Many people have lost some data while reformatting a computer hard drive. Jered Kenna lost more than that. In 2010 he erased from his computer 800 Bitcoins that have been worth more than $200,000. Kenna isn’t upset: He has plenty more. He says he bought his first batch of virtual currency, 5,000 coins, at 20¢ each. On April 10, Bitcoins traded for as much as $258 each, according to Tradehill, a Bitcoin exchange in San Francisco, before plunging more than $100. Like other enthusiasts, Kenna shrugs off the volatility. While he won’t disclose his total holdings, he says, “I’m happy to be considered a member of the Bitcoin millionaires’ club.” Created four years ago by a person or group using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be used to buy and sell a broad range of items—from cupcakes to electronics to illegal narcotics. The surge in a Bitcoin’s value has made millionaires out of people who loaded up on them early on—however briefly. Many of them are self-described libertarians, drawn by the idea of a currency that exists outside the control of governments. Some were so taken with the concept that they launched Bitcoin businesses, such as exchanges where people can buy the coins or exchange them for dollars. There are also investors, notable among them, former Facebook litigants the Winklevoss twins, who have amassed around $11 million in Bitcoin, according to the New York Times. Bitcoins are “mined” by computers that solve difficult cryptographic problems to verify transactions. As more Bitcoins are created, the problems become more difficult. Pioneers could mine coins on their laptops. Now, high-powered computer equipment is needed. “I’ve got a friend who forgot he had his computer mining Bitcoins in his garage—he checked and it’s worth about $ 12 million today,” says Kenna, 30, who is chief executive officer of Tradehill. Owners store their Bitcoins in electronic wallets, which are identified by a long string of letters and numbers. The wallet 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a, for example, currently owns 111,111 Bitcoins, which amounts to more than $15 million sitting on someone’s hard drive. Whose hard drive is a mystery: While anyone can view the wallets, the owners’ identities are not public. As of April 2, there were about 250 wallets with more than $ 1 million worth of Bitcoins. The number of Bitcoin millionaires, though, is uncertain—people can have more than one wallet. The value of Bitcoins began soaring in March, around the time European finance officials approved an unprecedented tax on bank deposits in Cyprus. While the plan did not go through, it led to concerns that other bank deposits might be taxed. The rising price drew increased media attention, which sparked further price gains. There are a little more than 11 million Bitcoins in existence. The software that governs the network will allow no more than a total of 21 million coins to be created. Charlie Shrem, 23, discovered Bitcoins on a website in early 2011, when he was a senior at Brooklyn College. Shrem didn’t mine coins himself but bought them on Tradehill. His first purchase was 500 coins at about $3 or $4 each; he bought thousands more when the price hit $20. When he was still in college, Shrem started BitInstant, a company that allows its customers to purchase the digital currency from more than 700,000 stores, including Wal-Mart Stores and Duane Reade . Shrem wears a ring engraved with a code that gives him access to the electronic wallet on his computer. Friends tease him that a thief could cut off his finger to get the ring. “They started calling me four- finger Charlie,” he says. One of BitInstant’s investors is Roger Ver, 34, who ran for California State Assembly in 2000 as a Libertarian. On his Web page, Ver talks about moving to Tokyo after serving 10 months in federal prison for selling “a product called a ‘Pest Control Report 2000.’ It was basically a firecracker used by farmers to scare deer and birds away from their cornfields.” He says he was prosecuted unfairly because of his political beliefs. Shrem calls Ver “Bitcoin Jesus” for the way he evangelized for the currency by giving away coins to anyone who would take them. “After discovering Bitcoin, I only slept maybe an hour a night for a whole week,” Ver says in an interview. “I didn’t leave my house and spent every waking moment reading about Bitcoin.” Ver says he got so sick that a friend checked him into a hospital, where he was given medication to help him sleep. He sees Bitcoins as a reliable store of value as Japan increases the money supply to boost the economy. “I’m much more bullish about the long-term prospects of Bitcoin than the dollar or yen,” he says. “I cashed out about a year ago—of dollars and yen.” Like other Bitcoin users, Ver celebrates that “Bitcoin totally strips away the state’s control over money.” Bitcoin has drawn the attention of regulators, but no country has issued comprehensive rules governing the digital currency. “Virtual currency is a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments but does not have all the attributes of real currency,” the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said in a March 18 report. (Hardly a clarifying remark.) The European Central Bank warned in October that the emergence of virtual currencies “could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks” if their use grows considerably. Many Bitcoin tycoons are devoting themselves to expanding the currency’s reach. Yifu Guo was a digital media student at New York University when he began mining some of the first coins, occasionally cashing in a few to help pay his rent. After he recognized Bitcoin’s potential, he quit school and founded a company called Avalon, which sells hardware built solely for the purpose of mining Bitcoins. He isn’t interested in a quick score, he says: “Our goal is to protect the Bitcoin network so profits are available in the long term.” Tony Gallippi is CEO of BitPay, a payment processor he co-founded in 2011 that enables online merchants to accept Bitcoins. He says he includes Bitcoins in his investment portfolio along with stocks, bonds, and real estate. His company holds some Bitcoins as well. “We’d like to take advantage of the price appreciation. Everything we do to sign up more merchants and customers grows the user base.” That, in turn, lifts the value of BitPay’s own holdings. Shrem, who estimates that his assets are split between Bitcoins and dollars, says he is not as driven by ideology as were some of the earliest Bitcoin adopters. Every time the price goes up 20 percent, he plans to cash in about 100 coins. Kenna, meanwhile, says he has no plans to cash out. “I’m doubling down.” April 11, 3:53pm: Updated to include mention of the Winklevoss twins

