WBD079 Audio Transcription
Brock Pierce on Reviving Mt. Gox
Interview date: Wednesday 13th Feb, 2019
Note: the following is a transcription of my interview with Brock Pierce. I have reviewed the transcription but if you find any mistakes, please feel free to email me. You can listen to the original recording here.
In the fifth part of my series of interviews relating to Mt. Gox, I talk with Brock Pierce, the architect of Gox Rising, a mission to support creditors, maximise revenues and relaunch the exchange.
“If someone came to me today and said should I put my money in this or banks I’d say no, you should keep your money in the bank, banks are better than we are today.”
— Brock Pierce
Peter McCormack: Hi Brock. How are you doing?
Brock Pierce: I’m doing well, it’s been a good and very busy couple of weeks.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I can imagine. Thank you for rescheduling. We were meant to talk tomorrow, but I’m taking a very late flight to Tokyo to talk to Mark Karpeles. So it’s obviously good to talk to you as well. I’m trying to build up the entire picture of the story and talk to everyone. So good to talk to you. It’ll be good to talk to him. Just before we get going, just one off topic question. How’s everything in Puerto Rico?
Brock Pierce: Well we’ve been down there for about a year and a half. Obviously things were very, very bad following Hurricane Maria and it took a very long time for just the basic infrastructure to be back up and running. But the island is for the most part, entirely recovered from the hurricane with the exceptions of the center of the island and the very remote sort of places where power lines go down that are going into very small villages. Those sorts of groups are still suffering to some extent. But then all the cities are fully recovered.
The real issue though was not the hurricane, the real issue is what I refer to as a sustained brain drain. It’s due to a lack of opportunity. The best and the brightest, the people with the intellectual capital, human capital, the financial capital, spiritual capital, those people due to a lack of opportunity are consistently leaving. Following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico went from 3.5 million people to 3 million people, losing 500,000 people. Who do you think were the 500,000 to leave? It’s the people with the means to do so. It’s the people that have the abundance of the things that I mentioned.
So Puerto Rico has been undergoing a sustained brain drain and I don’t just mean of the current leaders, but I mean the future leaders. Puerto Ricans are so well educated, they’re so capable, they’re so competent, but due to a lack of opportunity, when you graduate from college, you leave. Puerto Rico’s number one export is human beings; Puerto Ricans! They have the number 15 engineering school in the United States. Facebook, Google, NASA, Exxon have basically full-time recruiters hanging out at the universities because it’s one of the best schools in the country, but where there’s no jobs. I mean it’s one of the best places to hire people. So Puerto Rico is undergoing this sustain brain drain and how do you combat a brain drain? With a brain gain.
So what we’re trying to do is bring in some of that intellectual capital, some of that human capital, some of that financial capital, some of that spiritual capital to bring Angel Investors, bring mentors, bring some of that positivity and hopefully provide tools to enable new opportunities. Historically, there had been no Puerto Rican startups that had ever raised money. Two startups the end of last year raised over a million bucks each.
We’re going to have hopefully many more of those this year, because you now have Angels, because you now have mentors, because you have co-working facilities, you have accelerators, you have incubators, you have co living spaces. You have the beginning of a startup society emerging, which means if you have a dream to do something entrepreneurial, you don’t have to go to New York or San Francisco anymore, you now can stay in Puerto Rico. Or if you’re a Puerto Rican that has left and working on a startup in San Francisco or New York, it’s now an option to go back to Puerto Rico and work on these things.
Historically, that has not been the case. One of the things that we as a community can do more than anything else, one of the areas where we can have a big impact is obviously in this area. We’re a startup culture and so governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars trying to make the types of impact we’re talking about or hoping or aspiring to make and often fail. So, this is again one of those really big kind of crazy, audacious goals and if we’re really lucky, we can bring some of these tools that starts to inspire some change, for things to really turn around maybe 5,000 or 10,000 of us can move down there over time.
But hopefully, what we’re really counting on is that 250,000 really talented Puerto Ricans go back to Puerto Rico out of, call it the 6 million of the diaspora. Puerto Rico’s long-term success is going to be determined by a bunch of really talented Puerto Ricans going back to Puerto Rico and to be responsible for making things better. We’re a tiny little community that are just there to do what we can. But Puerto Rico’s long-term success is going to be determined by Puerto Ricans. We’re just here to support in the little ways that we can.
Peter McCormack: Great, because I know it’s important to you and I know the population suffered after Maria, but we also, we’ve got a lot to unpack here. I’ve spoken to Jed, I spoken to Daniel Kelman, I’m going to be speaking to Mark, I’m speaking to you. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, so there’s a lot to unpack here.
I’m trying to build a picture of the whole story of what’s going on with Mt. Gox, so I’m going to work through it with you. Just to begin with, Brock, tell me where you fit in to the whole picture and the whole story of Mt. Gox and also are you actual creditor as well? Did you lose in Mt. Gox in the original hack?
Brock Pierce: I have been involved in some way with Mt. Gox for 6, 7 years. It all started with me looking at acquiring the business in late 2012 and early 2013. That’s where I got engaged with Mark and engaged with the business for the first time. In terms of being a creditor… No, because after the first attempt of buying the business, which went on in my organization for call it 6–9 months.
When I went back the second time, to acquire the business and then it evolved into working on a joint venture to create mtgox.cn and to bring Mt. Gox into China. This is before Bitcoin was popular in China. My background was in virtual currency in China, we had a supply chain of about 400,000 people playing games to mine currencies in China. We helped launch Alipay and lots of things. So I figured, we can introduce China to Bitcoin in a big way and Mt. Gox would have been the right platform to do it with.
But one of the problems is Mark Karpeles was running a bakery at the time and I think he was spending 6–8 hours a day focused on making Danish and croissants and this is as Mt. Gox was at its highest points. This is as Bitcoin was running up. So instead of securing those customer funds and making sure that the business was being well run, he was more interested in his baking skills. So after having seen that, I didn’t see anything that said money was missing. I didn’t see anything that led me to believe that a fraud was occurring, but I certainly saw a lot of incompetence and a lot of mismanagement and a CEO who’s supposed to be running a high growth business and a fiduciary of hundreds of millions of dollars of customer money, more interested in his croissants and Danish, than his customers and his business.
