You may have noticed that this blog, and my domain, is now at www.mattblaze.org. Twenty five years ago, back in 1993, I registered the name crypto.com, which I've used as my personal domain as well as to host a variety of cryptography technology and policy resources.
During that quarter century the "dotcom" era came and went, but for whatever reason, I held on to the domain as basically a personal home, a kind of Internet version of the little house increasingly enveloped by skyscrapers in Pixar's Up. (You kids can get off my lawn now, please.)
Cryptography has long been intertwined with difficult public policy issues, especially the balance between security of data on the one hand and law enforcement access for surveillance on the other. I've spent a good part of my career grappling with these issues, and remember "crypto" being misguidedly derided as some kind of criminal tool during the very time when we needed to be integrating strong security into the Internet's infrastructure. (That "debate", in the '90's, set back Internet security by at least a decade, and we're still paying the price in the form of regular data breaches, many of which could have been prevented had better security been built in across the stack in the first place.)
Somehow, the word "crypto" has recently acquired an alternative new meaning, as a somewhat unfortunate shorthand for digital currencies such as Bitcoin. I've been involved around the edges of digital currency since early on -- old timers in this space will remember that I once chaired the Financial Cryptography conference, where much of the foundational work toward practical digital money began.
I don't think conflating cryptography and digital currency will serve either field well in the long run, particularly as to how they're perceived by the public and policymakers. Surprisingly few of the important aspects of digital currency are directly related to its cryptographic components. Cryptography itself already attracts disproportionate attention for its potential as a tool for criminals and evildoers. Digital currency adds a completely different (but equally fraught) regulatory and policy morass into the equation. Still, there's no doubt that, at this moment in time, the two have become hopelessly intermixed, at least in the minds of the digital money people. That doesn't mean this won't end badly, but it's unarguably where we are right now.
Over the last few years, I've gotten a growing barrage of offers, many of which were obviously non-serious, but a few of which were, frankly, attention-getting, for the crypto.com domain. I shrugged most of them off, but it became increasingly clear that holding on to the domain was making less and less sense for me. I quietly entered discussion with a few serious potential buyers earlier this year.
Last month, I reached an agreement to sell the domain. I have no idea what the new owner plans to use it for beyond what I read in the trade press, and I have no financial stake in their business. The details will have to stay confidential, but I will say that I'm satisfied with the outcome and that it involved neither tulips nor international postal reply coupons.
It's been, I think, a pretty good run, as these things go. See you on the Internets.