Bitmain co-founder and executive director Micree Ketuan Zhan has reportedly been forced out of the company in a power struggle with business partner Jihan Wu.
Bitmain’s co-founder Wu Jihan announced on Tuesday the resignation of his partner, a move which comes as a surprise to outsiders. The change appears to be the consequence of a power struggle within the largest crypto mining company in the world.
Zhan, who is considered one of the wealthiest cryptocurrency billionaire, was the largest Bitmain shareholder with 36% ownership. Since the company’s delayed IPO this is the second major shakeup at the executive level.
According to Wu’s memo Micree Zhan Ketuan, who started Bitmain alongside Wu six years ago, no longer holds any position at the company, effective immediately.
Jihan Wu also warned employees against taking further instructions from Zhan or attending any meetings, threatening staff with dismissal or criminal charges.
“If employees cause any harm to the company’s economic interests, the company will investigate their civil or criminal liability in accordance with the law,” Wu wrote in the memo, signing off as Bitmain’s co-founder and chairman.
Bitmain’s two co-founders had long served as co-CEOs but were replaced this year by Wang Haichao, in an attempt to reinvigorate the company after the crushing bear market for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.
The unexpected memo from Wu is sure to stoke more questions around the world’s largest producer of crypto mining rigs, which had previously failed to get listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Bitmain had high ambitions during the filing process, netting a valuation around US$15 billion in a private funding round last year. With the downward pressure on Bitcoin’s price and the uncertain regulatory environment, the IPO failed as the cryptocurrency industry was deemed too risky.
The mining giant also considered a US debut, long before rival Canaan Inc filed for its own American US initial public offering.
It’s yet unclear how Bitmain’s board made the decision and whether Zhan was bought out of his shares. As of September last year when Bitmain filed the IPO application, Zhan was still a major shareholder of Bitmain with 36 percent of Bitmain’s holding company while Wu owned 20 percent.