Let’s try a little thought experiment. A little bitcoin Gedankenexperiment. Satoshi Nakamoto the inventor(s) of bitcoin creates this thing. Get the whole process going with an initial implementation, convinces some folks to continue development and then vanishes! What does this really mean?
Imagine (this is the gedankenexperiment part) that Satoshi revealed himself/herself (I will assume Satoshi is male for simplicity of writing but who knows!). He would be inundated with requests for direction, opinions of how to change the code, political opinions, financial regulation questions, you name it. They guy would have no peace. More importantly no matter what issue came up, and no matter who was working on the code or other related issues everyone would always be tentative until the great Satoshi weighed in.
This would have the effect of putting one person too much in control of the entire Bitcoin ecosystem. Of course this type of thing has happened in the past with other open source projects, such as Linux and Linus Torvalds being the “king”. Linux is clearly a wild success. Gavin Andresen, lead bitcoin core developer, has posted on several occasions that he doesn’t want to be put into the position where everyone is simply waiting to see “What Gavin says” as the last word, although I think that sometimes does happen despite his best efforts.
So the long and short of the anonymity of Satoshi has I think been quite helpful to Bitcoin, and has certainly spawned endless amusing speculation.