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Gnutella Hero Gene Kan: Suicide or Murder?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:00:27 PM)

ene Kan was found in his Belmont home on July 2, 2002 with a bullet hole through the head. The San Mateo County Coroner fixed the date of death at June 29 and concluded that Kan had taken his own life. Presumably the suicide was triggered by one of Kan's longstanding bouts with depression for which he had been seeking treatment.
Gene Kan
Killed by the mob?

     The 25-year-old Berkeley grad had much to live for. He was working at a lucrative programming post at Sun Microsystems and was already an icon of the peer-to-peer computing movement. The Gnutella protocol had been hacked out by another prodigy named Justin Frankel and a few AOL cohorts in March 2000, but Kan had improved its open-source code and promoted it, triggering non-centralized swapping of music, video and software files on a globalized scale. Kan's charisma and incisive verbal style made him a favorite with reporters hungry for quotes. In June 2000 Kan founded InfraSearch Inc to develop a peer-to-peer search engine technology. His notoriety helped attract investments from the likes of Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen. In March 2001 Sun acquired Kan and InfraSearch to boost its own peer-to-peer project named JXTA.
     Gene Kan's James Dean-like life -- complete with a love of street racing -- coincided with Napster's rise and subsequent well-publicized death struggle against the legal onslaught from the music recording industry. Millions of teens had begun downloading mpeg files from one another's computers, raising in boardrooms the spectre of a generation of digital freeloaders. But Napster's file-sharing protocol routed transfers through its own servers and died when it was enjoined to shut down. The Gnutella protocol has no such achilles heel. Anyone who installs the widely-available program becomes an independent server. Hydra-like, two new servers could take the place of every one shut down. And rampant file-sharing isn't limited to music. The same technology can be used to share blockbuster movies as well as popular games and software.
     Theoretically, at least, the peer-to-peer space championed by Kan had the potential to bring the world's media giants to their knees. And its potential for ubiquity makes the legal system an ineffective recourse.
     It was kill or be killed. Which is why the media giants chose to order a mob hit on Gene Kan.
     That's the theory that has begun cropping up in computing circles. And some conspiracy theorists believe that Kan's Asian ancestry may have been a factor. Law enforcement agencies would be more willing to turn a blind eye to evidence of foul play against an Asian threat to the established business order, goes the thinking.
     The theorists find circumstantial support in the jarring fact that Kan's body was cremated on July 5, barely three days after it was discovered.
     A scan of a gnutella-related comment board reveals varied reactions to Kan's death. Some wits parody Kan's own astringent sensibility: "Cool. Sounds like he's perfected the B2B (Bullet To Brain) protocol. A genius, even in death." Others suggest the racial antipathy provoked by Kan's fame: "SUN Microsystems only hires asians, so f*** them and f*** this asian bastard. The record industry only assasinates silly asians too." Still others see an overarching conspiracy shadow falling over all heroes of the peer-to-peer movement: "Does anyone know where [Gnutella originator] Justin Frankel is these days? Guess what? he's toast. Supposedly OD'd on speed. Even though he was with family on the night and time he was supposedly to have suddenly developed a drug addiciton in 15 minutes."
     Was Gene Kan murdered? If so, is there a conspiracy to cover it up?

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WHAT YOU SAY

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Wouldn't surprise me if he got knocked off - with ALL those $ billions, power and positions at stake. Wouldn't surprise me one bit. It's a jungle out there, and it'd be easy enuff to pull off seeing as how outside the IT industry he had very low mainstream visibility... It's like killing a hooker.
Bang bang
   Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 14:22:28 (PST)    [148.104.5.7]
birdie,

I thought GNU is some form of public license, allowing open source projects to remain, well, open source. Otherwise some greedy ass company will come along and swipe the source code for themselves. somebody has to hold the copyrights/patents on open source to keep it free. and as an end user, i certainly appreciate whatever this crazy GNU thingy is.
KD
   Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 14:03:54 (PST)    [152.163.189.135]
Um, Birdie every field is filled with its own jargon, slangs, or even terms that make no sense. For example business, has "pipeline"(used in sales), ROI, etc. plus numerous complex financial terms, abbreviations, etc. used in accounting. Here's some "simple" ones commonly used in the office see if you can guess, PO(no not bodily related), GL(no not software related).

The point is every field is filled with its own jargon. Even science is filled with things where people just unscientifically named things after themselves(Jung particle). This is the due to the fact that people like to be the first to name something uniquely or create the latest buzzword.

Now judging if a name you invented is "mainstream" is highly open to debate. Plus people want something unique, so it can become a brand name or a hot buzzword.

