Sourcesubmitted by pascalbernoulli to Yield_Farming [link] [comments]
It’s effectively July 2017 in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), and as in the heady days of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the numbers are only trending up.
According to DeFi Pulse, there is $1.9 billion in crypto assets locked in DeFi right now. According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the ICO market started chugging past $1 billion in July 2017, just a few months before token sales started getting talked about on TV.
Debate juxtaposing these numbers if you like, but what no one can question is this: Crypto users are putting more and more value to work in DeFi applications, driven largely by the introduction of a whole new yield-generating pasture, Compound’s COMP governance token.
Governance tokens enable users to vote on the future of decentralized protocols, sure, but they also present fresh ways for DeFi founders to entice assets onto their platforms.
That said, it’s the crypto liquidity providers who are the stars of the present moment. They even have a meme-worthy name: yield farmers.
Where it startedEthereum-based credit market Compound started distributing its governance token, COMP, to the protocol’s users this past June 15. Demand for the token (heightened by the way its automatic distribution was structured) kicked off the present craze and moved Compound into the leading position in DeFi.
The hot new term in crypto is “yield farming,” a shorthand for clever strategies where putting crypto temporarily at the disposal of some startup’s application earns its owner more cryptocurrency.
Another term floating about is “liquidity mining.”
The buzz around these concepts has evolved into a low rumble as more and more people get interested.
The casual crypto observer who only pops into the market when activity heats up might be starting to get faint vibes that something is happening right now. Take our word for it: Yield farming is the source of those vibes.
But if all these terms (“DeFi,” “liquidity mining,” “yield farming”) are so much Greek to you, fear not. We’re here to catch you up. We’ll get into all of them.
We’re going to go from very basic to more advanced, so feel free to skip ahead.
What are tokens?Most CoinDesk readers probably know this, but just in case: Tokens are like the money video-game players earn while fighting monsters, money they can use to buy gear or weapons in the universe of their favorite game.
But with blockchains, tokens aren’t limited to only one massively multiplayer online money game. They can be earned in one and used in lots of others. They usually represent either ownership in something (like a piece of a Uniswap liquidity pool, which we will get into later) or access to some service. For example, in the Brave browser, ads can only be bought using basic attention token (BAT).
If tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
Tokens proved to be the big use case for Ethereum, the second-biggest blockchain in the world. The term of art here is “ERC-20 tokens,” which refers to a software standard that allows token creators to write rules for them. Tokens can be used a few ways. Often, they are used as a form of money within a set of applications. So the idea for Kin was to create a token that web users could spend with each other at such tiny amounts that it would almost feel like they weren’t spending anything; that is, money for the internet.
Governance tokens are different. They are not like a token at a video-game arcade, as so many tokens were described in the past. They work more like certificates to serve in an ever-changing legislature in that they give holders the right to vote on changes to a protocol.
So on the platform that proved DeFi could fly, MakerDAO, holders of its governance token, MKR, vote almost every week on small changes to parameters that govern how much it costs to borrow and how much savers earn, and so on.
Read more: Why DeFi’s Billion-Dollar Milestone Matters
One thing all crypto tokens have in common, though, is they are tradable and they have a price. So, if tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
What is DeFi?Fair question. For folks who tuned out for a bit in 2018, we used to call this “open finance.” That construction seems to have faded, though, and “DeFi” is the new lingo.
In case that doesn’t jog your memory, DeFi is all the things that let you play with money, and the only identification you need is a crypto wallet.
On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
I can explain this but nothing really brings it home like trying one of these applications. If you have an Ethereum wallet that has even $20 worth of crypto in it, go do something on one of these products. Pop over to Uniswap and buy yourself some FUN (a token for gambling apps) or WBTC (wrapped bitcoin). Go to MakerDAO and create $5 worth of DAI (a stablecoin that tends to be worth $1) out of the digital ether. Go to Compound and borrow $10 in USDC.
(Notice the very small amounts I’m suggesting. The old crypto saying “don’t put in more than you can afford to lose” goes double for DeFi. This stuff is uber-complex and a lot can go wrong. These may be “savings” products but they’re not for your retirement savings.)
Immature and experimental though it may be, the technology’s implications are staggering. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
DeFi applications don’t worry about trusting you because they have the collateral you put up to back your debt (on Compound, for instance, a $10 debt will require around $20 in collateral).
Read more: There Are More DAI on Compound Now Than There Are DAI in the World
If you do take this advice and try something, note that you can swap all these things back as soon as you’ve taken them out. Open the loan and close it 10 minutes later. It’s fine. Fair warning: It might cost you a tiny bit in fees, and the cost of using Ethereum itself right now is much higher than usual, in part due to this fresh new activity. But it’s nothing that should ruin a crypto user.
So what’s the point of borrowing for people who already have the money? Most people do it for some kind of trade. The most obvious example, to short a token (the act of profiting if its price falls). It’s also good for someone who wants to hold onto a token but still play the market.
Doesn’t running a bank take a lot of money up front?It does, and in DeFi that money is largely provided by strangers on the internet. That’s why the startups behind these decentralized banking applications come up with clever ways to attract HODLers with idle assets.
Liquidity is the chief concern of all these different products. That is: How much money do they have locked in their smart contracts?
“In some types of products, the product experience gets much better if you have liquidity. Instead of borrowing from VCs or debt investors, you borrow from your users,” said Electric Capital managing partner Avichal Garg.
Let’s take Uniswap as an example. Uniswap is an “automated market maker,” or AMM (another DeFi term of art). This means Uniswap is a robot on the internet that is always willing to buy and it’s also always willing to sell any cryptocurrency for which it has a market.
