The high-level shock of Bitmain: the infighting and fate of the unicorns

one

A reversal that the script can’t even write

Reverse! Wu Jihan replaced Ketuan Zhan as the legal representative and executive director of Bitmain. In February this year, it was rumored that the blockchain business in charge of Wu Jihan may be divested and will be transferred to a company called Matrix to continue to be responsible for related businesses.

Tencent Technology’s signing of Bitmain’s internal emails learned that Wu Jihan informed all employees that the dismissal of Ketuan Zhan’s positions in Bitmain will take effect, and said that any employee should no longer execute Ketuan Zhan’s instructions and meetings convened by him. , the termination of the labor contract will be considered depending on the seriousness of the circumstances.

So far, Jihan Wu has officially taken charge of the mining machine giant.

Bitmain was established in October 2013, focusing on high-speed, low-power custom chip design. Its products are mainly used in the fields of blockchain and artificial intelligence. With experience in mass production of 16nm process integrated circuits, it has successfully designed and mass-produced a variety of ASIC customizations. Chips and Integrated Systems. The company has accumulated 1 billion chips in the field, accounting for about 75% of the global blockchain market share.

Earlier, the two parties had a clear division of labor within Bitmain. Wu Jihan was in charge of bitcoin, blockchain, mining pools and other projects, while Ketuan Zhan focused on artificial intelligence, chip design and mining machines.

According to a former Bitmain employee, Wu Zhan and Wu Zhan have had a long history of disagreement on the future development path of the company. Zhan Ketuan insists on investment and development in the underlying technologies such as chip design, while Wu Jihan spends hundreds of millions of dollars on chip tapeout. The investment is quite maintained, so it is more inclined to light-asset businesses such as blockchain.

two

A complete break after the trilogy

When the income is good, the two sides recruit troops in their respective fields, and there are no rumors of conflict. In the second half of 2018, the cryptocurrency market took a sharp turn, leading to a decline in Bitmain’s performance. According to its financial report submitted to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company lost $500 million in Q3 that year.

In order to maintain stable cash flow, Bitmain laid off a total of 1,500 employees in December of the same year, as well as in January and February 2019, accounting for 50% of its total employees at that time.

To make matters worse, Bitmain launched its listing plan in September 2018 and formally submitted a prospectus to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Later, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Li Xiaojia, CEO of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, said that mining machine companies do not meet the core principle of “adaptability to listing” of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Earlier, Bloomberg reported that Bitmain plans to go public in the United States, but there is currently no relevant update.

After the trilogy of declining performance, setbacks in listing, and personnel changes, Bitmain started to adjust and change its business focus internally, and considered laying off related unprofitable projects.

According to an industry self-media disclosure, Zhan Wu signed an agreement earlier, and the two parties agreed that the period will be June this year. If the company’s AI business can generate enough cash flow, this proves whether the company’s choice of business focus is correct.

Now, Ketuan Zhan is out and the dust has fallen. On October 24th, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China conducted the 18th collective study on the development status and trends of blockchain technology, emphasizing the important role of the integrated application of blockchain technology in technological and industrial innovation, and taking it as the core An important breakthrough for independent technological innovation, and increase investment.

Combining the policy trend and high-level changes, to a certain extent, we can also see the direction of Bitmain’s future development and focus.

three

Chicken feathers all over the floor after low tide

As the enthusiasm for artificial intelligence gradually fades, it is projected to the upstream and downstream of the global industrial chain, and business restructuring, personnel changes, and corporate closures occur frequently. Therefore, Bitmain is not the only AI company that has experienced high-level infighting.

Roadstar

In January 2019, an internal conflict broke out in the self-driving star company Roadstar. Guanwei issued an announcement to dismiss Zhou Guang, the co-founder and chief scientist, from all positions, terminated the labor contract with him, and listed his private code, data fraud, and receipt of rebates. Three disciplinary violations.

Subsequently, Roadstar investor Yunqi Capital responded, saying that the decision was detrimental to the core interests of the company and shareholders, and that the procedure violated the relevant agreement with the investor and was not effective. It is recommended that team members communicate fully to eliminate differences.