Meet the Bitcoin Millionaires


Many people have lost some data while reformatting a computer hard drive. Jered Kenna lost more than that. In 2010 he erased from his computer 800 Bitcoins that have been worth more than $200,000. Kenna isn’t upset: He has plenty more. He says he bought his first batch of virtual currency, 5,000 coins, at 20¢ each. On April 10, Bitcoins traded for as much as $258 each, according to Tradehill, a Bitcoin exchange in San Francisco, before plunging more than $100. Like other enthusiasts, Kenna shrugs off the volatility. While he won’t disclose his total holdings, he says, “I’m happy to be considered a member of the Bitcoin millionaires’ club.” Created four years ago by a person or group using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be used to buy and sell a broad range of items—from cupcakes to electronics to illegal narcotics. The surge in a Bitcoin’s value has made millionaires out of people who loaded up on them early on—however briefly. Many of them are self-described libertarians, drawn by the idea of a currency that exists outside the control of governments. Some were so taken with the concept that they launched Bitcoin businesses, such as exchanges where people can buy the coins or exchange them for dollars. There are also investors, notable among them, former Facebook litigants the Winklevoss twins, who have amassed around $11 million in Bitcoin, according to the New York Times. Bitcoins are “mined” by computers that solve difficult cryptographic problems to verify transactions. As more Bitcoins are created, the problems become more difficult. Pioneers could mine coins on their laptops. Now, high-powered computer equipment is needed. “I’ve got a friend who forgot he had his computer mining Bitcoins in his garage—he checked and it’s worth about $ 12 million today,” says Kenna, 30, who is chief executive officer of Tradehill. Owners store their Bitcoins in electronic wallets, which are identified by a long string of letters and numbers. The wallet 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a, for example, currently owns 111,111 Bitcoins, which amounts to more than $15 million sitting on someone’s hard drive. Whose hard drive is a mystery: While anyone can view the wallets, the owners’ identities are not public. As of April 2, there were about 250 wallets with more than $ 1 million worth of Bitcoins. The number of Bitcoin millionaires, though, is uncertain—people can have more than one wallet. The value of Bitcoins began soaring in March, around the time European finance officials approved an unprecedented tax on bank deposits in Cyprus. While the plan did not go through, it led to concerns that other bank deposits might be taxed. The rising price drew increased media attention, which sparked further price gains. There are a little more than 11 million Bitcoins in existence. The software that governs the network will allow no more than a total of 21 million coins to be created. Charlie Shrem, 23, discovered Bitcoins on a website in early 2011, when he was a senior at Brooklyn College. Shrem didn’t mine coins himself but bought them on Tradehill. His first purchase was 500 coins at about $3 or $4 each; he bought thousands more when the price hit $20. When he was still in college, Shrem started BitInstant, a company that allows its customers to purchase the digital currency from more than 700,000 stores, including