On Uniswap, there is at least one market pair for almost any token on Ethereum. Behind the scenes, this means Uniswap can make it look like it is making a direct trade for any two tokens, which makes it easy for users, but it’s all built around pools of two tokens. And all these market pairs work better with bigger pools.
Why do I keep hearing about ‘pools’?To illustrate why more money helps, let’s break down how Uniswap works.
Let’s say there was a market for USDC and DAI. These are two tokens (both stablecoins but with different mechanisms for retaining their value) that are meant to be worth $1 each all the time, and that generally tends to be true for both.
The price Uniswap shows for each token in any pooled market pair is based on the balance of each in the pool. So, simplifying this a lot for illustration’s sake, if someone were to set up a USDC/DAI pool, they should deposit equal amounts of both. In a pool with only 2 USDC and 2 DAI it would offer a price of 1 USDC for 1 DAI. But then imagine that someone put in 1 DAI and took out 1 USDC. Then the pool would have 1 USDC and 3 DAI. The pool would be very out of whack. A savvy investor could make an easy $0.50 profit by putting in 1 USDC and receiving 1.5 DAI. That’s a 50% arbitrage profit, and that’s the problem with limited liquidity.
(Incidentally, this is why Uniswap’s prices tend to be accurate, because traders watch it for small discrepancies from the wider market and trade them away for arbitrage profits very quickly.)
Read more: Uniswap V2 Launches With More Token-Swap Pairs, Oracle Service, Flash Loans
However, if there were 500,000 USDC and 500,000 DAI in the pool, a trade of 1 DAI for 1 USDC would have a negligible impact on the relative price. That’s why liquidity is helpful.
You can stick your assets on Compound and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
Similar effects hold across DeFi, so markets want more liquidity. Uniswap solves this by charging a tiny fee on every trade. It does this by shaving off a little bit from each trade and leaving that in the pool (so one DAI would actually trade for 0.997 USDC, after the fee, growing the overall pool by 0.003 USDC). This benefits liquidity providers because when someone puts liquidity in the pool they own a share of the pool. If there has been lots of trading in that pool, it has earned a lot of fees, and the value of each share will grow.
And this brings us back to tokens.
Liquidity added to Uniswap is represented by a token, not an account. So there’s no ledger saying, “Bob owns 0.000000678% of the DAI/USDC pool.” Bob just has a token in his wallet. And Bob doesn’t have to keep that token. He could sell it. Or use it in another product. We’ll circle back to this, but it helps to explain why people like to talk about DeFi products as “money Legos.”
So how much money do people make by putting money into these products?It can be a lot more lucrative than putting money in a traditional bank, and that’s before startups started handing out governance tokens.
Compound is the current darling of this space, so let’s use it as an illustration. As of this writing, a person can put USDC into Compound and earn 2.72% on it. They can put tether (USDT) into it and earn 2.11%. Most U.S. bank accounts earn less than 0.1% these days, which is close enough to nothing.
However, there are some caveats. First, there’s a reason the interest rates are so much juicier: DeFi is a far riskier place to park your money. There’s no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protecting these funds. If there were a run on Compound, users could find themselves unable to withdraw their funds when they wanted.
Plus, the interest is quite variable. You don’t know what you’ll earn over the course of a year. USDC’s rate is high right now. It was low last week. Usually, it hovers somewhere in the 1% range.
Similarly, a user might get tempted by assets with more lucrative yields like USDT, which typically has a much higher interest rate than USDC. (Monday morning, the reverse was true, for unclear reasons; this is crypto, remember.) The trade-off here is USDT’s transparency about the real-world dollars it’s supposed to hold in a real-world bank is not nearly up to par with USDC’s. A difference in interest rates is often the market’s way of telling you the one instrument is viewed as dicier than another.
Users making big bets on these products turn to companies Opyn and Nexus Mutual to insure their positions because there’s no government protections in this nascent space – more on the ample risks later on.
So users can stick their assets in Compound or Uniswap and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
OK, I already knew all of that. What is yield farming?Broadly, yield farming is any effort to put crypto assets to work and generate the most returns possible on those assets.
At the simplest level, a yield farmer might move assets around within Compound, constantly chasing whichever pool is offering the best APY from week to week. This might mean moving into riskier pools from time to time, but a yield farmer can handle risk.
“Farming opens up new price arbs [arbitrage] that can spill over to other protocols whose tokens are in the pool,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant.
Because these positions are tokenized, though, they can go further.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan. Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
In a simple example, a yield farmer might put 100,000 USDT into Compound. They will get a token back for that stake, called cUSDT. Let’s say they get 100,000 cUSDT back (the formula on Compound is crazy so it’s not 1:1 like that but it doesn’t matter for our purposes here).
They can then take that cUSDT and put it into a liquidity pool that takes cUSDT on Balancer, an AMM that allows users to set up self-rebalancing crypto index funds. In normal times, this could earn a small amount more in transaction fees. This is the basic idea of yield farming. The user looks for edge cases in the system to eke out as much yield as they can across as many products as it will work on.
Right now, however, things are not normal, and they probably won’t be for a while.
Why is yield farming so hot right now?Because of liquidity mining. Liquidity mining supercharges yield farming.
Liquidity mining is when a yield farmer gets a new token as well as the usual return (that’s the “mining” part) in exchange for the farmer’s liquidity.
“The idea is that stimulating usage of the platform increases the value of the token, thereby creating a positive usage loop to attract users,” said Richard Ma of smart-contract auditor Quantstamp.
The yield farming examples above are only farming yield off the normal operations of different platforms. Supply liquidity to Compound or Uniswap and get a little cut of the business that runs over the protocols – very vanilla.
But Compound announced earlier this year it wanted to truly decentralize the product and it wanted to give a good amount of ownership to the people who made it popular by using it. That ownership would take the form of the COMP token.
