Bitmain IPO Rumors Surface as Jihan Wu Ousts Co-Founder

IPO Wars – Bitmain Versus Canaan

Just days after Canaan officially filed with the SEC for a $400 million IPO, rumours have emerged that their largest competitor Bitmain have privately filed for their own US IPO. The IPO reports originally surfaced from Tencent News and have since received widespread coverage in major news outlets.

The development has yet to be confirmed by Bitmain. It is believed that troubled investment bank Deutsche Bank will be the underwriter for the IPO.

This is not the first attempt of the hardware giant to go public. An application filed in 2018 to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) expired in March this year.

It is unknown how much Bitmain intends to raise if the company is pursuing an IPO. The HKSE application was aiming to raise as much as $3 billion.

Bitmain’s latest private funding round in 2018 valued the company at roughly $14 billion. However, this was likely a symptom of overly optimistic outlooks for the Bitcoin mining industry early in 2018.

Research included in Canaan’s IPO application reported the Bitcoin ASIC hardware sales market to be $3.23 billion in 2018 with Bitmain estimated to hold 64.5% of this market. Bitcoin ASIC hardware sales represent the lion’s share of Bitmain’s revenue generation with other revenue sources such as mining pools and proprietary mining representing only a small share of overall income.

However, their dominant share of this market has been dwindling. In 2017, their market share was estimated to be 77%.

Canaan filing to raise $400 million puts further pressure on Bitmain’s dominant position. In an internal meeting on Tuesday, CoinDesk reported that co-founder Jihan Wu acknowledged Bitmain’s diminishing share of the market.

“Our mining equipment’s market share is declining… Our mining pools’ dominance is also declining”

Jihan Wu Coordinates Coup D’état – Largest Shareholder Ousted

The Bitmain IPO rumour is only one development which is putting Bitmain in the headlines. There has also been a dramatic removal of Bitmain’s largest shareholder and co-founder Micree Zhan.

Jihan Wu wrote in a memo to Bitmain employees on Tuesday morning that Micree Zhan no longer held any position at Bitmain. The memo went on to threaten staff with legal charges if they corresponded with Zhan.

“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”

Zhan was reportedly attending a conference in Shenzhen at the time of his ousting to promote AI products on behalf of Bitmain. Coindesk reported that Wu held a meeting later in the day where he explained a feud between himself and Zhan which spanned as far back as 2015.

Wu made his case in the meeting that Zhan has been acting against the best interests of the company. According to Bitmain’s previous application to the HKSE, Micree Zhan is reported to hold 37% of the company compared to 21% for Jihan Wu.

Zhan was also acting as chairman of Bitmain at the time of his ousting. Wu recently overtook Zhan’s duties as the legal representative of the company according to public company information.

Bitmain is once again at the centre of controversy with Jihan Wu spearheading the removal of Bitmain’s largest shareholder and chairman. Such developments seem unlikely to help Bitmain’s prospects of raising public investment.