Wal-Mart Stores and Duane Reade . Shrem wears a ring engraved with a code that gives him access to the electronic wallet on his computer. Friends tease him that a thief could cut off his finger to get the ring. “They started calling me four- finger Charlie,” he says. One of BitInstant’s investors is Roger Ver, 34, who ran for California State Assembly in 2000 as a Libertarian. On his Web page, Ver talks about moving to Tokyo after serving 10 months in federal prison for selling “a product called a ‘Pest Control Report 2000.’ It was basically a firecracker used by farmers to scare deer and birds away from their cornfields.” He says he was prosecuted unfairly because of his political beliefs. Shrem calls Ver “Bitcoin Jesus” for the way he evangelized for the currency by giving away coins to anyone who would take them. “After discovering Bitcoin, I only slept maybe an hour a night for a whole week,” Ver says in an interview. “I didn’t leave my house and spent every waking moment reading about Bitcoin.” Ver says he got so sick that a friend checked him into a hospital, where he was given medication to help him sleep. He sees Bitcoins as a reliable store of value as Japan increases the money supply to boost the economy. “I’m much more bullish about the long-term prospects of Bitcoin than the dollar or yen,” he says. “I cashed out about a year ago—of dollars and yen.” Like other Bitcoin users, Ver celebrates that “Bitcoin totally strips away the state’s control over money.” Bitcoin has drawn the attention of regulators, but no country has issued comprehensive rules governing the digital currency. “Virtual currency is a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments but does not have all the attributes of real currency,” the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said in a March 18 report. (Hardly a clarifying remark.) The European Central Bank warned in October that the emergence of virtual currencies “could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks” if their use grows considerably. Many Bitcoin tycoons are devoting themselves to expanding the currency’s reach. Yifu Guo was a digital media student at New York University when he began mining some of the first coins, occasionally cashing in a few to help pay his rent. After he recognized Bitcoin’s potential, he quit school and founded a company called Avalon, which sells hardware built solely for the purpose of mining Bitcoins. He isn’t interested in a quick score, he says: “Our goal is to protect the Bitcoin network so profits are available in the long term.” Tony Gallippi is CEO of BitPay, a payment processor he co-founded in 2011 that enables online merchants to accept Bitcoins. He says he includes Bitcoins in his investment portfolio along with stocks, bonds, and real estate. His company holds some Bitcoins as well. “We’d like to take advantage of the price appreciation. Everything we do to sign up more merchants and customers grows the user base.” That, in turn, lifts the value of BitPay’s own holdings. Shrem, who estimates that his assets are split between Bitcoins and dollars, says he is not as driven by ideology as were some of the earliest Bitcoin adopters. Every time the price goes up 20 percent, he plans to cash in about 100 coins. Kenna, meanwhile, says he has no plans to cash out. “I’m doubling down.” April 11, 3:53pm: Updated to include mention of the Winklevoss twins