Lest this sound too altruistic, keep in mind that the people who created it (the team and the investors) owned more than half of the equity. By giving away a healthy proportion to users, that was very likely to make it a much more popular place for lending. In turn, that would make everyone’s stake worth much more.
So, Compound announced this four-year period where the protocol would give out COMP tokens to users, a fixed amount every day until it was gone. These COMP tokens control the protocol, just as shareholders ultimately control publicly traded companies.
Every day, the Compound protocol looks at everyone who had lent money to the application and who had borrowed from it and gives them COMP proportional to their share of the day’s total business.
The results were very surprising, even to Compound’s biggest promoters.
COMP’s value will likely go down, and that’s why some investors are rushing to earn as much of it as they can right now.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit into Compound. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan, as well, which is very weird: Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
COMP’s value has consistently been well over $200 since it started distributing on June 15. We did the math elsewhere but long story short: investors with fairly deep pockets can make a strong gain maximizing their daily returns in COMP. It is, in a way, free money.
It’s possible to lend to Compound, borrow from it, deposit what you borrowed and so on. This can be done multiple times and DeFi startup Instadapp even built a tool to make it as capital-efficient as possible.
“Yield farmers are extremely creative. They find ways to ‘stack’ yields and even earn multiple governance tokens at once,” said Spencer Noon of DTC Capital.
COMP’s value spike is a temporary situation. The COMP distribution will only last four years and then there won’t be any more. Further, most people agree that the high price now is driven by the low float (that is, how much COMP is actually free to trade on the market – it will never be this low again). So the value will probably gradually go down, and that’s why savvy investors are trying to earn as much as they can now.
Appealing to the speculative instincts of diehard crypto traders has proven to be a great way to increase liquidity on Compound. This fattens some pockets but also improves the user experience for all kinds of Compound users, including those who would use it whether they were going to earn COMP or not.
As usual in crypto, when entrepreneurs see something successful, they imitate it. Balancer was the next protocol to start distributing a governance token, BAL, to liquidity providers. Flash loan provider bZx has announced a plan. Ren, Curve and Synthetix also teamed up to promote a liquidity pool on Curve.
It is a fair bet many of the more well-known DeFi projects will announce some kind of coin that can be mined by providing liquidity.
The case to watch here is Uniswap versus Balancer. Balancer can do the same thing Uniswap does, but most users who want to do a quick token trade through their wallet use Uniswap. It will be interesting to see if Balancer’s BAL token convinces Uniswap’s liquidity providers to defect.
So far, though, more liquidity has gone into Uniswap since the BAL announcement, according to its data site. That said, even more has gone into Balancer.
Did liquidity mining start with COMP?No, but it was the most-used protocol with the most carefully designed liquidity mining scheme.
This point is debated but the origins of liquidity mining probably date back to Fcoin, a Chinese exchange that created a token in 2018 that rewarded people for making trades. You won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding, you will: People just started running bots to do pointless trades with themselves to earn the token.
Similarly, EOS is a blockchain where transactions are basically free, but since nothing is really free the absence of friction was an invitation for spam. Some malicious hacker who didn’t like EOS created a token called EIDOS on the network in late 2019. It rewarded people for tons of pointless transactions and somehow got an exchange listing.
These initiatives illustrated how quickly crypto users respond to incentives.
Read more: Compound Changes COMP Distribution Rules Following ‘Yield Farming’ Frenzy
Fcoin aside, liquidity mining as we now know it first showed up on Ethereum when the marketplace for synthetic tokens, Synthetix, announced in July 2019 an award in its SNX token for users who helped add liquidity to the sETH/ETH pool on Uniswap. By October, that was one of Uniswap’s biggest pools.
When Compound Labs, the company that launched the Compound protocol, decided to create COMP, the governance token, the firm took months designing just what kind of behavior it wanted and how to incentivize it. Even still, Compound Labs was surprised by the response. It led to unintended consequences such as crowding into a previously unpopular market (lending and borrowing BAT) in order to mine as much COMP as possible.
Just last week, 115 different COMP wallet addresses – senators in Compound’s ever-changing legislature – voted to change the distribution mechanism in hopes of spreading liquidity out across the markets again.
Is there DeFi for bitcoin?Yes, on Ethereum.
Nothing has beaten bitcoin over time for returns, but there’s one thing bitcoin can’t do on its own: create more bitcoin.
A smart trader can get in and out of bitcoin and dollars in a way that will earn them more bitcoin, but this is tedious and risky. It takes a certain kind of person.
DeFi, however, offers ways to grow one’s bitcoin holdings – though somewhat indirectly.
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
For example, a user can create a simulated bitcoin on Ethereum using BitGo’s WBTC system. They put BTC in and get the same amount back out in freshly minted WBTC. WBTC can be traded back for BTC at any time, so it tends to be worth the same as BTC.
Then the user can take that WBTC, stake it on Compound and earn a few percent each year in yield on their BTC. Odds are, the people who borrow that WBTC are probably doing it to short BTC (that is, they will sell it immediately, buy it back when the price goes down, close the loan and keep the difference).
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
How risky is it?Enough.
“DeFi, with the combination of an assortment of digital funds, automation of key processes, and more complex incentive structures that work across protocols – each with their own rapidly changing tech and governance practices – make for new types of security risks,” said Liz Steininger of Least Authority, a crypto security auditor. “Yet, despite these risks, the high yields are undeniably attractive to draw more users.”
We’ve seen big failures in DeFi products. MakerDAO had one so bad this year it’s called “Black Thursday.” There was also the exploit against flash loan provider bZx. These things do break and when they do money gets taken.
