John McAfee, is notorious for his bad boy antics, despite having been a household name for several generations of computer users across the globe. You probably recognize the name from his security software that somehow managed to sweet talk its way into at least one of your computers at some point in your life.
There is an especially ironic flair to John’s reckless abandon because if you are anything like millions of people, John McAfee is a name you would probably associate with safety, security, or invincibility against would-be intruders. This is why it comes with a delightful shock to discover the man behind all that security. He turns out to be a human, and a marvelously flawed one at that.
Although I have, in the past, described McAfee as a cross between the recent Charlie Sheen and the timeless Bill Gates, I had a chance to reassess Mr. McAfee in my most recent encounter with him. The opportunity to peer into his world came abruptly, in the form of a 27-minute phone call that started at roughly 2:00 am by my clock, and roughly 4:00 am according to his.
I should share the fact that McAfee had a scheduled appointment with me, for a phone interview, on a Thursday at 8:00 pm, that he missed without cancellation or notice. So when the phone rang, several days after the missed interview slot, in the middle of the night, it was both to my dismay and to my delight that John McAfee was on the line.
McAfee And The Offensive First Strike
I was suddenly out of breath. I have always prided myself on being an open minded girl, and I thought nothing could surprise me. Somehow, in this correspondence, I had become a smaller version of myself; a flustered and sheepish thing. I felt myself shrinking in the looming shadow of the shocking John McAfee. I panicked for what felt like an eon, but it was only about 3 seconds in reality. John McAfee was on the phone! I cursed him silently for getting the upper hand by calling me at a time when I would be guaranteed to be caught off guard. His first point was already on the board.
I relaxed, asked permission to record the call and thus began the “interview”. I wasn’t able to get to the prepared list of questions I had meticulously typed up for the missed appointment, in fact, McAfee rattled on about many topics varying from his assortment of chosen alcoholic beverages for the hour, to his inebriated buddy who had crashed on the couch before the start of the call. I had waited for an interview with McAfee so I could leverage all of his expertise in the arena of cryptocurrency, however, it was a steep challenge to direct the conversation towards anything of the likes.
The McAfee Coin
After a few minutes of semi-conscious ramblings, I was able to derail his train of thought long enough to inquire about the highly anticipated McAfee coin project which focuses on redesigning the way venture capitalists distribute their funds. Perhaps the only moment during our entire call that revealed John to be a passionate human with a piercing radiance around him, was when he spoke of the underlying goals of the McAfee coin project. He explained that in venture capitalism, the very rich few have always had control over the successes and failures of big businesses. McAfee was sincere when he expressed the will to help the consumers have a say in what they consume, and the desire to see the people get a little bit of what they actually want. McAfee aims to make it possible for regular humans to participate in the action of choosing who succeeds next. It makes sense that the majority of voices should have a more of a say in matters of society since we are society’s main ingredient.
“I thought, why not let the people who will be using emerging technologies decide who gets funded or not…If people, via the token, through consensus get to look at things and say ‘This is something I would like my Kids to have, and their kid’s kids and for many generations to come’. Then I promise you if the consensus says ‘I want this’ then the people are going to buy it and we will have something far more human-oriented, and far more converging rather than diverging. Something positive for the human soul, if you want to use that word.” McAfee explained.
“I am hoping the McAfee Coin will be that one thing that will give people the power to create a new world.” – John McAfee on the purpose of his McAfee coin project.
If you have the impression that I was in full control of the interview, you are mistaken. After McAfee scooped away all of my reluctance with his brilliant view on humanity, he shoveled it all back on just as quickly. He drew in a deep breath of what may or may not have been a cigarette- whatever it was, he was smoking it.
John mentioned a friend, a retired Green Beret Veteran that he wanted me to talk to.
I heard John say to an unknown person “Someone just broke in and I am trying to fend them off”. He chuckled.
This was followed by some shuffling and muttering about how I should really talk to this old buddy who had risen to the 72-year-old partying challenge. More shuffling, then McAfee tells me he woke up to get a cigarette, a can of beer, a red wine, and a Scotch. As he rattled on about his libations, there was suddenly an audible shift in Mr. McAfee’s tone. The slurring party-animal quickly morphed into a more coherent McAfee, and his voice was strong and surprised.
“Good God I’m sorry I am sorry, I was joking. It was a joke, I have this reporter on the line…” There was a burst of jolly laughter from two or more men, it was impossible to decipher their exchanged words, but it was a muffled great time. John came back to our call and explained “My friend, he is great security, he came in his shorts, his underwear, with a gun.” McAfee let out a boisterous laugh and was joined with equally gregarious chuckles from his guests.
For whatever reason, John and his entourage of slightly pickled sidekicks seemed to have found their early morning rendezvous far too interesting for a simple Q&A form of communication. To my amusement, I got to listen in to the after-hours wind-down between old friends.
It is well known in crypto circles that it takes something akin to what my male colleagues refer to as ‘steel balls’ to do a live interview. Doing so unprepared, dredged from the depths of an alcohol-induced semi coma at 4:00 in the morning, leads me to believe that John McAfee takes great pleasure in making people squirm while he calmly sips his scotch without a wince.
At the end of the call, I could not believe the weirdness I had just been drawn into. I thought out loud
“What WAS that? What just happened?”
Feeling freshly disillusioned by the lack of material I could pull from the maniacal chat, I sent McAfee the following message after reawakening:
Me: I want 15 minutes please of focused Q&A. Are you capable of behaving for 15 minutes? = ) 10:19 AM
McAfee: absolutely not. It’s far better to write a human story than the sterile garbage current cryptocurrency news vomits out. Write the story you listened to last night…and after it’s published you can interview me again.
I believe I have earned round three, Mr. John McAfee, sir.
Listen to the audio here: https://soundcloud.com/coremediaradio/john-mcafee-a-rare-phone-call