Micree Zhan (Zhan Ketuan) is a Chinese businessman and electronics engineer. He is the CEO and co-founder (with Wu Jihan) of Bitmain, the world’s largest computer chip company for cryptocurrency mining. In 2018, Hurun Report named him the wealthiest cryptocurrency billionaire globally.
Micree worked as an engineer at the Information Technology Research Institute at Tsinghua University after earning his master’s degree. After a few years, he started his own business making set-top boxes for television. Zhan reportedly first met co-founder Jihan Wu accidentally on the street in Beijing while Zhan was working on a startup to develop TV set-top boxes.
In 2013, Zhan became an enthusiast of cryptocurrency. After hours of research and discussion, Zhan agreed to begin the Bitmain project with Jihan Wu. Reporting US$2.5 billion in revenue in 2017, the company quickly grew into the world’s largest computer chip company for Bitcoin mining. In 2018 Zhan owned 36% of Bitmain and Wu 20%.
In Hurun Report’s inaugural Blockchain Rich List 2018, Zhan was named the wealthiest cryptocurrency entrepreneur globally, with an estimated net worth of 29.5 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion). Wu was ranked second. Bloomberg ranked Zhan in February 2019 as the world’s 9th richest self-made billionaire aged 40 or younger, with a US $5.2 billion net worth. As of June 2019, Zhan is listed as the world’s 311th richest person in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with $5.42 billion.
Zhan was ousted from the Bitmain in October 2020 after a longstanding power struggle with Wu and other company executives. In late October 2020, the blockchain giant Canaan presented its prospectus to Nasdaq. On the same day, Wu emailed staff claiming he was firing all of Zhan’s positions on Bitmain without specific reasons. When he heard the news a week later, Zhan expressed his shock and embarrassment, saying he felt betrayed by his most trusted person for him.
Wu reveals that although he respected Zhan as a co-founder, he thought the latter destroyed Bitmain’s upward momentum and billions of dollars in value, according to people familiar with the matter.
In June last year, Zhan publicly apologized for the chaos the senior staff created and promised to fix the disagreement and settle legal disputes as soon as possible.
Bitmain will separate from its cloud computing power business, Bitdeer, and its mines in Norway and the U.S., according to Wu’s letter. Jihan Wu will take the chairman of Bitdeer, while Matt Kong will become Bitmain’s CEO. An independent company led by Zhan will own the Bitcoin mining pool AntPool.
At the end of the letter, Wu said that he enjoyed the 2815-day journey in Bitmain, and he is grateful for the unconditional help and support from the clients, colleagues, and friends and sends sincerest blessings to Zhan and Bitmain.