Micree Ketuan Zhan, the co-founder of major Chinese Bitcoin (BTC) mining hardware producer Bitmain, claimed that he was removed as a legal representative of the company without his consent.
On Nov. 7, Samson Mow, the CEO of Blockstream, posted a statement from Zhan on Twitter, in which the Bitmain co-founder claimed he would take legal measures to return to the company.
Bitmain co-founder Jihan Wu announced in an email last week that Zhan had left the company, stating:
“Bitmain’s co-founder, chairman, legal representative and executive director Jihan Wu has decided to dismiss all roles of Ketuan Zhan, effective immediately.”
Stabbed in the back
In Zhan's message today, the co-founder expressed his disappointment and feeling of betrayal. As translated by CoinDesk, he said:
“I didn’t realize until then that those scenes in TV shows, where you get stabbed on your back by those partners you trusted and ‘brothers’ you fought together with, can really happen in real life. [...] Bitmain is our child. I will fight for her till the end with legal weapons. I won’t allow those who want to plot against Bitmain to succeed. If someone wants a war, we will give them one."
A messy removal
Mow postulates that Zhan's removal was executed without investor or shareholder approval "because the change was messy."
Wu had warned Bitmain staff from interacting with Zhan, saying, "Any Bitmain staff shall no longer take any direction from Zhan, or participate in any meeting organized by Zhan. Bitmain may, based on the situation, consider terminating employment contracts of those who violate this note."
The warning to employees in addition to a series of seemingly rushed appointments following Zhan's departure has led Mow to "feel that a #BitmainCivilWar is just starting."
Zhan is still looking to the future
Zhan claims that he will return "as soon as possible through legal methods to end this very critical moment.” Per Mow's translation of the document, Zhan also predicts that Bitmain's artificial intelligence (AI) business will generate 100 million yuan ($14.2 million) this year, further predicting an AI revenue of 1 billion yuan ($142 million) in 2020.
Bitmain began its pivot toward AI in May of last year in the face of a toughening crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry by the Chinese government. At the time, Wu said that the computational intensity of AI meant that it was a natural business alternative to a hardware producer like Bitmain, adding that AI could comprise 40% of the firm's revenue in the next five years.