MtGox was (past tense is probably appropriate here, but for the sake of anybody who had coins there, I hope not) a startup that failed spectacularly, and publicly, and took a TON of peoples' money with it.
The transaction malleability thing was poor programming on the part of gox. Remember that we have ALL fucked up at some point, just luckily for most of us, "fucking up" doesn't mean losing than much of other peoples' money.
Mark, I doubt you read hacker news, but if you do: it's alright, dude. You bastard.
Was there never any attempt to compare BTC in wallets to customer balances?
Or did MtGox know about this problem, and hope to cover it up over time?
Either case is at least gross negligence if not criminal fraud.
Yes, we all fuck up at some point. But I don't pretend to be a surgeon and perforate a patient's aorta. Pretending to be competent to gain people's trust is fraud.
I sympathize with those who lost money in this clusterfuck.
No sympathy for Karpeles.
If you read MagicalTux's personal blog you'd know to never trust anything he's coded too. http://blog.magicaltux.net/2010/06/27/php-can-do-anything-wh...
And then I read that his hacked-together-in-3-days ssh server was for use in production. In a hosting service.
Wow. Just wow.
That sounds like a brilliant technical guy, capable of running with a daft idea to completion (unlike me, with my collection of at-best-half-built personal projects), who should have some layers of protection between him and Real World Production...
"Now, people who Get Things Done but are not Smart will do stupid things, seemingly without thinking about them, and somebody else will have to come clean up their mess later. "
Inexperienced (young) programmers don't know what's been tried, and what's available. I've been dealing with this a lot at work recently, where we ended up doing poor reimplementations of off-the-shelf stuff due to a mix of ignorance, and honestly, a bit of hubris.
It's a good attitude to have in academia/non-production critical work, but the GP is right, production demands a more conservative approach, especially when money/safety is at stake.
The type of ignorance Joel writes about (see parent) is different, it's more like "slavishly following design patterns" and "writing copy-and-pasted, improperly factored code". Both are ignorance, but the first is better called "NIH", whereas Joel's is, "writing bad code".
It's the "that you wrote" part.
No matter what language you write it in, you are going to mess something up. The OpenSSH guys have messed up working a lot smarter and more diligently and with more time than you have.
They've invested years and many talented people in developing such a piece of software.
If you want to write your own ssh server in php, you should probably consider your motivation and how you can re-use their code or operate through it instead if your purpose if anything other than experimentation.
Its kinda hard to disagree with that conclusion.
I can't say those difficulties he had in using the library were put there on purpose to keep people like him out, but it seems to be a good effect here.
What did I create a ssh server for? The same thing I created a DNS server for fun and for KalyHost.
There was some allusion to needing some kind of database backend for the SSH server, but there are multiple solutions for that now (like LDAP).
I'd love to have this guy work for me in a junior role (because he can really crank out the code), but all his work would need to be reviewed, and I wouldn't want him to be making architectural decisions on his own.
That said, "flawless accounting" would be very high up on my feature list. I think the failure here isn't launching without perfection; it's operating at scale without perfection.
I think minimum feature scope doesn't necessitate poor-quality software, just solutions that don't do everything for everybody. It's much better to ship a small feature set with very high quality, IMO, than a big feature set with low quality.
In the Lean Startup sense, the M is about minimum effort, and the V is about viability with customers. You're basically playing Battleship trying to discover where those two Venn circles overlap.
Different aspects of quality map to both those circles. There's build quality, which relates to the sustainability of the code base. There, you have to consider both short- and long-term quality. 
There's also quality as users perceive it. That varies widely by domain by market, and by how far you are along the adopter curve.
My general answer is the same as yours: minimal features with highly sustainable code. But for experiments, I think you can get away with terrible code as long as you a) throw it away quickly, and b) you are on it so even if you have a bad MTBF, your MTTR is really good.
I also think that you can tactically discard certain kinds of user-side quality. E.g., if I'm making a product for early-adopter financial traders, I'm not going to worry about quality of visual design, and I might inflict hard-to-learn interfaces on them. But I'd be rigorous about accounting and about UI issues that might lead to mistaken trades.
 I wrote some about that here: http://agilefocus.com/2009/06/22/the-3-kinds-of-code/
Or do you mean this as a metaphor for MtGox? In that case, I would say that I would rather miss the window than be the famous asshole who -- oopsie! -- lost $500 million of other people's money.