As this sector gets more robust, we could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Right now, the deal is too good for certain funds to resist, so they are moving a lot of money into these protocols to liquidity mine all the new governance tokens they can. But the funds – entities that pool the resources of typically well-to-do crypto investors – are also hedging. Nexus Mutual, a DeFi insurance provider of sorts, told CoinDesk it has maxed out its available coverage on these liquidity applications. Opyn, the trustless derivatives maker, created a way to short COMP, just in case this game comes to naught.
And weird things have arisen. For example, there’s currently more DAI on Compound than have been minted in the world. This makes sense once unpacked but it still feels dicey to everyone.
That said, distributing governance tokens might make things a lot less risky for startups, at least with regard to the money cops.
“Protocols distributing their tokens to the public, meaning that there’s a new secondary listing for SAFT tokens, [gives] plausible deniability from any security accusation,” Zehavi wrote. (The Simple Agreement for Future Tokens was a legal structure favored by many token issuers during the ICO craze.)
Whether a cryptocurrency is adequately decentralized has been a key feature of ICO settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
What’s next for yield farming? (A prediction)COMP turned out to be a bit of a surprise to the DeFi world, in technical ways and others. It has inspired a wave of new thinking.
“Other projects are working on similar things,” said Nexus Mutual founder Hugh Karp. In fact, informed sources tell CoinDesk brand-new projects will launch with these models.
We might soon see more prosaic yield farming applications. For example, forms of profit-sharing that reward certain kinds of behavior.
Imagine if COMP holders decided, for example, that the protocol needed more people to put money in and leave it there longer. The community could create a proposal that shaved off a little of each token’s yield and paid that portion out only to the tokens that were older than six months. It probably wouldn’t be much, but an investor with the right time horizon and risk profile might take it into consideration before making a withdrawal.
(There are precedents for this in traditional finance: A 10-year Treasury bond normally yields more than a one-month T-bill even though they’re both backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam, a 12-month certificate of deposit pays higher interest than a checking account at the same bank, and so on.)
As this sector gets more robust, its architects will come up with ever more robust ways to optimize liquidity incentives in increasingly refined ways. We could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Questions abound for this nascent industry: What will MakerDAO do to restore its spot as the king of DeFi? Will Uniswap join the liquidity mining trend? Will anyone stick all these governance tokens into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)? Or would that be a yield farmers co-op?
Whatever happens, crypto’s yield farmers will keep moving fast. Some fresh fields may open and some may soon bear much less luscious fruit.
But that’s the nice thing about farming in DeFi: It is very easy to switch fields.
The original intention of this article is to let readers understand the causes and consequences of Bitmain internal fighting, but after writing it, I found that it is not so much internal fighting as it is a long history of self-help.submitted by paulcheung1990 to Bitcoincash [link] [comments]
The story is very long. Let's adjust the timeline to the eve of December 17, 2018. That was one of Bitmain's most critical moments and the beginning of a series of subsequent stories.
1. Self-immolation In September 2018, Bitmain's financial department warned management that the company's cash flow has become very tight and operating costs must be reduced to allow the company to continue. The blockchain unicorn, which is valued at more than 15 billion U.S. dollars, is crippled in the run and struggling to break the corner.
In 2017, Bitmain made a profit of 1 billion US dollars In the first half of 2018, Bitmain made a profit of 1 billion US dollars Three rounds of financing, a total of 800 million US dollars Net assets should exceed 3 billion U.S. dollars In September 2018, Bitmain had tight cash flow and was on the verge of bankruptcy
A simple comparison, it is not difficult to see that Bitmain's ability to make money is incredible, and its ability to burn money is even more extreme.
How does Bitmain burn money? Do you pour cash into gasoline and burn it, or hire a lot of employees to stuff the banknotes one by one into the shredder? The actual situation is closer to the latter.
The following data can help readers quickly learn Bitmain's money burning skills.
At the beginning of 2018, the entire cryptocurrency market has entered a bear market, but Bitmain's monthly operating costs have been rising wildly. Operating costs have risen from 10 million US dollars at the beginning of the year to 50 million US dollars at the end of the year.
Large-scale expansion of the R&D team is one of the main reasons. The HR who once worked at Bitmain revealed that the company once hired more than 50 employees a day and nearly 500 employees a month. Even so, it was criticized for its slow recruitment speed. The cash consumption in this area is approximately $250 million.
Operating costs are just the tip of the iceberg. Excessive chip trial production can become a classic case of project management courses. Readers who pay attention to Cryptocurrency mining can easily find that Bitmain is still working hard to clear the inventory of Antminer S9 in 2019. As the co-CEO, Ketuan Zhan did not listen to the advice or even warnings of the Finance Department, insisting on the implementation of Excessive chip trial production, resulting in a large accumulation of inventory and tight capital turnover. Another CEO, Jihan Wu, once revealed that the loss of Excessive chip trial production to the company was approximately US$1.5 billion.
Large-scale expansion of the R&D team is one of the main reasons. The HR who once worked at Bitmain revealed that the company once hired more than 50 employees a day and nearly 500 employees a month. Even so, it was criticized for its slow recruitment speed. The cash consumption in this area is approximately $250 million.
The BM1393 chip incident is even more incredible. Chip expert Ketuan Zhan invested a lot of money on a failed chip, and finally failed again. From 2017 to 2018, Bitmain has failed Trial production of mining machine chips at least 4 times, including 16nm, 12nm and 10nm chips, of which 16nm Trial production failed twice, thus losing at least US$1.2 billion.
It is rumored that Bitmain still holds a billion U.S. dollars worth of cryptocurrency in a state of floating loss. In view of the rebound in the market in 2020, we will not comment temporarily, waiting for the correct answer from the cryptocurrency market. But the losses pointed out in the previous article are all irreversible.
