Accused Silk Road 2.0 Admin Worked As Contract Software Developer For Former Googler’s Secret Startup

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Blake BenthallBlake Benthall who was arrested for allegedly running the Silk Road 2.0, an illegal online narcotics bazaar, was a contract software developer at Close. There isn’t much known about Close but the company’s CEO, Falson Fatemi describes it as stealth start-up founded by ex-Googlers and supported by New Enterprise Associates, Felicis Ventures and notable personalities like Dave McClure and Mark Cuban among others. Based on the CEO’s descriptions, Close it seems, is seeking to develop software plug-in that helps people make the most of their social network connections.


HandcopClose came to light after Benthall’s arrest. The company makes a brief but dramatic appearance in the Silk Road 2.0 charging documents. These documents state that he hosted his alleged dark web drug bazaar’s server on one of the subdomains of an Internet address belonging to Close. The documents further reveal that this address was being used by Close up till November 6, 2014. Federal investigators managed to snag this server sometime in May 2014 and where able to identify its physical location in a data center outside the US. Federal investigators got their hands on it anyway, took the computer offline and copied its contents to aid them in forensic investigations.

It is during this brief take-over that the site’s administrator ‘Defcon’ who federal agents allege is Benthall, went into a brief panic attack. It is said that his internet service provider put out several messages warning of the Silk Road 2.0 server’s offline status. The documents allege that ‘Defcon’ instructed the internet service provider not to reboot server as there were critical processes that needed to be watched. Benthall’s former colleagues at Close including the CEO however seem not to be aware that the Silk Road 2.0 server was running on the company’s domain. The CEO responded on Twitter saying she could not believe the allegations. She further said she had worked with Blake in the past and to her, these allegations seemed out of character.