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Insight: At Mt. Gox bitcoin hub, ‘geek’ CEO sought both control and escape

22
Apr
2014

(This story changes Mandalah description in the 30th paragraph, company name in the 31st paragraph) By Sophie Knight TOKYO (Reuters) – In June 2011, when customers of now-bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox agitated for proof that the Tokyo-based firm was still solvent after a hacking attack, CEO Mark Karpeles turned to the comedy science fiction novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. During an online chat, Karpeles moved the equivalent of $170 million in bitcoin at todays market rates – the virtual equivalent of a bank manager flashing a wad of cash in a wallet to establish credit. The gesture – with a sly wink to the geek culture Karpeles believed he shared with many of his 50,000 customers at the time, including an interest in coding, Japanese manga comics and science fiction – succeeded. By moving 424,242 bitcoins, Karpeles, then 26, evoked the random number, 42, described as the meaning of life in Douglas Adams sci-fi novel.

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