Which didn’t inspire any confidence in the exchange. But I didn’t see any criminal acts in my diligence, but I wasn’t also given…Mark wasn’t very forthcoming. He wasn’t giving me full access to the books. He was very protective of the innermost details and so obviously I would’ve rang the alarm bells had I known something.
If I had known that Mt. Gox had already been hacked and that he was aware of it and that he wasn’t telling anyone and that he was running a Willy Bot or things of that nature. Had I known the things that we know now, I would have done more, but it’s not my business when I’m seeing, call it mismanagement. But that doesn’t give me the right to go and to the biggest business in the space and tell everyone, “hey, you need to pull your money out now.” I was never given enough information, where I felt that that needed to happen. But personally I wasn’t going to use Mt. Gox considering all that I’d seen.
Peter McCormack: Okay. Do you own Mt. Gox or do you have a claim to Mt. Gox?
Brock Pierce: Yeah, I’ve never said I own Mt. Gox and if you look at any of the interviews or any of my statements, I said I have a claim or arguably I might. I signed deals with both Jed McCaleb and Mark Karpeles to acquire the business in early 2014. Again, this was when the business was worth negative hundreds of millions of dollars. This was not the only reason there was zero opportunity there. The only reason that I got involved then and the only reason I’m still involved now, is I care about what’s best for Bitcoin.
I’ve got more investments than almost anyone in this space, maybe anyone. I’ve started, I think more companies than anyone in this space. So what’s good for Bitcoin is good for me. This is why when you watch my talks or you watch my interviews, most people are busy promoting their project and speaking biasly about their project and I almost never promote anything. I basically just talk about the ecosystem because what’s good for the ecosystem generally is good for me.
Peter McCormack: That sounds a bit like Roger. Roger does that.
Brock Pierce: Yeah, where your eggs are not all in one basket but you’re so cross-pollinated all over the ecosystem. I don’t care if this project succeeds or that project succeeds. I don’t care if it’s a project that I own part of or own none of, to me I’m indifferent as I care about the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem.
Peter McCormack: Okay.
Brock Pierce: So the reason for getting involved in this deal, when first collapsed, is because I was very concerned about the impact a failure of Mt. Gox was going to have on the ecosystem. My view on day one and this is before it became evident, is that this was going to be our Lehman brothers. This was going to be our Bear Stearns and I said very specifically to Mark at the time and I think to more or less everyone I spoke to, that this is probably going to set our industry back by a year or two. This is going to trigger a very deep bear market for the ecosystem. I think I was right. Mt. Gox’s failure in 2014 was responsible more than anything else for the bear market of 2014 and 2015. You could even argue it’s somewhat responsible for the bear market of today.
Peter McCormack: Yeah. I agree almost certainly the first bear market you referred to. But also there are some benefits to what happened with Mt. Gox in that it became a big warning to all future exchanges on how important security could be. So I’m not going to excuse anyone’s previous mistakes, but I guess when you’re creating the first ever global Bitcoin exchange, there’s a lot of challenges that you are unaware of because they haven’t happened. Whereas if you’re creating after Mt. Gox, at least you’ve got some experience of some of the things that have happened. Also I do sometimes think we possibly look at 2013 with our 2018, $20,000 Bitcoin eyes on and perhaps don’t always appreciate it was a different time. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Brock Pierce: I do, but I would disagree with you a little bit on one point. I believe you’re right in the sense of what should have happened; Mt. Gox should have been a warning of what not to do and it should have caused the industry to raise the bar Aad it should have woken Bitcoin holders up not to leave their money in centralized exchanges, to withdraw more frequently. All the things we would have, could have, should have done and learn from that experience. But it’s not an isolated incident.
What happened at Mt. Gox has continued to happen over 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and it’s already happened in 2019. We’re barely just over a month into this year and we’ve already had Cryptopia and QuadrigaCX. The fact that these types of events continue to plague our industry like a broken record is shocking. I’m going to make a pretty outlandish statement with my next words, but we talk about how we’re the future of the financial system.
We sometimes like to think that we might be better than the old financial system. The reality is if someone came to me and said, “hey, should I put my money into this or banks”, I’d say, no, you should keep your money in banks. Banks are better than we are today and that isn’t how it should be. But that still is a reality because the exchanges have not raised the bar. The exchanges are not doing all they can do. We have not evolved into noncustodial exchanges. Exchanges are not systematically using multisig in the way that they should. Customers are not pulling out their money as often as they should. They’re not being their own banks. The reality is the problems that existed in 2013, still exist to a degree far greater than they should right now.
Peter McCormack: We shouldn’t group everyone together though because, some exchanges operate with great practices. I think what Jesse Powells doing at Kraken is pretty impressive. I’m not a huge fan of Coinbase or Gemini, but as far as I’m aware, they’re pretty good with their custody. I think it’s case by case basis and there are better examples and they’re still poor examples. But, anyway, let’s get back to the key points. So let’s separate your deal with Jed’s 12% and Mark’s separately. I’m just going to go based on what I’ve read. So from Jed’s understanding it was for 1 Bitcoin and he never received it. What’s the status of that 12%?
Brock Pierce: Jed and I have been talking and we continue to talk. Jed has stated to me recently, as well as I think to the Fortune journalist, I don’t know what he said to you. But, he said that he continues to support this claim. I don’t know what he said to you. More importantly, I’ll have a lot more to say about that in the days to come. There’s a lot of documentation related to this stuff that hasn’t been published, but most importantly, I don’t even care who owns it. This is the part of the conversation I’m a little confused by.
I’ve made it very clear that I think creditors deserve 100% of that cash and coin. It’s my goal to make that equity worthless. I think I’ve been pretty consistent in those statements. I think the equity should get nothing. The equity should be wiped out. The victims, the 24,000 people that have filed claims with the bankruptcy court, should get everything. So it doesn’t matter who owns the equity. It literally does not matter as long as the equity gets nothing. So I don’t personally care, the fact that we even have conversations about this is kind of irrelevant, unless someone thinks the equity deserves something. So what I find very confusing is why people care so much. What it leads me to believe is that someone secretly is hoping to get a windfall from this. It clearly ain’t me.
