John McAfee is a British-American computer programmer, businessman, and cryptocurrency enthusiast. Described by many as paranoid and eccentric, McAfee has lived a life fit for a Hollywood blockbuster. Highlighted by drugs, considerable wealth, world fame, a Caribbean getaway, a murder mystery, a presidential candidacy, and much more, it would take multiple lifetimes for the average individual to experience what McAfee has gone through.
Born in the United Kingdom to an American father and a British mother at an American military base, McAfee spent his formative years in Salem, Virginia. His father was a road surveyor and his mother a bank teller. According to McAfee, his father was a heavy drinker and an unhappy man, who would beat both him and his mother severely. When he was 15, his father ultimately shot himself, leading McAfee to state that it “[fucked his life].”
McAfee attended Roanoke College and studied mathematics. As a freshman at Roanoke, McAfee began drinking heavily. In order to support himself, he began flexing his business acumen by selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. By using his natural charm and confidence, he says he was able to make a “fortune.” Reflecting on his time in college he later recalled, “You have the umbrella that isolates you from reality … The college campus is the most magical place on earth because you get to create a reality of your own making.”
In 1967, McAfee graduated from Roanoke college and went on to work as a programmer for NASA’s Institute for Space Studies from 1968-1970. He then spent the next few years bouncing around from job to job, holding positions as a Univac software designer, an operating system architect at Xerox, a software consultant at Computer Science Corporation, and as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. While later working as an advisor for Lockheed, McAfee received a copy of the notorious Brain computer virus, which triggered an inner rage from his childhood. As a kid, he had been unable to stand up to his abusive alcoholic father’s tantrums; as an adult, he could fight back against this violation of privacy.
John McAfee with IBM Computer, Image from ABC News
Setting up shop in his Santa Clara home, McAfee founded McAfee associates in 1987. His business plan was simple: create an anti-virus software, and distribute the software on electronic bulletin boards. McAfee demonstrated the same business acumen he had in college and gave away the product for free, with the intention of getting others to think “…the software was so necessary that they would install it on their computers at work.” McAfee’s plan worked to perfection; within 5 years, half of the Fortune 500 companies were using his software. Despite resigning from McAfee Associates in 1994, the anti-virus software beared his name until 2014. Today, his name is synonymous with virus protection.
Suspected Murder in Belize
In an effort to change his lifestyle, McAfee sold off a considerable amount of his holdings and resettled in Belize. By all accounts John lived a crazy life here surrounded by drugs, armed guards and many live-in prostitutes.
It was here, he would encounter one of the most difficult moments of his life when his house was raided by authorities in April of 2012, where he was found with “$20,000 in cash [and] an arsenal of firearms including seven pump-action shotguns and two 9-mm. pistols.”
John McAfee with Armed Guards in Belize, Image from Wired
Although nothing ever came of the raid, things continued to deteriorate in November of 2012 when he was the prime suspect in the murder of his neighbor, American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull. In a daring escape from the Belizean authorities, he buried himself in the sand with a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe. “It was extraordinarily uncomfortable,” he recalled” but they [would] kill me if they [found] me.” Since then, he has been on the run from Belizean authorities.
A recent Netflix documentary, named “Gringo” delves further into this troubling part of John’s life.
After this entire ordeal came to a conclusion, McAfee did not fade from the spotlight. Relocated in the United States, McAfee took his life in a new direction and threw his hat into the political arena . Espousing a strong libertarian ideology, John McAfee initially planned to run under his own newly formed political party, before ultimately attempting to win the Libertarian Party nomination. With Libertarian activist Judd Weiss by his side as his vice presidential choice, McAfee polled competitively with eventual winner Governor Gary Johnson.
John McAfee Libertarian Party, Image from Liberty Shield
Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and “The Prediction”
Most recently, McAfee severed his relationship with MGT Capital Investments Inc. The cybersecurity security company, which recently shifted its focus towards Bitcoin mining, sold the cybersecurity arm he was meant to head. While speculation abounded over the nature of his departure McAfee reassured Bloomberg News in an interview that “the decision was mutual,” and that “[his] interests have shifted almost 100 percent to the crypto world.” In an MGT statement, McAfee further stated that he is “… looking forward to toiling in obscurity as the world’s foremost authority of all things cyber crypto!”
McAfee certainly has the knowledge and influence to back up a statement of this caliber. He also has a team of volunteer staff called “smart kids” to vet other smaller altcoins. McAfee is known to leverage his Twitter account and his 650,000 plus followers and present himself as an crypto-investment wizard. In a story reported by Vice’s Jordan Pearson, who collected all of McAfee’s promotional tweets over the span of 25 days, found that tweets from McAfee were reliably consistently correlated with price spikes in those altcoins, jumping anywhere from 50 to 350 percent.
John McAfee’s Twitter Account with 805k Followers
This advice is not without controversy. Numerous people online have accused McAfee of of contributing to the practice of “pump and dump”, whereby early investors in small altcoins take advantage of marketing and smell their holdings to eager buyers. This can most aptly be seen in the Verge coin, which saw a price increase of nearly 2000% in a matter of days after McAfee had tweeted out his controversial support for the coin. While McAfee says this is not the case because he claims to have read every Whitepaper, his bold claims on Twitter are enough to make some within the community more than skeptical.
Of all the coins McAfee has expressed the most interest in, Bitcoin is one of his most bullish investments. In July 2017, McAfee publically tweeted that he would eat his own dick on national television if Bitcoin did not reach $500,000 within the next three years. In November of 2017, he doubled down on his prediction and moved the line to $1 million. Only time will tell whether or not McAfee’s bold predictions come true.
When I predicted Bitcoin at $500,000 by the end of 2020, it used a model that predicted $5,000 at the end of 2017. BTC has accelerated much faster than my model assumptions. I now predict Bircoin at $1 million by the end of 2020. I will still eat my dick if wrong. pic.twitter.com/WVx3E71nyD
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) November 29, 2017
There is a website named “Bircoin” in response to John’s misspelling of Bitcoin in his famous tweet, which tracks in real-time the price of Bitcoin and shows whether it is on track to meet the prediction of $1million by 2020. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is actually in front of Johns prediction by 15%.
It would be impossible to sum up McAfee and his life in a few adjectives. He is a man of many shifting passions, and it appears he currently has his heart and head set on the world of cryptocurrencies. It is impossible to tell what McAfee’s next step will be. However, it is safe to assume that it will be a grandiose and over-the-top endeavor, much in the same way that he conducts himself in his personal life.