Meet the Bitcoin Millionaires


The brothers began dabbling in bitcoin last summer when the dollar value of a single coin was still in the single digits. To keep their holdings secure from hackers, they have taken the complex codes that represent their holdings off networked computers and saved them on small flash drives, putting the drives, in turn, in safe deposit boxes at banks in three different cities. It’s hard to verify how the Winklevoss holdings compare with other bitcoin players, given the anonymity of accounts, and the twins say they believe that some early users of the system probably have holdings that are at least as large. A Maltese company, Exante, started a hedge fund that the company says has bought up about 82,000 bitcoins — or about $10 million as of Thursday — with money from wealthy investors. A founder of the fund, Anatoli Knyazev, said his main concern was hackers and government regulators, who have so far mostly left the currency alone. These investments were all in an uncertain state on Thursday after the big price swings and the shutdown of trading on Mt. Gox, a Japanese-based company that claims to handle 80 percent of all bitcoin trades. Mt. Gox said in a statement that the problems were a result of the currency’s popularity, making it impossible to process all the incoming orders. It added that it was not the victim of hackers but “instead victim of our own success!” The 6-foot-5 Winklevoss brothers were unfazed. The brothers said they took advantage of the low prices to buy more. “It has been four years and it has yet to be discredited as a viable alternative to fiat currency,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “We could be totally wrong, but we are curious to see this play out a lot more.”

Never Mind Facebook; Winklevoss Twins Rule in Digital Money


For the past 50 years, the world has grown used to crazy threats from North Korea that don’t lead anywhere . But with young and untested Kim Jong-un in charge of a nuclear arsenal, no one knows what will happen next.Kim Jong-un was born on January 8 in 1982 or 1983 or 1984. DPRK propaganda via http://www.atimes.com His parents were future North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and his consort, Ko Young-hee. He had an older brother named Kim Jong-chul and would later have a younger sister named Kim Yo-jong. While Jong-un’s official birth year is 1982, various reports suggest that the year was changed for symbolic reasons, including that it was100 years after the birth of Kim Il-sung and 70 years after the birth of Jong-il.During this period, North Korea was ruled by “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung. While Jong-il was the heir apparent, Jong-un’s path to command was far less certain. Then it was off to Switzerland to attend boarding school. Called “Pak-un” and described as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy, Jong-un is thought to have attended the English-language “International School” in Gümligen near Bern. Jong-un is described by former classmates as a quiet student who spent most of his time at home, but he had a sense of humor too. “He was funny,” former classmate Marco Imhof told The Mirror. “Always good for a laugh.” “He had a sense of humour; got on well with everyone, even those pupils who came from countries that were enemies of North Korea,” another former classmate told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. “Politics was a taboo subject at school . . . we would argue about football, not politics.” Jong-un loved basketball and idolized Michael Jordan Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images The young Korean reportedly had posters of Jordan all over his wall during his Swiss school days. Although Jong-un was overweight and only 5 foot 6, he was a decent basketball player. “He was a fiercely competitive player, very explosive,” former classmate Nikola Kovacevic told The Mirror. “He was the play maker. He made things happen.” “He hated to lose. Winning was very important,” said former classmate Marco Imhof. He also had a “fantastic” collection of Nike sneakers. Jong-un was a member of the “good” gang in a production of “Grease” In a school production of the hit American musical “Grease,” young Kim enjoyed singing “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want,” according to photos from The Sun. His role required slicked-back hair and a leather jacket as a member of the T-Birds, one of the “good gangs.” There is a bit of controversy over this claim, as The Washington Post points out that the photos may actually be