Business 10 December 2018

Jasmine Solana

Bitmain shuts down Israel office, leaving all 23 employees jobless

After nearly three years of activity, Chinese crypto mining giant Bitmain is reportedly ceasing its Israeli operations this week.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Israeli news outlet Globes reported on Monday that Bitmain’s development center in Ra’anana “will close this week,” leaving all its 23 staff members without a job. Gadi Glikberg, who served as Bitmain’s vice president for international sales and marketing, has also been fired, according to the report.

In a statement to the Israeli staff, Glikberg reportedly cited the “turmoil” that the cryptocurrency market has experienced in the last couple of months, which he said forced “Bitmain to examine the various activities in the global company and to refocus activities according to the current situation.”

The Ra’anana development facility, headed by Glikberg, was established in 2016 with a focus on developing blockchain capabilities and work on developing AI-related technologies. It was only in July when the crypto mining company announced that it was expanding the Israeli facility as part of its effort to double down on it research and development activities.

Five months later, and the site is closing down—although the management has found a silver lining for the workers. Glikberg reportedly told his employees that there were “companies that have already shown an interest in recruiting staff,” and promised that the company’s “human resources department will continue to assist” the laid off staff.

Monday’s news marks yet another blow to the Chinese crypto mining firm, which was also hit with a fresh lawsuit last week in the United States. Last Thursday, Florida-based blockchain company United American Corp. (UAC) filed a lawsuit accusing Bitmain, its co-founder Jihan Wu, and his “team of conspirators”—including Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver, ABC lead developer Amaury Sechet, Kraken and its CEO, Jesse Powell—of scheming “to co-opt the cryptocurrency market for Bitcoin Cash, effectively hijacking the Bitcoin Cash network, centralizing the market and violating all accepted distributed and decentralized standards and protocols associated with Bitcoin since its inception.”

Bitmain, already facing a number of issues since the beginning of 2018, is also reportedly in major debt to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and the company’s CFO has already issued an ultimatum: “pay or we cut you off for good.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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