The issue I have is when people start assuming everyone else understands their jargon, especially if they're the only ones who use it, and look down on other people. It's especially worse when they're using jargo that already exists for something else in the same field.
wake up
   Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 08:32:59 (PST)    [63.125.218.2]
Ok, the biggest problem I have with all of this is Gnutella and GNU. What the hell does GNU mean anyhows? Well I read about it on a website and I'm still not too sure. What I have a problem with is all these computer geeks who come up with these obscure names for software, protocols, operating systems, shells, etc. and think they are really cool by having this obscure sounding name that sometimes is not an abbreviation nor does is it stand for any real techinical terms. I find that this lack of professionalism is really disturbing. It's like these backroom computer geeks like to talk to each other in their special code words just to massage their egos - GNU, Bash shell, gnutella, KDE, tarball, mySQL, Apache, Tomcat, Linux, Python. It goes on and on. It's mostly open source crap that does this. At least Microsoft is professional enough to use some logical names, like Internet Explorer, Windows, etc. What is with computer people that they are so anti-social that they cannot at least come up with mainstream names for their wares? At least try to pretend you are with it.
Birdie
   Tuesday, November 05, 2002 at 12:53:17 (PST)    [151.198.162.28]
Hey guys/gals,

Whatever happened to this dicussion? Did anyone learn anything new about gene kan's death?

I'm real curious if someone has more tidbits of information.
Political Observer
   Friday, October 04, 2002 at 11:23:30 (PDT)    [167.230.38.7]
Sayth Asian Unity:

"When an Asian rises to the top and achieves international fame, White people get so jealous to their bones. Asians are the biggest threat to White society. We all know that. It's a struggle for survival and superiority. All White people have some form of racism and prejudice within, whether it's subtle or not. Caucasians pretend to be nice to you at work and in public. In reality, when they get home, they talk crap about us Asians. It's a fact whether you choose to believe or not. White people are insulted and disgusted by our success in school and at the workplace. Asians are the main competitors of White people. Jealousy from White rivals are the cause of all suscipious activities against Asians. That's the truth, and the truth hurts all Asians. Open your eyes and see reality. "

Hmmm, the reality I see is that you're more racist than any other person I know. I have never once in my life gone home and talked dirty about asians or their successes in my life. In fact more often than not I'm singing them praises. My favorite foods are asian foods. My choice of job is computer engineering. Want to guess where I'm trying to get a job? Japan. There has rarely been a succesful asian product that I haven't liked. And there are thousands of other people like me. WHo don't give a cr*p whether you're asian, black, native american, guatamalian or whatever, they just look at the end result. Why don't you take your racist glasses off and see the real world with some new eyes.
The Great T-Mo
   Friday, August 30, 2002 at 19:51:50 (PDT)
"All White people have some form of racism and prejudice within, whether it's subtle or not. Caucasians pretend to be nice to you at work and in public. In reality, when they get home, they talk crap about us Asians."

Okay, how would you know this unless you had gone inside every single white person's house in this country? You're conveniently forgetting the many white people that are dating or are married to Asians.

I'm not denying the fact that there are many whites in America that are racist, whether they know it or not. All I am saying is that not every single white pesron is a racist.
curious girl
   Wednesday, August 21, 2002 at 07:28:37 (PDT)
TSJ,

The editor's note did read
"Presumably the suicide was triggered by one of Kan's longstanding bouts with depression for which he had been seeking treatment" and you do have a point. However, there still remain some questions I'd like answered before writing this tragedy off.

Gene Kan seemed to be a really bright guy. Let's demand some tough questions be answered.

It would be interesting whether an autopsy was performed on his body prior to cremation. Also, who found his body.
Political Observer
   Wednesday, August 14, 2002 at 08:41:48 (PDT)
Geniuses are often depressed, and no matter how much money and fame they have, they still feel lonely. Sometimes, they just wish they were normal because no one can identify with them.
TSJ
Eric@KristinKreuk.net    Monday, August 12, 2002 at 22:33:49 (PDT)
Asian Unity,
you wrote
"All White people have some form of racism and prejudice within, whether it's subtle or not."

Whatever!

Back to the subject at hand.

Does anyone know if there was an autopsy performed on Gene Kan? If so, what were the results? If not, why?

Did the gun used in Gene Kan's suicide belong to him and/or was it registered under his name?

Who decided to cremate his body? Was it his personal will?

Also, why was it not until July 2 that his body was found? Was he married or did he have someone living with him?

I mean these are questions that I'd like to know if someone has insights or is in the know.
Political Observer
   Monday, August 12, 2002 at 08:40:00 (PDT)
Is Justin Frankel Asian too?
just want to know
   Sunday, August 11, 2002 at 19:51:24 (PDT)

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