Charlie Lee of the Litecoin Basis – Cointelegraph Journal

Charlie Lee of the Litecoin Basis – Cointelegraph Journal

August 8, 2020 by admin
“It was sort of loopy to go away Google.” Charlie Lee was a software program engineer for YouTube, which had turn out to be a part of the world’s dominant expertise firm. He cherished the start-up really feel. “You get to work on actually cool, new stuff, besides that it’s a start-up that’s assured to

“It was sort of loopy to go away Google.”

Charlie Lee was a software program engineer for YouTube, which had turn out to be a part of the world’s dominant expertise firm. He cherished the start-up really feel. “You get to work on actually cool, new stuff, besides that it’s a start-up that’s assured to succeed.” Something Google launches, he explains, will get hundreds of thousands of customers on day one.

The Google campus was only a five-minute drive from Lee’s residence, and the corporate supplied an outstanding wage, top-notch advantages, and a hefty inventory incentive scheme to spherical out the compensation bundle.

However the prospects of becoming a member of a younger crypto change in San Francisco caught Lee’s curiosity. It was greater than an hour commute one-way, with a wage and advantages nowhere near matching what Google supplied. Regardless of this, Lee determined that after six years of working for the huge firm, it was time to attempt one thing new.

“I made a decision to do it as a result of I used to be enthusiastic about engaged on crypto full-time.”

Getting in on the high

Whereas he has since gained some notoriety for promoting his Litecoin holdings on the peak of the 2017 crypto market frenzy, Lee had first-hand expertise of shopping for on the high. He caught the crypto bug when he encountered Bitcoin and its attribute volatility in 2011. Lee bought some Bitcoins on the then-peak worth of $30 and labored at studying every little thing he might about crypto. 

Quickly after his preliminary funding, he watched the worth plummet to only two {dollars}, however he endured together with his newfound ardour. 

Whereas working at Google, Lee spent a lot of his spare time on Bitcoin boards exploring crypto. Tinkering with the expertise, he helped develop an altcoin dubbed Fairbrix. The tech was primarily based on Tenebrix, a cryptocurrency which used the Scrypt algorithm for mining with a CPU. Highly effective GPUs had rendered CPU mining of Bitcoin unprofitable, so Tenebrix grew to become a gorgeous various for miners.

However Tenebrix had an all-too-familiar drawback. Seven million cash have been pre-mined and held by its nameless creator, whose clarification for the pre-mine was that the cash would primarily function a money-laundering instrument. 

“You’ll ship him cash after which he would ship you clear cash from these seven million clear cash. It was presupposed to be a service to scrub your cash, however who is aware of if that’s what’s going to occur. He principally had seven million cash he might simply dump available on the market and exit rip-off every time he felt prefer it.”

The justification for the pre-mine is preserved for posterity on the Bitcointalk discussion board.

Lee pushed to relaunch Tenebrix with no pre-mine, calling the brand new answer Fairbrix. It was primarily based on an advanced fork with quite a few bugs and tons of points at launch, he says. “Fairbrix sputtered out of the gate and didn’t do nicely.”

Following the failure of Fairbrix, Lee determined to create one other coin, however to “do it the best manner.” He branched off the confirmed Bitcoin codebase as an alternative, aspiring to maintain every little thing as near Bitcoin as doable.

The newly launched Litecoin modified just a few parameters, bettering performance and pace together with including in Scrypt mining.

It wasn’t clear that the brand new coin would succeed, Lee says, because it was only one amongst dozens of latest cash. However the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold” tagline resonated strongly with the group. The truth that it was CPU-mineable helped kickstart the community. Nearly anybody might become involved with CPU mining, he says, which bolstered preliminary adoption.

When Bitcoin ASICs later emerged as the popular mining instrument for the dominant community, the timing was once more fortuitous for Litecoin, Lee says. Simply as miners have been switching to utilizing ASICs for Bitcoin, “all of the GPUs that have been beforehand mining Bitcoin switched to Litecoin.” Thus, many former Bitcoin miners migrated over to the choice community. “It was in the best place on the proper time.”

By 2013, Lee discovered himself totally immersed in crypto, shifting from what was as soon as merely an open-source ardour challenge to constructing options in a quickly rising trade. “So, I made a decision to attempt to determine what I needed to do within the crypto house.”

Lee wrote a letter to Coinbase asking if they might help the rising Litecoin community. The corporate replied with an insistence that the main focus would stay on Bitcoin in the meanwhile, with doable help for Litecoin sooner or later. The dialog was fruitful nonetheless, as they expressed a necessity for engineers and shortly employed Lee.

And loopy as it could have been, Lee left Google for one thing… extra attention-grabbing.

All the time on the transfer

Lee’s willingness to “flow” appears to stem from occasions he skilled at a younger age. An unstable political state of affairs within the Ivory Coast compelled his mother and father to ship Charlie, 13 years outdated on the time, and his brother Bobby (now additionally an energetic member of the crypto group) to boarding college in America.

