The man behind ‘Silk Road’, the worlds first dark web marketplace, developed the platform whilst backpacking and surfing his way around the world, according to a new book.
Established in 2011, Silk Road allowed users to trade crypto-currency Bitcoin for everything from Heroin to hit men. The criminal mastermind behind its creation was 33 Year old Ross Ulbricht, who began developing it whilst backpacking around the world, relying on shoddy hostel wifi connections and internet cafe’s.
After a stint living in Bondi Beach, he took a month long trip to Thailand, before hopping across the globe to Costa Rica, where he spent time surfing and partying. After three years of the platform being live, Ross had accrued a fortune of $28 million.
His criminal empire came crashing down in 2013, when he was arrested and subsequently convicted of money laundering, computer hacking, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics. He is currently serving a life sentence, without parole, in New York.
In a brand new book by Nick Bilton called “American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road” a version Ulbricht’s story, which is vehemently contested by his family, is told and includes several passages relating to his time spent travelling and surfing:
“Ross spent his days surfing at the golden beaches, drinking beer with his new pals at tiki bars, successfully flirting with girls, and, in between these social gatherings, working on the Silk Road.” Writes Bilton.
“Looking just like every other backpacker trekking through the islands around the Pacific Ocean, he stayed in youth hostels and ate noodles from roadside vendors. The only difference between him and the throwaway friends he met along the way was that they were mostly broke college students exploring the world before they moved back to America or Europe to get a job and settle down. Whereas Ross was surreptitiously running the biggest drug-dealing Web site in the world and was personally worth millions of dollars.”
“While on his travels, Ross had set off to a sleepy surfer town in the middle of the jungle in Thailand. The plan was to lap up the waves, enjoy the beach, hike through the palm trees, maybe smoke some weed, and (if all went well) meet a pretty young backpacker. Except something went catastrophically awry on the site the moment he pulled into town. Someone had started stealing Bitcoins from his account as a result of a major programming error. Ross had no choice but to fix it right there and then — and it wasn’t an easy fix.”
“He was holed up from morning until night in the local Internet cafe, incessantly biting his nails while he tried desperately to stop the Bitcoin robbery, all while locals and backpackers lackadaisically wandered down the jungle town’s dirt roads, drank beers, and surfed in the warm ocean waves.”
Cover photo: Gaftels