Wu Jihan: The Mysterious Man Behind Bitcoin Blockchain Split

Starting August 1 at about 8:20 am EST, the Bitcoin blockchain split and there was a new set of tokens – Bitcoin cash (BCC)  – on the new blockchain. Bitcoin price dropped over 10% from $2944 to $2632 in about forty minutes.

It was partially agreed in the Bitcoin community that this split was initiated by Wu Jihan, the co-founder and CEO of Bitmain. Founded in 2013, Bitmain builds computers using chips specially designed to do mining computations, and it has now become the world’s largest Bitcoin hardware mining producer.

Aggressive supporter for Bitcoin Unlimited

Bitcoin Unlimited is a solution to solve Bitcoin’s scalability issue. Under the current system known as Bitcoin Core, Bitcoin blocks have had a limited ‘storage’ capacity of 1MB since the beginning.

However, Bitcoin Unlimited argues that the size of these blocks should be increased, because as Bitcoin has grown more popular, the capacity limits have caused congestion and led to lengthy transaction delays.

Wu Jihan believes that Bitcoin will have to support very high frequent payments. He is an aggressive supporter for Bitcoin Unlimited. Wu explicitly told Bloomberg in March, “We will switch our entire pool to Bitcoin Unlimited…we can’t tell how the hard fork will play out. We will only know by the time we get there.”

Wu Jihan questioning the 1MB block size limit at a meet-up in Tokyo in March 2017.

Bitmain: “the world’s most valuable Bitcoin company”

Wu Jihan is highly influential in the Bitcoin community. It is reported that his group accounts for 15 percent of blockchain activity.

Wu calls himself “a bitcoin evangelist in China”, he is the first person in China to translate the Satoshi whitepaper into Chinese. His company, Bitmain, is often described in China as the world’s most valuable Bitcoin company.

Bitmain is the world’s largest Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer. It also runs the world’s biggest mining pool AntPool. Bitcoin chain data shows that in April 2017, approximately 700 blocks were mined in AntPool, accounting for 21.8% of the total mined blocks during that period.

Born in 1986, Wu is a former financial analyst and private equity fund manager. In May 2011, Wu got to know Bitcoin as a venture capitalist, and wished to get decent returns by investing in Bitcoin-related projects. “When I entered this industry, I bought bitcoins on Taobao and Mt.gox (a Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange),” Wu said in an interview in 2014.

Wu translated the Satoshi whitepaper into Chinese in 2011 and subsequently founded 8btc.com, which is now one of the most popular Bitcoin news sites in China.

Back in 2011, Bitcoin discussions in the Chinese community were either too technical or somewhat pessimistic. Few people had been able to explain the fundamentals and value of Bitcoin well. 8btc.com took the role to deliver that message, and that partly contributed to the leading position of 8btc.com, as well as Wu Jihan, in the industry.

In 2013, Wu established Bitmain and has devoted most of his time and energy to the company since then. Wu is now in charge of marketing, sales, and investment affairs at Bitmain.

Speaking of investment, Bitmain has reportedly invested in some early-staged blockchain projects, including:

  • Rootstock (Seed): a smart contract platform;
  • Btckan (Series A): also known as BitKan, a Bitcoin market data provider;
  • ViaBTC (Series A): a global top 10 mining pool which mined the first Bitcoin Cash block on August 1, 2017, at 2:14 pm EDT.
The first official Bitcoin Cash block mined at ViaBTC.

However, rarely have we heard news about Bitmain’s fundraising status. One explanation I heard from a VC analyst is that – “Maybe Bitmain has never been short of money”.

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