On the time he left, Lee was nicely forward of his classmates. In his first day of grade one arithmetic, his instructor despatched him to the second grade, deeming him too superior for first grade. He then spent sooner or later in second grade, after which the instructor despatched him on to 3rd grade. 

“I principally jumped two grades in math. So a extremely small first-grader was taking math class with third graders. It should have appeared actually bizarre.” By seventh grade, Lee had exhausted the out there curriculum.

Beginning in New Jersey as an eighth grade scholar, Lee acknowledges, was “a giant shock. My brother was there, in order that helped a bit bit, however nonetheless I used to be kinda on my own, separated from my mother and father.” 

Throughout this era, Lee discovered an incredible deal about controlling his personal funds. His mother and father despatched him an allowance enabling him to get used to budgeting and monetary planning at a comparatively younger age. “As a 13 yr outdated, I discovered to avoid wasting for issues sooner or later.”

He first discovered in regards to the worth of sound cash from his grandfather, who left China with gold bars sewn into his garments. “It was the one manner he was in a position to take his wealth out of China to Hong Kong.” This understanding of cash enabled Lee to make a connection between gold and Bitcoin when he first encountered it.

It’s a pure development, Lee explains. Earlier than crypto expertise’s inception, gold was the very best type of cash. “It’s sound cash. It’s inflation-proof. Governments can’t simply create extra gold out of skinny air like they do with fiat.”

“With crypto, folks name Bitcoin digital gold and Litecoin digital silver due to the truth that it’s similar to gold and silver by way of its financial properties. But it surely’s higher than gold and silver as a result of it’s digital. There’s no or low value for storage in comparison with gold and low value for transport. It’s subsequent to not possible to maneuver plenty of gold cross-country. However with Bitcoin, Litecoin, and cryptocurrencies, you may.” is hiring

After finishing his research at MIT in pc software program and electrical engineering, Lee graduated on the peak of the increase. He was a sizzling commodity. “Corporations have been hiring like loopy again then… Gives have been fairly unimaginable for school grads.”

Lee quickly determined to affix a startup, Kana, an organization pegged at a “loopy” valuation of $four billion, Lee says. “The supply was sort of unimaginable. If the inventory worth had stayed the identical, the inventory worth that they gave could be price one million {dollars}, one million and a half.” However a yr later, web corporations have been plummeting. Many corporations fell in worth by 90% or collapsed solely. “I bought in on the high, so to talk,” Lee laughs.

Kana sputtered alongside after the crash whereas a variety of Lee’s colleagues began Guidewire, an automatic insurance coverage software program firm. Lee joined them for 3 years earlier than choosing Google.

Exploring Litecoin

Following his departure from Google and subsequent stint at Coinbase as Director of Engineering, Lee returned to exploring prospects with Litecoin. The enthusiastic group was delighted with the information. At first easing again on his hours at Coinbase, he ultimately shifted to focusing full-time on his brainchild, ultimately leaving the change to dedicate himself to the activation of the controversial SegWit scaling answer. “There was plenty of FUD round SegWit. My principle is that it got here from Jihan Wu and miners attempting to dam SegWit as a result of it harm their earnings.”

Many locally have been uncertain of the expertise’s implementation, however Lee felt Litecoin was the proper community for testing its efficacy and safety. 

“Nobody’s going to assault a testnet as a result of even if you happen to succeed you may’t earn cash from it. You want actual worth to check the sport principle.” 

Lee realized that if they might activate SegWit efficiently on Litecoin, they might present the legitimacy of the scaling answer. “In actuality, SegWit was really superb expertise that might assist Bitcoin… with little or no draw back.”

It wasn’t straightforward, Lee says, however ultimately he satisfied Litecoin miners to activate SegWit in April of 2017, to nice success. He believes this innovation led to SegWit’s eventual implementation on Bitcoin. “It made it clear-cut that there was nothing fallacious with it and they need to simply activate it.”

About promoting Litecoin on the peak…

The 2017 market peak put Lee in a no-win state of affairs. His Twitter follower rely had exploded throughout the market surge, and his tweets appeared to exert appreciable affect on the worth of Litecoin. 

Lee defined {that a} easy “announcement of an announcement” à la Justin Solar might trigger costs to spike. “I didn’t wish to have incentives to do this, to only care in regards to the worth and pump the worth.”

The battle of curiosity troubled Lee and he determined it might be greatest to divest himself of his holdings in Litecoin, a lot to the bitter disappointment (and vocal criticism) of the group, who questioned his dedication to the trigger and puzzled if he contributed to the next worth crash. He explains that he didn’t have plenty of cash to start with, definitely not sufficient to crash the market, in contrast to another creators who held on to pre-mined massive sums of their very own created cash. “I purchased and mined the cash identical to everybody else. The one distinction is that I used to be early.” 

“There have been hundreds of individuals there firstly, most likely hundreds who owned extra cash than I did. However being the creator and central determine of Litecoin, I figured not proudly owning cash and nonetheless pushing for adoption, nonetheless engaged on it, was the higher manner of doing issues.”



