Is the troubled Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox about to be bought out?

February 25, 2014

Mt. Gox, the popular Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange, shut down its Web site late Monday after a series of events seemed to herald its impending demise. Earlier this month, the exchange stopped all withdrawals. Then its CEO, Mark Karpeles, resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a key lobbying group. Now Mt. Gox has vanished from the Web altogether; on Monday, it cleared its Twitter account of all tweets and its homepage is currently blank:

The New York Times reported — citing an unverified slide deck posted by an anonymous Bitcoin investor — that a flaw in Mt. Gox's systems somehow allowed thieves to make off with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of bitcoins over several years, and that this may be related to Monday night's shutdown. But on Tuesday morning, a close look at the HTML source code of Mt. Gox's Web site reveals something else interesting:

mt gox acq

Whether this is a clever bit of misdirection or there really is an acquisition afoot is unclear. Meanwhile, Japanese regulators have vowed not to step in, and various other companies connected to Bitcoin are engaged in some damage control of their own. The founders of the Bitcoin wallet Coinbase, along with several others, have promised to redouble their efforts on Bitcoin security even as they acknowledged "issues" with Mt. Gox.

Hat tip: Anthony De Rosa

Update: Mt. Gox CEO tells Reuters in an e-mail: "We should have an official announcement ready soon-ish. We are currently at a turning point for the business. I can't tell much more for now as this also involves other parties."

Related: VIDEO: Protests after Bitcoin exchange disappears

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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