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Ulbricht’s idea for an e-commerce site that operated on the Dark Web, beyond the watchful eye of the government, may have seemed galling to some. Countless start-ups were already trying to capitalize on the legalization of marijuana in various states.

Others operated in similarly opaque markets, like facilitating prostitution on pseudo dating Web sites.

Sometimes drug dealers would take their “product” and tape it to the back of DVD cases or stuff it into hollowed-out batteries, but most drugs just appeared in a puffy envelope, undetected by federal enforcement agencies.

The entire system, at least from a tech perspective, was admirably efficient.

And so, like many bright kids in their 20s, Ulbricht eventually headed to San Francisco to develop his company.

Ulbricht, now 33, developed an affinity for Ayn Rand books and libertarian philosophy; he appeared to view the world not as it was, per se, but as he wanted it to be. Big Macs led to diabetes and heart attacks, he would often argue, so why was Mc Donald’s lawful?

By early 2013, however, Ulbricht was encountering his first major management crisis.

One Silk Road employee—a family man in central Utah, no less—had been arrested in a cocaine deal, and Ulbricht believed he’d stolen 0,000 of his money.

Cars facilitated tens of thousands of casualties per year, he noted, yet they remained highly unregulated and were capable of going several times the speed limit.

The same was true with alcohol and cigarettes, which have killed millions.

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