Peter McCormack: Why are you in disagreement with Mark over the validity of the claim, then if the equity doesn’t matter?
Brock Pierce: This is Mark. This is Daniel Kelman. This isn’t me. Well Mark Karpeles I think believes he still runs Mt. Gox. I think he thinks he’s the man kind of behind the curtain, still pulling all the strings because, Mark and Kim Nilsson are partners, they work together in my understanding fulltime. Daniel Kelman is their lawyer, as I understand it. So the three of them are all partners, as I understand it.
So I don’t know why they care so much about this. I don’t personally care much. The only reason I’m responding to it is because they keep trying to make the claim that Mark Karpeles owns Mt. Gox. Why Mark Karpeles cares so much about owning Mt. Gox, I guess I understand, if Mark does own it, let’s say I did have a claim for example, and let’s say that it was in fact Mark still owns the 88%, which very well could be the case, right? Let’s just assume that’s the case. Mark has no say in what happens at Tibanne. Tibanne is in bankruptcy, meaning that Tibanne has a bankruptcy trustee that’s currently responsible for Tibanne. What is the responsibility of a bankruptcy trustee? To collect as much as that trustee can on behalf of the organization he’s representing. So the bankruptcy trustee of Tibanne’s job is to try and get that $700 million surplus into Tibanne. That’s his job as I understand it, right?
So it’s very easy for Mark to say, “Oh, I don’t want any of that”. But Mark doesn’t even have a say in what happens. Mark has no say or is not supposed to have any say in what happens at Tibanne. There is a bankruptcy trustee that is responsible for what happens there. So I’m of the opinion that Mark is secretly pretending to be a saint, even though I think considering the fact that he’s being sentenced in March for fraud and other things, I think it’s a hard claim to make.
But it’s very easy to say I don’t want anything when he doesn’t even have a say in what happens. There’s a bankruptcy trustee who’s job it is to try and collect. So I assume that maybe Daniel Kelman has some percentage of that and Kim, I mean they’re all partners. So I’m curious why they care. I don’t personally care. In an ideal world, both Mark and I would, sign some sort of binding agreement that says creditors get everything and to hell with this whole conversation.
The only thing that matters is the outcome. I don’t care about what happened in the past. The only reason I’ve even mentioned it is because it’s a matter of continuity. I’ve been working on this for 6 or 7 years. It’s not relevant as far as I’m concerned. The only thing that matters is that the outcome is that the creditors get everything.
Peter McCormack: I’m not sure on your point about Kelman. I know Kelman’s a lawyer, but I don’t believe he has a shareholding or is a partner. I believe actually his interest is representing the creditors.
Brock Pierce: Well, I mean I know he’s retained by people. Who does he worked for?
Peter McCormack: I can’t give you the answer to that, but being retained as a lawyer…
Brock Pierce: Well if we don’t know…. what I would love to know is, is Mark Karpeles a client?
Peter McCormack: But that would be very different from claiming as a client or claiming as a partner, because a partner implies there’s a business.
Brock Pierce: Well hold on, the lawyers…. Mark Karpeles doesn’t have money. So I imagine any lawyer that would work for Mark Karpeles would be working on a contingency basis. That is pretty much standard in law. When you don’t have money and you might be someone that could be the beneficiary of a big payday, normally the way that you get representation is on a contingency basis.
That’s kind of the normal thing. So let’s forget about this scenario. What would be standard anywhere else in the world is that the lawyers that work for Mark Karpeles would be working on a contingency basis. That would be what is normal.
Peter McCormack: Okay, but let’s not go with conjecture because neither of us know.
Brock Pierce: By the way, nor do I know and this is if you’re interviewing everybody, I would be asking those questions. I mean these are things…. I don’t care about who owns Mt. Gox. Somebody else clearly cares a great deal. So I’m curious why? If everybody wants to creditors to get everything, why is this conversation so important? It’s kind of not relevant.
Peter McCormack: You’ve said, in an ideal world that you and Mark would sign an agreement that the creditors get everything. What kind of agreement would you be signing? What’s the legal basis? What is your picture here you’re trying to give?
Brock Pierce: Well my lawyers say we have a very strong claim. Now I’ll be releasing all the documentation at some point in the not too distant future. But ideally what we would be doing is waiving a claim. The problem is I think any document Mark would sign, is that it can’t be binding because Mark has no say in what happens at Tibanne. The bankruptcy trustee of Tibanne is in control of what happens at Tibanne. I don’t think Mark has a say in what happens.
Peter McCormack: Well therefore why do your lawyers think you have a good claim, because your original contract of intent was with mark and he…
Brock Pierce: Well again you should reread that letter. It was not a letter of intent. It’s very specifically and I’ll just give you a little bit of way of background because you may want to read it. When I called up Mark Karpeles to do that deal and keep in mind there’s a bunch of other documents. When we agreed to that, I said, “Mark, Mt. Gox is in flames, right? This is a crisis. It’s like the city is burning down and it’s the most important business in crypto at the time”. You have to go back in time and Mark has no idea what he’s doing. He is so in over his head. He’s got his baking outfit on and he’s wearing his French pastry hat and he’s going, “oh my God, where’s the Bitcoins” and no one even knows and all the money’s missing at the time.
Remember there were no Bitcoins left. Everything was gone. Remember that’s what most people forget, the 200,000 Bitcoin were found later. Everything was gone. The crazy thing is those coins were being stolen over years. It didn’t happen in one action, meaning that Mark Karpeles never bothered once to check the cold storage to see that the money was even there. Literally no one was even going and checking to see, are the coins we have there? I mean kind of crazy that you wouldn’t, I mean I understand that you’re not checking every minute, maybe you don’t have a live feed. But you think every month someone would go take a look at the vault and do some reconciliation. I mean kind of best practices. I mean we’re talking criminal incompetencies, criminal negligence here.
Peter McCormack: Of course, but we know all this? These aren’t new facts, right?
Brock Pierce: I was getting to the point of what was happening, because I don’t think you’ve read that agreement correctly.
Peter McCormack: Well you tell me what I’ve missed.
