Illustration: Oscar Bolton Green

Read Like a Boss

How Understanding Hackers Changed This Entrepreneur’s Life

An early developer of the cryptocurrency Zcash on how Steven Levy’s ‘Crypto’ inspired her interest in privacy

Jay Graber
Published in
4 min readFeb 14, 2020


This is part of the Marker series “Read Like a Boss,” where founders, CEOs, and leaders in business reflect on books that revolutionized their thinking, framed their career, or aided them in a crucial business decision.

CCrypto starts with the story of how Whit Diffie invented public-key cryptography. He became fixated on cryptography as a means to preserve privacy in the digital age. Diffie worked for years as a solo researcher, driving back and forth across the country, finding people who could help him understand the hidden science of cryptography. His goal was to come up with a way to encrypt secrets between two parties without a third party knowing the key. This put him at odds with the NSA and institutions that worked hard to keep cryptographic knowledge hidden from the public. They preferred methods of encryption that required central key servers that could grant access to a government middleman. Diffie worked for years to find a trustless solution without significant funding or results:

Was all his work at learning crypto against terrific odds going to…