One of the biggest risks is, "nobody gives a fuck", which is why MVPs are so valuable. It lets you test market hypotheses.
But if you're building something handling real money, then a pretty obvious risk is, "The system will lose money beyond our capacity to absorb losses." Their failure to address that risk here is at best negligence.
But given the size of the loss, I don't think we should rule out fraud. The interesting question is, "When did they know they had a problem?" Sometimes shitty accounting systems are just naiveté. But when they persist over a long period of time in a way that just happens to cover up loss, embezzlement, or theft, then it's worth asking: did they keep the shitty accounting because better accounting would have forced them to admit something they were hoping to cover up?
And still, even 2 weeks ago, tons of people defended MtGox in HN threads, and said how it's a temporary glitch and they are very good exchange and such.
Even when it was pointed to them that it's a service build by a guy with no actual knowledge of exchanges and no prior experience at finance services whatsoever -- a mere PHP developer (not to knock the language) that had done nothing spectacular before (no Carmack, or Fitzpatrick or your favorite coder hero).
People trusted their money to a guy that literary calls himself "MagicalTux" -- which to me seems like investing to the hobo on the corner, people call Crazy Bob.
I'm the last person to defend Karpeles' competency, but his internet alias has nothing to do with it.
Of course you shouldn't.
If you were to here him (well, me) you'd ask for my CV -- if not an interview also.
And if it was like "developed some random toy stuff" you wouldn't hire me to develop a money exchange playing with other people's millions of dollars.
And if you were to assess if you will put $10,000 in a financial online service made by me, my past work in the area, my general competence would be quite important.
Else, don't be surprised if you lost it all. The chances were way higher than if you had put that money in Citibank, you just ignored the signs.
And for me, not giving the impression I'm a 20-something script kiddie with a fancy handle would also be quite important. I mean, it might be prejudice, but "Ives, Rockefeller and Berstein" as a financial service just feels more secure than "$uper7eetMoneyMakah", "LuvFlamingoes" or "MagicalTux".
How do you feel about "Bear Stearns" or "Lehman Brothers"?
"he had been leading the core library development of Android while at Google".
And that he is just but one of the players at Square, including guys like a well known VC and Twitter's cofounder.
If "CrazyBobs" was an unknown in the industry guy and his CV was like "I have done some fun projects, like a PHP mailer" and he was the major person behind the company, no investor would have touched it with a barge pole.
There are a lot of forums on the Internet. It's not confidence-building, at all, to tell people "if you hang out on the right forum you know what's safe." Especially because "the right forum" is not written in stone.
Of course normal frameworks are a no-go. Using
someone else’s framework will make your world
slightly better, but until you create your own
full framework, you won’t understand what I mean.
The next step is to build applications with your
framework. The kind of applications that will
change the world...
If he was not dealing with other people's real money and data this experimentation and shotgun approach would be fine.
Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending.
Of course, the coins are only yours if you hold the private keys. A promise of some Japanese exchange to send you an amount of Bitcoin in the future is not the same as owning a Bitcoin.
It's pretty interesting, you should read it.
Many people in the field are very ethical and think that an improvement to the current financial system is of great benefit to humanity.
The history of Barings Bank is interesting, primarily because the main trader Nick Leeson was in the position to mask hundreds of millions of pounds of losses. In that case, no one noticed the roughly $1.3B loss because he was in a position where the internal controls didn't apply
At MtGox, it should be much simpler to (1) add up all customer balances, (2) add up all BTC in hot and cold wallets, and (3) compare those two numbers.
If the numbers differ by more than timing differences, shut it down, debug it, and prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem.
The Barings backstory is that the billion-dollar loss started with a 20k bad trade, Leeson tried to cover it up, and it snowballed.
It wouldn't be surprising to learn that MtGox followed a similar trajectory.
Yes, considering Gox only had 2 bank accounts (and now are down to just 1 in Japan) I don't see how hard it is to compare balances and notice 744,000 coins are missing.
They claim that over time the cold wallet was cleaned out. If this is true then the first few customers would've complained hey I never got my coins, and he could've seen shenanigans happening due to his php wallet implementation and halted all trading. Then thousands more customers. I find it hard to believe 744,000 worth of coins disappeared over months and nobody noticed until recently
To echo the original commenter: Yes, jail sounds like a reasonable end to this — but keep it restrained.
