CEO in apparent suicide was bitcoin fan, had other issues, too

SINGAPORE Thu Mar 6, 2014 2:38pm IST

1 of 2. A general view of the apartment block (C) where the body of Autumn Radtke, chief executive of First Meta Pte Ltd, was found at a public housing estate, in Singapore March 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Edgar Su

Related Topics

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A young American CEO who apparently committed suicide in Singapore was involved in the world of the bitcoin, but was also struggling with other issues prior to her death, friends and colleagues said.

Autumn Radtke, chief executive of virtual currency exchange First Meta Pte Ltd, was found dead on February 26. Police said they were investigating her "unnatural" death, and "preliminary investigations showed no foul play is suspected."

Neighbours said they thought Radtke jumped to her death from a residential apartment complex near her home.

Friends and colleagues said Radtke, 28, was wrestling with professional and personal pressures, not least running a start-up that was struggling to gain traction.

"She had a phenomenal network of highly successful people around her, and here she is running this little exchange and it just isn't taking off in the way anybody had hoped," Steve Beauregard, CEO and founder of GoCoin, a start-up which provided bitcoin-related services to First Meta, told Reuters.

Beauregard rented a room in Radtke's large Singapore home-cum-office and was among the last people to see her alive.

Bitcoin is under scrutiny after Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, once the world's dominant exchange for the virtual currency, filed for bankruptcy in Japan last week, blaming hackers for the loss of 850,000 bitcoins - worth more than $550 million at today's rates. A smaller, Canada-based exchange also shut, saying hackers had stolen all its bitcoins.

Douglas Abrams, director of First Meta, denied the company was struggling or up for sale, and said Radtke "did a great job as CEO." But he said selling the company always remained an option and there had been plans to save money by moving out of its current office space, a townhouse which doubled as Radtke's home.

Beauregard and others said First Meta, which initially functioned as an online trade platform for the currency used in the Second Life online world, and then expanded to other games, was not primarily involved in bitcoin. Last year, it allowed users to sell bitcoins for dollars and last month signed a deal with GoCoin.

"I'm not trying to distance First Meta from bitcoin, but it doesn't provide two-way trading in bitcoin," Abrams told Reuters.

BITCOIN FAN

Friends said Radtke, however, was a huge fan of bitcoin and had invested in it personally. One said she had persuaded friends to invest as well. Her Facebook page includes several links to bitcoin stories, mostly celebrating last year's rise in value.

In one, she comments on a sharp but brief dip in the bitcoin price last December: "The 'panic' or as I call it Christmas sale was great! Real bitcoiners got 30-40 percent off."

"She had substantial exposure to the ups and downs of bitcoin, and while it's not likely to be the sole reason to this tragedy, it would be naive to think it didn't have a role," said one friend.

Others contested any role the virtual currency had in her death.

Beauregard said he had several conversations with her in the 48 hours prior to her death about personal and professional issues. "Bitcoin and Mt. Gox were not part of those conversations," he said.

Radtke, who moved to Singapore in early 2012, previously worked at another start-up in Santa Monica, California.

Plug and Play's Scott Robinson, who focuses on Silicon Valley bitcoin start-ups, said Radtke's years of experience in video game virtual currencies made her an instant expert and an asset to the relatively young, predominantly male, bitcoin community.

"She was a go-getter, she always worked very hard ... she stuck out as one of the only women representing bitcoin."

Before heading up First Meta, Radtke had business development roles at tech start-ups Xfire and Geodelic Systems, according to information on her LinkedIn profile.

(Additional reporting by Laura Philomin, Saeed Hasan and Brian Leonal in SINGAPORE and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

ALIBABA IPO

Reuters Showcase

New Device

New Device

Facebook's Oculus unveils new virtual reality prototype device.  Full Article 

Slow Rollout

Slow Rollout

Los Angeles iPad rollout for schools slowed by technical challenges - report.  Full Article 

CEO Watch

CEO Watch

When music stops for Oracle CEO dance, Catz may grab Ellison's chair - analysts.  Full Article 

New iPhones

New iPhones

Apple faithful line up for latest, larger iPhones  Full Article 

Cutting Jobs

Cutting Jobs

Microsoft lays off 2,100 as part of earlier job cut plan.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage