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Autumn Radtke, Bitcoin Firm CEO, Found Dead In Singapore

Posted: 03/06/2014 10:25 am EST Updated: 03/06/2014 10:59 am EST

The CEO of a Bitcoin exchange firm First Meta was found dead in her apartment in Singapore last week. She was 28.

Local media reports suggest Autumn Radtke may have committed suicide; however, an official cause of death has not been declared. An investigation has been launched into the "unnatural" death, a police spokesman told Reuters Wednesday.


First Meta director Douglas Abrams confirmed Radtke's death on Feb. 27.

"I was informed by the Singapore police about her death," Abrams told The Wall Street Journal. "The cause of death is still under investigation.”

The virtual currency company released the following statement about Radtke's death:


The First Meta team is shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and CEO Autumn Radtke. Our deepest condolences go out to her family, friends and loved ones. Autumn was an inspiration to all of us and she will be sorely missed.



Before becoming the CEO of First Meta in January 2012, Radtke worked for several fortune 500 companies, including Clear Channel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Most recently, she served as the director of business development for Xfire, which offers messaging services for gamers.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/autumn-radtke-dead-dies-bitcoin-ceo-first-meta_n_4905688.html

Bitcoin firm CEO jumped from 25-story building to her death

By Michael Gray

Startling new information has come to light in the death of 28-year-old Autumn Radtke, the CEO of First Meta, a Singapore-based virtual currency exchange.

Modal Trigger
Autumn Radtke, the American CEO of Singapore-based bitcoin exchange First Meta.Photo: Facebook

The former Silicon Valley whiz-kid jumped from a nearby 25-story apartment building about 7 a.m. last Wednesday, according to a neighbor.

Police reported that Radtke was found lying motionless outside the building and was declared dead by paramedics. Her death has now been classified as a case of unnatural death.

Initial reports had Radtke’s body being found in her apartment. Singapore officials try to downplay suicides since the city-state hit an all-time high of 487 deaths in 2012.

The Cantonment Close apartment buildings, near where the body was found, are a two-minute walk from Radtke’s apartment, according to the neighbor.

Chrysanthemums have been placed where residents say Radtke’s body was found.Photo: Reuters

“We had a wake at her house on Friday,” said the neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous.

“She was one of those ‘up and down’ types, by all accounts. She was often on her front step until 4 to 5 a.m. talking to California most nights of the week,” the neighbor added.

Radtke joined First Meta in 2012. First Meta is an exchange for digital currencies used in games and virtual worlds, such as Linden dollars from the Second Life online world. It accepts bitcoins as payment for other virtual currencies.

As law-enforcement officials await toxicology reports, friends said they should have seen the signs of stress and realized that she was reaching out for help.

“Everything has its price,” Radtke said in commenting on an Inc. magazine essay she posted online titled “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/autumn-radtke-dead-dies-bitcoin-ceo-first-meta_n_4905688.html

 The baffling death in Singapore of young CEO with Bitcoin ties
Originally published March 21, 2014 at 8:00 pm Updated March 21, 2014 at 10:01 pm
Share story
By Rick Romell

Wherever she went — California, Asia; board meetings, sales calls — Autumn Radtke took a little bit of home with her.

“She had that quality from Wisconsin, an approachability and a warmth,” said Carey Radtke, her aunt. “It’s the truth. People who are from the Midwest, who are from Wisconsin, are like that and they don’t even know it, and that’s what drew people to her.”

She didn’t have prestigious educational credentials, but she impressed people who did. She believed strongly in personal responsibility and urged friends to do the same.

She grew up in Waukesha County, Wis., but wasn’t about to stay there. By 18, she was gone. A Facebook post shortly after her 27th birthday chronicled some of her travels: “I turned 23 in Los Angeles, 24 in San Francisco, 25 in Bali, 26 in Las Vegas and finally 27 in Singapore!”

Just a few months ago, she was brimming with optimism. “The feeling that I have right now,” she told a friend during a Skype conversation she included on her Facebook page, “is that I can go anywhere and do whatever I want.”

Then, on Feb. 26, she was dead. Her body was found about 7 a.m. near the foot of a high-rise apartment building in Singapore. Widely reported as an apparent suicide — something that remains unconfirmed — her death became a global story because of her connections to Bitcoin, the much discussed and controversial digital currency.

Whether Bitcoin figured in Radtke’s death is unknown, as indeed are the circumstances of her death itself. Singapore police have said only that they do not suspect foul play and that the death was “unnatural,” a classification that includes accidents as well as suicide.

What is clear is that Radtke, 28, had built a successful career working for early stage tech firms and was establishing expertise in the rapidly evolving world of virtual currencies.

