users. With McAfee came the top layer security protocol for telecommunication, Sentinal, and a big name to intrigue investors. There were conferences in China and to investors caught up in the whirlwind of his celebrity it seemed like MGTI could be an investors dream. But McAfee also brought with him an army of doubters that plagued forums and linked articles to McAfee’s shady business associates. Over the course of the next few months, there were botched phone conferences and maligned promises as the stock price began to dwindle.
Later, and under much scrutiny, McAfee and company hit a stroke of genius as they turned their eye away from security and towards Bitcoin. Partnering with a Washington state hydraulic plant, MGTI rigged up an army of Bitcoin miners that fed off water generated energy to mine the currency. For this McAfee deserves to be commended. When much of the market was still skeptical on Bitcoin’s feasibility or profitability, McAfee was utilizing natural energy sources to put his company firmly at the leading edge of American Bitcoin innovation. This is also one of the major reasons why McAfee’s opinion holds such weight in the Bitcoin community. Although he can often appear to be a greedy man with unscrupulous morals (and perhaps he is) Mcafee is also an unabashed truthteller willing to put his money where his mouth is.
By Friday morning $MGTI had dropped nearly 10% in value while analysts wondered whether this was good or bad for the burgeoning company. MGTI will continue mining Bitcoin and Ethereum with their main focus now invested primarily in the cryptocurrency field. As for Mcafee, this appears to be only another bizarre entry in the life and times of one of America’s greatest and strangest innovators.