After forcefully re-taking control of Bitmain headquarters, ousted co-founder Zhan Ketuan has ordered employees to halt product deliveries, according to a report in Chinese blockchain media Blockbeats. The reasons for his decision remain unclear, as is whether Bitmain staff are taking his orders.

In our last episode: Amidst soaring bitcoin prices, the world’s largest mining rig maker is enthralled in chaos as rival leaders battle for control of the company.

  • Two opposing factions are issuing orders, two official seals are stamping contradictory documents, and each side claims the other is not part of the company.
  • On June 3, Zhan marched into Bitmain’s Beijing office with an entourage of security guards, taking control of the company’s headquarters.
  • His opponents, led by co-founder Wu Jihan, have repeatedly stated that Zhan remains ousted from the company.
  • This puts employees—many of whom are still working from home under social distancing practices—in an awkward position as two claimants each tell them to ignore the other’s orders.

Today’s details: After Zhan’s order to stop deliveries, Wu tried to reassert his power. In a statement issued on June 9 and signed by “Bitmain Technologies Limited,” Wu said he is taking legal action against Zhan’s orders.

  • Wu assured staff that the situation is under control and asked them not to aid Zhan.
  • Zhan is also trying to buy support. When he marched into Bitmain’s headquarters, he reportedly tried to lure employees back to the office by handing out cash bonuses. Many were still working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Zhan offered RMB 10,000 ($1,400) to any employee who returned to their desks the same day.
  • In a letter addressed to staff on June 4, Zhan said that he will “lead the company to complete an initial public offering as soon as possible, and push Bitmain’s market capitalization to over $50 billion in the next three to five years.

The story so far: The feud started in October 2019, when Wu ousted Zhan in a surprise move. He ordered staff to stop taking orders from then-CEO Zhan, threatening them with termination.

  • Zhan subsequently sued Bitmain’s parent company in the Cayman Islands. He filed complaints with Beijing authorities, requesting the retraction fo the paperwork that ousted him.
  • On May 8, 2020, the spat got physical at a Beijing government office. Local officials tried to return the company to Zhan, granting his claim. Wu’s front argued that this violates corporate law.
  • After the May fight, Zhan is the legal representative of Bitmain’s China subsidiary. But without an official seal and with Wu still at the helm of the parent company in Hong Kong, his position is not ensured.

READ MORE: Bitmain preps for Bitcoin by slashing workforce: report

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of Bitmain’s co-founders Wu Jihan. He is Wu Jihan, not Wu Jintao.

Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.