Published: July 26th, 2021
WHACKD, the token launched by renegade anti-virus entrepreneur John McAfee in 2019, has been on a wild ride since its founder’s death by apparent suicide in a Barcelona jail cell.
At one point in late June, it shot up from near worthlessness to hit USD 0.075 in a single day, a leap of more than 730 per cent. Since then, it’s dropped back to USD 0.011 at time of writing, but that’s still up significantly on the period that preceded its founder’s death.
McAfee’s sudden death, a raft of rumour, and the rapid appearance and disappearance of a mysterious WHACKD website are keeping interest in the token alive. Here’s what we know so far.
McAfee was found dead in a Spanish prison cell on June 23. Investigators said that their initial assessment pointed to suicide, while statements from his Spanish lawyer seemed to confirm that the prospect of US extradition on tax evasion charges had left McAfee despondent and unwilling to endure more time in jail.
His widow, however, has told the press repeatedly that she doesn’t believe her husband was suicidal. Those comments and a jailhouse tweet from McAfee himself which said: ‘If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd’ have led some to speculate that he expected to be assassinated and made contingency plans involving his crypto token WHACKD to be activated in the event of his death.
That ‘dead man’s switch,’ the thinking goes, is behind the sudden appearance (and quick removal) of a WHACKD website called britbonglogpost.com.
The single page site displayed a Warhol-esque image of John McAfee and a cryptic message saying, “Contingency plan activated. Something big is coming,” above a countdown timer that indicated 28 days to go before the ‘something big’ would be revealed.
Directly underneath was the Etherscan address for the WHACKD token, an ERC20 coin available exclusively on the McAfee DEX platform, and then. Closing message: “All the right people are afraid. They should be.”
McAfee launched WHACKD back in November 2019 as an ethereum-based digital currency listed on McAfee’s own decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX).
It was touted as both a legitimate alternative crypto for privacy advocates and a political statement, playing on the strapline 'Epstein didn't kill himself to draw attention to McAfee's personal belief that 'deep state actors' assassinated the accused paedophile and confidante of powerful figures in business and government to cover up a broader pattern of crime and corruption.
The token’s unique protocol design makes it ‘deflationary’, meaning that ten per cent of all transactions will be burned (e.g. ‘whacked’) while one out of every 1,000 transactions will also be burned.
At the launch event for the token, McAfee stuck to his libertarian belief that state authorities should not force crypto firms or trading platforms to help them control digital currencies.
WHACKD, he said, was designed for ‘social impact, to give people freedom from a corrupted government,' and said the minor part criminals play in the rollout of cryptocurrency technology doesn't justify the levels of government crackdown that have followed it.
British-born entrepreneur John McAfee died by his own hand in a Spanish prison after Spain’s high court said yes to a US extradition request where he was wanted on tax evasion charges.
McAfee's lawyer told Spanish daily El Pais that the technology pioneer hung himself in jail as his ten-month-long prison ordeal had brought him to a state of severe depression and hopelessness.
In a court hearing held in May, 75-year-old McAfee told magistrates that because of his age, extradition and conviction in America would mean he would spend the rest of his life in prison if they sent him back to the United States.
‘I am praying that the Spanish courts will see how wrong and unjust this would be,’ he said, adding ‘the American government only wants to use me to send a message to those that disagree with their aims.’
McAfee spent years living on the lamb while being pursued by US authorities. He was indicted on tax evasion charges related to a cryptocurrency fraud case brought by financial regulators in New York.
The colourful tech entrepreneur was stopped at Barcelona airport in early October as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul. A Spanish police source told Reuters he was travelling on a British passport at the time.
McAfee worked for Xerox, Lockheed Martin, and MASA before launching the world's first commercial anti-virus software product in 1987. After becoming a business and household name, the business was purchased by Intel in 2011 after McAfee himself had left the company. The product still has 500 million users worldwide and continues to trade under the McAfee brand name.
McAfee told journalists in 2019 that, for ideological reasons, he had not paid American income taxes for more than eight years. He departed the US that year to avoid trial, living mainly on a megayacht with his wife, two security guards, and seven members of staff.
During the period, he offered to show Cuba’s government how cryptocurrency could be used to blunt the impact of America’s trade embargo and made a bid to run for the US presidency as the Libertarian Party’s candidate.
McAfee, who once claimed that he had fathered more than 45 children, lived for several years in Belize to avoid US extradition. He fled in 2012 when police implicated him in the shooting death of a neighbour. Ultimately, they said he was no longer a suspect.
A frequent Twitter user, McAfee had more than a million followers and tweeted prolifically on politics, finance, and cryptocurrencies. The latter category sealed seal his fate legally when US authorities accused him of using social media to perform a 'pump & dump' crypto investment scheme.
At the time of writing, WHACKD was trading at USD 0.011664 on Live Coin Watch. Numbers from Etherscan show it has 29,584 holders currently. A total of 159,643 transfers have been executed to date.