Lee admits that, in hindsight, the timing created dangerous optics. However, he factors out, he was already financially safe by this time in his profession. “I used to be early in Bitcoin so I used to be already very nicely off. Being comparatively early at Google, Guidewire and likewise Bitcoin, it’s not like I wanted the cash.” Now, Lee says, he solely cares in regards to the worth of Litecoin as a result of he cares about its adoption.

Lee warned of the cyclical nature of the crypto market nicely earlier than his sell-off, he provides. Even earlier than promoting, he tweeted that the market was very unstable and warned that costs might simply drop 90%. 

New folks are available and purchase close to the highest throughout hype phases, Lee says, however they’re not prepared for the crashes. These identical folks will promote when costs plummet. “They’ll be shopping for excessive and promoting low, which is sort of unlucky. If I might assist it, I’d slightly the worth not pump that a lot as a result of the autumn could be devastating for most individuals.”

It’s exhausting every time persons are vital towards Lee on social media, he admits, “I most likely shouldn’t interact…” He figures the very best factor to do is to place his head down and simply preserve engaged on Litecoin.

Why does privateness matter if you happen to’re not doing something dangerous?

Bitcoin, Lee says, is the very best type of cash that people have ever seen. “It’s gold, however higher than gold.” However one property of sound cash that Bitcoin isn’t good at, he explains, is fungibility.

Lee explains fungibility and privateness are key priorities for cryptocurrency growth. For a lot of, the difficulty of privateness appears irrelevant. Why, some may ask, does privateness matter if you happen to’re not doing something unlawful? 

He gives an instance as an instance the issue:

Somebody buys 20 bitcoins on an change and withdraws the funds to a pockets. The following time they use Bitcoin for one thing from that tackle, the unique 20 Bitcoin enter stays seen. “You might see on a block explorer that I despatched, no matter, 0.1 BTC to somebody and it got here from an enter that has 20 Bitcoins. So the man who obtained it noticed that I’ve 20 Bitcoins. They’ll return and have a look at my transactions and check out to determine precisely what number of I’ve and it wouldn’t be too exhausting to determine…” 

This lack of privateness isn’t good for cash, he explains. “You need cash to be fungible. You don’t wish to give somebody twenty {dollars} and for the service provider to know you’ve gotten $100,000 in your checking account. Or that your paycheck was no matter quantity.” Monetary privateness is necessary, he says, “even if you happen to’re not doing something dangerous.”

Extra fungibility, Lee says, is at all times good for cash.

Lee is on a mission to make transactions extra non-public with MimbleWimble. The expertise isn’t good, he says, but it surely’s “adequate.” The important thing attribute, Lee says, is that it’s scalable, an necessary consideration for blockchains. 

MimbleWimble will likely be carried out on Litecoin utilizing extension blocks, like a sidechain that’s hooked up to the primary chain. Each block has an extension block that holds MimbleWimble transactions. Customers can transfer cash between the 2 chains with every little thing remaining non-public on the sidechain. The funds can then be withdrawn again to the primary chain the place clear transactions happen.

In contrast to SegWit, Lee is uncertain that MimbleWimble expertise will ever come to Bitcoin. Until it really works completely on Litecoin and reveals that it’s, certainly, the long run. “I don’t assume it’s going to come to Bitcoin in that kind, however we’ll see. It’s good to have the ability to experiment on it.”  

Lee plans to proceed engaged on Litecoin, however says he’ll ultimately step away when the time is true. Having him round is each good and dangerous for Litecoin, he says. Being a central affect for the reason for the Litecoin community, Lee can push to get issues completed extra simply and effectively than the extra decentralized Bitcoin growth group might ever do. However this additionally makes Litecoin extra susceptible.

“Let’s say the federal government needed affect on Litecoin, they will put strain on me. Or if I begin doing one thing dangerous, I can actually harm Litecoin. Finally, when Litecoin doesn’t want me anymore, when it’s extra mature and decentralized, will probably be greatest for me to step away, however till then I’ll do no matter I can to assist it succeed.”

The king of crypto

Bitcoin remains to be the king of crypto, Lee insists:

“I attempt to assist Bitcoin once I can.” 

The following large factor for Bitcoin? An ETF, Lee says. “It’s worthwhile to make it straightforward for anybody to have publicity to Bitcoin… There’s some huge cash on the market that may’t get publicity to Bitcoin as a result of there’s no straightforward manner.” Lee figures it’s solely a matter of time. “Even the gold ETF took some time. It’ll take a while, however it’s going to occur ultimately… We simply want extra historical past and extra, larger exchanges you may belief.”

Even with the mass adoption of Bitcoin, Lee believes there’s nonetheless loads of house available in the market for Litecoin. It gives low cost, quick transactions, Lightning Community compatibility, and the power to carry out atomic swaps between Litecoin and Bitcoin.

“Sooner or later, I believe folks will use cash with out even figuring out what the underlying expertise is. Whether or not it’s the Bitcoin community, whether or not it’s Lightning, whether or not it’s Liquid, whether or not it’s the Litecoin community or anything. In the long run, that’s going to be abstracted away from the consumer. All they care about is sending worth.”


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