2. Sole power
In September 2018, Bitmain's management realized the seriousness of the problem. It turned out that the company's money could be squandered. As a result, the management began to discuss self-help plans, and the most reasonable and effective way was obviously to lay off employees.
The probation period for newly hired employees at Bitmain is half a year, and the probationary salary is 100% of the official salary, there is no difference. Once layoffs are made, new employees who have not passed the probationary period will be the main layoff targets. The department managed by Ketuan Zhan will face large-scale layoffs. The layoff plan is strongly opposed by Ketuan Zhan. Bitmain can only temporarily abandon the layoffs and replace it with continuous reductions. For marketing and travel expenses, a budget committee was established to strictly approve every expenditure. At the same time, employee benefits, such as reimbursement of taxi expenses, breakfast supply, snacks and drinks, etc., have also been abolished, and even the tradition of giving employees 400 yuan worth of BTC/BCH every month has been stopped.
In the face of huge cash flow pressure, trivial savings is obviously of no avail. Soon, the management again discussed the layoff plan, and it has reached the point where it has to be laid off.
In December 2018, Jihan Wu began to organize all entrepreneurial veterans and business backbones to persuade Ketuan Zhan to agree to layoffs, but Ketuan Zhan still insisted not to layoffs. The persuasion process was very unsuccessful. After many meetings and intense debates, Bitmain executives were caught in a dilemma of wasting time with Ketuan Zhan.
In this process, the shortcomings of the dual CEO system began to appear, and the relationship between the two CEOs gradually deteriorated.
On the night of December 16th, Ketuan Zhan reconvened the management meeting, and more than 30 managements who were present were asked to hand over their mobile phones. At this time, Jihan Wu was on a business trip in Hong Kong and was busy with listing related work.
In the meeting, Ketuan Zhan's core content was three items:
(1) Bitmain cannot have two CEOs, only one CEO and must be Ketuan Zhan. Ketuan Zhan said that he met an old leader during a business trip. He hadn't seen each other for many years. The old leader suggested that the company can only have one CEO, and it must be him. Ketuan Zhan feels that this is a kind of fate, an opportunity given by God.
(2) Ketuan Zhan believes that the company's cash flow problems, the biggest responsibility is the inability of the financial department. To prove his point, Ketuan Zhan announced Bitmain's financial data at the meeting. In the evening, employees in Taiwan began to post messages on social media, saying that the company's capital chain was broken and the top management was split.
(3) If Ketuan Zhan is not supported, the option will be cancelled and the equity will be voided.
Hearing about this, Jihan Wu, who lives in Hong Kong, sent a WeChat message to the management who are attending the meeting.
On the afternoon of December 17, 2018, Jihan Wu returned to Beijing to negotiate with Ketuan Zhan all night, and finally reached a consensus in the early morning. Bitmain co-founder Yuesheng Ge announced the results of the negotiations. Jihan Wu and Ketuan Zhan ceased to serve as CEOs, and Haichao Wang served as CEO. Jihan Wu voluntarily backed down and Ketuan Zhan served as chairman.
The "12.17 Incident" had a very bad impact on Bitmain, especially the disclosure of Bitmain's financial status, which caused vendors to start dunning. The loan that had just been negotiated with the Bank of Beijing was cancelled the next day. Jihan Wu's resignation as CEO caused an uproar in the industry, and it became a hot topic among Cryptocurrency mining, blockchain practitioners, and investor communities. The media focused their interpretation on Bitmain's series of incidents, and generally looked down upon its ongoing Hong Kong IPO, believing that the high-level changes had already signaled the failure of the IPO in advance.
On Christmas December 24, 2018, Bitmain finally began to implement the layoff plan. This long-delayed “correct decision” was achieved after a stalemate for nearly three months. The AI teams in Beijing, Singapore, Taiwan, and Shanghai have laid off more than 50% of their employees. The Israeli R&D center was closed and Shenzhen New Species Technology Co., Ltd., which had been acquired for only ten months, was dissolved, and all employees were laid off. Copernicus, Bitmain's top blockchain development team, was not spared and was wiped out in this layoff. Copernicus and some of the laid-off employees joined the new company Matrixport co-founded by Jihan Wu and Yuesheng Ge, headquartered in Singapore.
3. Past events when starting a business
After the "12.17 Incident", Jihan Wu gradually faded out of Bitmain's management affairs and turned his attention to the IPO and new company. And this is one of Jihan Wu's major mistakes, he began to let Ketuan Zhan manage Bitmain alone.
In fact, as early as 2013, Jihan Wu planted hidden dangers.
Jihan Wu, an investment banker, was the earliest translator of the Bitcoin white paper. He began to get involved in the cryptocurrency mining industry in 2012. The disappearance of Kaomao and Nangua Zhang's ticket skipping led Jihan Wu to decide to develop his own chip.
In 2013, Jihan Wu established his own mining machine company. Together with Yuesheng Ge, who was only 20 years old, he found Ketuan Zhan, an integrated circuit designer of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to create the protagonist of this article, and later the digital Cryptocurrency mining giant, Bitmain.
Jihan Wu promised Ketuan Zhan that every time a mining machine chip was successfully developed, he would give some shares to the Ketuan Zhan team. At that time, the company founded by Ketuan Zhan was on the eve of falling apart. In order to regroup the team, Ketuan Zhan promised to share half of his shares with the team members. Unfortunately, this is just a bad check. With the rapid development of Bitmain and higher and higher valuations, the expanding Ketuan Zhan almost monopolized all the shares.
Like many startups, Bitmain encountered many difficulties in its early days, and many jobs had to be done by the boss. For example, in the chip design and production process in the second half of 2013, Bitmain was caught in a dilemma of insufficient funds. Jihan Wu personally raised funds and met with TSMC’s sales to persuade TSMC to accept the production needs of a start-up company. Jihan Wu also participated in the selection of the thermodynamic parameters of the heat sink in the Antminer S1.
