Bitmain, the dominant force in cryptocurrency mining, is considering going public in what could be a record-setting offering for the industry.
Bloomberg reports that the China-based company, led by controversial CEO Jihan Wu, is quietly laying the groundwork to launch an initial public offering (IPO), perhaps at some point in the near future.
Toward this end, Bitmain has gradually begun to step out of the shadows — at least somewhat — and the ordinarily enigmatic Wu has begun to conduct more public interviews. Wu told the publication that the company raised $2.5 billion in revenue last year, a figure somewhat lower than estimates from industry analysts but nevertheless quite impressive.
According to other estimates, Bitmain controls as much as 80 percent of the manufacturing market for application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) mining devices, which — once developed for a specific mining algorithm — quickly replace miners powered by general-purpose GPU chips.
Canaan Creative, whose devices account for roughly 15 percent of the ASIC market, recently filed for a Hong Kong IPO that is expected to raise $1 billion.
Wu has said that he believes Bitmain is worth $12 billion, while other estimates have put the company’s valuation closer to $8.8 billion. Bitmain brought in 12 times as much revenue as Canaan during 2017, which — depending on the success of Canaan’s offering — could lend credence to Wu’s valuation.
No matter the precise figure, however, Bitmain is undoubtedly one of the most valuable companies in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and the dearth of public cryptocurrency companies could lead investors to pay a premium for its shares.
However, as CCN reported, Bitmain has gradually been expanding its product line beyond mining, even as it seeks to take this part of its business global.
To wit, the company is leveraging its expertise in ASIC development to carve out market share in China’s artificial intelligence (AI) industry — where the government favors domestic projects and has effectively blackballed Western giant Google.
Bitmain’s burgeoning AI business is more than just a hedge against a decline in the cryptocurrency market. It is also, unlike mining, an industry with explicit government approval.