In an interview with the independent Australian news website Crikey, Jackson Palmer cast a skeptical eye at Musk, beginning with the first time they interacted.
The two exchanged messages on Twitter years ago, he said, when Musk inquired about a bot Palmer wrote to flag cryptocurrency scams on social media.
“Elon reached out to me to get hold of that script and it became apparent very quickly that he didn’t understand coding as well as he made out,” said Jackson, adding that Musk didn’t seem to know how to run basic code.
“After I gave him the script, I wasn’t a fan of him,” he said. “He’s a grifter, he sells a vision in hopes that he can one day deliver what he’s promising, but he doesn’t know that. He’s just really good at pretending he knows.”
Palmer co-founded Dogecoin in 2013 as a satirical counter to Bitcoin ― then a relatively new, obscure financial invention. (Unlike Bitcoin, of which a limited number can exist, the number of theoretical Dogecoins is unlimited, making their value particularly questionable.)
Dogecoin remained a joke until early 2021, when Musk began hyping the coin on Twitter, sending the currency’s value sharply upward.
In one post, Musk shared a photoshopped picture of himself as Rafiki in “The Lion King,” holding the Dogecoin mascot, a Shiba Inu, skyward.
In others, Musk praised the coin as “the people’s crypto,” and not-so-subtly hinted it was headed “to the moon,” a common refrain among cryptocurrency fans optimistic about their portfolio’s trajectory.
“About a year ago when Musk was saying something about crypto, I said Elon Musk was and always will be a grifter but the world loves grifters,” Palmer told Crikey, pointing to Musks’s promise of full-self-driving Teslas as evidence.
As for Musks’ ongoing will-he, won’t-he endeavor of buying Twitter, Jackson wasn’t optimistic. “His play is to either dismantle all trust, or maybe he’s delusional enough to think he can build an alternative,” he said. “The other alternative is that he wants to drive it into the ground at a much lower price, and I think that’s what he’s doing.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.