Business

Jasmine Solana

Haichao Wang replaces Jihan Wu at Bitmain

There is a new sheriff in Bitmain town, and he goes by the name of Haichao Wang.

On Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported that Wang, currently the product engineering director at Bitmain, is “poised” to succeed the crypto mining hardware company’s CEOs, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan.

The news comes several weeks after Chinese media outlets reported that Wu and Zhan would “simultaneously resign as CEOs” of Bitmain. At the time, their potential successor was only identified as “Wang” who “joined Bitmain a while ago.”

Now, new details about Wang have emerged. Quoting people familiar with the matter, the SCMP reported that Wang “has already taken over duties” from the two executives “in a transition period that started in December,” although there’s no official timetable yet for his accession.

A graduate of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, Wang had worked at semiconductor design house Availink as software programmer and product manager from 2010 to 2017 before joining Bitmain. Now, he’s taking over, and when it’s all official, Zhan and Wu are expected to “move away” from Bitmain’s day-to-day activities. However, the two co-founders “will still make final calls on big decisions” related to the company, according to the report.

Zhan and Wu were identified as Bitmain’s “co-chief executive officers” in the company’s Hong Kong Stock Exchange IPO prospectus. In it, Zhan was described as the leader of Bitmain’s chip research and development team, “with nearly 15 years of managerial and operational experience in the IC industry.” However, it appears that the decade-long experience didn’t prepare Zhan for Bitmain. According to a report by Chinese media Odaily Planet Daily, “Since 2015, Zhan has expressed doubts about his management ability, and now he has finally taken action for the better survival of Bitmain.”

There were also reports that the two co-CEOs “disagreed on certain issues.” Wang is allegedly an ally of Zhan, according to Bitmain insiders.

Wu, who was already demoted from a board director to a “supervisor” in November, is embroiled in several lawsuits including the most recent one filed in Florida, which accuses him and his Chinese government-backed “team of conspirators” of intentional fraud and market manipulation during the recent Bitcoin Cash BCH network upgrade.

Bitmain had been in a downward spiral, losing its competitive edge that allowed the Beijing-based ASIC device manufacturer to control as much as 85% of the market for crypto mining chips. In the third quarter of 2018, the company reportedly lost an estimated $400 million and although it has diversified into non-mining, a TechCrunch report pointed out that Bitmain’s “efforts to grow Bitcoin Cash—a controversial fork of Bitcoin—have been controversial and likely loss making.”

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