More misleading reporting: Wired

As some people may have guessed from my Twitter account, we had some troubles with Wired in the past.
I will go in more details in the future, but for now I’ll focus on an article published one year ago, on March 3rd 2014. It appeared quite clearly that its author, Robert McMillan, was too focused on painting the worst image possible to even cross check what “an insider” has been telling him (he seems to have something against MtGox as seen in earlier articles).

It sure feels as if Wired had something against MtGox, but it’s no reason for publishing lies.

Just like last time, I’ll quote the article, then explain with factual elements how wrong it is, and where the truth actually lies. I’ll focus on the most obvious and easiest to disprove elements, while avoiding anything that could have an impact on ongoing procedures (both bankruptcy and law enforcement).

“In June 2011, attackers lifted the equivalent of $8.75 million.”

This is actually the first time I see this figure. I’m not sure where it comes from, but without sources it’s pretty much useless.
I would be curious to hear where this came from.

“A June 2011 hack took the site offline for several days

Actually more like a couple of weeks, because I had to rewrite the exchange backend from the ground up. I had to spend every day - including weekends - writing code, which is sometimes better done in a quiet environment. I also setup at that time the claim process (allowing users to gain access to their accounts), and handled with our handful of staff the first wave of customers.

“When Karpeles was interviewed by Reuters in the spring of 2013 — seated, inexplicably, on top of a blue pilates ball”

... Not “inexplicable” if you ask any employee who was there at the time (hint: you can see them in the video). I remember Reuter’s camera staff found these to look “2.0″ (some employees use balance balls as these can be good for your back).

““He likes to be praised, and he likes to be called the king of bitcoin,” says another insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Once again an anonymous insider. I do not believe anyone ever called me the “King of Bitcoin” - the best I had was from the article Barons of Bitcoin. Oh well...

“Mt. Gox, he says, didn’t use any type of version control software — a standard tool in any professional software development environment.“

This is probably the worst lie I ever saw. The platform system used by MtGox had been on version control since its very inception. The framework it was based on, which was our own code base, had been on version control (initially subversion, but then switched to git) since 2009. As a matter of fact, the very first commit is:

commit 692a0202f069bd3415e973e8e06d4cb6aaaf25fc
Author: Mark Karpeles <mark@tibanne.com>
Date:   Tue Sep 22 03:32:35 2009 +0000

To prove my point with an illustration, a commit graph from gitlab (only showing latest 6000 commits, however, so the history doesn’t go as far as 2009):

I don’t even understand the point of this lie, considering how any engineer who worked in the company knew otherwise; if the author of this article bothered a little to ask around, he could have found out about this quite easily (or maybe I am mistaken on what journalists are supposed to be).

Anyway let’s not stop there...

“According to this developer, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange had only recently introduced a test environment”

Uh, so, like, what? To be very honest, the test system we had was not perfect, and because we had several engineers working on it, we switched at some point from our former  test environment to individual VMs for every employee, each of them working on their own branch (setup via vagrant), but come on. The pre-production system had been alive since somewhere in 2011, and has been used from top to bottom since then.
Here you’d have to ask an engineer who was there before Vagrant was introduced, so I’ll let you have that one.

“One insider says that Mt. Gox spent the equivalent of $1 million on the cafe venture, renovating Mt. Gox’s office building to Karepeles’ specifications. At a time when Gox’s business was falling apart, this insider says, the project was a major distraction.”

“One insider” doesn’t sound like someone who actually knows anything about what happened in the inside (oh, and you spelled my name wrong). According to documents available to the public, the total amount of money dedicated to the Café was half of the amount written in this article (and not all was spent, since this was also the initial cash flow for the Café - including for salaries).

Moreover, we had dedicated staff in charge of the Café, and yes, I was involved in some meetings while things were fine (final decisions and so on), which is just normal considering the importance of the Café in terms of marketing in Japan (too bad this was delayed and in the end never launched, by the way).

““[Karpeles] was super-proud of being able to use his hacked cash register with the code he wrote,” this insider says.”

Once again, wow, such insider, very truth... Or not. The cash register code was written by a Tibanne employee back in 2012, and had been sitting, waiting for an appropriate use since then.

The major issue we encountered while trying to push the cash register was that our potential partners were not feeling good about being the first to use this technology. This was one of the major points that led us to open the Bitcoin Café.


 

The point here, like last time, is to show the volume of misinformation from this article. While some parts are more difficult for me to prove (maybe I should have “an insider” pledging for me) but I just can’t remain silent anymore.

I understand that sometimes press coverage relies on previously published materials by supposedly trustworthy publications, but it still might be a good idea to check facts anyway from times to times.

By the way remember that you can ask me anything, There is no guarantee it’ll be something I can reply to, but if it is I’ll be happy to.