No, this isn't related to the Bitcoinica hack. The hack just makes the choices obvious and straightforward.
I, Zhou Tong (Zhou is my surname), will discontinue all involvement in Bitcoin-related projects after the Bitcoinica incident has been fully resolved until further notice.
I always believe in Bitcoin, or simply anything that brings people financial liberty. I have heavily invested in Bitcoin (I purchased one 1,000 BTC gold coin from Casascius and will keep it for as long as I can). And I have enjoyed what I have done for the Bitcoin community.
Really, thank you for all the wonderful support. It feels great to have an experimental project become the "best thing since sliced bread", and run one of the most profitable businesses in a new economy. Bitcoinica has a total historical revenue equivalent to about 0.67% of the whole Bitcoin economy. Not even Apple can match this record in the real world economies.
The first time I read about Bitcoin was in late 2010. My first reaction was "these coins are cheap, maybe it just doesn't work". I learned about Bitcoin again in mid 2011, when the first bubble started. I bought my first Bitcoin when it fell to $8. I told all my close friends and classmates about Bitcoin, simply because I think it's a cool idea. The idea of a margin trading platform quickly went into my mind, and I started working on Bitcoinica.
I lied about the time it took to build Bitcoinica. (I said I spent one week on it.) I started on September 4, 2011 and launched on September 9, 2011. Just four and half days. In a week, trading volume passed one million dollars. I started making profits like crazy.
In November, an investor approached me to acquire Bitcoinica. Due to regulatory concerns, I agreed to the deal and signed the agreement. Bitcoinica was sold for a good price. However, since the investor is unable to arrange for a replacement team, I continued to become the sole operator until Team Intersango took over two weeks ago. The investor let me keep all profits until late January, the official handover time. After handover, he continued to offer generous salary and performance bonus every month. The investor demands his identity to be protected so I won't share more information on this.
I left school in Singapore and decided to continue my education in Australia. I made the decision because of the Internet industry, and the hacker culture. I'm a web developer and I want to become a really good one. I want to work with smart hackers and wonderful designers to change the world. Singapore isn't particularly good at this. (Obviously, US West Coast should be a better choice, but for some other reasons I didn't consider US.)
I have started working on another project (not Bitcoin-related) that is going to make a little difference on the Internet. So far I have achieved great progress and I'm pretty confident about this new venture.
My life hasn't changed much except that I became more confident after Bitcoinica's success. I realized that I have the power to make something profitable. Such kind of confidence is extremely hard to get, until you really experience a significant success. I worked on several projects before, and all of them failed eventually. I thought I was confident because I kept building new stuff and improving myself. But the real confidence comes from the success itself.
I failed at one thing though, that is generating value for the society. Bitcoinica did create a place for people to trade more efficiently and provide liquidity to the market. However, speculation is a zero-sum game (or negative-sum, strictly saying). I know there can be many justifications for Bitcoinica's value, but all of them are against my intuition and values.
With the confidence and the innate intuition to build wonderful things for a better world, I decided to move on. I didn't quit Bitcoinica because it's the only source of income that I currently have.
I know that my time is valuable and industry establishment is really important. I don't want my name to be remembered by only Bitcoiners. It's true that I believe in Bitcoin's potential, but not everyone believes. If I'm a influential person I wouldn't have to do this, but the best way to be known in the Internet industry is to build products that save people time, money and headaches.
I'm going to be a young entrepreneur that solves problems for everyone. I leave Bitcoin only because it doesn't help address my real needs. Making money isn't that important after all.
I'll be a Bitcoin lover forever, and I will come back to this forum regularly to discuss about the future that's in our own hands! I will keep the 1,000 BTC gold coin as a lifetime investment and I'm pretty confident that it'll be the best investment ever in my life.
Its a great effort of yours. Really an inspiring story. We wish you best of luck. Great work and investment.