"I don't see what could go wrong," said Jon Stewart last night. "Nothing's more reliable and secure than the Internet."
What did go wrong: Despite a stream of hacks and hiccups at Japan-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, Bitcoiners kept a lot of money in it. Now it's filed for bankruptcy protection, its CEO told a press conference in Tokyo this morning. Reported Reuters:
Mt. Gox said on Friday that it had lost 750,000 of its users' bitcoins and 100,000 of its own. At the current bitcoin price of about $565, that would total some $480 million - representing about 7 percent of the estimated global total of bitcoins...
"First of all, I'm very sorry," Karpeles, wearing a suit instead of his customary T-shirt, told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday. "The bitcoin industry is healthy and it is growing. It will continue, and reducing the impact is the most important point."
It's not the end of Bitcoin—and there's still some chance that Gox will return, with the kind of security that other exchanges use, and hopefully with some of its users' hard-mined cash. In his opening bit last night, Stewart compared Bitcoin to Tamagotchi, the favorite digital pet of the '90s, which may be more apt than it seems. The point of the Tamagatchi, remember, was to watch things die.
(Then again, the Tamagotchi itself somehow lives on, at least virtually.)