“She really exceeded all expectations,” said Rahul Sonnad, who hired Radtke at age 23 to head business development for a company called Geodelic Systems that he had launched in Los Angeles. “Autumn had just an ability to connect with people.”

For Sonnad, the connection was tight enough that he flew to Milwaukee earlier this month for Radtke’s funeral. Others came from Asia and Europe, he said.

“Before that there were gatherings in Boston, Singapore and Venice Beach (Calif.) where lots of people showed up and shared their stories,” Sonnad said. “Just because, again, she touched so many people.”

Sonnad holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington. Radtke’s LinkedIn profile lists none. But she had a knack for cutting through tech jargon and explaining complicated and often slippery concepts.

“She was just really impressive in terms of abilities to speak and convey ideas,” Sonnad said.

Radtke spent 2˝
years with Geodelic and a year with the Internet gaming company Xfire, and caught the attention of Douglas Abrams, who brought Radtke to Singapore to run his virtual-currency exchange, First Meta.

A former executive with JPMorgan, Abrams moved to Singapore early in the last decade. He teaches courses related to entrepreneurship at the National University of Singapore and has provided early-stage investment to more than 20 companies.

Like Sonnad, he has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania — an MBA from its highly regarded Wharton School. And like Sonnad, he cared not at all that Radtke lacked that sort of pedigree.

In the startup environment especially, Abrams said, that’s no big deal.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in that,” he said. “I look more at the person and their ability.”

Abrams had been introduced to Radtke through a mutual friend, and when he went hunting for a CEO at First Meta, he contacted her.

“We interviewed several candidates and she came out on top,” Abrams said. “She took the job in January of 2012.”

First Meta is a small firm that lets people trade virtual currencies such as those used in online-fantasy worlds Second Life and IMVU.

“Autumn did a great job in her two years as CEO of First Meta,” Abrams said. “She redesigned the product. … She worked on several initiatives to take the business in a new direction. She did a lot of great work in streamlining and improving the operations.”

Radtke got First Meta ready to trade frequent-flier miles and loyalty points, something that hasn’t happened but holds potential, Abrams said.

“She was like a lot of smart entrepreneurs — she was a little ahead of the curve on that,” he said.

Overall, he estimated, First Meta’s revenue grew by 50 percent under her leadership.

First Meta isn’t a Bitcoin exchange, though it does accept Bitcoin as payment for other virtual currencies, Abrams said. Less than 2 percent of total payments come in Bitcoin, he said.

But while the business wasn’t making a market in the virtual currency, Radtke appeared to be quite interested in it.

Many of her more recent Facebook posts were about Bitcoin. She spoke at a Bitcoin conference in Singapore. And she was connected enough to virtual-currency pioneer Brock Pierce that he helped put together the memorial gathering for her in California.

“Autumn was a very active member of the Bitcoin community in Singapore,” Abrams said.

Bitcoin’s volatility has been volcanic. In January 2013, one unit of the virtual currency cost $14. Three months later, it topped $200, promptly dropped below $75, and generally hovered around $100 to $125 until early October.

Suddenly, it soared, plunged and rose again — hitting a high of more than $1,100 in early December, then shedding or gaining hundreds of dollars in price within as little as three days.

In early February, the troubles at Mt. Gox began to surface. Once the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox froze withdrawals in early February, saying a technical problem had allowed fraudsters to invade with fake withdrawal requests.

Three weeks later, Mt. Gox suddenly shut down. Speculation spread rapidly that it had collapsed, which in fact it had. Within days, Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy, and its founder said a weakness in the exchange’s systems was behind the loss of 750,000 bitcoins from users — worth more than $400 million.

Mt. Gox shut down Feb. 25, one day before Radtke’s death.

Steve Beauregard, who together with Pierce founded GoCoin, a payment service that lets merchants accept Bitcoin and Litecoin, another virtual currency, at checkout, said Radtke’s death had nothing to do with Bitcoin.

He criticized “the BS stories that are floating around,” and said that trying to connect her death and Bitcoin “is just absurd.”

Beauregard saw a lot of Radtke in her last months. First Meta used GoCoin’s service and Radtke was an adviser to Beauregard’s company. And, beginning in December, Beauregard rented space from Radtke in the three-story shophouse where she lived and where First Meta had its offices.

Radtke’s shophouse — a style of building originally constructed to include both living and business quarters — was in a historic area a couple of blocks from the apartment tower where her body was found.

Beauregard said Radtke felt First Meta hadn’t taken off the way she expected and that, “It wasn’t, professionally, where she wanted to be at this stage. She was definitely looking to transition to something else.”

