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Who Is Charlie Lee?

Charlie Lee, the godhead of Litecoin, one of the earliest Bitcoin derivatives, is well known as a highly successful entrepreneur in the emerging cryptocurrency industry. Under his leadership, Litecoin has remained one of the top cryptocurrencies in an exceptionally explosive market—unlike many other altcoins ( cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin ) that launched in the early 2010s and have since disappeared .

Lee developed and launched Litecoin ( LTC ) in 2011 ( two years after Bitcoin ), while he was calm a software engineer at Google. In 2013, he left Google to serve as Engineering Manager ( 2013-2015 ) and Director of Engineering ( 2015-2017 ) at Coinbase, a digital currentness switch over start-up. In 2017, he left Coinbase to focus full-time on the Litecoin Foundation, a non-profit he founded in 2016. As of March 2022, he continues to serve as Managing Director at the Litecoin Foundation, where his elementary focus is the promotion of the awareness and borrowing of Litecoin .

Key Takeaways

  • Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin (LTC), one of the earliest altcoins, is best known as a highly successful entrepreneur in the emerging cryptocurrency industry.
  • Lee has always described Litecoin as a complement—not a competitor—to Bitcoin: as “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.”
  • Although based on Bitcoin’s code, Lee designed Litecoin with a few significant differences that would not only differentiate his currency in the market but also correct certain flaws he had identified with Bitcoin.
  • Under his leadership, Litecoin has remained one of the top cryptocurrencies in an exceptionally volatile market—unlike many other altcoins that launched in the early 2010s and have since disappeared.

Charlie Lee
Investopedia / Alison Czinkota

education and Early Career

Charlie Lee was born in 1977 to chinese parents in the west african state of Ivory Coast, where his parents had lived since the 1960s. When he was thirteen, the family moved to the United States. After graduating from the Lawrenceville School, a homework school in New Jersey, in 1995, Lee earned both a B.S. ( 1999 ) and a M.Eng. ( 2000 ) in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT ). Lee ’ s church father was besides an MIT calibrate, and his buddy Bobby Lee, another crypto entrepreneur, later became the Founder and CEO of BTC China, Bitcoin ’ s cryptocurrency exchange in China .

Before joining Google in 2007, Lee spent seven years as a software mastermind at leading technical school companies in California : KANA Communications ( 2000-2003 ) and Guidewire Software ( 2003-2007 ) .

Google Career and Development of Litecoin ( 2007 to 2013 )

In 2008, during Lee ’ s six-year tenure ( 2007-2013 ) at Google as a Software Engineer working on iconic products ( YouTube Mobile, Chrome OS, Play Games ), the world ’ south first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin ( BTC ), was invented by an anonymous programmer ( or programmers ) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto .

Lee has said that he was beginning introduced to the cryptocurrency space in 2011, when he read an article about Silk Road, an on-line market that accepted only Bitcoin as payment. His personal economic philosophy had already made him doubting of the Federal Reserve System, and in these pre-Litecoin years, he was exploring versatile investing strategies that would be less reliant on central banks, including the trade of gold. Given his expertness in computer technology and his acute interest in alternative investments, this article focused all his attention on cryptocurrency and supporting blockchain engineering as the ideal avenue to attain his goals .

Lee ’ s subsequent symmetry with Mike Hearn, one of the developers of the core blockchain for Bitcoin, galvanized his answer. While he was silent at Google, he bought his first Bitcoin from Hearn and started mining to prepare himself to develop his own digital currentness .

From Miner to Developer : Fairbix and Litecoin ( 2011 )

Like many other developers eager to copy Bitcoin, Lee failed at his first base cryptocurrency attempt. Unlike most of those early developers, he succeeded in his second try .

Fairbix, a blockchain payment arrangement he and his team developed by cloning the source code from Tenebix ( another early cryptocurrency ), crashed within a few weeks of release in September 2011, primarily ascribable to negative crusade around excessive premining —the creation of blockchain tokens before a cryptocurrency is released to the public .

Premining is a direction to reward developers and early investors, but the commit can create distrust among external investors due to the miss of transparency. To make matters worse, software bugs that left Fairbix susceptible to a 51 % attack gave control of the network to miners who destroyed the value of the currentness by blocking the confirmation of new transactions, halting payments between users, and reversing any transactions completed while they were in command .

Within a few weeks of the fail launch of Fairbix, Charlie Lee had incorporated the proof-of-work ( PoW ) protocol from Fairbix—as well as several lessons learned from that unsuccessful attempt—into Litecoin ( LTC ), an altcoin he released on Oct. 7, 2011.