Jong-un’s brother instead. After school in Switzerland, he returned home for military schooling Upon his return to North Korea, Jong-un attended Kim Il-sung Military University with his older brother . Some reports say both started to attend their father’s military field inspections around 2007. While his father faced death, Jong-un was rapidly promoted up the chain of political and military leadership, despite having little experience in either. He was made a four-star general, deputy chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party, and a member of the Central Committee, according to the BBC. Jong-un has a theme song known as “Footsteps” “Footsteps” looks and sounds like propaganda songs from the Soviet Union. Calling the people to follow in “Our Admiral Kim’s footsteps,” here’s a sampling of the lyrics: “Footsteps, Footsteps … spreading out further the sound of a brilliant future ahead … tramp, tramp, tramp, ah, footsteps.” Many North Koreans see Jong-un as a youthful version of “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung Kim Il-sung, 1956 Wikimedia Commons Kim bears a clear resemblance to his grandfather Kim Il-sung in appearance, haircut, and his mannerisms. Rumors had circulated that Kim Jong-un had received plastic surgery to enhance the resemblance even further, although the North finally responded and called the allegations “sordid hackwork by rubbish media.” “The false report … released by enemies is a hideous criminal act which the party, state, army and people can never tolerate,” said official Korean Central News Agency . After his father died, he was quickly declared “supreme leader” of North Korea Getty Images When Jong-il died of a heart attack on Dec. 17, 2011, the young Jong-un inherited the world’s fourth-largest military, a nuclear arsenal, and absolute control over North Korea. He took over ahead of his older brother Jong-chol, who their father thought was “effeminate” and weak. His other brother Jong-nam apparently said negative things about the regime, according to The Australian. Around 30 years old, Jong-un is the youngest head of state in the world. Some believe Kim’s aunt and uncle may actually be calling the shots AP Among Kim’s most trusted advisers are his aunt Kim Kyong-Hui and her husband Jang Sung-Taek, both 66. The couple was reportedly ordered by Jong-il to control the country’s military and help the young leader consolidate his position while he gains more experience. At a recent meeting of the DPRK Workers’ Party, both were photographed sitting close by. Their most important job, it seems, is to push his role as a powerful figure among some generals who do not trust him, according to The Telegraph. He’s married to a former cheerleader and may have two kids KCNA via AP Leaders in the Hermit Kingdom are often very secretive when it comes to their significant others, but Jong-un often has his wife join him and allows photographs. North Korean media revealed in July he was married to Ri Sol-ju — a former cheerleader and singer — but no one knows exactly when they were married, according to NBC News. South Korean intelligence believe the couple probably married in 2009 and already had one child. There are also rumors that Sol-ju gave birth to a child late last year, with many believing it was a girl. Jong-un lived out a childhood fantasy when former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman visited. Courtesy of Vice The entire family are apparently huge Bulls fans. His father owned a video library of “practically every game Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls.” Jong-il tried unsuccessfully to get Jordan to visit in 2001. Jong-un had tons of Jordan posters as a kid. Brother Jong-chol was photographed as a child wearing a Bulls Jersey (#91 — Rodman). But recently, things haven’t been going so well. DPRK Recently he was reportedly the target of an assassination attempt. South Korean intelligence believes the young leader was targeted by “disgruntled people inside the North ” after he demoted a four-star general which resulted in a power struggle. Perhaps as a means of reasserting control, Jong- un has become extremely belligerent, shutting down all links with South Korea and threatening thermonuclear war against his neighbor and the United States. His father and grandfather used to make these threats all the time without following through. At this point most analysts think Jong-un will follow through with a minor attack — something to back up his threats without setting off a horrifying war which North Korea would most likely lose.