In 2014, Jihan Wu discovered that this company was independently operated by Ketuan Zhan, which had huge problems. Forcing Jihan Wu to continue to participate in company management.
At that time, Bitmain's mining machine chips had just achieved a certain lead in the standard design process. Jihan Wu believes that the next step must be to develop full customization technology, but Ketuan Zhan plans to invest resources in the research of mobile payment chips.
Ketuan Zhan met a mysterious person from the Party Central Security Bureau who claimed to be able to manipulate the Party Central Committee’s decision-making process for the next generation of mobile payment cryptography standards, but this direction is likely to lead to the fact that Bitmain has just gained the lead in the mining machine market. Regained.
Jihan Wu said that as a graduate of the School of Economics, with a little memory of his high school stage and the knowledge reserve of a computer technology amateur, he retrieves various materials and papers every day, learns theories related to full customization, and goes to Ketuan Zhan conducts persuasion work there.
Fortunately, in the direction of full customization technology, Ketuan Zhan finally listened to Jihan Wu's opinion. Bitmain quickly integrated the technical experts from the United States and Russia introduced by Jihan Wu, which greatly improved the design level of chips and complete machines.
In 2015, Jihan Wu suggested that Ketuan Zhan consider the direction of artificial intelligence. But Ketuan Zhan is not here, he prefers the CPU direction. After staying asleep at night, coupled with in-depth analysis by the Bitmain investment team, Ketuan Zhan finally agreed with this direction. It is a pity that after the Tianshi Chen brothers made major breakthroughs in theory and practice, Bitmain officially invested in the relevant direction, and it was still a step behind.
In the two years from 2016 to 2017, Bitmain's business performance has achieved rapid development, becoming a unique super unicorn in the blockchain industry. According to Froth & Sullivan, in 2017, Bitmain Technology Holdings was the second largest fabless chip design company in China and the tenth largest fabless chip design company in the world, and the fourth largest fabless ASIC chip design company in the world, accounting for 74.5% of global cryptocurrency market share.
However, the huge crisis has long been buried in the early days of entrepreneurship.
Ketuan Zhan's decision on major directions revealed his weakness of extremely lack of business understanding. But every mistake he made was blocked by the company's core employees. His overconfidence in his management ability led to the gradual intensification of conflicts, and the management differences between the two founders became more serious.
4.The giant gets lost
The contradiction between the two broke out on December 17, 2018. Ketuan Zhan used extreme means to force the management to compromise with him by canceling the option, so as to achieve the goal of sole control of the company. Jihan Wu returned to Beijing from Hong Kong overnight and negotiated with Ketuan Zhan all night. In the end, the two resigned as CEO. Jihan Wu retired. Ketuan Zhan has the exclusive rights of chairman in exchange for the implementation of the layoff plan.
Jihan Wu's voluntary retreat has intensified Ketuan Zhan's management to do whatever he wants.
A Bitmain employee commented on Ketuan Zhan's management skills, summed up in two letters-SM.
After becoming the sole helm of the company, Ketuan Zhan quickly "rectified" the department in charge of Jihan Wu as the chairman of the board. He guided the sales of mining machines at the dinner, and pointed out that the sales performance is not due to the sales staff. Ability is strong, but the company provides opportunities. Take two sales leaders as examples, saying that if the company hadn't given the opportunity, they would still be losers. In addition, Ketuan Zhan also instructed the sales staff on how to toast and imparted the wine table culture and experience.
After the meal, Ketuan Zhan came to the conclusion that the quality of Bitmain sales staff was too poor, and Huawei’s blood needs to be injected to drive the company’s progress. Soon, the marketing and sales director from Huawei officially took over Bitmain, opening the era of brand premium for Antminer.
In order to further understand and guide the sales work, Ketuan Zhan asked to meet the customers with the sales staff. During the negotiation process, Ketuan Zhan had a heated discussion with customers on the issue of Chinese and Western medicine, and had also forced the sales staff to be able to ship 10,000 machines due to insufficient production capacity.
Although the requirements for sales personnel are strict, Ketuan Zhan has provided a lot of convenience for "Mainland Ark". In addition to selling mining machines at a more favorable price, Bitmain's mining machines are also hosted in Ming Wang at a higher price than the market price. Mine. It is reported that both Ketuan Zhan and Ming Wang are shareholders of Ark.
The new sales strategy of Huawei's executives has also brought very obvious changes to Bitmain. The self-righteous brand premium reduces the price-performance ratio of Antminer, causing competing products to eat away at Bitmain's market share. Later, Bitmain found that the strategy was wrong and started to cut prices, and found that the mining machine market was saturated and the purchase demand of miners had decreased.
More dangerous than the sales strategy is that the technical advantages of Antminer are being chased by competing products, and even overtaken. At the same time, the two mining pools under Bitmain also lost their first and second positions. The AI business, which Jihan Wu placed high hopes and Ketuan Zhan personally supervised, became a laughing stock in the industry. Not only did it fail to make a profit, it almost brought down Bitmain.
Blindly introducing senior executives from Huawei to occupy important positions completely destroys the company's internal cultural foundation. The bureaucracy within Bitmain began to corrode from high-level employees to ordinary employees. Ketuan Zhan is not aware of this. He is still keen on recruiting Huawei employees, imitating Huawei's organizational structure and strategy, letting HR do sales and R&D personnel to do HR.
