A Death in Cryptoland is a thrilling new podcast produced by CBC. Hosted by technology journalist Takara Small and produced by Joan Webber and Enza Uda, this is an addictive 6-episode investigative series.
The podcast investigates the story of Gerald Cotten, the young CEO of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange who reportedly died while on honeymoon in India. His death sets off a cataclysmic chain of events that would leave about 76,000 people out of more than a quarter of a billion dollars of investments. With suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, it sets off a trail of conspiracy theorists trying to determine if Gerald Cotten is dead or alive. I spoke with host Takara Small to learn more about this intriguing story and her take on what she thinks really happened to Gerald Cotten.
A Death in Cryptoland takes listeners on a journey exploring the mysterious disappearance of Gerald Cotten. What inspired you to investigate this particular story on a deeper level?
Gerald Cotten is a Canadian who ran a cryptocurrency exchange and at the time, there weren’t many Canadians who had their own exchange. So it was huge. This was a big moment for Canada and the investigative series really came about after just looking at all of the weird circumstances that led to his purported death. My position is that I want people to listen to the series and come to their own conclusion. But for lack of a better term the whole thing was shady; just how he died right after things started falling apart. So CBC said this deserves more attention and I’m glad that the public broadcaster recognized that we can tell a Canadian story about a Canadian in a way that maybe others couldn’t.
What was one of the most interesting elements that you discovered about the case through recording the podcast?
I don’t want to give away spoilers. But I will say, if you believe he’s still alive, and vacationing on some tropical island; the theory as to how that happened was mind blowing and mind blowing in a way that it’s possible. I think at the beginning of the outset, you try to remain objective. Then when you start digging into it, I was surprised, like this could happen.
At the center of the story is cryptocurrency. So as a tech journalist, what do you think the future of crypto is going to be and how we just function as a society?
I think this year, we’ve seen so many people who have invested their money and their time in promoting, trading or buying cryptocurrency. I always thought that it’s here to stay. But the way that the general public has adopted it this year is, to be honest, surprising to me. I do think and worry sometimes that people just assume that, that one story of someone who made millions of dollars off of Bitcoin or any currency is something that can happen to them. There are so many people who lose so much money, but they just don’t have profiles on websites or magazines. So I think the future of cryptocurrency is going to become more mainstream. We’ve seen companies like PayPal now allow you to purchase goods with cryptocurrency so it’s here to stay. I just always say I hope people do their research and recognize that it’s a currency that isn’t maintained so there’s huge swings all the time.
What will people take away from the podcast when they listen?
People will walk away maybe a little bit freaked out at the fact that maybe someone can amass millions and disappear overnight. And at the same time, I hope people come to understand some of the limitations and the downsides that are associated with cryptocurrency. At the end of it though, perhaps people will just really enjoy themselves throughout the series. It’s based on facts, which makes it that much more addictive and a little scary.
This is a Canadian podcast but this story is international. There are cryptocurrency exchanges popping up everywhere around the world. So I would say this is a global story. Anyone, anywhere who has ever thought about buying Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, or has ever wondered about “How to Get Away with Murder” and disappear, this is a podcast for them.
Listen to A Death in Cryptoland here.