John McAfee, software pioneer and a big crypto supporter, dies in Spanish jail

Karthik Subramanian

John McAfee, the founder of the anti-virus software which was a household name a couple of decades back and a huge crypto enthusiast, has died in a Spanish jail on the same day that a court allowed him to be extradited to the US.

The US law authorities were looking for him on tax evasion charges. McAfee is well known in crypto circles as he regularly used to reviews and endorse many ICO projects in his heyday. It seems that his downfall had begun at around the same time.

He was a pioneer in the software industry in the early 1990s when the anti-virus software built by his company was installed in almost every computer in the US and this was the time when the anti-virus and internet industry really took off. He made millions in licensing fees and the company went public in 1992 but he quit in 1994. He is reported to have lost most of his fortune during the financial crisis in 2008 but gained prominence during the crypto ICO boom a few years back.

The SEC in the US has accused him of promoting ICOs and cryptos on social media in exchange for money though he claimed to be independent. The regulators claim that he had collected around $23 million in exchange for promoting various ICOs and doing consulting work and evaded taxes as well.

But McAfee’s side said that he had already paid a lot of money in taxes and claimed that the authorities were after him as he had spoken against the Internal Revenue Service and that he was speaking for cryptocurrencies which irked the regulators and authorities as they felt that he was promoting cryptos against the fiat system.

He fled the US when the authorities accused him of not filing taxes between 2014 and 2018 but was arrested in Spain in 2020. The Spanish court refused to give him immunity from extradition yesterday and he was found dead on the same day. His death is being treated as suicide by the law authorities.

His life was full of tumult and was known to be crazy enough to run for President in the US in 2016 but he was a man who could neither be loved nor hated. The crypto industry had a love-hate relationship with him as he was one of the first major personalities to back this industry when little was known about it. He did promote shady ICOs and probably did so in exchange for money from them but he was indeed responsible for taking cryptos to the masses during those times when no one seemed to care. While the crypto industry would be thankful to him for that, the investors who invested in many ICOs that went bust would curse him for selfishly promoting them. He will be remembered as a man who was a software pioneer who did his bit for the crypto industry.

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