The organizational structure adjustment in October 2019 was the fuse for Ketuan Zhan to completely anger Bitmain management. This time, Ketuan Zhan completely marginalized Bitmain’s veteran employees, and suddenly promoted some of the “airborne soldiers” who had just joined the company to the position of person in charge, which caused the former person in charge to report to the new employees. The two managers who were originally equal The hierarchy becomes the subordinate relationship, the operation and development of different business lines are merged into a large department, the upward reporting process becomes more cumbersome, and the relationship between employees becomes delicate.
On October 29, 2019, Jihan Wu urgently held a staff meeting. Prior to this, the legal representative of Beijing Bitmain has been changed to Jihan Wu, including the parent companies Hong Kong Bitmain and Cayman Bitmain. Jihan Wu stood in the lobby of Building 25, B1, announcing that Ketuan Zhan has been relieved of all duties. Any employee in the Bitmain Group shall no longer execute Ketuan Zhan’s instructions and participate in any meetings convened by Ketuan Zhan. If there is any violation, the company will demotion and expel the company based on the severity of the circumstances. If losses are caused to the company, the company will be held accountable.
Jihan Wu's speech is very long, which can be summarized as follows:
(1) Ketuan Zhan has been relieved of all duties. Also expelled from the original Huawei company HR Zhi Wang introduced by Ketuan Zhan at the end of 2018. Zhi Wang’s reputation on Bitmain was extremely poor and was ridiculed by employees as "nine thousand years" (In ancient China, the emperor was called "ten thousand years old", and the prince was "eight thousand years old." However, in the Ming Dynasty, there was an eunuch who caused harm to the country and the people. He called himself "nine thousand years old", meaning that he was only A little lower than the emperor's level).
(2) Ketuan Zhan's ability to control the company's option incentive plan has disappeared, and it is no longer possible to cancel employees' options at will.
(3) The organizational structure adjustment plan led by Ketuan Zhan was suspended.
(4) We are optimistic about the future of AI business, but the premise is that the main business can continue to make profits in order to support the company's continued investment in AI business.
In the speech, Jihan Wu also told employees the whole story of the "12.17 Incident" and bluntly said that the company is not in good condition. If no measures are taken, Bitmain is likely to go bankrupt in three quarters and he must come back to save the company.
At this time, Ketuan Zhan, who was on a business trip in Shenzhen, finally experienced the situation of Jihan Wu in the "12.17 Incident".
After the official return, Jihan Wu began to clearly point out the company's various problems in operation and management, and went deep into each business line to understand the situation. In the mining machine sales department meeting, employees spoke enthusiastically, reflecting on the difficulties and opinions encountered in the work, the marketing and sales director from Huawei asked with a surprised look, "Why didn't these issues be reported to me before?", and soon , The director was interviewed and "voluntarily resigned."
On November 2, 2019, Jihan Wu announced a salary increase for all employees. Bitmain’s last salary increase dates back to 2018. In principle, Bitmain has two salary increases every year.
On November 7, 2019, Ketuan Zhan spoke on social media for the first time, describing his hardship in starting a business, and condemning Jihan Wu for “stabbing a knife in the back”. At the end of the article, he also set himself a KPI for 2020, that is, the mining machine market share will reach 90%, and the AI business will earn 1 billion.
But Ketuan Zhan's majestic plan did not make Bitmain employees feel emotional, but ridiculed him instead. Employees exposed that he insulted employees, advocated Chinese medicine, believed in Buddhism, drank in meetings, practiced Qigong...
However, there is less than half a year before the halving of Bitcoin production, and the cryptocurrency market shows no signs of recovery, which makes Bitmain management very anxious.
On January 6, 2020, Bitmain ushered in another round of layoffs, with a layoff ratio of about 1/3. This time the layoffs have caused many employees who have just increased their salaries to feel very grieved. On the one hand, they were looking forward to Jihan Wu's return. On the other hand, the compensation for this layoff was less than 18 years.
Ketuan Zhan, who has been unable to enter the Bitmain office area, once again spoke on social media and firmly opposed to layoffs. We do not need to lay off staff and we cannot commit suicide.
During the Spring Festival, Covid-19 broke out. Mainland China has begun to extend the Spring Festival holiday and advocate working from home. Under the chain reaction caused by Covid-19, most companies have chosen to cut salaries or even lay off employees. In the first two months of 2020, China's exports fell by 17%, U.S. stocks were broken four times in a row, Bitcoin plunged 40% in 24 hours on March 12, 2020, and crude oil futures fell by 300% on April 20, 2020...
Obviously, Jihan Wu can't predict, but this layoff seems to be the right decision again. In addition, from January to April 2020, Bitmain's revenue exceeded US$400 million amid the spread of Covid-19 and the collapse of the financial market.
6. Fight to the death
When Jihan Wu tried to get the company back on track, Ketuan Zhan was not helpless. On April 28, 2020, Ketuan Zhan finally rolled back the legal representative of Beijing Bitmain to before October 28, 2019 by repeatedly submitting administrative reconsiderations, and restored his status as a legal representative.
On the morning of May 8, 2020, a piece of news about Bitmain quickly appeared on the real-time hot search rankings, and even dominated the headlines of the day. At window 52 on the second floor of the Haidian District Government Affairs Center, when Ketuan Zhan, the legal person of Beijing Bitmain Company, was receiving the business license, a group of unidentified people snatched the business license from the industrial and commercial administrative staff. A source at the scene said that the number of unidentified people in the group was about 60 people, of which Luyao Liu was directing at the scene.
This is a skillful piece of news. It first leads readers to think that Ketuan Zhan is a victim, using 60 people to grab business licenses as the focus. The masses accused Jihan Wu of lawlessness, but ignored whether the government affairs center could have 60 personnel. As for Hong Kong Bitmain to have the right to appoint a representative to obtain a business license, this is a deeper level of thinking.
