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Bitmain CEOs to step down

Posted: 11 January 2019 12:24 pm
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Bitmain is going through some changes.

Bitmain, the world's largest manufacturer of cryptocurrency mining hardware, has been going through tough times in the prolonged cryptocurrency bear market. Now the co-CEOs and co-founders are stepping down, South China Morning Post reports. The move was first announced two weeks ago in local news, it says.

The two founders, Jihan Wu and Ketuan Zhan, reportedly disagreed on certain issues as co-CEOs.

Their successor will be Haichao Wang, who has already taken over some duties from Wu and Zhan in a transition period that started in December, according to unnamed insiders. The SCMP says the insiders said the information was private – or at least that it was meant to be. Wang is an engineer who graduated from Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, and then worked in semiconductor design house Availink from 2010 to 2017, in roles that included software programmer and product manager.

Wu and Zhan will be staying on as co-chairs and will still have the final say on some business decisions.

Tough market

The change in management comes alongside a larger downsizing. Last month Bitmain said it was planning layoffs, but didn't reveal the planned extent of them. According to insiders, it's planning to let about a third of its over 3,000 employees go.

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It might be a plan B after previous fundraising efforts fell through, with the planned Bitmain IPO unlikely to go forward. According to people familiar with the situation, Hong Kong regulators are unlikely to approve it on the grounds of industry immaturity and other yet-to-be-answered questions. But that hasn't stopped other entities, including the Singapore government's investment arm, from taking a punt on Bitmain.

Bitmain has been aiming to diversify beyond crypto mining hardware, and has previously said it sees a big future in artificial intelligence machine learning chips.

The new CEO has reportedly started acclimating to some of the new duties, but there's still no set timetable for the official handover.

Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH

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