Brock Pierce: The business was in flames and Mark agreed that I was taking over the business in full. He was stepping aside and was just going to be there to be helpful as needed. How long does it take to draft a long-form agreement?
Peter McCormack: You tell me?
Brock Pierce: More than a couple of days. We took over the business immediately and so that binding agreement was drafted, as the binding agreement, so that I can start spending hundreds of thousands of dollars that day. As we were then supposed to be drafting a long form agreement over the subsequent 60 days and let the lawyers work that out. But Mark was handing me the keys immediately and I was paying $100,000+ retainers in Japan, $100,000+ retainers in the US, $250,000 deals with crisis PR firms, massive amounts of capital outlays. Not like in the weeks to come, but immediately!
Peter McCormack: But that’s your choice. If you don’t have the full contract, that’s still your choice?
Brock Pierce: No, this was the deal that was negotiated. Mark was handing over the business to me to run immediately, prior to that agreement being signed, because you don’t wait two months to go sending the fire department. We were the immediate fire department, which is why it says that contract is 100% binding and under no scenario whatsoever was Tibanne ever allowed out of that agreement.
The only party that had an ability to unravel that binding agreement was me under only one scenario and that is if Sunlot was implicated in criminal action or civil actions as a result of our involvement. Meaning I was going in as the fire department to try and clean up this mess and if all of a sudden I’m dealing with criminal problems for trying to be the Good Samaritan or if all of a sudden I’m getting suited and added as a party to all the class action lawsuits. At that point, I’m the only party that has the right to walk away. You have to go read that agreement again.
Peter McCormack: Okay. I mean I will, but it says there’s a letter of intent and look, I’m not a lawyer. It talks about being a letter of intent, yes it mentions it’s binding, but it talks about a 45 day closure period and from….
Brock Pierce: Did you see the rescission agreement from Mark?
Peter McCormack: Is that the thing he sent back to you?
Brock Pierce: Yeah, the confirmation letter that confirmed the deal. It’s called the confirmation letter and says confirmation at the top.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, but you didn’t sign that?
Brock Pierce: Of course not. Mark called me up after I retained everybody and now we’re spending money and my team has basically taken over the cleanup. The fire department is there in full force helicopters in the air and he said, “Brock, will you please sign this rescission agreement and then we’ll sign another agreement in week”. I’m like, are you kidding? We just signed a binding agreement. We’re working 24 hours, basically a day. We’re barely sleeping. I said, “why would I sign a rescission agreement?” Then what happened is Mark wanted out of the deal and Mark didn’t act in good faith. Mark refused to work on the long form agreement. Mark did not want to do the deal at that point, even though he signed a binding agreement that required by law that he in good faith works on that agreement over the next 45 days, which he refused to do.
Peter McCormack: I mean I’ve bought and sold businesses Brock and the types of contracts that I signed…
Brock Pierce: Yeah, I’ve done about $5 billion worth of deals
Peter McCormack: Way more than me and probably way more value….
Brock Pierce: I’ve spent over $25 million on lawyers.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, that’s more money I spent in my whole life. But at the same time, probably even more relevant because of the size of the businesses I’ve bought and sold are so small, yet the kind of contracts I’ve had a very different from that agreement; they’re very long, they’re are full of terms.
Brock Pierce: Have you ever bought a company that was underwater by $500 million that had become one of the biggest scandals in the world? Major News. If you go take a look at deals like these that had been done. When you watch basically when a nuclear bomb goes off, deals are typically done in 24 hours and they’re done with binding letters of intent. That’s kind of what is standard. Go try and go look at some case precedents, go look at situations like this and you’ll see this as standard.
Peter McCormack: I’m not a lawyer so I need to check that. But either way, a moment ago you said it doesn’t matter who owns the business, but now it seems…
Brock Pierce: I still stand by that statement. You’re the one asking questions. So I’m answering.
Peter McCormack: But now it seems like you’re getting very passionate about how binding this agreement is. So it’s kind of like…
Brock Pierce: Well I’m pissed off, I’m pissed off that Mark let us come in here, do all this work, spend all this money, cleanup his mess. And then he acted in bad faith, in breach of contract at the time and is acting like “what, there’s no claim here”. It’s like, he’s got a memory that operates off of convenience. I mean, I don’t care, but I have good reason. I blew probably $1 million trying to clean up this mess.
Peter McCormack: Did you keep audits of that and receipts of all that?
Brock Pierce: Yeah, of course. It’s a company that raised capital. We talked to your investors in the ecosystem that got behind the idea of trying to clean this up.
Peter McCormack: So what I’m not clear on then is, do you want to take control of Mt. Gox?
Brock Pierce: There’s two parts of this. One is I want the creditors to get everything and I want to make sure Mark Karpeles gets none.
Peter McCormack: Well do you know what, I’ve read through his AMA and I spoken to quite a few creditors. I don’t believe Mark wants anything of that money.
Brock Pierce: It’s not his say, the Tibanne bankruptcy trustee is in charge of that.
Peter McCormack: So you don’t have to do anything therefore then to deal with your second point. So your first point is you want to make sure the creditors get everything, great!
Brock Pierce: And I want to make sure Tibanne gets nothing.
Peter McCormack: But you’ve already said Mark doesn’t have control of that anyway, so that’s fine.
Brock Pierce: My point is this is not an issue between Mark and I. This is an issue that between the bankruptcy trustee of Tibanne and I.
Peter McCormack: So do you therefore want control of the company?
Brock Pierce: What company, you have to be very specific about what…
Peter McCormack: Mt. Gox. Will you make a claim for ownership of Mt. Gox? Will you pursue legal action?
Brock Pierce: No, the claim that I think we published on our website is we’re interested in putting a bid in for the brand and domain names. I mean theoretically it could be done through civil rehabilitation. We filed and if you go take a look at our 33 page civil rehabilitation plan filed in April 2014. I don’t know if you’ve read that document?
Peter McCormack: I have, but there is already a civil rehabilitation plan in place.
Brock Pierce: I’m talking about 2014.
Peter McCormack: Yes, But there is already a civil….