How A Shy Boy From North Korea Became The World’s Scariest Dictator


Step aside Roman Abramovich — you’re no longer the owner of the world’s largest yacht. Boat maker Lürssen announced late last week that it had officially launched Azzam, a 590-foot (180- meter) ship, placing it in the water near its Bremen, Germany facility. Billionaire Abramovich’s yacht Eclipse, which previously held the title of world’s largest yacht, measures 538 feet long. While Lürssen has not confirmed the ship’s owner, it’s been reported that it was built for Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, who supposedly paid a whopping $627.4 million for it . Superyachts.com attended the launch and shared some additional details: Amongst many other features the yacht has a main salon with a length of 29 m and a beam of 18m with an open plan and no pillars. She will travel in excess of 30 knots, powered by a combination of 2 gas turbines and 2 diesel engines with a total of 94000 horse powers. The interior decoration was undertaken by the renowned French designer Christophe Leoni who is proud to have been able to realize a sophisticated and luxurious interior in a turn of the century Empire style. The ship still must go through sea trials, and will be delivered to its owner later this year. The photo below shows the massive Azzam:

Roman Abramovich No Longer Owns The World’s Largest Yacht


Former British PM Margaret Thatcher has died. Thatcher was one of the more quotable politicians in recent memory. Her wit and sharp lines about socialism have helped cement her reputation as “The Iron Lady.” Via Wikiquote , here are some great ones. “I don’t think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime.” — BBC, March 5, 1975 “If a Tory does not believe that private property is one of the main bulwarks of individual freedom, then he had better become a socialist and have done with it.” — Daily Telegraph, Jan. 30, 1975. “The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen. The men in the Soviet politburo don’t have to worry about the ebb and flow of public opinion. They put guns before butter, while we put just about everything before guns. They know that they are a super power in only one sense—the military sense. They are a failure in human and economic terms.” Speech, Jan. 19, 1976 (The Russians would respond by calling her the “Iron Lady.”) — “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.” Speech, Feb. 5, 1976 “Pennies don’t fall from heaven, they have to be earned here on earth.” Speech, Nov. 12, 1979 “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” Weekend World, Jan. 6, 1980 “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.” Sunday Times, May 1, 1981 “I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society — from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it- yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit- back-and-wait-for-it Britain.” Speech, Feb. 8, 1984 “It was a lovely morning. We have not had many lovely days. And the sun was just coming through the stained glass windows and falling on some flowers right across the church and it just occurred to me that this was the day I was meant not to see.” Channel 4, Oct 15, 1984, following an assassination attempt by the IRA . “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.” — BBC, Dec. 17, 1984 “No. No. No.” — House of Commons, Oct. 30, 1990

margaret thatcher quotes


The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport has been stripped of its production car land speed record by Guinness World Records, almost three years after the record was granted. In July of 2010, Bugatti tester Pierre-Henri Raphanel took a 1,200-horsepower Veyron Super Sport to a top speed of 267.8 mph (the average of two separate runs, per Guinness regulations), which at the time was deemed as the new world record for a production car’s top speed. Unfortunately for Bugatti, the version of the car it chose to sell to the public has a governed top speed of 258 mph , which the automaker says was due to safety reasons. Thus, to achieve the record, the Veyron Super Sport driven by Raphanel needed to have its top speed limiter disabled, which counts as a modification. You may be wondering why this has only come to light now. Last week, America’s Hennessey Performance took its Venom GT supercar to a top of 265.7 mph , and claimed it was the fastest production car available to the public, due to the speed being higher than that of the Veyron Super Sport with its speed limiter in place. This led to Sunday Times reporters reaching out to Guinness officials. In response, Guinness conceded it made a mistake in granting the Veyron Super Sport the record, and has thus withdrawn it. “As the car’s speed limiter was deactivated, this modification was against the official guidelines,” Guinness officials said in a statement. “Consequently, the vehicle’s record set at 431.072 kmh [267.8 mph] is no longer valid.” This means that the 255.8-mph Ultimate Aero TT of America’s SSC, the record holder prior to the Veyron Super Sport, reclaims the official world record. It also means that the 1,244-horsepower Hennessey Venom GT unofficially holds the title of world’s fastest production car, though it may not be able to bask in the glory for long. Overnight, Bugatti released this teaser image, along with the statement, “It’s almost time for us to share the latest example of exceptional Bugatti performance.” The automaker will be sharing something new with the world in a few days, though we can’t be sure what it’s planning just yet. With the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show taking place next week, it’s possible Bugatti has a new, more powerful Veyron special edition. There have also been reports of a new ‘super’ Veyron putting out as much as 1,600 horsepower and capable of a 288-mph top speed, although this new version isn’t expected until the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show in September. As for losing its record, a Bugatti official said the automaker would seek clarification from Guinness and is standing by the record, since Guinness was fully aware that the Veyron Super Sport’s speed limit would be restricted yet still gave the title back in 2010. Stay tuned for an update in just a few days.

Guinness Strips Bugatti Of Its Record For The Fastest Production Car Ever