> No sympathy for Karpeles.
No, certainly not for hiding his incompetence, but I think the point was more: don't be too graphic in wishing him to discover what sex in jail can be. That’s an… understandable reaction, but inappropriate on a public forum. He’s got family who cares about his well-being, and the next days are going to be tough for them too. Imagine talking to his mother, or children: the facts, they are going to need them to understand, but nothing violent or tasteless (and I think you did a great job).
> But I don't pretend to be a surgeon and perforate a patient's aorta.
He didn't kill anyone; I'm sure one can save a lot of lives with that kind of money, but… I’d rather see you compare him to Kerviel (I'd disagree) or that Barings' trader (closer). The Head of security at Target, or Sony might be more accurate cases.
Where did those accountants get their degrees/licenses?
Optimal response: A message to the customers as soon as the issue is noticed: "Due to a technical problem we lost X amount of Bitcoins, which means we currently can't cover all of the deposits. Trading has been disabled while this issue is investigated. [Some external financial company] is in charge of coordinating withdrawals of existing customer funds."
Actual response: Blaming the issue on the Bitcoin protocol. Trading stays active althought the price tanks. Customers can still deposit funds although it's clear that they won't be able to withdraw it. Released announcements try to hide information about insolvency and try to give hope to the customers.
I didn't have any deposits at MtGox. As a customer I would probably have forgiven them losing the funds (if it was a technical issue), but I wouldn't have forgiven them they way how they handle public communication. Such a behavior is not acceptable.
I think they are hating Mark for losing their money, clearly a 'mess up'.
Either that or their entire IRC channel is full of trolls because some of the statements being made there are completely insane.
It's almost like they've never done any research about what Bitcoin actually is and just ran to Mt Gox to buy up this magical currency that they were told would make them rich. Just to note; I'm not talking about the Doge trolls either.
The other possibility is that he's incompetent in his personal life too ... maybe his paychecks have all been spent? (I hear gaming cards are collectible!)
Their is no accountability in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
If you transfer your coins anywhere you should consider them gone. The only "safe" coin is a cold storage coin. The second it goes hot it's at risk. The second you send it somewhere it's at risk.
Whether it's Silk Road or MtGox or whatever comes next, this will happen over and over again. People will spend their time either trying to exploit someone else's system or creating the illusion of trust in a system which they plan to exploit. The next MtGox is already out there.
This happens with dollars all the time too. But we hold people accountable. We have a number of ways to reverse transactions. We have insurance.
Even that is not safe, because the value ultimately depends on confidence in the currency as a whole. Money is a social construct; you can never safely hold it with no fear of loss, even in cold storage or under your mattress. As you say, this happens with every currency, but we introduce regulations to limit the fallout.
This is a lesson that many alternative currency fans are learning today.
You mean like the bank bailouts, and all the money that "went missing" from that?
Unlike cash, radical transparency is entirely possible with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin the protocol is as strong as ever, but customers of other sites should demand proof that their exchanges and online wallets actually control 100% of the BTC they claim to have in their custody.
"My schadenfreude is for all of the people who smugly told us for years that ARPANET is superior to our 'legacy' post office and ham radio in every way"
When every one of Bitcoin's characteristics (deflationary money supply, irreversibility of transactions, completely public record) is touted as an unmitigated advantage, it is irritating to those of us who see it as an interesting idea and cool technology with both plusses and minuses.
ARPANET isn't superior to post offices in every way; for example you can't send a package through ARPANET. And in fact one of the Internet's biggest winners Amazon.com built its success largely on being really good at shipping.
I actually agree with you, but if you're talking about me, I was being wildly sarcastic and riffing off of an old Communist slogan. I'm not aware of anyone who's ever said that sincerely, but if someone did it would be hilarious.
The whole point of Bitcoin that's been touted in pretty much every thread, hoisted up by Libertarians like a giant flag, is that it's unregulated. And now, they're all discovering why we regulated in the first place.
In 2008(?), Lehman investors were fucked, WaMu shareholders were fucked, but as a WaMu customer I was not inconvenienced in the slightest. My money was safe and I was able to freely access it every day during the transition to Chase ownership.
Now, I don't think that it is fair to compare MtGox to a bank. It was really an exchange for investors to speculate on fluctuations in exchange rates, so in the regulated financial industry you'd probably be just as fucked.
