With his baby face, eyeglasses and go-to outfit of T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, Jihan Wu looks more like a geeky teenager than a self-made billionaire.
But thanks to an early foray into cryptocurrencies, the soft-spoken 32-year-old is sitting on what may be one of the industry’s largest fortunes.
Wu runs Bitmain Technologies, the world’s dominant producer of cryptocurrency mining chips. The Chinese company has been shrouded in secrecy since its founding five years ago, but Wu is gradually lifting the veil – and revealing clues about his personal wealth – as he pursues an expansion beyond the crypto-sphere that may eventually lead to an initial public offering.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Wu said Bitmain booked US$2.5 billion (NZ$3.5 billion) of revenue last year and that he and co-founder Micree Zhan together own about 60 percent of the business. While Bitmain has few direct comparables, applying a multiple similar to that of publicly traded chipmakers such as Nvidia and MediaTek would give the company a valuation of about US$8.8 billion. That would make the co-founders’ holdings worth a combined US$5.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.