It was through managing projects in BitCoin that I met Mr Scatman, whom I call MrSkatmanne, or MrS for short. There are many people in the bitcoin world who are cautious about sharing their identity online, and in the real world.. and I don’t have a problem with that. After many discussions online for around a 2 years I didn’t know MrS’s real name, nor did I ask when we finally met in London for the CoinGeek conference. As was with many other people there that I’d only met online, I was greeted with a big hug and quick intense chats between conference talks. Midway through the event, a group of us got together for a crazy, crazy night out on the town which saw us huddled in the underground like spies working out what to do next, were we lost, or were we at exactly the right place of not knowing where we were? I laughed A LOT even though MrS and I hardly talked, as creators we were deep in conversation most of the night discussing what to build, and some of the things we came up with were hilarious.
MrS left the conference 24 hours early to be with his wife and their baby girls, one of whom had just arrived on the planet 5 months earlier and he couldn’t bear to be without them another day, so rather than meet us the next day he left… a note to say he’d gone. And we all just smiled, “how sweet is that!”.
After many long discussions, my first experience of actually working with MrS was him suggesting we invite people to be chairholders on a project I’d called him into… and I have to give background for that before we go any further because it was quite funny how that came to be in the first place. Let’s backtrack a little bit...
Before he was banned for threatening to sue Jack Dorsey, Craig was quite selective in who he befriended on twitter. It seemed to be that people simply dug into his ‘following’ list and followed whomever was on it, one of those people was me… for that was how we communicated, thru twitter DM’s. I had quite a few people connect with me that way, people wanting an introduction to step the fast ladder direction Craig, many times with bemusing DM’s… “I won’t tell anyone, are you Satoshi?”, “he’s a fraud u no that right?” and there were a handful of people approaching me with crazy ideas for bitcoin projects with the hope of me connecting them with Craig so he could hear their genius. Many I ignored, some I played along with just for fun, if I was going to be used at least have a laugh. A conversation with another mysterious entity, MrG, began and it went something like:
him: “what do you think about crowdfunding a Lamborghini for people to pay with bitcoin?”
me” “say some more”
“I’ve got the opportunity to buy one at a really good price”
“so people would buy a share and be able to drive it for a certain period of time?”
“yes and we’d share the costs of insurance, maintenance”
“sounds neat, we could call it an Initial Lamborghini Offering, an ILO!”
“that would be awesome”
“OK, contact me when you’ve got the vehicle”
At the time Initial Coin Offerings, or ICO’s (an IPO take off) were all the craze, I shared the conversation with the other musketeers and Craig, we laughed at the crazy scheme’s people were coming up with and I thought that was the end of it.
Around a month later MrG contacted me again…
“I have a vehicle!”
“yes, a jeepney?”
“a WAT?” as I searched the word…
“Yeah, a jeepney, it’s kind of like a taxi bus”
“oh” an image of something like a circus truck returned, not quite the lambo, but hey… a vehicle…
“yeah, from our conversation I figured we could get some people to chip in and paint it with bitcoin cash logo’s and then passengers could pay with bitcoin and from that would start a revolution here in the Philippines.”
As I scrolled through his texts I wrapped my thoughts around what I was reading and got caught up in his enthusiasm… for painting the side of a jeepney with a huge Bitcoin logo. I called MrSkatmanne in to our chat, he also thought advertising Bitcoin on a jeepney was very funny, and very do able. MrS had at the time been creating crazy logo’s for all kinds of industries using that by now famous B in different colours on flags, and emblems, artistically twisting BitCoin’s B into existing logo’s with subtle hints of cheeky subtext. There was one particular style he’d done prior to that conversation and I wanted to see if he’d be OK with us using it, a James Bond 007 spiral with Bond at standing in the B gun in hand, it seemed perfect.
I think it was a matter of three conversations before MrS asked what it would cost to buy a jeepney, the answer MrG returned with seemed feasible if we could find a group of people to put in the money. We worked out the price and I started sending DM’s to key bitcoiners I knew: “hey, something to think about… I have an #InitialJeepneyOffering, would you like to be a chairholder in a jeepney? You’ll have your avatar printed onto a seat, eventually it will accept Bitcoin… and whenever you’re in the Phillipines you can take a ride”
Within 24 hours eleven other people from around the world said they were willing to play, and pay, what we were asking, so we organised a multi-sig wallet (a wallet where – in this instance – 2 of 3 signatures are needed to release funds) and the bitcoin started rolling in 24 hours after that. Within 72 hours we were ready to rock and roll, MrG pulled up his sleeves and got to work in getting the jeepney ready for the road. Within our group we made decisions for the artwork, with an agreement those who said no had to provide something better with images and a plan to make any changes happen. MrG went the extra mile with adding bits and pieces, coined hubcaps, unique mugs and keyrings printed and posted out to all the chairholders, his wife managed all the interior artwork with beautiful curtaining and BitCoin fans as gifts for passengers.. it was a great experience to see the project come together within such a short time.
Less than six months later I met MrG and one of the first people to jump on board, Yobits (all these years later and I still don’t know his name!), in Manila. More very intense, crazy conversations ensued, our heads deep in finding solutions to the problems Bitcoin presented. MrandMrsG bought us cushions to take a ride in Gen the Jeepney, her suspension was a little… uncomfortable to say the least, it didn’t matter, she was on the road and we jumped in, picked up passengers along the way to get a taste of public transport in Manila. Peso’s changed hands from the person who jumped on the back of the jeepney along the seats to the driver. Some passengers hung on the back of the jeepney for their ride and didn’t pay as was apparently the custom. Our #ProofOfJeepney video’s and photo’s gathered a lot of attention, we had a meetup in Makati to share about the project and take people for a spin in the noisy, uncomfortable but very beautiful Gen!
What Bitcoin is known for is being a ProofOfWork system, where each transaction along the way is accounted for, and that’s what I sense this jeepney project was all about. I met some of the best people in the Bitcoin space, people who followed through with what they said and delivered on time, one of whom was MrS. Working with people is where the rubber hits the road for me, being with ‘personalities’ during potentially stressful times, seeing how people communicate when deadlines are inevitably missed, decisions need to be made, hearing what really makes people ‘tick’. A proof of work, in action, that’s where I thrive.
Ten months after getting Gen up and running, MrG, MrS, Yobits and I worked together(?) with four other people on another project that rocked the bitcoin space, it was Yobits’s idea… he asked a question in our chat room. From that question we caused the first stress test, which now plays an important role in the BitCoin infrastructure… although, it didn’t end too well for some of us personally.
It was during that time that MrS wrote a blog about his other baby, ANNE, his Awareness Neural Network Explorer and that’s when I knew I’d be working with him to bring his vision to life.