I think the take-home message from the failure of MtGox is that your risks don't just come from the volatility of the market you are investing in. You could lose your money through a crash in the market, yes, but you could also lose your money through the incompetence or malfeasance of your investment partners, through having your password stolen and your account hacked, through losing your private keys, ... If you only consider one type of risk, you will understate your total risk, and not hedge against it effectively.
Yeah, you money is there. Maybe it holds the same value as yesterday, or tomorrow. But over time, your taxes will go up, prices of things you buy will go up, inflation will rise, and the spending power of your $100 will become less and less.
Every bank failure, financial meltdown, and economic downturn robs your money of value. When a meltdown happens, and the FED has to prints more money to cover it up, your dollar loses value. When the price of merchandise goes up, because fees go up, because bank insurance premiums rise, because they keep losing your money, your dollar loses value.
It may happen slowly and indirectly, but make no mistake, you are losing you money. The best way to cook a frog is to do it slowly, so the frog doesn't jump out of the pot.
We couldn't enforce rules, but if some people decided to set up a sort of "best practices" website saying it's "SAFE compliant or something (Sure Against Forged Equalities), in which case beginners guide would be "ALWAYS GO FOR SAFE COMPLIANT EXCHANGES!"
We couldn't punish them but it would allow some sort of feeling of safety(if minimal).
They are beholden to no one and there is no way to punish them if they violate the rules. (rules in the BTC world?! blasphemy!)
Fully resolving their books would require knowing identities of those entitled to receive Bitcoin from an exchange, as only one example, as otherwise an exchange could simply transfer the right amount to an account under their control and use those Silk Road-style money laundering schemes to transfer it to some wallet they actually care about.
To make sure the outlays went to the customers it's required to know which Bitcoin wallets belong to said customers. Are you going to sign up for an exchange that maps wallet IDs to customer identities for public transparency purposes?
Even if we can't, the government still can if it really wants to. They can still demand access to the software, the wallets, and they can fine or imprison people.
How could MtGox have been so big if everybody already knew for years that it was crap? The community failed to inform the new users about this very real danger.
How is it the bitcoin network's fault?
Because the protocol is broken with regards to tracking transactions and that has been acknowledged. Even the official implementation got it wrong. It needs to be fixed because the workaround just does not scale.
before they are included in the blockchain, malleability aside, they aren't even necessarily valid (they could be double spend attempts, etc)
That is nonsense.
My understanding of the problem is that some people went to withdraw money and due to transaction malleability MtGox thought the transaction failed and resent repeatedly. But the first transaction didn't actually fail and they received their money multiple times.
Whether this happened to a lot of people a little or a few people a lot, and whether they were accidental beneficiaries or intentional instigators will probably never be known. But some number of people received a share of that missing 750k BTC, and I don't recall a one of them posting a "Hey, MtGox just sent me more BTC than it should have" blogpost that ended up here, so that's pretty interesting.
So the BTC aren't missing so much as illicitly redistributed.
In a lot of software engineering, Good Enough really is good enough. But a 5 cent discrepancy between what you actually have and what you thought you had need to be treated as seriously as a $5 million discrepancy.
Not functioning technically but functioning pragmatically.
(honest question, I am an economic newbie)
The Fed has the backing of a sovereign power with its own currency and is central to the largest national economy in the world, as well as a great deal of the international economy. If MtGox's earned trust was an apple, you could see the Fed's from space.
Can you explain this a little more? How do I need to trust a 3rd party when I use, say, gold as money?
Consider; what does using gold as money mean? Are we trading notional gold? Certificates that claim to represent gold in some vault? Obviously you need to trust the issuer of the certificates. Are you using minted gold coins? Obviously you need to trust the mint and more generally the entire financial system that equates those coins with a certain value. (The history of coin clipping, adulteration of coinage, and the results of having multiple currencies circulating at once should show why this is important.) In fact, the only way that you don't actually need to trust a 3rd part is if...
...you're trading a known quantity of gold to someone else strictly for its value as gold. In which case you are actually trading in gold as a commodity; the technical term is barter. It simply does not fit the definition of money.
: Eg, Gresham's Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham's_law
Even that generally needs a third party, unless you happen to be one of the world's experts in distinguishing counterfeit coin or bullion from gold of a certified purity.
Just ask the MtGox users about how completely ironclad that trust is. Sure, "transaction malleability" was identified in 2011, but that didn't help the users of MtGox, and the other exchanges had to take corrective action in 2014 as well.
