During an interview with Reuter, Anne, the mother of Mark Karpeles, shed more light on the inner mind of her son and his character. Karpeles, the CEO of Mt. Gox, has been under scrutiny for his part and involvement in the demise of the failed bitcoin exchange.
Karpeles’ Early Years
Speaking in a telephone interview, Anne revealed that even though Karpeles was a bright child, he was a weak student, a terrible communicator and “too conciliatory”, letting others to take advantage of him.
Anne is fifty seven years old and currently lives in her home in Switzerland. She revealed that even though Karpeles was not such a great student, he was accepted to Mensa as a teenager. Mensa is an international society for those with a high IQ. From a very early age, Karpeles was interested in and loved computing.
Remembering Karpeles’ first days in Dijon in the Burgundy region of France, Anne said that he was not difficult to deal with but was actually too appeasing in certain area. Other students took advantage of that character trait present in her son. For example, there were those who would ask him to do their homework. She said,
“He was a terrible student. Terrible. Most subjects didn’t interest him. He took a Mensa test, passed it and was admitted into Mensa … during his teenage years. Prodigies understand things straight away, but you don’t learn without repetition, without exercises. But that he didn’t understand.”
Stating that she herself came from a difficult upbringing, Anne stated that it was not any easier for Karpeles growing up. She said that her grandmother, mother and she herself all lived alone. Talking about her own mother, Anne admitted that she was “harsh and difficult” for a variety of reasons. Karpeles was born to a single-parent.
Karpeles, The Programmer Revealed
From early on, Karpeles was constantly changing schools. His mother stated that she tried the best that she could do for him as a mother and provide as many opportunities as she could for him from very early on. “Computing was his thing. We began programming in BASIC on our little Sinclair (computer). This was around when he was 5 or 6. He loved it,” she said.
Karpeles failed in his “second-last year of high school and decided to quit.” His mother encouraged him to become a plumber because of his decision to drop out of high school. Karpeles got his electrician’s diploma.
Anne noticed Karpeles’ growing interest in computing when she saw him carrying around a book called “PHP.” When questioned about the book, Karpeles told his mother that he had become a doctor in PHP, a computer programming language.
He tried to find work with a server company in Israel but that ended in failure. Later, Karpeles joined Nexway, a software distribution firm. In 2009, he was promoted and offered a position in Japan by the company.
Karpeles was very excited about this new opportunity and learned business Japanese before he left for his new position.
Karpeles Terrible Communication Skills
Over the years, Anne and her son’s relationship became long distance and they both drifter apart. Marrying without even telling his mother, Karpeles only informed her after the birth of his own son. His mother emphasized on Karpeles’ lack of communication skills even on a personal level.
The first time Anne heard about the fiasco of Mt. Gox was when a local reporter telephoned her. She said that she did not even know her son was the CEO of the company and “had to look it up on Wikipedia.”
Mt. Gox was one of the largest international bitcoin exchanges in the digital currency community. It filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan by the end of February 2014 blaming hackers and a flaw in the bitcoin protocol for its loss of about 850,000 bitcoins.
Last week a Tokyo court dismissed the ex-bitcoin exchange’s proposal to revive its company and now, Mt. Gox faces liquidation. The court-appointed administrator stated, Karpeles is very likely to be investigated for liability in the ex-bitcoin exchanges collapse. On the other side of the pond, former United States’ investors have filed a class action lawsuit against Mt. Gox claiming fraud by workers at the exchange and Karpeles himself.
“I don’t understand (the fraud accusations),” said Anne. She further stated if there was legitimate dishonesty on the part of her son, she would not try to put a cover over him.
In 2006, Karpeles admitted in a blog post that he had two computer fraud-related convictions before he turned 21. When asked about this, his mother said “There are maybe things he hid from me.”