Part 6: Winding It Down
Continuing from Part 5.
By the time DMT was up and running, Dodge was winding down and closing, and the project was winding down. Soon enough (and especially because of Rex’s irregular activity), an audit committee was formed, and we went through all the records. As it turned out, Rex, for all his playing fast and loose, had pumped a lot of his own money into the project, and it probably wouldn’t have been completed without him.
This particular version of “fast and loose,” however, involved some pretty ugly things… like embezzlement. But since the guy who oversaw the embezzlement was also the guy who pumped hundreds of times that amount into the project… well, there really wasn’t anything more to be done, and no one, to my knowledge, pursued it any farther. (You can still find the nitty-gritties here.)
There were people who complained of course, but this really wasn’t an investment in the first place, and anyone who sent money would almost have to understand that. This was a shot at a highly uncertain prize, and a long shot at that. The fact that the intended products were actually built was as good an outcome as could reasonably be expected… at least in my opinion.
The audit itself was a fun set of stories, and I very much enjoyed the others on the audit committee. I was, and am, happy with the report we turned out.
The sad part of this period was the end of DMT. After functioning well for a year or so, DMT was caught in the middle of a scam and became insolvent. Orlin and his partner should have known better, but they didn’t. I’m fully convinced that there was no ill-intention on their part, but they were interfacing with the SWIFT system and didn’t understand that wires could be reversed. The clearest of DMT’s debts were repaid, but after that there was no more they could do, and it was closed.
And in the end it was probably best that DMT did close. If it had continued running truly anonymous business through the SWIFT system, the US government would have eventually swarmed in and harassed, threatened, or done worse to lots of innocent people. As it was, that didn’t happen.
From the absence of DMT, the e-gold economy rose, and from the ashes of e-gold, Bitcoin arose. Would that all have happened if our Laissez Faire City project had never been? It’s impossible to say of course, but it’s possible that it would not have. Because the legacy of our project wasn’t the products we produced, as important as they were. What mattered was that we did things.
For all the craziness of the project – and there are many more stories to be told of it – we acted at a time when other people were withdrawing from the fight. We kept progress alive during a dark time for all things cypherpunk. As time goes on, I am more and more proud of that fact.
I will close with the conclusion from one of our last reports. I think they were well chosen words.
[I]t served as incubator for technologies and business entities that are now operating independently, competitively, and on sound business principles. It also spawned a community of individuals who have gotten to know each other in the virtual world (and in some instances, in the real world) and are now taking the dreams of the past into their next phase.
From the chaos of the past a new order emerges…
And emerge it did.
To be Continued…