Former Bitmain Chip Designer Arrested for Alleged Embezzlement

Michael LaVere
  • Former Bitmain chip designer Yang Zuoxing has reportedly been arrested for alleged embezzlement.
  • After leaving Bitmain in 2016, Yang went on to found rival mining rig manufacturer MicroBT. 

A former top chip designer for bitcoin mining rig manufacturer Bitmain has reportedly been arrested for embezzlement. 

According to a report by Bloomberg published Dec. 16, Yang Zuoxing, who was the mastermind behind Bitmain’s mining chips until June 2016, has been detained by police in Shenzhen over suspicion of embezzlement. The report cites three anonymous sources familiar with the situation in addition to a police report that excludes Yang’s full name. 

Following his departure from Bitmain, Yang went on to found the crypto-mining company MicroBT, which has grown into a serious competitor for Bitmain over chips being supplied by foundries operated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics. 

Yang’s arrest comes at an inopportune time for MicroBT, as demand for mining rig hardware increases ahead of next May’s bitcoin halving event. 

According to the report, 

The arrest of Yang comes as competition between Bitmain and its rivals intensifies. While MicroBT’s flagship Whatsminer 20 series are the best-selling Bitcoin mining rigs so far this year, Yang’s absence has halted his company’s ability to make key decisions including on pricing, said two of the people.

In 2018, Bitmain lost a court ruling against MicroBT after alleging that Yang’s company infringed on its patent rights. 

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