The follow-up report restored the real situation at the scene. Only more than ten people were present, and both sides were equipped with security personnel. Bitmain employees also broke the news in the circle of friends, claiming that Ketuan Zhan's bodyguard had injured Bitmain's authorized person, and said in a threatening tone, "Be careful!"
However, the subsequent plot reversal did not have much effect. Jihan Wu's reputation has been greatly affected. From a bloody soldier who rescued the company in trouble to a lawless criminal, it can be said to be a world of war. do not.
Ketuan Zhan, who succeeded in the first battle, began to counterattack Bitmain continuously. On the afternoon of June 3, 2020, Ketuan Zhan led a team to pry open the back door of the Beijing Bitmain office and formally occupied the deserted Beijing headquarters.
On June 4, 2020, Ketuan Zhan called on Bitmain employees to resume work and promised to expand the company's market value to more than US$50 billion within three to five years. After that, Ketuan Zhan began to contact employees by phone, trying to acquire the options in the hands of employees at a valuation of 4 billion US dollars.
Subsequently, Ketuan Zhan recalled Huawei's executives and issued a series of personnel appointments and removals. As of June 9, 2020, Ketuan Zhan has successively eliminated CFO Luyao Liu, and Wenguang Wang, the head of the mining center. Luyao Liu is responsible for controlling Bitmain's IPO plan. He also appointed Yanwu Ma as the HR director, Gang Ren as the head of the mining center, Yonggang Sun as the head of the supply chain, Ling Gu as the financial director, and Bin Zhu as the head of the mining machine business department. Bin Zhu is the senior executive of Huawei who was interviewed and left as mentioned in the previous article. During his tenure, he reduced Antminer’s 90% market share to 50%, and received a large number of complaints from miners. Internal employees once speculated that he might be Compete against the spies sent by the company.
In addition to recalling senior executives of Huawei, Ketuan Zhan also urged employees to return to work. They can receive a bonus of 10,000 yuan when they return to work on the same day, which is only half the next day. Ketuan Zhan showed a very kind side. Every time the elevator door is opened, Ketuan Zhan's hot gaze can be met, shaking hands, taking photos, and receiving money. As there is no personnel information, Ketuan Zhan does not know whether the person receiving the money is a Bitmain employee, and these people did not resume work the next day.
The effect of gentleness was not good, Ketuan Zhan began to force employees to return to work. Seeing that there are still very few respondents, Ketuan Zhan threatened employees through SMS, phone calls, EMS, emails and other harassment, issued multiple threats such as termination of contract, suspension of payment of social insurance, suspension of wages, and even used personal information saved by employees to form a group of employees. Domicile threats, requiring employees to perform "work handover", trying to force employees to return work computers, etc.
On June 10, 2020, the media revealed that Ketuan Zhan had controlled Bitmain's Shenzhen factory and prohibited employees from delivering normal shipments to paid customers, which caused difficulties in the operation of the Bitmain mining machine department.
On June 13, 2020, Hong Kong Bitmain, the parent company of Beijing Bitmain, issued a statement accusing Ketuan Zhan of signing a "Sales Agency Agreement" with the Ark Data Technology Co., Ltd. in which it holds shares, in an attempt to embezzle Beijing Bit's assets.
On June 17, 2020, the media revealed that Ketuan Zhan started selling 14,000 T17+ series mining machines at low prices.
On June 20, 2020, Hong Kong Bitmain officially suspended the supply of chips to the Shenzhen factory.
On July 13, 2020, in the "A Letter to All My colleagues in the Shenzhen Factory" released by Bitmain in Hong Kong, more details were added on the series of Ketuan Zhan's actions in June.
The legal person Feng Zhou of the Shenzhen plant is related to Ketuan Zhan. After being relieved of Ketuan Zhan's post, Jihan Wu flew to Shenzhen to have a long talk with Feng Zhou. Jihan Wu believes that Feng Zhou is the right person to manage the factory and help the company overcome difficulties, and decides to leave Feng Zhou to continue to manage the factory.
This wrong decision staged a story of a farmer and a snake. When Ketuan Zhan began to counterattack Bitmain, Feng Zhou was also quickly instigated and began to assist Ketuan Zhan in seizing customer machines and transferring 17,000 T17 mining machines in the warehouse. Hainan Continental Ark Data Technology Co., Ltd., which is held by Ketuan Zhan, sold them at a low price.
In order to protect the interests of customers, Jihan Wu had to make a compromise and paid the payment for some goods to a bank account controlled by Ketuan Zhan in exchange for delivery. However, after the other party received a payment of 109 million, the delivery stopped. On July 8, 2020, 5600 mining machines have been overdue.
At the same time, the factory defaulted on suppliers’ accounts payable as much as 200 million yuan. Bank acceptance bills issued by the factory, exceeding 36 million yuan, will expire on July 17, and more than 34 million yuan will expire on July 23. It is understood that Ketuan Zhan, after receiving the bank's dunning call, made it clear that he would not repay the loan, which would destroy the company and the entire group's credit in financial institutions.
7、 This is not the end
So far, the power struggle between the founders of Bitmain has been more than half a year. The office building already occupied by Ketuan Zhan is still empty, and most employees choose to work from home. Some chip developers returned to the office with the acquiescence of Jihan Wu and continued to maintain research and development to reduce the impact of infighting on technological iteration and competitiveness.
This giant ship that once stood on top of the supercomputer chip is crashing into the iceberg due to the madness of the former helm. Ketuan Zhan's madness and Jihan Wu's compromise made mistakes again and again. Bitmain tried to save himself many times, but was unable to get out of the black hole.
If the time goes back to that day in 2013, would Jihan Wu and Yuesheng Ge still choose to dial Ketuan Zhan?
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