If anything Bitcoin is even worse for the normal user; physical security is much much easier for most of us to grasp and implement. Is Aunt Tillie going to be able to ensure that she never gets too rich, so as to entice a cyberattack to steal all her Bitcoin wealth?
There's a reason Jesus through the money changers out of the temple - they were abusing that 3rd party trust.
You have some apples, and Alice has some oranges. You would like some oranges, but Alice doesn't want any apples. So you go to Bob and sell Bob some apples for gold. You give Bob a bushel of apples, Bob gives you a bar of gold. Now you go take this bar of gold to Alice and try to trade it to Alice for a bushel of oranges. Alice tells you to fuck off, she doesn't want a bar of gold any more than she wants an apple. Bob doesn't want his bar of gold back, no backsies. No one in town wants a bar of gold, in fact.
Anyway, Bitcoin does not require a trusted 3rd party any more so than gold does.
Gold is not generally accepted as payment for goods and services in any culture that I know of (excluding jewelry and metal stores, of course). I'd be genuinely interested to hear about places where you can still take a lump of gold to a store and pay with it.
I don't think I am. Something can be generally accepted as payment for goods and services without it being legal tender.
> But in any case, you can just travel to the Utah
That article is about coins produced by the US mint, not lumps of gold. And even so, the article says, "so far, it is hard to find anyone who is using gold or silver to buy anything."
Gold is money, it just has been superseded for most uses. And even so, when dollars are harder to use, gold is still used for some large transactions: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142412788732435200...
Its a trusted third party with regard to most use of USD as money -- that is, its use by market participants in exchange for goods and services.
> the Fed is also the entity politically mandated to protect the money supply against inflation and deflation.
Well, yeah, that official role (combined with its past history of performance in the role) is a big part of why its a trusted third party in the use of USD as money.
banks interact directly with the Fed though. to them it is a first party.
The value of bitcoin is in many ways dependent on the irrational response of people who invest their money in it. Mt.Gox fails and many people are going to lose faith (at least temporarily) and consequently, the value has dropped significantly.
We're talking about an entity which at some point has held more than 5% of the BTC out there.
"God look at all the people killed by that airplane attack... let's get rid of skyscrapers and/or airplanes!"
"Man, alcohol sure does fuck over a lot of families, let's prohibit it!"
"That computer-based system led to millions of dollars being lost, we should stop using computers!"
Face it, now the same argument that you would use in support of still using Bitcoin exchanges (presumably run by more competent individuals?) would also work in support of regulated fiat systems (especially those run by more competent individuals!).
Unregulated currency by cryptography is novel, but doesn't create an inherently new concept any more than digital cryptography did not innovate encipherment or authenticity checking.
I lost my USDs from a mugging. Therefore, the USD is a failure.
I hope that customers of MtGox don't do the same thing when they realize how much they've lost.
I also hope Karpeles doesn't harm himself, though we should have at least as much concern for the customers as we have for the proprietor.
I just wanted to search on the story and saw that point was made in the article I linked, and thought it was an interesting point to that specific case.
Seems so. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/09/lxlabs_funder_death/
But more than that, in his own words, he was a "man of excesses." Here is his archived blog (http://echoreply.us/ligesh.com/ligesh.com/about/index.html)
Operating a financial exchange is a serious business. In purporting to do so, you're taking people's money and promising them that you will operate the exchange honestly and competently. From what I've observed and from the private conversations I've had with people who've had first-hand dealings with them, many of the current batch of hot Bitcoin startups are run by people who don't have a fucking clue but have managed to delude themselves that they can build the Next Big Thing in financial technology by faking it 'til they make it. It's like a bunch of kids acting at being grown-ups - maybe one or two might actually blunder their way to success but the vast majority are going to crash and burn due to stupid, idiotic mistakes that could have been avoided had they been willing to listen to advice from people with more knowledge and experience. Of course, the downside of actually doing things properly is that they don't get the growth/traction that attracts investors' attention. The corrollary is that the startups who do achieve the sort of growth curves that attract investors probably aren't doing things properly, whether by cutting corners, failing to balance the books properly, not focusing enough on security or the 101 other things that can lead to an implosion/collapse/insolvency.
While the founders at least have the excuse of being young and foolish, I question the morals of investors who fund teams that clearly lack the appropriate skills/experience to provide proper financial products and services.
