Tech 3 September 2018Erik Gibbs
Questions surround Bitmain’s business plan ahead of IPO
Bitmain, one of the largest cryptocurrency mining equipment manufacturers and mining operations in the world, is looking to go public this month, but a series of missteps may just about put those plans in jeopardy. Apart from making egregious financial backing claims that have since been refuted, new questions have come up regarding the company’s financial solvency and, most recently, its business practices.
Internal Bitmain documents that were leaked to the public has shown that the company may have indulged in some creative accounting. In the documents, which were posted on Twitter and is in Chinese, Bitmain asserted that it holds assets worth around $2.6 billion. Of these, $1.2 billion-worth is reportedly held in inventory, which means that almost half of its assets are devices that it has not been able to ship. In other words, the company has a large quantity of machines that it hasn’t been able to push out to the market because demand has fallen.
Chinese speaking Bitcoin community, have fun with this: https://t.co/jZO047TH42
— Shinobi, CEO of Bitcoin (@brian_trollz) August 13, 2018
That conclusion was reached by the Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange (BitMEX), which translated and analyzed the leaked documents. It asserted, “We have reason to believe the authenticity of these documents, which forms the basis for this report.”
BitMEX also concluded that Bitmain’s sales dropped from 2.5 million to 1.9 million between last year and the first quarter of this year. This represents a revenue decline of around $500 million, despite the fact that the company’s largest microchip supplier, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, reached a new revenue high of $866 million last year.
Bitmain is the owner of the two largest crypto mining pools in the world, Antpool and BTC.com, and is part owner of another, ViaBTC. The three pools mine about 48% of all mined Bitcoins; however, the revenue generated from them for Bitmain dropped to 3.3% in the first quarter of the year, down from 18.4% in 2016. These figures are proportionate, as the company’s mining revenue increased last year as mining activity increased. However, crypto mining is now losing profitability.
Bitmain has hinted at an initial public offering (IPO) for several months and had anticipated a $30-billion valuation before going public. After a recent funding round, it said that it was halfway there, thanks, in part, to Japan’s Softbank and China-based Tencent. Both companies have now publicly denied any involvement in funding the company. It is now time to seriously consider how viable the company is and take a deep look into its operations before the IPO is allowed to move forward.
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