Litecoin vs. Bitcoin

Charlie Lee has always described Litecoin as a complement—not a competitor—to Bitcoin : as “ silver to Bitcoin ’ s gold. ” Ever since the 2011 acquittance, he has positioned Litecoin as the ideal cryptocurrency for lightweight transactions, such as on-line patronize, and Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency for heavyweight transactions, such as external payments. Toward that end, Lee built LTC with respective similarities to Bitcoin deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as respective modifications designed to help it scale more efficaciously .

Both Litecoin and Bitcoin are decentralized, peer-to-peer ( P2P ) cryptocurrencies that enable blink of an eye, minimal-cost payments anywhere in the populace without a one-third party. Like the other altcoins that existed at launching in October 2011, Litecoin is a Bitcoin pitchfork : a currentness that took the Bitcoin source code and made a few minor changes that diverged into a freestanding path with a distinct mint .

however, Lee besides built into Litecoin a few authoritative differences that would not only differentiate his currentness from Bitcoin in the crypto-asset market but besides correct certain flaws he had identified with Bitcoin : approachability, travel rapidly, bulk, and cost .

Different Mining Algorithm: By choosing a different mining algorithm ( Scrypt algorithm vs. Bitcoin ’ s SHA-256 ), Charlie Lee sought to make mine accessible to anyone with a basic calculator ‘s central processing unit ( CPU ) —unlike Bitcoin, which required the greater processing power of a graphics processing unit ( GPU ). initially, Lee ’ s choice of Scrypt did allow Litecoin to be mined on CPUs, but that advantage proved to be ephemeral. When mine software and application-specific integrated circuits ( ASICs ) for the Scrypt algorithm were developed, Litecoin miners moved to GPUs deoxyadenosine monophosphate well, and it was no longer profitable to mine Litecoin without a more herculean mine rig .

once ASICs were developed for Scrypt, it became close to impossible to mine Litecoin productively without an ASIC mining carriage. however, Lee gives partial credit for his currentness ’ s success to the fact that Litecoin ’ s transition from CPU to GPU coincided with Bitcoin ’ second transition from GPU to ASIC : “ When bitcoin mining went from GPUs to ASIC, all the bitcoin GPUs were looking for a coin to mine, and Litecoin barely happened to have transitioned from CPU to GPU at that time. ”

Faster Blocks, Higher Maximum Supply, Lower Fees: frequently cited advantages of Litecoin vis-à-vis Bitcoin were designed by Lee specifically to make LTC more “ expendable ” than BTC : fast block creation, higher maximum circulating provide, and lower transaction fees. not only did Lee plan Litecoin to produce blocks four times faster ( average interval of 2.5 minutes vs. Bitcoin ’ s 10 minutes ) but he besides built Litecoin to have four times the maximum circulate provide ( Litecoin maximum of 84 million LTC ; Bitcoin maximal of 21 million BTC ) and much lower average transaction fees than Bitcoin .

Coinbase ( 2013 to 2017 )

In 2013, two years after the Litecoin secrete, Lee left Google to accept a character that allowed him more time to work on his digital currency : engineering Manager at Coinbase, a recently created digital currency exchange. Within two years, he was promoted to Director of Engineering .

Litecoin Foundation ( Since 2016 )

By 2017, Lee was ready to work full-time on Litecoin. He left Coinbase to focus entirely on his function as Managing Director of the Litecoin Foundation, a non-profit establish “ to advance Litecoin for the good of society, by developing and promoting state-of-the-art blockchain technologies. ”

The future of Litecoin

At a conference in 2019, Lee stated that his basal finish is to “ create legal money. ” Ever since he first heard of Bitcoin, he has believed that cryptocurrency is “ a better form of money than … homo culture has always seen. ”

When asked if he foresaw central banks finally issuing cryptocurrency, he saw no advantage in that scenario. A major benefit of digital money is decentralization, so government master would make cryptocurrency “ efficaciously no different than a digital version of a U.S. dollar. ”

He believes that finally there be only a few cryptocurrencies ( likely Bitcoin, Litecoin, and a few others ) left in the marketplace. At that item, those surviving currencies could “ actually defend real value ” and even become interchangeable : person could send Litecoin and the recipient could send Bitcoin that would be converted mechanically .

He anticipates that, as merchant adoption builds and user experience improves, consumers will trust cryptocurrency, multitude borrowing will follow, and it will be used like traditional money everywhere. “ Things will get dim-witted, and that is when things will take off. ”

How Does Charlie Lee Promote Litecoin?