It's the same type of one-way bet that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. If the startup is successful, the founders and investors exit for millions/billions. If it fails, the founders and investors get to walk away unscathed while the customers end up suffering the losses of the founders' incompetence and the investors' failure to properly supervise their investment.
I fully expect a Silicon Valley-based Bitcoin startup to implode at some point and I would not be at all surprised if the resulting clamour from customers who've lost money is loud enough that the authorities step in to begin regulating the space.
This was a combination of criminal theft and not merely neglect. We must remember that the loss of these BitCoins themselves (quite possibly) wasn't malicious, while the theft of these coins is most certainly malicious. If you leave your house door open is it morally or legally right for someone to take the opportunity to raid your house and rob it blind? In such a situation both parties are at fault, one for neglect but the other for immoral (and illegal) home invasion and thievery.
But since in this case Mark Karpeles is the only visible figure in this saga, and the thieves will almost certainly never be known, the majority of the vitriol is going to be directed at him. I've criticized him too, and I think this amounts to criminal neglect, but I think that there is a way forward for both Karpeles and BitCoin. I think we (myself included) should tone down our vitriol.
 The current market value of the claimed 700k BTC loss in USD.
Mizuho Securities lost around $400 million when a Tokyo Stock Exchange trader fat-fingered an order in 2005.
You can ascertain the value of 1 BTC in your favored currency rather easily given a choice of marketplaces. Less so with 100, or 10000+. Most market-places couldn't handle the volume without a substantial shift in price before your 400mm mark was hit for say, USD.
That said BTC seems to want to reach the type of ubiquity that allowed USD to be a universal currency of sorts during it's heyday. With means to convert in and out being varied from the strictly regulated to the strictly unregulated.
Now let's see how long the blockchain can live.
There are plenty of entrepreneurs on HN alone who given the resources Gox had could manage to not (unknowingly) lose half a billion dollars due to broken programming in the timespan that Gox did.
And I say this as someone with no dog in the fight.
Seriously... all of you people are acting like Bitcoin is the world reserve currency or something. This thing didn't even exist 4 years ago.
If you're gonna invest in something like Bitcoin, then you better know your shit; cause shit happens.
Yeah, thanks for fanning the flames of a vigilante lynching in the making.
Now I'm usually a pretty cold-hearted bastard, and I'll admit that I had very little stake in MtGox (I never conducted any business there), but I sort of agree with the above. Yes, he probably deserves some Internet hate. The problem is that this Internet hate is not likely to be the full extent of the hate he'll get over this thing.
I, for one, hope that the dude hasn't fucked over the entire rest of his life.
Easy to say. Nobody sets out to fail.
I have no sympathy for Mark Karpeles. He's a shady character and I'm glad to see his shady "startup" finally crumble.
You sound like you just finished watching "thank you for smoking". The point that "he is a humanbeing" sounds like "what difference does it make" or other distraction that we are supposed to buy in order to feel less angry for his choices. Yes we are all human beings and im not sure how that helps in this instance. Maybe he should have thought of clients coins where platform continued to deliver slappy code and as a result, crashed?
I took all my coins out long time ago after seeing multiple red flag. But nothing pisses me more than this perfect situation. Any gov burocreat from a three letter agency is happily partying right now because there were waiting for something like this to happen. Mtgox will go down in the history, i dont care. Hope those sloppy pogrammers wont find their way into rocket engineering, traffic systems programming, airplains software programming or similar. But sure the gov will make a perfect example out of it and that gives them ammunition to try to regulate the market again.
You say "we all fucked up at some point". And you right. Just like one could assume most of us dui at some point. I did. Once. I drove very carefully, nothing happened and i hated myself for it for many weeks afterward as of how stupid i was. But still, i wont have much respect for someone else who drink and drive continuously and one day crashes and kills someone.
Most of us also don't get filthy rich losing other peoples' money.
You can claim people should be nice, but most start-ups that fail spend investor's money and those investors KNOW their money is at risk. Nobody expects that their money is at risk when you put it into a savings account. Crypto-currency exchanges and wallets should be the same way ... perhaps it's not as safe as putting it under your mattress but close.
So in the business world, you have a responsibility to your customers and most sane companies carry E&O insurance to cover the unforeseen mistakes that they might make. It doesn't cover incompetence or negligence in many cases, and I'd classify what happened with Gox as criminal negligence.
