Elon Musk is getting into blockchain, apparently. The tech entrepreneur announed on Sunday that his Boring Company tunnel-digging venture would start selling a $600 flamethrower to fund its upcoming projects. Limited to just 20,000 units, pre-orders skyrocketed in no time. Musk wasn’t done yet, though.
“But wait, there’s more: the flamethrower is sentient, its safe word is “cryptocurrency” and it comes with a free blockchain,” he told his 18.5 million Twitter followers.
It seems Musk is following in the steps of Long Island Iced Tea and Kodak, two companies that saw their stock prices skyrocket after they announced plans to incorporate the blockchain into their products. The decentralized digital ledger system was first outlined by anonymous Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto in a 2008 white paper. Its ability to securely authenticate transactions without a central server has been hailed as revolutionary, and entrepreneurs have scrambled to come up with cool alternative uses for the tech.
It’s unlikely Musk is actually going to build a blockchain into his flamethrower. The fact he provided no detail on how the blockchain would benefit the product, alongside his sudden claim the flamethrower would be sentient, suggests it’s more likely a tongue-in-cheek reference to the cryptocurrency rush. Known for his Twitter jokes and sci-fi references, Musk has a habit of linking his products to culture, especially with allusions to ‘80s parody Spaceballs.
It’s not the first time Musk has linked himself to Bitcoin, though. In 2014, he dropped a tantalizing hint that he was the mastermind behind Bitcoin. This rumor took off in November 2017, after a former SpaceX intern published a Medium post claiming that Musk could well be Nakamoto.
Following the Medium post, Musk had to deny he was involved in Bitcoin. An artificial intelligence called Emma independently checked Musk’s writing style against the Nakamoto white paper, and seemed to confirm the two were not the same person.
When denying that he was the creator of Bitcoin, Musk also mentioned that a friend of his “sent me part of a [bitcoin] a few years” ago, but that he no longer knew where it is. It’s a story reminiscent of rapper 50 Cent, who revealed last week that he held 700 bitcoins after accepting the cryptocurrency as payment for 2014 album Animal Ambition. As Bitcoin soared from a then-value of $662 to today’s rate of just over $10,000, those bitcoins are now worth around $7 million. In a similar vein, Musk may have accidentally become a Bitcoin millionaire by simply forgetting to sell the tokens all those years ago.