Stefan-Thomas
Stefan Thomas | Biography

Quick Information

  • Full Name Stefan Thomas
  • Occupation Software developer, Software programmer, Software engineer, Investor
  • Nationality German-American
  • Birthplace Germany
  • Birth Date 1988 (exact birthday not disclosed)
The Man Who Cannot Remember His Bitcoin Password

Stefan Thomas | Biography

Founder and CEO of Tech Company Coil

For making an informative animated video about Bitcoin, Thomas was awarded 7,002 bitcoins by a bitcoin enthusiast in the early 2010s. Each bitcoin was worth $2 to $6 at the time when he had received those bitcoins. He had salted those bitcoins away in his digital wallet, which are now worth of estimated $240 million. Unfortunately, Thomas forgot the password to his IronKey, the USB hard drive that contains a private key to the digital wallet that holds his bitcoins. IronKey gives its users ten chances to enter the correct password. Reportedly, Thomas has already entered the wrong password eight times as of January 2021.


Stefan Thomas is a German-born software developer prominently known for forgetting his digital wallet password for an estimated $240 million worth of bitcoins.

Who is Stefan Thomas?

Stefan Thomas is a founder and CEO of a tech company, Coil. Before founding Coil in San Francisco, he worked as CTO at Ripple Inc., TxtBear AG, Eload24 AG, and Solutions Four Impact Ltd. in Switzerland.

Thomas rose to fame after going public with his inability to recall his password to unlock his hard drive called IronKey. It contained the private key to a digital wallet that holds his 7,002 bitcoins. He only has two guesses left to enter the correct password to access his bitcoins worth around $240 million as of January 2021.

Early Age and Education

Stefan Thomas was born in Germany in 1988. In 2005, he attended Berufsakademie Stuttgart in Stuttgart, Germany, to study a diploma course in Wirtschaftsinformatik / Business Informatics (economics and computer science). But he dropped out of the program to focus on both his studies and work. After dropping out of Berufsakademie Stuttgart, he joined The Open University and graduated with a BA (Hons.) and business studies in 2014. 

Career

Thomas kicked off his professional career by starting a company called Bitobito GmbH in September 2005 in Switzerland. He served the company for almost two years, where he developed intelligent custom e-commerce solutions. 

In May 2007, he joined Solutions Four Impact Ltd as a chief technology officer (CTO) and worked on projects based on the client’s technical requirements for more than a year. After leaving Solutions Four Impact Ltd, he joined Eload24 AG in July 2008. At Eload24, he oversaw the operation of the online store while also managing the development of the company. He left Eload24 in April 2010 to become a CTO and co-founder of TxtBear AG, which provides a technical lead for developing advanced cloud-based document management and viewing platform for large publishers. He worked there till June 2012.

Bitcoin Video and Website

While he was still at TxtBear AG, Thomas produced an animated video titled ‘What is Bitcoin?’ explaining a digital/cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Then, in December 2010, he founded its accompanying website called weusecoins.com to introduce beginners to the notion behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. 

Published on 22 March 2011 on YouTube, the video attracted millions of views. It became the subject of many international television news networks like CNBC, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. The video was also parodied on one episode of the CBS legal and political drama series The Good Wife that aired on 15 January 2012.

Thomas also said the accompanying website became the premier source for Bitcoin beginners, and it peaked at the third-highest position on Google for the term “bitcoin” at that time. After working as an administrator for two years, he withdrew from his position to focus on his job at Ripple Inc.

Ripple Inc

In October 2012, Thomas joined Ripple Inc (then OpenCoin Inc.) as a senior engineer. He was initially responsible for the project related to the architecture and implementation of Ripple’s first client application, called Ripple client. He also worked on the company’s smart contracts platform called Codius. In June 2013, he was promoted to CTO and worked there till May 2018.

Forgetting Password

For making an informative animated video about Bitcoin, Thomas was awarded 7,002 bitcoins by a bitcoin enthusiast in the early 2010s. Each bitcoin was worth $2 to $6 at the time when he had received those bitcoins. He had salted those bitcoins away in his digital wallet. The value of each of those bitcoins increased to thousands of dollars over the years. According to a Guardian article published on 12 January 2021, “each bitcoin is worth $34,000 and the contents of Thomas’ wallet are valued at $240 million.”

Unfortunately, Thomas forgot the password to his IronKey, the USB hard drive that contains a private key to the digital wallet that holds his bitcoins. IronKey gives its users ten chances to enter the correct password. Reportedly, Thomas has already entered the wrong password eight times as of January 2021. If he entered the incorrect password twice, the hard drive would be encrypted permanently, and he could never access his millions.

Thomas told the Guardian in January 2021 that he had no hope at some point in life because he could not remember the password. He explained, “There were weeks where I would lie in bed, looking at the ceiling, just completely desperate. I’d spend hours trying to think of ways to recover the data, jump up, run to my computer and try it and then it wouldn’t work, so I’d go back to staring at my ceiling.” However, he eventually overcame his hopelessness and established his career in technology. He worked in several companies before founding his company, Coil.

Coil

In May 2018, Thomas started his tech company called Coil in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company focuses on building a better business model for the web. As per Thomas, Coil builds on advanced, open standards such as Web Monetization and Interledger, enabling payments extremely fast, cheap, and diverse. 

Boards of Directors

Thomas has also served as a board member of several organizations. He was a board member of the JS Foundation from January 2018 to March 2019. In addition, he was a board member and investor of a San Francisco-based storage service called Omni for over two years, from December 2017 to January 2020. He also became a board member of a user-generated content platform called Imgur in June 2019.

Did You Know?

  • His exact birthday is not disclosed.
  • Thomas' net worth could increase by $240 million if he remembers the password of his bitcoin.

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