It has been a rough few weeks for the Bitcoin cyber community. Autumn Radtke, the head executive of First Meta Exchange, was found dead in Singapore on Feb. 26 of “unnatural” causes. Her body was located by neighbors on the second-floor landing of a housing complex where she is believed to have lived. According to police, they had received a call for help from someone in the complex, although it isn’t clear from what address. Radtke reportedly lived on a floor above where she was found. Police have ordered toxicology tests to rule out foul play, but are suspecting suicide.
Radtke is best known for her work for Richard Branson, owner of the telecommunications empire, Virgin Group. Radtke worked for the corporation’s online booking service Virgin Charter briefly in 2008, before moving on to become the business development director at the gaming startup Xfire. She was also a founding member of Geodelic, known for its work in the mobile location based services sector.
In 2012, her career paths shifted when she was recruited by digital banking guru Douglas Abrams to head First Meta Exchange. Her appointment was seen as a prominent start for a new Bitcoin exchange, which under her leadership succeeded in securing $500,000 in venture capital from Plug and Play Tech and Singapore Foundation just as the exchange was expanding its services to the online virtual programs.
The death of First Meta’s head executive in Singapore comes on the heels of several other major upsets that could ultimately decide the future of cyber currency exchanges like Bitcoin. On Feb. 14, the sudden passing of Mikhail Sindeyev, 27, was announced in Russia. Sindeyev, “the coder,” who was a Ph.D. student at Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics RAS, was best known for his role in the startup crypto currency Huntercoin. Although Huntercoin was not part of the Bitcoin exchange, his work has had a decisive role in the success of cyber currencies. Police do not suspect foul play.
And last Friday the Japanese exchange Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy after disclosing an unexplained loss of 750,000 Bitcoins. The exchange has since updated that number to almost 200,000. According to Chief Executive Mark Karpeles, the company was hacked earlier this year, although analysts have noted that little information has been disclosed so far to explain how this could have occurred.
As Mt. Gox users discuss legal options for class-action suits, two other cyber currency exchanges have reported trouble as well, allegedly due to hackers. Complete figures haven’t been disclosed, but some analysts suggest that losses at Mt. Gox, Flexcoin and Poloniex indicate that tighter controls and more vigilant oversight is needed in the exchanges.
It is uncertain in the wake of other problems in the Bitcoin community, what impact the death of Radtke will have on First Meta Exchange in Singapore, where she served as head executive for two years. But clearly the loss of two groundbreakers who pioneered its start as a successful cyber currency will have an effect on how and whether the cyber currency recovers from financial problems.
By Jan Lee