Also saying that Radtke had been stressed about First Meta not growing as rapidly as she wanted was Wayne Soh. Soh is business-development manager at Plug and Play Singapore, a technology incubator that has invested in First Meta.

Beauregard said Radtke talked with him about entrepreneurial stress and about personal issues, which he wouldn’t describe.

“We talked about things that were troubling her, for sure, but among them was not the price of Bitcoin,” he said. “And it wasn’t Mt. Gox.”


http://www.seattletimes.com/business/the-baffling-death-in-singapore-of-young-ceo-with-bitcoin-ties/

Bitcoin’s soaring price means bankrupt Mt. Gox may soon be able to pay its creditors
A Bitcoin sign is seen in a window in Toronto, May 8, 2014.
Right this way. (Reuters/Mark Blinch)
Share
Written by
Joon Ian Wong
Obsession
Future of Finance
June 13, 2017

In the bitcoin world, even insolvency is just a bull run away from being reversed.

The infamous bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which declared bankruptcy in 2014 while owing creditors 45 billion yen ($414 million), has a stash of bitcoins held by its trustee that—at least for the moment—are valuable enough to pay off its creditors and then some, thanks to the cryptocurrency’s record-setting price surge this year. Bitcoin set a historic high two days ago (June 11), trading at over $3,000 a coin. The Mt. Gox trustee holds 202,185 bitcoins (pdf), which are now worth about $560 million, at the bitcoin price of nearly $2,800 today.

More than half a billion dollars worth of bitcoin just sitting in a trustee account hasn’t gone unnoticed. Mt. Gox creditors congregating on a sub-Reddit on discussion site Reddit have proposed many uses for this stash of money.

The commodities trading giant DRW has offered to help the trustee liquidate its holdings, through its bitcoin trading unit. The goal of the public offer was “to bring people’s attention to the fact that the 200,000 coins could potentially bring the company out of bankruptcy,” says Mike Komaransky, head of trading at the DRW subsidiary, Cumberland Mining. “They may be looking for liquidity.”

The Mt. Gox case is still “under investigation” by the trustee, a Tokyo lawyer named Nobuaki Kobayashi. In addition, it’s tied up in litigation with a company called CoinLab that struck a deal to be Mt. Gox’s North American agent a few months before the exchange collapsed. Distributions to creditors won’t occur until that lawsuit is settled. I’ve contacted the trustee but have not received a reply.

There is some skepticism about the plan to liquidate Mt. Gox’s bitcoins—not least from the person at the center of the meltdown, former Mt. Gox chief executive Mark Karpeles. The Frenchman is currently out on bail, awaiting trial for embezzlement on July 11 for his role in the exchange’s collapse. He already saw jail-time after Japanese police arrested him in 2015. Karpeles has doubts DRW’s plan would work. “Should the trustee attempt to liquidate the coins, getting a price close to market rate sounds difficult,” he tells me, by direct message on Twitter.

The last great bull run for the cryptocurrency took place at the end of 2013 and early 2014, just as his exchange was crashing. The price then was driven up in part by the fact that Mt. Gox had halted withdrawals, cutting off a crucial route for people to cash their bitcoins out; and because of reported market rigging by “WillyBot,” an automated trading program that was found to be operating on Mt. Gox.

What does Karpeles make of bitcoin’s surge in value this year? He points to the risk posed by bitcoin’s “civil war,” a disagreement over how to increase bitcoin’s ability to handle more transactions could cause the cryptocurrency to split into two. Proponents of one approach say bitcoin’s core code needs to be rewritten to remove its arbitrary transaction limit, called the block size; they are opposed by others who want to double the transaction size using a clever workaround called “SegWit” that would not risk splitting the cryptocurrency. He strikes a diplomatic stance, offering support to neither camp: “Bitcoin is still stuck with the block size issue,” he says. “There is an urgent need to either increase block size or go with SegWit.”

There has been one other high-profile loss of customer funds by a bitcoin exchange since the Mt. Gox collapse. Bitfinex, the world’s largest exchange at the time, was hacked for $65 million in August 2016. The amount was so large that few believed the exchange could recover. Instead of declaring bankruptcy, Bitfinex spread the losses evenly across all its customers, then issued a tradable token that could be redeemed for the losses. As of April, those tokens were fully redeemed, meaning the losses had been reimbursed. “We’ve demonstrated an alternative to bankruptcy,” Bitfinex’s chief strategy officer told Bloomberg.

