Bitmain to Appoint in-House Tech Chief as New CEO, Report Claims

Francisco Memoria

Cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain is reportedly replacing its co-founders Jihan Wu and Ketuan Zhan, its co-CEOs, for a new chief executive. A potential successor is reportedly Haichao Wang, an in-house product engineering director.

According to the south China Morning Post (SCMP), Wang has already token user duties from the co-CEOs in a transition period that has started in December of last year. The SCMP reports, according to unnamed sources, that there’s no timetable for Wang to take over.

Wu and Zhan are reportedly going to remain the company’s co-chairs, and while they won’t oversee Bitmain’s day-to-day operations, they will make final calls on important decisions. The pair has reportedly disagreed on certain issues in the past.

Before working at Bitmain, Wang was reportedly a software programmer and product manager at Beijing-based design house Availink, from 2010 to 2017. He graduated from an institution considered the MIT of China, Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

Bitmain has been going through rough times, as the cryptocurrency ecosystem endured a prolonged bear market that saw cryptocurrency prices plunge. The MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 100 Index, a market cap-weighted index that tracks the performance of the top 100 cryptocurrencies, is down 84% in the last 12 months.

The drop has seen the company shut down its Israeli research center, and lay off part of its workforce in what the company called an “adjustment to staff.” The company reportedly had 2,594 full-time employees, 840 of them engineers, at the end of June.

These moves came after it filed for an initial public offering (IPO) with the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Wu and Zhan, who founded Bitmain back in 2013, hold 21% and 37% of the company, and both have 10-1 voting rights over ordinary shareholders.

The company has also had to deal with the Bitcoin Cash hard fork on November 15, which subsequently led to a hashrate war to protect the cryptocurrency’s network. Some reports have suggested it was forced to deploy 90,000 S9 ASIC machines ahead of it.

Zuckerberg Says Libra Can Boost Facebook's Ad Revenue, China Sees It as a Much Bigger Deal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has, during a shareholder meeting, explained how the Libra cryptocurrency project will help the social media giant make money. China, on the other hand, published a book addressing the challenges Libra poses, arguing it could become the future of world currency.

In a transcript posted by Thomson Reuters, we can read Zuckerberg replied to a question asked by a shareholder on how Facebook will be making money off of the Libra cryptocurrency project. Zuckerberg responded by going into Libra’s potential impact on e-commerce on Facebook, and its potential impact on advertising revenue.

According to the social media giant’s CEO, Facebook does not charge a set price for ads and instead works with a bidding system, where every business trying to advertise will bid to compete for ad space. The system, Zuckerberg said, allows them to get the “lowest possible price.”

He added that combining ads with an effective payment tool such as Libra can benefit businesses further as it could make commerce more efficient:

If we can make commerce be more effective for businesses if when they run an ad, somebody who clicks on that ad is now going to be more likely to buy something because they actually have a form of payment that works that’s on file.

Advertising on Facebook, as such, becomes more worthwhile for businesses, which could in turn see them bid higher on ads and increase overall ad prices. This would effectively boost Facebook’s 0s advertising revenue.

Zuckerberg also reiterated other advantages of Libra, pointing out the payments infrastructure “hasn’t been updated in a very long time.” China, which has plans to launch its own digital currency called DCEP, sees Libra as more than a way for Facebook to make money.

Libra Could Hit China’s Efforts to Increase Yuan Influence

In a book published by the Central Party School of China to educate government officials on digital currency and propose policy measures to deal with emerging challenges like the Libra project, experts argue the latter is an excellent example of a public-private partnership and has the potential to become the future of world currency.

This would mean, according to the book titled “Discussing Digital Currency with Leading Officials,” that Libra could get in the way of the Chinese government’s attempt to increase the influence of the yuan.

Hongzhang Wang, former chairman of the China Construction Bank and one of the authors on the book’s preface, said in a recent article:

China originally relied on mobile payment to get ahead, but now Libra has the potential to change the game again.

Wang added that this would allow companies in the U.S. to build a digital currency system that could “threaten or even surpass” Alipay and WeChat Pay using blockchain technology.

Featured image via Unsplash.