Bitmain May Lay off Half of Employees, Ousted Co-Founder Speaks out Against It

Two months after Jihan Wu returned to Bitmain, the bitcoin mining giant started a new round of large-scale layoffs.

“The layoff started last Thursday, which mainly targets new employees. Many professional managers have left.” A Bitmain employee who has been laid off told Jiemian, a local financial news outlet. The cuts could be up to half of its employees, according to the employee. Another person close to the company said the staff cuts could be as much as 30%.

Bitmain currently has about 1,300 employees. Among its business apartments, AI, once led by the company’s former co-CEO Micree Zhan, will be most affected in this time’s mass downsizing with head count reduced by over 50 percent.

Two months ago, Jihan Wu has ousted Zhan out of the company. Wu believes that Zhan’s reckless expansion in AI business has led to the huge loss of the company. After Wu regained control of the company, many believed that he would first thin the AI department and so he did.

The company stated that the layoff is part of their preparation for the coming bitcoin halving as they envisage the economic consequences of the event. Compared to many of its competitors who only have a few hundred employees, Bitmain, with over 1,300 employees, seems to be oversized.

While Micree Ketuan Zhan, the co-founder of Bitmain who was recently dismissed by the company’s current CEO Jihan Wu, said that he is firmly opposed to the layoff in an open letter via Weibo, believing that staff overheads are not that large compared to the company’s profit.

Regarding this, many choose to stand with Wu as they believe the company’s personnel optimization helps to cut operating costs and improve efficiency, saying that Zhan is playing an emotional card to win the employees over. Some, though think Zhan is not wrong, commented that “AI is indeed the future, but it is imperative to survive first”.

This is not the first time that the world’s largest bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer downsizes its employee numbers. Back in late 2018, the company has conducted mass layoff as the mining giant suffered huge losses in the tough year.

It remains to be seen whether bitcoin’s upcoming halving expected to occur months later will boost the market price or not, the company is preparing for the uncertainties.

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