The Mt. Gox debt itself has been the focus of creative workarounds. One site, Mygoxclaim.com, allows people to buy Mt. Gox claims. Traders can buy a claim (paywall), denominated in bitcoin, at a discount, allowing some creditors to get paid immediately. Claim buyers stand to profit handsomely if the Mt. Gox trustee eventually pays the claim in full at a time when bitcoin prices are surging.

https://qz.com/1003609/bitcoins-soaring-price-means-mt-gox-could-pay-its-debts-and-drw-wants-to-help/

Interview with Steve Beauregard CEO of GoCoin, on Bitcoin and Starting Up in Singapore
Coin Republic
Published on Sep 23, 2013
http://coinrepublic.com/  Filmed at CAD Cafe in Bugis, Singapore, David Moskowitz talks with Steve Beauregard about Bitcoin, GoCoin, Start-ups and Singapore.
Filmed September 23, 2013.
 

Steve Beauregard - CEO at GoCoin - The Future of Payments
Keynote Events
Published on Feb 6, 2017
----------------------------------------------------------

 03/06/2014 10:25 am ET | Updated Mar 06, 2014
Autumn Radtke, Bitcoin Firm CEO, Found Dead In Singapore

The CEO of a Bitcoin exchange firm First Meta was found dead in her apartment in Singapore last week. She was 28.

Local media reports suggest Autumn Radtke may have committed suicide; however, an official cause of death has not been declared. An investigation has been launched into the “unnatural” death, a police spokesman told Reuters Wednesday.

R.I.P. Autumn Radtke 28 yrs CEO of First Meta, a Singapore Bitcoin trading suicide last night!  http://t.co/V32KtlUYEX pic.twitter.com/aMZSTkwdu3   

— The Bitcoin News (@TheBitcoinNews)  February 28, 2014

First Meta director Douglas Abrams confirmed Radtke’s death on Feb. 27.

“I was informed by the Singapore police about her death,” Abrams told The Wall Street Journal. “The cause of death is still under investigation.”

The virtual currency company released the following statement about Radtke’s death:

The First Meta team is shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and CEO Autumn Radtke. Our deepest condolences go out to her family, friends and loved ones. Autumn was an inspiration to all of us and she will be sorely missed.

Before becoming the CEO of First Meta in January 2012, Radtke worked for several fortune 500 companies, including Clear Channel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Most recently, she served as the director of business development for Xfire, which offers messaging services for gamers.

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/autumn-radtke-dead-dies-bitcoin-ceo-first-meta_n_4905688.html

 The baffling death in Singapore of young CEO with Bitcoin ties
Originally published March 21, 2014 at 8:00 pm Updated March 21, 2014 at 10:01 pm
Share story
By Rick Romell

Wherever she went — California, Asia; board meetings, sales calls — Autumn Radtke took a little bit of home with her.

“She had that quality from Wisconsin, an approachability and a warmth,” said Carey Radtke, her aunt. “It’s the truth. People who are from the Midwest, who are from Wisconsin, are like that and they don’t even know it, and that’s what drew people to her.”

She didn’t have prestigious educational credentials, but she impressed people who did. She believed strongly in personal responsibility and urged friends to do the same.

She grew up in Waukesha County, Wis., but wasn’t about to stay there. By 18, she was gone. A Facebook post shortly after her 27th birthday chronicled some of her travels: “I turned 23 in Los Angeles, 24 in San Francisco, 25 in Bali, 26 in Las Vegas and finally 27 in Singapore!”

Just a few months ago, she was brimming with optimism. “The feeling that I have right now,” she told a friend during a Skype conversation she included on her Facebook page, “is that I can go anywhere and do whatever I want.”

Then, on Feb. 26, she was dead. Her body was found about 7 a.m. near the foot of a high-rise apartment building in Singapore. Widely reported as an apparent suicide — something that remains unconfirmed — her death became a global story because of her connections to Bitcoin, the much discussed and controversial digital currency.

Whether Bitcoin figured in Radtke’s death is unknown, as indeed are the circumstances of her death itself. Singapore police have said only that they do not suspect foul play and that the death was “unnatural,” a classification that includes accidents as well as suicide.

What is clear is that Radtke, 28, had built a successful career working for early stage tech firms and was establishing expertise in the rapidly evolving world of virtual currencies.

“She really exceeded all expectations,” said Rahul Sonnad, who hired Radtke at age 23 to head business development for a company called Geodelic Systems that he had launched in Los Angeles. “Autumn had just an ability to connect with people.”

For Sonnad, the connection was tight enough that he flew to Milwaukee earlier this month for Radtke’s funeral. Others came from Asia and Europe, he said.

“Before that there were gatherings in Boston, Singapore and Venice Beach (Calif.) where lots of people showed up and shared their stories,” Sonnad said. “Just because, again, she touched so many people.”

