The American CEO of First Meta, a virtual currency exchange that deals with Bitcoin, was found dead outside her home in Singapore late last month, according to newly released domestic media reports. The apparent suicide of the young up-and-comer, though no direct connections with Bitcoin have been made thus far, casts the troubled cryptocurrency in an even darker light after last week’s Mt. Gox scandal.
Channel NewsAsia said that police were called to Cantonment Close just after 7:00 am on February 26. Autumn Radtke, 28, was allegedly discovered lying motionless on a second-floor parapet – indicating the possibility that she jumped from a higher floor (though it is unclear what floor she lived on). Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene and preliminary investigations turned up no evidence of foul play. Toxicology results are expected in the coming days.
In light of the estimated $500 million worth of virtual currency lost by Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, some are calling Radtke the “first real victim” of Bitcoin.
“The last few weeks have been dismally littered with two things: The virtual losses of virtual wealth from virtual currency speculation and the very real losses of very real humans with very real senior financial services positions. Sadly, [Radtke’s death] sees the two trends converge,” said ZeroHedge.
Though only 28 years old, Radtke possessed an impressive resume that included work for multiple Fortune 500 companies: including Apple, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Clear Channel and Universal. She entered the tech industry at the age of 22, working closely with billionaire Richard Branson as a Virgin Charter consultant.
“Before joining First Meta, Radtke was a director of business development at XFire, a company that connected gamers through communication tools,” wrote Tech in Asia. “Prior to that, she was the co-founder of Geodelic, a California-based startup that provided location-based services on smartphones.”
In 2008, Radtke moved to Singapore, where she would become the CEO of First Meta – a virtual currency pioneer known for creating the first virtual credit card, based in the online gaming world known as Second Life.
“We currently offer a service that allows users to trade virtual currency across multiple environments and exchange them for real money,” explains First Meta’s homepage. “For game developers, publishers and sites who issue currency, allowing your virtual currency to be traded provides users the liquidity they want and introduces your currency to new users.”
Though First Meta acts as a virtual currency exchange, Bitcoins make up only a fraction of the firm’s overall business. While the Mt. Gox Bitcoin crash may appear to be a factor in Radtke’s death, the poor performance of that exchange was not necessarily reflected on others.
Bitcoin was being traded for roughly $220 dollars in mid-February on Mt. Gox – down from a peak of $540. But other exchanges were still trading near $600, according to Business Insider.
“Even if [Radtke] did commit suicide, how do we know it had anything to do with Bitcoin’s troubles? We don’t. And for the record, suicide is rarely the result of any single cause,” wrote Slate.