Charlie Lee: Why You Should Know this Crypto Influencer

By Special Guest
Jonathan Brown
October 02, 2018

As the world of cryptocurrency has evolved, there have been many contributors to its rapid growth. From software developers to cryptographers, financial analysts and even investment bankers. Many different professionals have found a career haven in the industry. One example is Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin and a seasoned software engineer and developer who has carved out a place for himself as a cryptocurrency influencer.

Charlie Lee has been a problem solver in the industry since the creation of Litecoin in 2011 when blockchain technology was not nearly as popular as it is now. He has managed to take Litecoin to significant heights regardless of the increasing amount of competition within the space.

Newer investors are often more receptive of larger popular assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, Litecoin is one of the best performing currencies so far, with a robust fast-growing community behind it. Despite being overlooked, Litecoin has over $9 billion worth of tokens in current circulation. It is also currently the seventh largest cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of well over $3.6 billion. This has earned Lee his popularity and reputation as a giant within the industry along with the likes of Vitalik Buterin and Satoshi Nakamoto.

Despite his long list of contributions to the industry, and his time as an influencer has not been free from controversy. In 2017, Lee sold all his LTC tokens, despite being its creator. The cryptocurrency community perceived the move as a loss of confidence in the coin, inspiring fear in the process.

Apart from Litecoin, Lee has been credited for his contributions to the development of Coinbase, one of the largest virtual currency exchanges in the world. He will continue to be an influential figure in the industry for a long time and will hopefully contribute even more groundbreaking solutions and modifications to blockchain technology.

Early Years

Charlie Lee was born in Ivory Coast, a country in the western region of Africa. His parents moved there from Shanghai in the 60’s, at a time when several African countries including Ivory Coast celebrated independence from colonialism.

Although Lee spent his early childhood in Africa, he migrated to the United States with his family at the age of 13. He proceeded to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after graduating from high school in 1995. While at MIT, he acquired a B.S and Master’s degree in computer science and proceeded to work for several companies including Kana Communications, Guidewire Software, Google and Coinbase.

Entrance Into Cryptocurrency

Charlie Lee entered the cryptocurrency industry with the aim of making a difference. He sought to do this by creating a virtual currency without the flaws seen on the Bitcoin blockchain network.

He first came across Bitcoin in April 2011, while reading Silk Road, a notorious website for illegal activities including money laundering. Prior to finding out about Bitcoin, he had shown interest in the gold trade but was skeptical about the federal reserve system. Bitcoin’s protocol seemed like a more promising option, and soon enough, Charlie Lee was holding and mining the digital asset. 

After mining Bitcoin for a while, he realized that there was a pressing need for alternative currencies that were more efficient than what the industry had to work with at the time.

Since Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency in existence, it is heavily flawed with poor development, issues concerning pre-mined coins, and other problems that are still relevant today.

In September 2011, Charlie Lee made his first attempt at creating a cryptocurrency. It was known as Fairbix and was created from the source code of Tenebrix, an earlier digital currency. Unfortunately, it had software bugs that made it vulnerable to a 51% attack, and as a result, Fairbix was unsuccessful.

Later, in October 2011, Lee made his next attempt by creating Litecoin using the Bitcoin source code. His vision for the currency was for it to work side by side with Bitcoin, complementing the older cryptocurrency and serving the community at large. He specifically considered the problems with scalability, transaction speeds and concentration of mining power.

Differences between Bitcoin and Litecoin

Litecoin operates using blockchain technology, just like Bitcoin and as a result, both work in very similar ways. However, they have significant differences as intended by Lee. Initially, Litecoin was mainly created to solve the issue of transaction speed.

Typical Bitcoin transactions on its blockchain have confirmation speeds of approximately 10 minutes. This means that its takes miners a relatively long time to add new transactions to the blockchain. Since several miners are trying to append the blockchain simultaneously, the process can slow the network down. This constitutes a huge scalability problem that makes the future of Bitcoin seem uncertain.

To fix this problem, Charlie Lee designed Litecoin to accommodate transaction speeds of about 2.5 minutes per transaction. By cutting the transaction confirmation time, he made the network more efficient and convenient for merchants. Service providers can easily carry out four times more transactions on the network than they ever could with Bitcoin. This modification is also a better option where frequent micropayments are concerned.

Miners also benefit immensely from the faster transaction speeds of Litecoin since they can confirm more transactions and receive more rewards. This leads to better distribution of mining profits as opposed to the Bitcoin network where most of the mining power is concentrated between a small group.

Charlie Lee also took the lifespan of the currency into account by ensuring that Litecoin will have a total of 84 million tokens in existence. This is four times that of Bitcoin which will only have 21 million tokens. This makes up for the faster transaction speeds, ensuring long-term sustenance and gradual progression of Litecoin’s growth. Theoretically, without this, all LTC tokens would have to be mined within a short period, resulting in a network crash since there would no longer be incentives for the miners to secure the network.

Another problem with Bitcoin that Lee sought to fix is the issue of high transaction fees. Bitcoin transaction fees have skyrocketed along with its price and even resulted in issues where miners confirmed transactions with higher fees faster than others. Litecoin, on the other hand, has way lower transaction fees that make it easier for users to carry out several transactions on its network. The average fee for each transaction is $0.108 with a median fee of $0.036.

What is Lee up to now?

After the creation of Litecoin, Charlie Lee joined the Coinbase team in 2013 as its third employee. There, he served as the Engineering Manager and Director of Engineering for four years before leaving to focus on Litecoin full-time.

He has also taken a more active and vocal role in the community and has given interviews on stations like CNBC and through his Twitter account. Among the many other things he speaks on, he is extremely passionate about the Bitcoin blockchain size and other blockchain projects.

Final Thoughts

Charlie Lee has built a solid community around Litecoin, not only due to the capabilities and design of the network but also his willingness to speak up on issues in the community. He has revealed that he will leave Litecoin eventually since his presence fosters doubts about the true decentralized nature of the platform. This way, it will be left to develop without a Figurehead to oversee the affairs of the network. However, for now, there is still a lot of development to be done before that can happen.

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