Brock Pierce: So in 2014, we wrote a civil rehabilitation plan, which is essentially more or less what’s there today. We wrote the plan, we filed it with the bankruptcy courts, we’ve done all the things. So there’s two ways that we could do this today. One is we could file a civil rehabilitation plan, try and rehabilitate the original company. I don’t think that makes any sense because that would likely create delays. We’re not interested in delaying the process in any way whatsoever. We want to see creditors get paid, the cash and coin, all of it without selling any more coin as soon as possible. So far that looks like that might happen pretty well on its own. So I think today there’s no reason for us to submit a civil rehabilitation plan. In an ideal world based upon everything we know today, all we need to do is submit a bid to buy the intangible assets.
Peter McCormack: Okay, so there isn’t going to be any legal action. Are you basically formally confirming that you are not going to be making any legal claim for the ownership of Mt. Gox.
Brock Pierce: I’m not formally saying anything. Certainly not on a conversation like this, I would never.
Peter McCormack: Okay, so there is a non zero chance that you still are interested in making a claim for Mt. Gox.
Brock Pierce: Again, this is a very non-legal question and you’re asking what is Mt. Gox? If we’re going to talk, ask legal questions, you need to frame them appropriately.
Peter McCormack: Well, I guess what it is….
Brock Pierce: What is Mt. Gox you mean? Mt. Gox, the Japanese entity that’s currently in bankruptcy.
Peter McCormack: Well, I guess what I’m getting at, so I’ve been on the Gox Rising website, right? I’ve seen the plan and I’ve looked at the vision and it says you need support of at least 12,000 creditors. So basically more than 50% for your plan.
Brock Pierce: No, again the plan that’s there, if you read the bottom of it, I’m not sure you read everything from top to bottom. It doesn’t sound like it because it doesn’t sound like you’ve actually read the letter of intent.
Peter McCormack: Yeah I have. I’ve read it all.
Brock Pierce: You have read it, okay. But, it says at the bottom of those statements that we’re working with creditors and those things will continue to be refined. We published something so that we can have a conversation and we talk to creditors every day.
Peter McCormack: Okay. Help me understand because I’m trying to picture it. If there is already a civil rehabilitation process in play, the trustee is already working.
Brock Pierce: Who’s your Japanese lawyers? Who are you working with?
Peter McCormack: I’m not working with any lawyers Brock.
Brock Pierce: So where are you getting your information from?
Peter McCormack: Well I’m getting my information from what I’ve read online. I spoke to Daniel Kelman who is working with the creditors. I’ve also obviously checked out the Telegram group. It seems to me that…
Brock Pierce: What Telegram group?
Peter McCormack: The creditor’s one.
Brock Pierce: Which one is that? There’s a lot of them.
Peter McCormack: I was in a creditors one that I was recommended to go in. There is a process in place with the trustees. There is an agreement in place that x amount will be paid back. It was based on the dollar value at the time. So there is a civil rehabilitation process in place…
Brock Pierce: No, that was called a liquidation, not a civil rehabilitation.
Peter McCormack: Apologies, sorry. Mark wants to put a civil rehabilitation process in place following….
Brock Pierce: Mark who?
Peter McCormack: Karpeles. Okay, what am I missing here? I’m going around in circles with you here Brock. What am I missing? What have I got wrong here? What am I not understanding? Because it sounds to me like there was a process in play and now you’re part of it. Help me understand then because I’m obviously confused between what was already happening and what your doing. So help me understand.
Brock Pierce: So well first of all what’s going on right now? Please help me understand what you consider to be the current or present circumstances. I just heard you say that Mark is running this process.
Peter McCormack: No, I didn’t say Mark is running it. So when I spoke to Daniel Kelman, he explains…
Brock Pierce: So is Daniel Kelman running this process?
Peter McCormack: No, but he represents a bunch of the creditors, right?
Brock Pierce: How many?
Peter McCormack: I don’t know. He didn’t give me a number at the time. But you’re now interviewing me and I’m the guy trying to find the facts. Let’s do it the other way, because I don’t know all the facts and this is why I’m speaking to everybody, you and everyone else. You tell me what is going on, what am I missing? Because from what I seen, there was a process in place being run by the trustee. That process whereby they’ve agreed of the liquidated assets. After the liquidation of the assets, there is this somewhat 160,000 Bitcoins left. From that there’s going to be a civil rehabilitation process which will redistribute those to the creditors? Am I right there?
Brock Pierce: Kind of. That’s all a potentiality. There is no certainties here. The bankruptcy was filed on February 28th 2014, so we’re about to hit the five year anniversary and this is far more complicated and not so easy to simplify.
Peter McCormack: Tell me about it. I’ve been down this rabbit hole for a long time and you go round in circles. But anyway, as I understand it and as I’ve said, correct me if I’m wrong, the liquidation process based on Japanese law was designed to pay back people the value in a Yen because of the ridiculous rise in the price of Bitcoin. There’s like 160,000 Bitcoin leftover. Mark said his claim is that he doesn’t want these. Jed has said…
Brock Pierce: Is it Mark saying that? Tibanne has to make that statement and Tibanne is in bankruptcy, so it gets even more complicated. That’s my point, it’s so complicated.
Peter McCormack: Okay. Just bear with me. Who owns Tibanne? Mark’s a 100% shareholder, right?
Brock Pierce: Yes, correct. By the way Mark is personally in bankruptcy too.
Peter McCormack: Okay. But there was conjecture that because of the way Japanese law works, usually you don’t have a bankruptcy followed by a massive increase in the value of the assets of a company. It’s unheard of.
Brock Pierce: These things only happen like Beverly Hillbillies, when all of a sudden a failed business has an investment or has some other asset that then skyrockets in value. It’s like you struck oil, where all of a sudden a company that is substantially underwater in terms of it’s liabilities vastly exceed its assets.
So then all of a sudden, somehow the assets exceed the liabilities. This is very rare. Again, this entire case is really interesting because of how unusual it is on so many levels. Then on top of it all, it’s not in the United States. It’s in Japan where bankruptcy almost never happens in Japan. Bankruptcies are very rare in Japan too.
Peter McCormack: But let’s stay on track Brock. So as I understand it, you say it’s different, but the conjecture was or the theory was that Tibanne would have a claim to those assets because of the way Japanese bankruptcy law works.
