Mt. Gox (known as “ Mount Gox ” in English) was the first automated marketplace dedicated to the exchange of bitcoins. Founded in 2010, it has for a long time supported the bulk of the volume of exchange between traditional currencies and bitcoin. The company is known to have gone bankrupt in February 2014 following a chain of hacks and other incidents, and for having taken the funds of its customers. Let’s go back to the beginnings of this platform which occupies a mythical place in the history of Bitcoin.
The creation of Mt. Gox by Jed MCCaleb
In the spring of 2010, the means of acquiring bitcoin were few and not very efficient. There are basically two services for making an exchange. The first is the service offered by the user NewLibertyStandardwho sells bitcoins on the basis of their cost of production by performing all transactions manually. The second is the bitcoinmarket.com platform , launched in March, which connects people to conduct peer-to-peer exchanges.
There is therefore no advanced stock exchange platform that allows automatic order management and that offers sufficient liquidity to obtain a reliable price. It is in this context that the Mt. Gox platform will appear , thanks to the genius of Jed McCaleb.
Jed McCaleb is an American entrepreneur and programmer who was nearing 35 at the time. He is then already known for having co-founded MetaMachine Inc. in 2000, the company that managed the eDonkey2000 peer-to-peer file sharing software in the 2000s. When he discovered Bitcoin through Slashdot on July 11, 2010, he did not He is therefore no stranger to the concept of a distributed network and immediately gets enthusiastic about Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.
He quickly tries to get some bitcoins, but finds that it is painful to buy some for dollars. Passionate about video games, in 2007 he had developed a platform for buying and selling cards from the online game Magic: The Gathering Online , the latter being derived from the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering . The platform, called Mt. Gox as an acronym for Magic The Gathering Online eXchange and hosted at the address mtgox.com, had been running for about 3 months .
So Jed McCaleb decided, three years later, to use his experience and his domain name to create a marketplace . He set to work on his project hard and, a week later, the platform is operational. Under the pseudonym of mtgox, he writes an ad on the forum saying:
“Hi everyone, I just implemented a new bitcoin exchange platform. Please let me know what you think. ”
Following this announcement, Michael Marquardt ( theymos) asks him “ why [he] would use Mt. Gox and not BitCoin Market “, to which Jed replies:
“[Mt.Gox] is still online, automated, the site is faster and has dedicated hosting and I think the interface is nicer.”
Initially, the platform accepts payments through PayPal. However, due to too many requests chargeback ( chargeback ), Paypal blocks behalf of Jed McCaleb in October 2010, forcing it to suspend the activities of the platform for a month. This prompts him to add Liberty Reserve as a payment method to reopen Mt. Gox . Subsequently, it will also accept on request transfers via Paxum, and bank transfers in dollars (ACH) and euros.
The sale to Mark Karpelès and the success
In November 2010, the price reached 30 cents and remained at this level for the rest of the year. The platform is meeting more and more users, and that’s when Jed McCaleb worries about regulatory repercussions. At this time, the legislation around digital currencies like bitcoin was more than vague and he had to hire a lawyer in New York. In addition, he manages Mt. Gox on his spare time and does not have time to fully manage Mt. Gox.
Jed McCaleb therefore wishes to give the platform to someone else in order to devote himself to his projects. In January 2011, the idea came to him to entrust it to an individual active in the community and with whom he interacts on IRC: Mark Karpelès.
Mark Karpelès (who responds by name MagicalTuxon the Internet) is a talented French developer living in Tokyo, working freelance through his company, Tibanne Co. Ltd. A 25-year-old geek, he emigrated to Japan out of an attraction for the local culture. He discovered Bitcoin at the end of 2010 thanks to a French friend who told him about it. He was immediately interested in digital currency, so much so that he started accepting bitcoin payments for his hosting service on November 8.