Bram Cohen, the founder of file-sharing software startup BitTorrent, has stepped down as chief executive and will assume the role of chief scientist. Why did the inventor of today's most popular peer-to-peer file sharing technology remove himself? Was it because, as many had predicted, inventor founders do not lead their own companies successfully through growth phases? Or did BitTorrent's investors get wind of his frighteningly violent body of writings?
Cohen seems to have fancied himself a writer for a time. His "parody" of a pirate's manifesto created some controversy for his company in 2005. But other fiction, not widely known, was available on his personal website at the same time. And had it been publicized then, it would have been far more controversial. Here are excerpts from the two pieces of violently misogynistic fiction depicting rape and murder:
It says here that you are to be subdued and violated. I don't like fucking bitches like you so don't count on not getting seriously hurt. I do what it says right here, and it doesn't matter if I like it.
She is a whore. The only thing she has is her body. Just because she flirts and doesn't give it away doesn't mean she isn't a whore. And just because she lets some guy fuck her because it will be a good source of melodrama doesn't mean she's in love. I hate that bitch.
The writings, dating back to 1998 and 1999, remained available for many more months after his manifesto was discovered; however, they elicited no response at the time, as far as I can tell.
Now that BitTorrent is trying to transition from its file-sharing roots into a legitimate online-media business, his Sand Hill Road investors and Hollywood partners may want to take another look at the company's chief scientist.
Cohen is now married with kids, and one hopes he's grown past the ravings of his youth. But the fact that he kept the stories up on his site as late as 2005 is curious. A person is entitled to his fantasies. Sharing them in public, though, is another matter. One wonders if, had his writings become public sooner, Cohen would have been able to strike deals with Hollywood moguls and raise money from venture capitalists — let alone remain BitTorrent's CEO for so long. At the very least, if Cohen is to remain at BitTorrent in any capacity, one would think he'd offer an explanation of what he wrote, and why he published it for all to see.