Brock Pierce: And they currently have a claim filed today.
Peter McCormack: Okay. Well Mark has said and I think to numerous people that he has no interest in that money. He’s run his AMA. Let’s just trust him for now though.
Brock Pierce: No, no. I want to point out one fact because that’s inaccurate. In terms of the, the biggest claim on the Mt. Gox estate is from Coinlab. The second largest claim is from Tibanne. Tibanne has a claim right now for essentially all of the Bitcoin that’s currently outstanding, excuse me, more than half of all of the Bitcoin. So Mark Karpeles currently has a claim, that is currently there for I think about half or more of all of the Bitcoin that is currently held by the estate. So he may be saying this, but the facts are that he’s asking for more than half of all of the Bitcoin, that’s currently a claim that is in place and levied in the courts. So it’s just simply not true.
Peter McCormack: Okay, well I’m with him tomorrow. I’ll ask him that question of course, but bear with me.
Brock Pierce: By the way, I’ll send you a copy of that claim. It’s public record. If you go to the court.
Peter McCormack: I’ll read that, but hopefully it’s not in Japanese.
Brock Pierce: It is in Japanese, but we can get it translated for you.
Peter McCormack: But anyway, let’s just stick with the fact that Mark has made a public declaration that he has no interest in these Bitcoins. He wants them redistributed to the creditors through a civil rehabilitation. I spoke to Daniel Kelman and he seems happy with that process. So what I’m trying to understand is, if that is the case and just say we trust it, what is it that you are offering or trying to do this different from that?
Brock Pierce: Well, I’m interested in buying the intangible assets and I for one, wouldn’t trust Mark Karpeles at all. I mean are you saying that you would trust Mark Karpeles with your money?
Peter McCormack: I don’t think I’d trust either of you with my money.
Brock Pierce: That’s fine. But are you saying you would trust Mark Karpeles, I mean you just told me let’s trust him.
Peter McCormack: I’m just saying for the sake of trying to move this conversation forward Brock.
Brock Pierce: Mark Karpeles has a claim. Currently the second largest claim after Coinlab, is currently in the courts on behalf of Mark Karpeles. So he’s got this claim outstanding for hundreds of millions of dollars and saying “Trust me. I’m not interested in anything”. The facts are the facts. There’s a claim in the bankruptcy courts today on behalf of Mark Karpeles’ company, that he is the sole shareholder of asking for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Peter McCormack: Do you know what though Brock, take this in the right way. Let me explain it. I actually, I would trust Mark in this situation to do the right thing over you. But let me explain myself because you are probably thinking, why are you saying that he’s already messed up the exchange. I 100% believe that Mark does not want that money and he just wants the funds redistributed to the creditors. I still don’t know what you’re doing and I’m trying to get to the bottom of this so perhaps you can help me.
Brock Pierce: I said it half a dozen times, I’m interested in putting in a bid for the brand and the domains, the intangible assets. That’s it. That’s it. Let me repeat it a couple more times so that you understand. I know this is a little complicated. I’m interested in putting in a bid to buy the intangible assets, specifically the brand and the domain name. That’s currently all. There is nothing more.
Peter McCormack: Okay. It just doesn’t feel like that. It feels like you are interested in the….
Brock Pierce: So what, tell me what I’ve done? Mark Karpeles has a claim in the courts. What filings have I made, what have I done that’s different than this?
Peter McCormack: So I’m on your website, right?
Brock Pierce: What do you, what facts are you basing this upon? I know you have a lot of opinions that Mark is trustworthy. That Mark has only good intentions. I get that you made these statements and that Mark doesn’t want anything, even though he’s got a claim for hundreds of millions of dollars outstanding with the courts and has for years, I get all that. So please tell me what you base that upon?
Peter McCormack: I’m still trying to figure out what it is you’re doing. If you are only interested in the brand and the domain, why all these public statements, why this website, why all these interviews, why aren’t you just making a bid for the domain and the brand, waiting first civil rehabilitation to finish and then executing your plan. What’s this whole kind of media circus about and these arguments? I don’t understand.
Brock Pierce: Well the media circus is created by guys like you.
Peter McCormack: Not sure, I’m just asking questions.
Brock Pierce: How am I creating the circus?
Peter McCormack: You’re doing lots of press, lots of interviews, you’re doing lots of…
Brock Pierce: I haven’t even hired a single PR person. I gave a talk about this at the Miami Bitcoin Conference and I was asked to give a talk at the Japanese conference. I’ve given two conversations. I don’t have a single marketing person or a PR person contacting media. Nobody
By having two conversations saying, “hey, here is what is going on with Mt. Gox and what creditors should be aware of” and giving people an update on what’s going on with Mt. Gox and I’ve been involved for five, six, seven years. That’s a fact. I did sign deals with Mark Karpeles. That’s a fact. I am aware of what’s going on with this. This is a fact. And because I gave a conversation about Mt. Gox and I said, “hey, I think it’d be a good idea to resuscitate or revive the exchange” and a bunch of people have been interested in having a conversation with me about that and they’re all interested in who owns Mt. Gox, that’s not even the conversation I think is interesting.
But guys like you make that the conversation and Mark Karpeles makes it the conversation. I’m interested in relaunching the Mt. Gox exchange, which might be a good or a bad idea. I think it’s a good idea and that should be the only conversation people are having because that’s all that really matters. That’s the only thing I’m focused on.
Peter McCormack: Okay. But I’m on the Gox Rising website, I’m literally just reading what’s on there. “What is Gox Rising; It’s a movement related to the bankruptcy process and the goals are to keep creditors informed”, great, “support creditors being paid out as quickly as possible”. So how does Gox Rising support creditors being paid out as quickly as possible?
Brock Pierce: I mean we’re just having these conversations. You know many creditors I’m talking to that don’t even know what’s going on. So here’s a good question for you. What website do you go to, where in a matter of call it 15 minutes, you can find out what’s happening with this case and what’s going on with Mt. Gox, where you go to figure that out.
Peter McCormack: I start with Google.
Brock Pierce: So you go to Google, what do you find?
