A transcript of a recent Bitmain staff meeting surfaced online exposing intense leadership struggles inside one of the greatest bitcoin miner producers in the world, resulting in the dismissal of co-founder Micree Ketuan Zhan.
The transcript states that Jihan Wu, the fellow co-founder of the company, talked about why he thought the company should terminate Zhan. Wu and Zhan started Bitmain together back in 2013.
Wu also alerted the company staff not to communicate with Zhan in any manner and those who violate this rule might be terminated from the job as well.
“Bitmain’s co-founder, chairman, legal representative, and executive director Jihan Wu has decided to dismiss all roles of Ketuan Zhan, effective immediately. Any Bitmain staff shall no longer take any direction from Zhan, or participate in any meeting organized by Zhan. Bitmain may, based on the situation, consider terminating employment contracts of those who violate this note,” wrote Jihan in an email.
Wu added that he and Zhan have been engaging in conflict since 2015.
Having said that, things escalated in December 2018 when Bitmain made major cutbacks. Jihan Wu fought for the layoffs, while Zhan opposed.
At the time, Wu and 3 other board members believed layoffs are necessary to save the company, but Zhan resisted and kept them from reaching a unanimous decision, says Wu. Additionally, Zhan tried to persuade other senior members to oppose the layoffs, but the majority supported the plan, added Wu.
“Everyone knows in 2018, the company spent unnecessary and hasty investment everywhere on research and development projects and hiring dozens and hundreds of people without a second thought. Everyone supported the layoffs,” he stated.
This year has been far from good for Bitmain, as the shares keep declining and its rivals such as Canaan, InnoSilicon, and WhatsMiner keep growing.
Wu also talked about Zhan having “crazy ideas” such as artificial intelligence and ignoring the company’s main source of income: mining equipment. As the conflicts between the two founders just kept growing, Wu decided to dismiss Zhan.
“Some said inside the company, I’m the one who handles business and Zhan handles technology. I want to ask, between Zhan and I, who really has a love for the technology? Zhan doesn’t love technology, he loves that feeling of fulfilling his endless desire for power. He doesn’t love technology, he loves vanity. Folks, we have no options but to keep Zhan away from this company.”
The company has already submitted an application in the U.S. in the expectation to go public again. The application was filed confidentially one week prior to Wu’s decision to oust Zhan, as reported by the Tencent News.
According to the report, on Oct. 28, one day prior to Wu’s decision, Zhan was on a conference in Shenzhen representing the company and promoting its AI products. He returned to Beijing after the conference but has been prevented from entering Bitmain’s offices.
However, it is still unclear how Bitmain managed to dismiss Zhan, who was the company’s chairman and a major shareholder. Up until December 2018, Zhan held 36% of the company while Wu had only around 20%.