Jihan Wu of Bitmain: I’m Not A Shrewd Businessman
Jihan Wu, co-founder of the dominant crypto miner manufacturer Bitmain, said in a recent interview with tech entrepreneur Wang Feng, 2017 is a year with good harvest for the company accompanied by the fast growth of the broader crypto industry, and it is branching out into area including artificial intelligence.
Bitmain’s revenue in 2017 is more than 8 times of its 2016 revenue, and about 12 times that of its biggest competitor Canaan. Earlier this month Bitmain alleged to close pre-IPO funding with $12 billion valuation with investment of $400 million from Sequoia and Singapore government funds in exchange for 3.33% of the company’s shares. While he believes he is actually not a shrewd businessman.
Given the company’s strong momentum since 2017, Wu was asked whether he fancied one day Bitmain’s market value might surpass that of bitcoin whose market cap once hit a peak of $320 billion.
Wu said market value is a virtual concept which creates an illusion of mobility. With the market value in mind, investors take it for granted that once they sells out their shares or assets, they would get that much money by doing simple multiplication of unit price*quantity. While it is hard to realize if massive selling occurs. For an enterprise, it is not helpful to care much about the market value which would be easily affected by factors like broader economy environment, investors’ preference and emotions, and thus few founders would pay attention to its company’s market value in the secondary market.
Bitmain finds itself mired in controversy for its dominance in crypto miner marketing and sales, but also its mining pools (BTC.com and Antpool) that control nearly 50 percent of the world’s bitcoin hashrate. Some cryptocurrency purists condemn it for its over concentration of power in the crypto world, including Cobra of Bitcoin.org, who tweeted that Jihan Wu and its puppet Yang Haipo of ViaBTC can conduct a 51% attack on bitcoin with the click of a button and bring down a $130 billion dollar network.
Regarding this, Wu replied that Cobra should reread the bitcoin whitepaper, hinting that even if a so-called 51% attack is made, the whole system will not totally be subject to the attacker’s will, but only the transaction of himself would be tampered.
On the other hand, he denied the so-called mining monopoly, but only a collective where computing power gathered. If we do evil, our clients will immediately take actions and turn their hashrate to other mining pools. They’ll vote with their feet.
Wu believes there’re multiple solutions to cope with 51% attacks, including releasing emergency patch along with check point to invalidate the attacked blocks, 51% attack will not be the end of blockchain, when it comes to the once-theoretical 51% attack now becoming a recent regular following attacks on bitcoin gold, zencash, verge and litecoin cash.
Though the company enjoyed great benefits from the industry growth in 2017, Bitmain almost went broke three years ago in the long-lasting bears. Wu said they chose to bury themselves in chip research and development and finally survive from it.
Speaking of PoW mining, Wu thought once it takes up a big market share, it will continue to grow. However, this crypto’s billionaire in his thirties seemed not in favor of Anti-ASIC algorithm such as ProgPOW of bitcoin, which aims to bring back the era that everyone could get to mine. He believes it may raise concerns of insecurity and centralization.
In terms of some people’s scolds and malice, some media even call him villain and Jihad like a terrorist, Jihan said he did not take it seriously, as the founder of a company certainly would be under controversy when the company grows bigger, jokingly said Vitalik is much more “bullied” than him.
After success in the area of blockchain and cryptocurrency, Bitmain is branching out into area including artificial intelligence. Wu estimated that 40% of the company’s revenues will come from chips in artificial intelligence in the near 5 years. As a high-profile chip design enterprise, Bitmain is managing to find solutions to satisfy the computing need of deep learning which traditional chips could not make it.
The company is not only branching out into various areas with great potential, but also eyeing bigger on a global layout in different countries.