Only two weeks after a half-hearted truce, rival founders appear to be tussling for control of one of the world’s most important bitcoin companies again. Bitmain co-founder Zhan Ketuan appears to have attempted to redirect customer payments to a new bank account with a midnight Wechat post.

Why it matters: The world’s largest manufacturer of bitcoin mining rigs has seen product deliveries interrupted as two co-founders fight for control.

The story so far: Zhan and rival co-founder Wu Jihan each claim to be the company’s legitimate CEO.

  • Zhan controls the company’s Shenzhen headquarters and factory, while Wu has the support of the board and key Hong Kong entities and bank accounts.
  • The two sides reached an agreement to resume deliveries less than two weeks ago.
  • Under the agreement, Wu will receive payments and forward revenue to Zhan.

READ MORE: Bitmain Battle: Signs of reconciliation, but not resolution

The notice in the nighttime: Last night at midnight, a Bitmain official Wechat account associated with the camp of founder Zhan Ketuan posted a curious notice: A scanned document saying that Bitmain was changing important sales information, including the bank account for payments.

Bitmain Battle bitcoin China mining rig manufacturer
The notice posted on a Bitmain WeChat account, likely by Zhan Ketuan. (Image credit: TechNode/Eliza Gkritsi)

The scanned document carried a seal associated with Zhan. This seal, identified by its serial number, has been used in the past to stamp documents produced by his faction.

“From now on, Beijing Bitmain Technology has changed its collection account, after-sale service website, and e-mail address,” the notice said (our translation).

The website announced as Bitmain’s new point of service looks like a haphazard attempt at an official site. It is available only in Chinese (Bitmain’s usual official site defaults to English). It features a search function for machine serial numbers, and contact information like an email and a phone number. It also includes “about us,” terms of use, and privacy policy sections.

The notice in the afternoon: About 16 hours later, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, another notice appeared on a second official Bitmain Wechat account associated with Wu, as well as the company’s website. It revoked the midnight document.

Bitmain Battle bitcoin China mining rig manufacturer
A notice posted on a Bitmain WeChat account, signed and stamped by Wu Jihan. (Image credit: TechNode/Eliza Gkritsi)

The document carries Wu’s signature, and a seal with a serial number previous used by Wu.

The Wu statment said the document posted at midnight contained false information and asked the public to ignore that account from then on.

In the document, Wu attributes the notice to “abnormal conditions” and alleged that “criminals” are trying to pass as official Bitmain representatives. But Wu did not attribute the “illegal” midnight post to Zhan.

What’s going on? The most likely explanation is that Zhan hopes to gain control of incoming revenue by redirecting payments from accounts controlled by Wu. A Bitmain spokesperson did not comment on the incident and directed TechNode to the notice posted in the afternoon. What is clear is that the Zhan-Wu truce is already showing cracks.

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.