Subsequently, a number of investors who participated in the A round of investment filed lawsuits and arbitrations in an attempt to achieve exit through arbitration. At the same time, Zhou Guang took Tong Xianqiao, Weighing and Roadstar to court respectively.

Today, investors lost patience and confidence, intervened in coordination, and finally forced Roadstar to liquidate and exit. On April 2, one of the investors, Hefei Guibang Investment, brought Tong Xianqiao and Xingxing Technology to court. The former AI star has fallen into disrepair.

Carbon Robotics

The star robot manufacturer located in the United States produces the cheapest industrial robotic arm in the world. Its product code-named KATIA sells for $2,000, which is one-tenth of that of its competitors. At the same time of extreme cost performance, it also provides complete functions such as 3D printing.

According to the US media The Information, when reporters visited the headquarters of Carbon Robotics in San Francisco, they found that the company was empty. Previously, on October 2, the board chose to bring the company into bankruptcy proceedings. They opted for one form of bankruptcy permitted by California law: a third party overseeing the sale of the company’s remaining assets.

And the third party they hired – a consulting firm called Sherwood, its CEO also personally confirmed the news.

Didi Chuxing

In mid-February this year, Didi Chuxing was rumored to be laying off staff. The news showed that this round of layoffs will reach 25%, affecting around two or three hundred people, and it will focus on the R-Lab incubation business, including Didi takeaway and minibuses. The specific compensation plan for layoffs given by Didi is that the compensation plan is N+1 (can be confirmed in the week, and an additional month of compensation will be given).

Didi Chuxing was given a “vaccination” in advance at the monthly summary meeting after the year. Didi CEO Cheng Wei announced that he will be ready for the winter. In 2019, he will focus on the most important travel business and continue to increase investment in safety and compliance. Therefore, it will “shut down and transfer” non-main businesses and reorganize the business. The resulting job overlap and employees with substandard performance will be reduced, and the overall layoff ratio will account for 15%, involving about 2,000 people.

Hujiang Online School

Hujiang Online School started the transformation of “AI + education” in 2017. According to Qichacha data, in July 2018, the school completed the E round of financing of 319 million yuan, which was also its last round of financing before going public. But in less than two months, Hujiang Online School began to adjust the structure, and integrated and optimized some of its businesses and personnel.

In January 2019, the entire UED team was dismissed as a whole. During the Spring Festival, a new round of layoffs and salary cuts was launched. The core management team collectively reduced their salaries by 20%-50%. All executives no longer have independent offices. The 2018 year-end bonus will be cancelled, and all business lines will be optimized. In March, the marketing department laid off more than 40 people, and the team eventually retained 10 people.

In response, Fu Cairui, founder of Hujiang Internet School, responded, “This is a rumor. In fact, it is the adjustment of Hujiang.com’s business line and the layoff of some sales staff.”

IBM Watson Health

IBM Watson Health is laying off 50%-70% of its workforce after it missed market expectations.

From 2016 to 2017, the rise of artificial intelligence in the medical field was astonishing. Watson Health entered the Chinese medical market, hoping to help doctors make achievements in the field of chronic disease management and tumor treatment, including risk assessment and personalized intervention, patient management and medication recommend.

It has always been high hopes and regarded as a symbol of the medical care field, but then its accuracy in practical application was questioned, the market acceptance and localization degree were not high, and the beautiful coat made by the media earlier was also torn. break.

wantonly

Is blockchain a good medicine?

After the carnival in 2018, combined with the current unstable international trade situation and the fact that AI has not met the corresponding expectations in terms of application and implementation, investors have become more calm about AI.

At the same time, the phenomenon of AI fragmentation still exists. In the fields where AI is widely used, such as: security, wearable devices, smart home, automobiles and other fields, a number of vertical manufacturers such as customized chips have emerged, reflecting the lack of universal coverage. .

With the endorsement of the blockchain industry at the national level, will it become another “aphrodisiac” to save or increase the field of artificial intelligence? Follow-up and non-net will continue to report.

Author: Pei Jun

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