Karpeles might in fact be sad, but I guess I just respectfully called him a criminal. Those with more "skin-in-the-game" are going to want to extract as much of their money as possible from him ... I'm afraid he's going to get sadder.
Fraudsters are real human beings too.
As are people who are incometent but go ahead and build stuff risking other people's money and providing false assurances.
The blockchain should, sooner or later, allow the tracing of some of the coins, right? So if somebody still has access to them, there might be a chance to find out who?
Or am I misunderstanding something here?
Oh, and what about when we find out that suspect 1 might not actually be the culprit? Oops. YOLO.
Is there not an interesting question in, assuming coins could be recovered, what laws, in what countries, will cover them, and what value would they have if the 'currency' has no value? Do people want their BC back?
Looks like a bunch of people are praying to get out of bitcoin at 550 right now. If that aspiration thinking fails and people eat through the standing buys around 400, the next stop is 400, where panic will kick in and, maybe there's a pause at 100.
Pins, needles, popcorn... Black Tuesday 2014?
I failed in my last startup, fairly publicly, and got a fair amount of internet hatred, and suffice to say I was not a happy bunny. But I didnt fail with remotely the publicity this got - I can't even imagine what the mtgox people must be feeling.
That said, I'm sure many did, as they tend to do into any investment that has potentially huge upswings.
You mean like Rick Falkvinge founder of the Pirate Party?
They could have handled this far better, and maybe avoided some of the major problems they are now headed for. Now, unless Mt Gox suddenly reappears with an explanation, they are in for a very rough ride.
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So I am assuming you are probably someone who applies that same sensitibility to writing descriptive commit messages, because similarly to people editing Internet posts/comments without specifying what they changed, many people leave very vague or meaningless commit messages.
The loss of coins was unintentional on the behalf of MtGox. It may have been stupid that basic abc123 auditing would have probably revealed that there was a problem months/years ago, but evil has not been shown at this point in time.
The low BTC exchange rates were both indicative of the risk, but also enticing to new exchange customers trying to strike it rich off a sinking ship.
The only difference from a traditional Ponzi scheme is that in such a scheme the extraction is to the fraudsters pockets, rather than to the fraudsters incompetence.
No it doesn't; the key feature of a Ponzi scheme is intentional fraud using a phony investment that doesn't actually exit. That's what a Ponzi scheme is.
Bitcoin has nothing in common with a Ponzi scheme and all you people who keep repeating this non-sense need to go educate yourselves on what a Ponzi scheme actually is.
Assuming the description of this as being a loss that, however unintended when it first started occurring, was known, concealed, and papered over by using other funds, it was an intentional fraud from that point on a phony investment that doesn't actually exist.
> Bitcoin has nothing in common with a Ponzi scheme
That may be true about Bitcoin, but not about the scenario proposed upthread about what was going on at Mt. Gox. They aren't the same thing.
Just because fraud occurs does not a Ponzi make. Seriously, just stop repeating this complete nonsense. Ponzi schemes are very specific things and neither the Gox situation nor Bitcoin are Ponzi's in any way.
They expect the chance of trading losses is high, they don't expect that the loss of balances on account is high (in fact, they are generally promised that, except for specified transaction fees, such accounts will retain their value.)
There's a slight difference from what goes on in a traditional Ponzi scheme in that the former promises a positive return which is only met for as long as external funds come in to cover the returns (plus the funds being extracted by the fraudster) where the suggestion about Mt. Gox is that their Bitcoin accounts were promising a zero return, which could only be met for as long as external funds were coming in to cover the BTC being stolen. Which isn't strictly the same thing as a traditional Ponzi scheme, but is a very closely related form of fraud.
Note that I'm not saying this is what happened at Gox -- I have no way of knowing that. But what has been suggested is very much like a Ponzi scheme.
Ponzi Scheme: a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise (the definition) is fostered(i.e. the mechanism) by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.
Many valid things use the mechanism of new money paying out earlier investors; that alone is meaningless and not a defining trait of Ponzi's. All insurance also does this. A ponzi is literally "a form of fraud carried out by the belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise"; that's it.
