Mt. Gox | The Meteoric Rise and Fall of a Bitcoin Exchange

Although the history of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin Exchange is short, it is nothing short of amazing. Mt. Gox is a historic name in the world cryptocurrencies, as it was one of the first Bitcoin exchanges to take off.

At the peak of its height, Mt. Gox's customer base represented about 80% of the global trading volume. The rise of Mt. Gox, came to an abrupt end in 2014 when it was discovered that the exchange had become the victim of a large scale hack. Being unable to locate over 850,000 bitcoins that the exchange had in its possession, Mt. Gox was forced to close trading and to subsequently file for bankruptcy. 

Who founded Mt. Gox?

Jed McCaleb founded the Mt. Gox and in 2007, he registered the Mtgox.com web domain with the aim of turning it into a trading site for the famous Magic: The Gathering game cards. He then turned the domain to a bitcoin exchange site. 

After sometimes McCaleb realized he was getting more than he bargained for and he sold the site to Mark Karpeles who is a programmer, foodie, and bitcoin enthusiast and he usually calls himself Magicaltux in numerous online forums. Karpeles then rewrote the back-end software of the site and eventually turned the site into the most popular bitcoin exchange in the world. 

Karpeles was born in France and he spent some time in Israel before settling down in Japan. He got married in Japan and in 2011, he acquired the Mt. Gox exchange from an American entrepreneur known as Jed McCaleb. 

When did Mt Gox open?

Mt Gox was among the first Bitcoin exchange on the web but it was not related to cryptocurrency when it was developed. The mtgox.com domain was bought by programmer Jed McCaleb in 2007 for an online trading platform for virtual cards that are used in the game Magic: The Gathering.

In 2010, McCaleb then saw the opportunity to build a place where people can exchange their fiat currency to and from Bitcoin. This was how mtgox.com was launched as a Bitcoin exchange on July 18, 2010. McCaleb then sold the platform to French-born developer Mark Karpeles after a year.

How did Mt Gox get hacked

Mt Gox was first hacked in 2011 and during the first of the two hacks, the attackers were able to infiltrate into the computer that belongs to an auditor of Mt. Gox. This gave them the chance to change the Bitcoin pricing to a single cent. Afterwards, they then obtained the private keys of Mt. Gox clients which had their precious crypto assets kept in hot wallets which are internet-connected. 

The hackers then went on and create selling orders on the accounts and then bought the Bitcoins at this artificially reduced price and they were able to buy 2000 BTC with this way. This hack was estimated to be about $30.000 theft in Bitcoin and this was then dwarfed by the hack that occurred in February 2014.

The second Mt Gox hack was infamously known as the first major cryptocurrency exchange hack when it happened. The hacked value was an enormous $460 million worth of Bitcoin at the time. Although this may not be the largest hack in terms of the value in fiat money, it is considered to be the largest amount of Bitcoin that was ever stolen. 

More than 850,000 Bitcoins were stolen which includes 750,000 Bitcoins that were owned by its customers. At its peak price, the value of the bitcoin stolen is $17 billion while at the current price this will be about $3 billion.

Although Mt Gox stopped all Bitcoin withdrawals on February 2014, the exchange has already been emptied of its Bitcoins long ago. It was reported that Bitcoins were stolen bit by bit since the beginning of 2011. The group that did this investigation then indicated that by May 2013, the firm no longer held its Bitcoins. Mt Gox then filed for bankruptcy not long after the hack because they were no longer able to continue with the operations.

Will Mt Gox be rehabilitated?

According to TechCrunch, In February of 2019, there is a movement referred to as GoxRising which is working to have an alternative to bankruptcy for Mt Gox. The main idea behind GoxRising is simple and it is that instead of using the bankruptcy courts to give the assets of Mt Gox to the owners of the company, it is making use of civil rehabilitation law so as to return most of the asset to the creditors of the company.

It appears that GoxRising will be successful in these efforts because Tokyo lawyer, Nobuaki Kobayashi has been appointed by the Japanese courts to work on the civil rehabilitation process. This is going to be a piece of good news to those that have lost their assets in the Mt Gox failure because they will likely gain from this deal due to the civil rehabilitation law.

Another potential way this court may end is that the embattled CEO of Mt Gox, Mark Karpeles will likely end up with lots of Mt Gox asset if the bankruptcy process is allowed to move forward. This is because he owned about 80% of the company and when it went bankrupt, it will place him in a great position to get this huge payout under the Japanese bankruptcy law. If this happens, Karpeles knows that his life is in danger as he would receive lots of civil suits from Mt Gox creditors that has lost everything to him. More insults will be added because Bitcoin prices are much higher today than it was in 2014.

With the civil rehabilitation process, it looks like a winning idea to everyone that is involved in this deal and it looks like a way forward. The civil rehabilitation process is expected to take 3-5 years based on the reports from the media. Although civil rehabilitation may be considered to be a time-consuming process, it is still a lot better than bankruptcy.

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