Bitmain Closes Israel Development Arm Citing Crypto Bear Market

Update (Dec. 11, 2018, 09:00 UTC): This article has been updated to include comment from Bitmain.

Cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain is closing down its Israel-based research and development arm.

According to a report from financial news source Globes, Bitmaintech Israel, the firm’s R&D center in the city of Ra’anana, is being shuttered due to the general downturn in the crypto markets.

All 23 employees, including Bitmain’s vice president for sales and marketing Gadi Glikberg – who led the Israeli project – have been laid off. Only a few months ago, the firm had reportedly been planning to hire over 40 people at the center across research, engineering and marketing roles.

“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” Glikberg reportedly told local employees.

BitmainTech Israel was launched back in 2016, and went on to launch Bitmain’s ConnectBTC mining pool in April 2017. The unit worked on developing blockchain technology, as well as artificial intelligence for the company’s Sophon project.

A Bitmain spokesperson told CoinDesk:

“As part of the normal course of business, we are continually evaluating our market strategy to gain efficiencies and take advantage of growth opportunities. As a result, we have decided to close our operations in Israel at this time and remain on the lookout for the best talent in the world for our operations across the globe.”

The extended bear market for cryptocurrencies has led to layoffs at other firms too. Just last week, ConsenSys, the ethereum production studio, axed 13 percent of its staff as it reset its priorities. And last month, blockchain startup Steemit laid off close to 70 percent of its staff as fiat returns could no longer adequately cover the growing costs of running full Steem nodes.