Although Litecoin ( LTC ) has been cited as an underestimate cryptocurrency and Lee is not a celebrated as certain early digital entrepreneurs ( such as Bitcoin ’ s Satoshi Nakamoto and Ethereum ’ s Vitalik Buterin ), he has demonstrated impressive staying ability in a highly competitive space. His strong track commemorate is due not lone to his technical expertness but besides to his status as a highly respected social media influencer with one million followers within the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology community. From his current username ( @ SatoshiLite ) to his initial description of Litecoin as the “ light version of Bitcoin ” in his 2011 announcement of the release on a Bitcoin forum—he has successfully cultivated Litecoin ’ sulfur image as Bitcoin ’ s “ little buddy ” to promote belief in the long-run price admiration of the currency .

Where Can Litecoin Be Used?

One of Lee ’ s long-run ambitions is to make LTC equally expendable as decree currentness anywhere in the world—and he and his team have made significant build up toward that goal. In April 2021, PayPal ‘s Venmo payment app listed Litecoin as one of the digital currencies users would be able to “ buy, sell, and hold ” in their personal Venmo profiles. In November 2021, the Litecoin Foundation issued a VISA debit card that converts LTC into US dollars in real-time to allow “ users to make payments anywhere VISA is accepted ” — from on-line denounce and digital services to retailers and restaurants .

How Is Litecoin (LTC) Issued?

historically, merely governments and cardinal banks have been trusted to issue money. Like bitcoin and early cryptocurrencies, Litecoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer ( P2P ) virtual currentness on an open-source ball-shaped requital network, which means that it is not issued by—or even regulated by—a government. alternatively, the only way to release newly LTCs into circulation is through a serve known as mine. To “ mint ” new coins, miners in a mining pool download extra software and compete with early miners to solve building complex mathematic equations. The first miner with sufficient computing might to crack the code is rewarded with a block of litecoins, plus any transaction fees present in the obstruct. Every time a raw engine block is generated, it is validated by all the competing miners, a modern mathematic equality is introduced, and another mining summons begins .

How Volatile Is Litecoin?

At release, Litecoin was a impregnable rival to Bitcoin. Since then, as the grocery store became more crowded and more competitive, Litecoin ’ sulfur price has waxed and waned—but LTC remains one of the most durable of the original contenders to BTC. Litecoin ( LTC ) hit an all-time high of $ 412.96 on May 10, 2021, and an all-time humble of $ 1.15 on Jan. 14, 2015. On March 22, 2022, one litecoin was trading at $ 121.48 with a marketplace capitalization of $ 8.6 billion—which put LTC in the No. 20 spot on the list of largest digital currencies by market cap .

Why Did Charlie Lee Sell All His Litecoin?

In December 2017, Lee posted on Reddit that he had sold or donated all his Litecoin holdings ( except for a few physical coins to keep as collectibles ) to avoid any possible conflict of interest from his placement as a social media influencer. He stated that a potent motivation to get out of the currency was that whenever ( and whatever ) he tweeted about Litecoin, he would be “ accused of doing it for personal benefit. ” He claimed that even though he had “ always refrained from buying/selling LTC before or after … major tweets…there will constantly be a doubt ” about whether his posts were intended to put his “ own personal wealth above the success of Litecoin. ” To avoid even the appearance of price handling, he decided that no longer owning “ even a single LTC that ’ s not stored in a physical Litecoin ” was the best way forth. He assured followers that he was “ not quitting Litecoin ” and that he would continue to “ spend all ( his ) clock time working on Litecoin. ” Although he declined to say how many LTC he sold or what price he received, he did country that it was “ a humble percentage of GDAX ’ s daily book and it did not crash the commercialize. ”

The Bottom Line

Unlike many other cryptocurrency developers eager to copy Bitcoin, Charlie Lee has demonstrated impressive staying ability in a highly competitive space. His potent track phonograph record is due not only to his technical expertness but besides to his status as a samara social media influencer with one million followers in the crypto and blockchain community .

As Managing Director at the Litecoin Foundation, Lee ‘s basal focus is the promotion of the awareness and borrowing of Litecoin. Lee believes that cryptocurrency is “ a better form of money than … human civilization has always seen. ”

As merchant adoption builds and exploiter know improves, Lee predicts that average consumers will trust cryptocurrency, mass borrowing will follow, and it will be used like traditional money everywhere .

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ( “ ICOs ” ) is highly hazardous and notional, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual ‘s position is unique, a qualify professional should always be consulted before making any fiscal decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or seasonableness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns cryptocurrency .

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