updated 04:58 pm EDT, Sun June 29, 2014
Mark Karpelès ends silence on downfall, worried about remaining customer funds
Since the announcement of the Mt. Gox bankruptcy filing in February, CEO Mark Karpelès has remained silent on his feelings and events surrounding the Bitcoin exchange. That changed this week when he gave an exclusive interview to the Wall Street Journal, indicating that he was "scared, frustrated and angry" upon learning the extensive losses the exchange faced.
"As the company head, my mission was to protect customers and employees," said Karpelès. "I'm deeply sorry. I'm frustrated with myself."
In February, Mt. Gox was forced into filing for bankruptcy after losing 850,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers and the company as a result of hacking. Since the filing, 200,000 Bitcoins has been recovered in a wallet that was previously thought to be lost. However, there is now an ongoing police investigation into the missing currency. Karpelès believes that there are no more Bitcoins to be found.
Speaking with the publication, Karpelès said that the "critical mistake" was his failure to find executives with proper experience to help him manage the day-to-day operations of the exchange. "The weakest point of my company was management," he said. He noted that he failed to apply a proper structure to help him as he spent many days in meetings with bankers and lawyers.
He also admits that the rapid growth of the company was too much for him to handle. After he purchased the exchange in 2011, accounts grew by a factor of 20. Even with the account growth, Karpelès was unable to hire additional managers because there wasn't enough profit.
Looking to the future, Karpelès is focusing on trying to liquidate assets from his other business to help fund a recovery of customer funds. Tibanne, the company owned by Karpelès that was left as an operator of Mt. Gox, is looking to auction off domain names such as bitcoins.com and akb.com to keep the business alive. It was previously said that Tibanne would sell trademarks associated with Bitcoins in Europe and Japan to pay off the 127,000 outstanding creditors.
All assets of Mt. Gox have since been transferred to a trustee as part of the liquidation. The trustee would have the responsibility of monitoring the sale, with any proceeds from the sale going to creditors after funding was secured for Tibanne to run for the rest of the year. With the rest of the business assets, Karpelès is concerned if someone vies to take over the business.
There are two groups, Sunlot Holding's SaveGox and a Tokyo team with support from OKCoin, according to CoinDesk that are currently looking to take control of Mt. Gox, both with different views on how to handle the future. Karpelès would like for the business to go on, but he does have concerns as well. As such, he thinks any of the recovered coins shouldn't be used as part of rebuilding the exchange.
"Any buyers should use their own money to rehabilitate the exchange, not Mt. Gox's," said Karpelès.
Even with the fall of the company, Karpelès would like to stay involved in the community. He thinks that he could share his story with those in Bitcoin community in Tokyo perhaps thinking of starting up a new business. In the meantime, he will distancing himself from the currency.