Peter McCormack: I find a variety of things, I find articles, I…..
Brock Pierce: Then what you’re going to likely find is that from one article to the next, there’s incredible inconsistencies.
Peter McCormack: Yup.
Brock Pierce: No one seems to really know what’s going on and ultimately what you’re going to find out is that you have to go into Reddit and you have to go into Telegram groups and you have to spend hours and hours and hours researching. By the time you’ve done all of that, you still probably are as confused as you started, you know a little bit more.
Peter McCormack: But I’m talking to you and I’m still confused because I can’t seem to get an answer from you.
Brock Pierce: By the way I’m confused, I’m confused! You and me both!
Peter McCormack: Let’s try again though, Brock. Okay, so your website says, and it’s your website, so it says “support creditors being paid out as quickly as possible”. How does Gox Rising support creditors being paid out as quickly as possible?
Brock Pierce: These are intentions. We would like to see creditors paid out.
Peter McCormack: But how do you do it?
Brock Pierce: And as quickly as possible. How are we doing that? We’re talking to lots of creditors. We’re talking about what’s going down here at Mt. Gox. We have Japanese council. We’re doing what little we can. I don’t know if we’re going to end up doing much of anything. This is what we want. These are our goals. These are our objectives. Will we end up being responsible for anything. I don’t know. How are you helping creditors? How is Mark Karpeles helping creditors.
Peter McCormack: Trust me, you will hear my interview with Mark. I will ask him very similar questions. But I’m just going by the language on your website, “support creditors being paid out”. I’m wondering how you do that. Let’s go onto the next point. “It says maximize distribution to creditors”. How does Gox Rising maximize the distribution to creditors?
Brock Pierce: Again, these are goals. We want to see creditors get everything. We also are proposing two things that are not currently discussed. One is by buying the intangible assets and relaunching the exchange and giving creditors ownership in that new exchange. That gets them more than they would get under the current CR plan, period.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, the 16.5%.
Brock Pierce: That was when we settled. There were two class action lawsuits filed against Mt. Gox in 2014 in the United States on behalf of the 103,000 account holders. We went in and dealt with the class action lawsuits and settled the class action lawsuits, in exchange for 16.5%, which is where that number comes from. The class action lawsuits negotiated on back of creditors in 2014.
Peter McCormack: Can you even appreciate from my side? Because the website feels more like a campaign site, it’s a movement, however you want to put it. But it says here Gox Rising will present a detailed civil rehabilitation plan to the Japanese trustee by the 22nd April, 2019. So there is already a civil rehabilitation plan. Is this an alternative civil rehabilitation plan?
Brock Pierce: As of right now we have no intentions of filing a civil rehabilitation plan. As of right now, we are happy with what the bankruptcy trustee is doing as of today.
Peter McCormack: Can you see from my side though, you obviously made the claim earlier. You don’t think I read things, but this is on your website. I’m using this for my research and it says you are. So does that mean…
Brock Pierce: Again, we’re dealing with the bankruptcy courts and Japanese council and creditors on a daily basis.
Peter McCormack: So the website’s out of date?
Brock Pierce: We are interested again, simply put, in putting in a bid pretty intangible assets and helping in any other way we think we can and if there’s nothing for us to do, there’s nothing we’re going to do. We are clearly not going to do anything that slows down the process or harms creditors, period.
Peter McCormack: Okay, so there’s no new civil rehabilitation plan because obviously you can see why I’ve come to ask these questions because that’s what I’ve read. If it’s not relevant anymore, I think you can at least see…
Brock Pierce: The sites being updated.
Peter McCormack: But then I think you can at least see that I have done my research.
Brock Pierce: I’m glad that you followed some of this stuff. It sounds like you’re not aware of Mark Karpeles’ claim, he was the biggest claim on the Mt. Gox estate until Coinlab updated their suit.
Peter McCormack: Listen, look. You weren’t aware of something that was still on your website. Look, there’s so much here to digest. I think we can all give each other a break, not knowing everything.
Brock Pierce: But you’re being very unfair.
Peter McCormack: Oh, okay, apologies. Tell me how I’m being unfair Brock?
Brock Pierce: It’s all good though. I’m almost out of time anyway. I’ve got six minutes before I have to wrap up. Let’s make sure that we get through whatever else that you want. I want to make sure that I have given you enough time.
Peter McCormack: Of course. So last couple of things. Obviously there’s no civil rehabilitation plan, so really you just want to launch an exchange, right?
Brock Pierce: If you listened to anything I’ve said, that’s kind of what I’ve been saying the whole time and I’ve been saying that since 2014.
Peter McCormack: So all you want is the domain name and the brand? That’s all you want.
Brock Pierce: I’ve been saying this since 2014. I’ve been saying this longer than anyone!
Peter McCormack: If you couldn’t get hold of the domain name and brand, couldn’t you just do this with another domain name or brand?
Brock Pierce: Do what?
Peter McCormack: Just create another exchange?
Brock Pierce: I’m not interested in creating another exchange. I’ve invested millions of dollars in Coinbase, invested in Kraken and this and that, I mean, tons of exchanges. I co-founded Bithumb and launched the Korean markets. I’m in lots of exchanges. I’ve done this many times. I had been running digital currency exchanges, I think longer than anywhere on the planet.
Peter McCormack: Okay. So it’s really the importance of the brand, because you think with that brand you can create quite a significant exchange.
Brock Pierce: I’m interested in changing the narrative. Mt. Gox is a bad word. Mt. Gox is the term or word that’s used by people when they want to criticize people in Crypto. They’re like, “oh yeah, but what about Mt. Gox?” I want to take our industry’s greatest weakness and turn it into a strength.
It’s a crazy idea and the odds of it being successful are… who knows! But I spend a lot of my time doing philanthropic work. I do a lot of altruistic things and this is one of those crazy ideas that I’ve decided to pursue. Will it work? I don’t know. I chose to do this when Mt. Gox failed the first night and I have a bad habit of trying to finish what I started.
Peter McCormack: Okay, that’s fair enough. So I guess you’ve got a couple of minutes left. So last last couple of questions and thank you again, I do appreciate your time. So what are the next steps for you now with this whole process? Apart from if you want to buy the name of the brand, obviously you can do that. You don’t, that’s not a difficult thing. You just make an application to buy. What else is going to be going on? What else should we keep an eye on?
