Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
Ready yourself — it may be time to say goodbye to bitcoin.
The Japanese company’s website went into a total blackout and its offices transformed into a ghost town, with the only living souls being the protesters outside, who claimed to have lost money from the company, Reuters said.
"We should have an official announcement ready soon-ish,” Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles told Reuters. “We are currently at a turning point for the business. I can't tell much more for now as this also involves other parties."
This is a hard hit for supporters of bitcoins, which dropped from “being valued at more than $1,000 late last year” to being worth near $500, Business Week reported.
One prominent bitcoin blogger, Ryan Galt, expressed his concern over the bitcoin industry, Business Week reported.
“This is catastrophic, and I am sorry to share this,” he wrote, according to Business Week. “I do believe that this is one of the existential threats to bitcoin that many have feared and have personally sold all of my Bitcoin holdings through Coinbase.”
Opinions have differed among analysts over what this will mean for the bitcoin, as seen in a round-up by USA Today.
Mark Gongloff of The Huffington Post is less optimistic about the virtual currency. He wrote that Mt.Gox was surrounded in controversy recently, especially with people losing their bitcoins.
“The Mt.Gox debacle has justified the worst fears anybody might have had about jumping into Bitcoins — namely, that your digital money can be hacked and stolen just like your identity or any other digital property,” Gongloff wrote.
But Timothy Kelly of ForexTV believes bitcoins aren’t going anywhere, and that people should still seek to add the virtual currency to their lives.
“Bitcoin is having growing pains, but reports of its demise are definitely premature,” wrote Kelly. “I would challenge any reporter to defend their assertion that the current issues facing Bitcoin are cause to predict the ‘endgame’ for Bitcoin, aside from sensational speculation.”
Heather Timmons of Quartz was somewhat split, saying that Mt.Gox’s fall could be the end of the bitcoin, but its fate wasn’t necessarily all spelled out.
“Confidence — that bitcoin is a reliable store of value, and that it can be used without fear of getting totally ripped off — is just the problem for bitcoin,” Timmons wrote. “Mt.Gox is by far the largest in a long string of collapses and thefts that have plagued the upstart currency. The exchange had its humble roots as an online marketplace for wizard-themed playing cards (its full name derives from “Magic: the Gathering Digital Exchange), but in the end it made a fortune in bitcoins disappear into thin air. The question now is whether bitcoin will follow suit.”