Cryptopia co-founder Adam Clark has endured a firestorm of criticism from the bitcoin community over the past couple of days, with various industry news sites saying he has a lot of gall to set up a new cryptocurrency venture, Assetylene, in the wake of his previous venture's failure and the unresolved police and liquidator's investigations around it.
"One would assume, then, that the founder of a hacked, shuttered exchange, wouldn't try again so quickly. One would be wrong," fumed industry commentator John Biggs on CoinDesk.
Its owners called Police into the Christchurch-based Cryptopia in mid-January after a cyber-attack saw an unknown amount - never confirmed but said to be in the tens of millions - siphoned off by hackers.
Cryptopia was placed in liquidation last week. Liquidator Grant Thornton expects it to take "months, not weeks" to untangle the situation.
Police have not commented publically since mid-February. This morning, they told the Herald there was no update to report but that inquiries were ongoing.
Assetylene has also copped it for being silent and mysterious, but Clark was happy to field the Herald's questions this morning.
How does he see the stories by Biggs et al?
'Like Game of Thrones'
"Well I left Cryptopia a year and a half ago, so the media is just fake newsing it," Clark said.
He stresses that Assetylene pre-dates Cryptopia's hack by several months, and is rebuilt from the ground up to address its predecessor's flaws and limitations.
Clark did leave his role as chief technology officer at Cryptopia in February 2018.
"New management wanted to take the company in a different path I fundamentally disagreed with, so we parted ways," he said.
"I'm a simple guy, I just like to develop/write code. By the end of 2017, Cryptopia had grown from me and my best mate to almost 100 people.
"It was like Game of Thrones, everyone jostling for positions, every decision became about the bottom-line not helping crypto adoption, basically everything I wanted it not to be."
Yet despite his exit as CTO, he was listed as a director at the time of its liquidation on May 15 this year.
He pitches that as a white-knight scenario.
"I stepped in as director after the hack," he said.
"Both founders did, to see if we could get the company back on track. Unfortunately, due to the outstanding debts this was not possible, despite massive lay-offs and slashing infrastructure."
He says he and his wife - still based in a modest Christchurch home - are creating a "white label" cryptocurrency trading platform that will be used by their own venture, Assetylene, but also available for other operators to adopt and rebadge.
"The platform will most likely be used by other clients before [Assetylyne] is live," he says.
He says Assetylene is not like Cryptopia.
"New Zealand's most advanced crypto-currency exchange," as it's billed, adds features "like stop-limit and market orders, something Cryptopia has been struggling to integrate since I left."
It remains a work in progress. No trading has taken place yet.
And while the Herald has read its server is in Malta, Clark laughs that off, saying, "The server is right next to me [in Christchurch]. It's a development site, with no coins."
Where did the name "Assetylene" come from?
"It's a play on the word of for the highly volatile gas Acetylene due to the high volatility of crypto," Clark said.
Asked how much was taken in the Cryptopia hack, Clark said he wasn't sure, given some of the funds were still being secured (there are conflicting accounts among crypto experts of the AWOL funds shuffling between accounts).
And he wouldn't comment further on the hack itself.
"It's an ongoing investigation and don't want to risk messing it up with my theories," he said.