Sonnad holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington. Radtke’s LinkedIn profile lists none. But she had a knack for cutting through tech jargon and explaining complicated and often slippery concepts.

“She was just really impressive in terms of abilities to speak and convey ideas,” Sonnad said.

Radtke spent 2˝
years with Geodelic and a year with the Internet gaming company Xfire, and caught the attention of Douglas Abrams, who brought Radtke to Singapore to run his virtual-currency exchange, First Meta.

A former executive with JPMorgan, Abrams moved to Singapore early in the last decade. He teaches courses related to entrepreneurship at the National University of Singapore and has provided early-stage investment to more than 20 companies.

Like Sonnad, he has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania — an MBA from its highly regarded Wharton School. And like Sonnad, he cared not at all that Radtke lacked that sort of pedigree.

In the startup environment especially, Abrams said, that’s no big deal.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in that,” he said. “I look more at the person and their ability.”

Abrams had been introduced to Radtke through a mutual friend, and when he went hunting for a CEO at First Meta, he contacted her.

“We interviewed several candidates and she came out on top,” Abrams said. “She took the job in January of 2012.”

First Meta is a small firm that lets people trade virtual currencies such as those used in online-fantasy worlds Second Life and IMVU.

“Autumn did a great job in her two years as CEO of First Meta,” Abrams said. “She redesigned the product. … She worked on several initiatives to take the business in a new direction. She did a lot of great work in streamlining and improving the operations.”

Radtke got First Meta ready to trade frequent-flier miles and loyalty points, something that hasn’t happened but holds potential, Abrams said.

“She was like a lot of smart entrepreneurs — she was a little ahead of the curve on that,” he said.

Overall, he estimated, First Meta’s revenue grew by 50 percent under her leadership.

First Meta isn’t a Bitcoin exchange, though it does accept Bitcoin as payment for other virtual currencies, Abrams said. Less than 2 percent of total payments come in Bitcoin, he said.

But while the business wasn’t making a market in the virtual currency, Radtke appeared to be quite interested in it.

Many of her more recent Facebook posts were about Bitcoin. She spoke at a Bitcoin conference in Singapore. And she was connected enough to virtual-currency pioneer Brock Pierce that he helped put together the memorial gathering for her in California.

“Autumn was a very active member of the Bitcoin community in Singapore,” Abrams said.

Bitcoin’s volatility has been volcanic. In January 2013, one unit of the virtual currency cost $14. Three months later, it topped $200, promptly dropped below $75, and generally hovered around $100 to $125 until early October.

Suddenly, it soared, plunged and rose again — hitting a high of more than $1,100 in early December, then shedding or gaining hundreds of dollars in price within as little as three days.

In early February, the troubles at Mt. Gox began to surface. Once the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox froze withdrawals in early February, saying a technical problem had allowed fraudsters to invade with fake withdrawal requests.

Three weeks later, Mt. Gox suddenly shut down. Speculation spread rapidly that it had collapsed, which in fact it had. Within days, Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy, and its founder said a weakness in the exchange’s systems was behind the loss of 750,000 bitcoins from users — worth more than $400 million.

Mt. Gox shut down Feb. 25, one day before Radtke’s death.

Steve Beauregard, who together with Pierce founded GoCoin, a payment service that lets merchants accept Bitcoin and Litecoin, another virtual currency, at checkout, said Radtke’s death had nothing to do with Bitcoin.

He criticized “the BS stories that are floating around,” and said that trying to connect her death and Bitcoin “is just absurd.”

Beauregard saw a lot of Radtke in her last months. First Meta used GoCoin’s service and Radtke was an adviser to Beauregard’s company. And, beginning in December, Beauregard rented space from Radtke in the three-story shophouse where she lived and where First Meta had its offices.

Radtke’s shophouse — a style of building originally constructed to include both living and business quarters — was in a historic area a couple of blocks from the apartment tower where her body was found.

Beauregard said Radtke felt First Meta hadn’t taken off the way she expected and that, “It wasn’t, professionally, where she wanted to be at this stage. She was definitely looking to transition to something else.”

Also saying that Radtke had been stressed about First Meta not growing as rapidly as she wanted was Wayne Soh. Soh is business-development manager at Plug and Play Singapore, a technology incubator that has invested in First Meta.

Beauregard said Radtke talked with him about entrepreneurial stress and about personal issues, which he wouldn’t describe.

“We talked about things that were troubling her, for sure, but among them was not the price of Bitcoin,” he said. “And it wasn’t Mt. Gox.”
http://www.seattletimes.com/business/the-baffling-death-in-singapore-of-young-ceo-with-bitcoin-ties/