Ken Shirriff's blog: May 2015

Why are we turning our backs on Mt Gox customers?

Is Gox solvent? If not, Gox customers can sell their holdings at prices 50%+ lower than other exchanges in order to possibly improve their chances in a bankruptcy liquidation; but if they are solvent and merely need time to address technical issues, then selling now is a regrettable and costly mistake. Tough decision. Add in a volatile rumor driven market with suspicious volume spikes and a CEO giving lame scapegoating excuses to anyone who will listen. Glad it's not my money. So why has no one in bitcoin leadership asked Gox to demonstrate that they are solvent? BTC reserves are viewable on the public ledger, right? And any auditor can verify if their fiat holdings are sufficient to reopen. Are we trying to avoid another round of bad headlines, coddling an insider, or working behind the scenes to help them raise money? No one knows. And the customers are being left to twist in the wind. Please understand, I'm not accusing btc leadership of betraying the customers. I'm accusing them of not addressing the appearance that they are betraying the customers. In the past week I've seen our passionate and committed community work overtime to address transaction malleability, offer opinions on Gox solvency, and work with Gox to fix their code, but the only people I've heard ask Gox to verify that they have the capital to reopen are those guys with the signs standing out front in the sleet. That sounds condemning - I don't mean it to be. My first post here should really be to say THANK YOU! I was lucky to pick up my bitcoin rookie knowledge as early as I did. I owe that to the brilliant and committed advocates that tirelessly explain bitcoin to the media, the regulators, and the non-techies like me at our local meet ups. Your ability to make this subject accessible is a gift. Thank you. Which is why this slow motion Gox train wreck is so hard to watch. What about the customers? Chicago futures markets have a fully disclosed commitment to stand behind customer funds and it doesn't matter who you are or what board you serve on. Protect the customer. Is that being done here? Not only has Gox failed to address financial stability, but they're profiting from the volatility that they have created! Why is the debate "Should Karpeles be removed from the Foundation"? Of course he should, but for starters at least demand that he waive fees and stop profiting from his trapped customers. Shameful. Gox said all is well and they'll update again Thursday 2/20 but that did nothing to narrow the huge spread between Bitstamp and Gox prices. Ken Shirriff’s blog found an inconsistency with their TX-Mal excuse and Coindesk ran an analysis titled “Why Mt. Gox May Be Headed for Bankruptcy” comparing Gox to gambling sites just prior to going bust. Bitcoin leaders and core developers said the tx mal attack would not endanger funds and that Bitstamp would reopen shortly. They were right. Many are now saying Gox is solvent and the bitcoin faithful believe that here, too, work is being done behind the scenes to fix this mess, and that it is in everyone's best interest to avoid asking the solvency question. I simply don't understand this. You can't start a run - nobody can get their money out! BTC industry is helping with their workaround, right? Why not insist that they demonstrate financial stability before helping fix their crappy code. And if they say no? Then someone from our Foundation should get on the next plane to Japan and stand next to the protesters. Another day of kicking this can down the road means another day filled with rumors of cronyism and calls for tough regulations. Anyway, thanks for hearing me out, and thanks for any insights.
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