Brock Pierce: Well I’m continuing to try and keep people informed. Right now there is not any good source of information that’s out there as I assume you could agree with. There’s no website, where I can go see if I’m a creditor, what’s going on, what are the deadlines, the timetables, what’s going on, what are the information, who are all the claims. There is not one good source of information that I’ve been able to find. The only thorough source of information I’ve been able to find it is Reddit.
Peter McCormack: Actually Andy Pag has a good website. Have you seen his?
Brock Pierce: Yeah, Andy’s wonderful. I really like it. Andy is a quality guy.
Peter McCormack: Have you been to his website?
Brock Pierce: Yeah and I also am in his Telegram group. I had a call with him in the last few days. Andy’s doing a great job. He’s one of those guys that… I’m a big fan of his.
Peter McCormack: I guess last thing and please take this question in the right way. None of this is meant to be spiky or wind you up. If you listen to any of my other interviews, I’m fair with everyone, but should people trust you? Are you a trustworthy guy in this whole process? Because you said the things about Mark…
Brock Pierce: I believe everyone should make decisions for themselves. Trust yourself, trust your gut, do what you want. If you don’t trust me, I mean that’s your prerogative. I’m not asking you to trust me.
Peter McCormack: No, it doesn’t come down to me. I’m thinking about other people because… How do I explain this? You’ve got really fired up during this interview, like really fired up!
Brock Pierce: Because I care about what happens here. I care. I’ve invested a lot of time and a lot of money in this and my only motivation in the beginning to do this was altruistic. It’s like, oh my God, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Bitcoin, what are we going to do? Yeah I care about Bitcoin. I’ve devoted the last seven years of my life, pretty much exclusively to this industry. Yes, I care. I care a great deal about what happens to Bitcoin. I care a great deal about what happens here. I care a great deal about humanity! I care. I really care.
Peter McCormack: Okay. I mean fine, but I don’t know Brock. It’s a tough one because I feel like I’ve heard all this stuff against Mark and all this impassioned kind of arguments, but I still, I still don’t know your intentions here.
Brock Pierce: Wow, let me repeat it for the last time for you. My intentions are to put in a bid for the intangible assets, specifically the brand and domain and to give creditors that sign up for it, that want a piece of it, no one’s forcing anyone to take anything they don’t want. A piece of that action. As I committed to, when I settled two class action lawsuits in 2014 and I’m continuing to follow through on the exact same thing that I started five years ago.
Peter McCormack: But you still can’t make any commitment to saying you’ve got no interest in the claim to the…
Brock Pierce: I have a strong interest that Mark Karpeles gets nothing and I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure Mark gets nothing and that the creditors get everything.
Peter McCormack: It’s a very strange thing because I’ve spoken to a lot of people around this and almost entirely everyone I spoken to is like, “Mark’s all right”. Everyone seemed to think you know what, time’s passed, time’s a healer, Mark’s all right. He’s kind of coming out this ok and yet you’ve kind of somehow coming out of this a bit of a bad guy. How do you make sense of that?
Brock Pierce: I’m really curious who you’re talking to. I mean I talked to lots of people and I do not keep hearing that Mark is okay. There’s a lot of people that are very, very upset about what happened at Mt. Gox. Most of those people blame Mark for what happened. I don’t know who your data set is coming from, but that’s a really unusual set of responses.
Peter McCormack: I think, the variety of people I’ve spoken to and I must’ve done….
Brock Pierce: Daniel Kelman? Yes, Daniel Kelman thinks Mark’s ok. Kim Nilsson thinks Mark’s ok.
Peter McCormack: No, not just those people. I’ve spoken to at least 20 different people in preparation. Also, if you go through the Reddit AMA, most people who are admitting they’ve had losses, they kind of okay with it. There wasn’t really a lot of anger towards him through the AMA. You’ve obviously had a lot of… You’ve taken some stick with this process, right? You must recognize that?
Brock Pierce: What stick?
Peter McCormack: People are saying you’re trying to make claim for the company, people don’t understand what your plan is. You’ve offered to go and try and recover the rest of the funds and people are like, well, what are the plans to rescue the rest of the funds? Go and discover them? You’ve talked about doing an ICO, like there’s all these different things and people just aren’t a fan.
Brock Pierce: Hold on, when did I talk about doing an ICO. I don’t recall ever having said that once anywhere.
Peter McCormack: Right. I’d have to go back to my notes, but I read there was here, give me one second…Gox Coin.
Brock Pierce: Yeah. I’ve talked about the prospects of tokenizing future recoveries. There’s no plan to do anything, actually, I think what I told everybody and I think even in the documents published, is that we are encouraging creditors to form a foundation that is governed by creditors and that we might fund that and that creditors should go continue to pursue further recovery efforts.
One of the things that they could do is tokenize it. I have zero plans in doing that. I obviously have been very involved in creating a number of tokens going all the way back to Mastercoin. I think that creditors should consider that. I think it’s an interesting idea and it’s one that I would help them with, but I have zero plans. I think I can say there’s probably a 0% chance that I would ever run an ICO or I mean there might be a security token one day if we’re lucky on the exchange to create liquidity for creditors and things that nature. But again, I have no idea.
Peter McCormack: All right. Well listen look, you’ve gone over your time and I appreciate that. So just moving forward, what message would you like to leave people? Who do you want to hear from? How should people get in touch with the things you are doing? What are your final comments?
Brock Pierce: Well you can go to goxrising.com, you can find me on Twitter, you can jump in Telegram groups. We’re interested in hearing what you think. We’re talking to everyone we can, making sure that we are not a hindrance in this process and grateful to all of the people that are signed up. There’s lots of people that have signed up and actually think that what we’re talking about doing here is a very good idea and thank you to those hundreds of creditors that have done so already.
Peter McCormack: Well listen, I appreciate your time and I will ask Mark on Saturday when I see him, what you told me. So I will do that. But look, I appreciate your time and good luck to you. I’m sure we’ll chat again in the future sometime.
Brock Pierce: All right, take care.