Once they severely restricted/shut off withdrawals, they were no longer an "exchange". People were no longer investing in Bitcoins facilitated through an exchange, they were investing in the exchange allowing withdrawals and making good on the promised high Bitcoin to USD values or low USD to Bitcoin values. All the time they were telling people it was a technical problem and they would make good on transactions. Given how insolvent they were, this had probably been going on for a significant amount of time or they just never had intentions of making good. Allowing deposits to continue despite the issues they faced was unscrupulous, and I believe it was likely a way for them to try to collect capital to make good on the "top of the line" and "bottom of the barrel" exchange rates that they had promised their customers, which they simply could never fulfill.
Perfect example of the mentality of a new investor at MtGox can be found on this reddit comment:
I'll admit that not all the facts are known, and my conclusion above is essentially hypothetical based on the information known at this time. Perhaps when if we ever get access to internal communications within MtGox, we'll know the truth. Even pleading incompetence does not mean that the operators weren't unknowingly running a Ponzi scheme.
That is to say, at the end of the day, does it really matter if this happened because Karpeles is an idiot or because Karpeles was malicious? No, the end result is the same, and possessing and wielding that shear amount of idiocy is no more excusable than just being malicious.
The end result being, we hinge huge decisions on the question, "Do I think this person might actually try to hurt me?" without giving adequate attention to the question, "Does this person possess sufficient competence to reliably avoid hurting me by accident?"
Not just in finance. The issue seems to come up in health care quite a bit, too. Do you really want someone who doesn't fully grasp the germ theory of disease sticking sharp objects into you after previously having stuck them into someone else? The occasional outbreaks of hepatitis associated with acupuncture suggest this is a question we might want to spend more time thinking about. Instead, we tend to not get past worries (including legitimate ones) about whether or not Big [insert_big_thing_here] is trying to hurt us.
Every ponzi operator dreams of earning themselves to solvency.
You clearly have no idea what a ponzi scheme actually is; educate yourself before making such foolish public statements.
Your evidence of that is...
all I know is that an awful lot of people lost money.
Here we have a company that took money and let the "investors" fight it out amongst themselves.
The ponzi never dies because no one who participates every believes that _they_ are the one who's going to get screwed.
Failure is a normal part of the market. What's really scary are the businesses that are never allowed to fail.
How many customers ("investors") would Mt. Gox have if that same regulation was applied to them?
People using Mt.Gox were not investing in Mt.Gox, they were investing in USD and BTC, and allowing Mt.Gox to hold it for them.
Well obviously. And it turns out the regulations are different too!
The need for regulations is what we are discussing here.
If MtGox were managing real money or stocks, and did what they are alleged to have done, I expect there would be some jail time. I doubt it's worth the Japanese government's time to criminally prosecute a few million dollars of new, unregulated currency-equivalent, but if they do prosecute, I'm guessing there is a serious risk of jail time here.
Bank deposit insurance is fascinating: it largely exists to prevent bank runs, which are caused by people believing they won't get their money out. Having any insurance means that people have less reason to believe there's a chance they won't get paid back, which decreases the probability of a run on the bank, which decreases the risk associated with the insurance, which decreases the amount of insurance needed.
But, yes, because it's pretty unlikely that all banks will fail at once, it's not necessary for the FDIC to have on hand a sum matching all insured US bank deposits.
There are also limits on coverage. If you keep $1 million in your savings account, you won't get all of it if the bank goes under.
Have you never heard of the SEC? There are all sorts of rules about what kinds of investors are allowed in a startup.
No, I want regulations for all other industries except my own. My industry is fine.
Edit: Looking at my list, I should have listed one for every alphabet Letter, instead of going chronologically.
Financial losses and windfalls / catastrophes happen far more frequently than you'd expect.
Also, my list is subject to dnautic's memory bias. Those are the names that I remember. There are certainly more. There is no currency in the history of the world that has lasted forever.
The cruzeiro was replaced by the "cruzeiro real" literally "real cruzeiro", as a hack to recover from poor fiscal policy resulting in hyperinflation. The cruzeiro real was then replaced by the 'real'.
Imagine things getting so bad that the government decides to rebrand its old currency as 'fake'.
It should be possible that one can blacklist their own bitcoin address by using the private key. This way at least crooks cannot make off or use the stolen coins. Do any more technical Bitcoin fanatics have any thoughts about this?
Second, AFAIK crooks need the private key to steal it, so wouldn't work anyway.
But what's the state good for anyway?
Make the corporation pay back every penny they got illegally, then hang the bastards high to set an example.