Silk Road, the underground marketplace for drugs that propelled Bitcoin into the spotlight, brings in $30 million to $45 million in revenue annually, according to a Forbes estimate. For its September issue, the magazine paints the most complete picture the public has had thus far on the mystery man behind the site who goes by Dread Pirate Roberts. Here are some highlights:
A very paranoid man: Forbes‘s Andy Greenberg describes Dread Pirate Roberts as a “radical libertarian revolutionary” who, if caught, could potentially face life in prison. The paranoid man never meets in person, communicating via messages routed through Silk Road. His name and nationality are also unknown.
The original Dread Pirate Roberts: Before there was Dread Pirate Roberts, there was another person who possibly went by the same Princess Bride-inspired moniker. The man who’s currently at the helm had discovered a wallet vulnerability that could have been exploited to steal Bitcoins. He fixed it, earning the founder’s trust, and eventually bought the site from him. “He was well compensated,” the current Dread Pirate Roberts says.
Beloved by the community: Among the praises he receives from commenters are: “hero,” “job creator,” “our own Che Guevara,” and “name [that] will live [on] among the greatest men and women in history as a soldier of justice and freedom.”
Selling point: “I wouldn’t sell out for less than 10 figures, maybe 11,” he tells the magazine. “At some point you’re going to have to put Dread Pirate Roberts on that list you all keep over at Forbes. ;)”
Shies away from extravagance: As fabulously wealthy as he might be (no figures were given), he tries to keep a low profile. He admits to some luxuries, such as smoking “a bowl of sticky indica buds at the end of a long day.”
Competition creeping up: A website called Atlantis, which hasn’t shied away from publicity, considers itself “Facebook to [Silk Road’s] Myspace.” The rival site saw $500,000 in transactions in June.