OkCoin, the largest online exchange in China, has poached two of the developers of the best-established online trading platforms on the Internet: Blockchain.com and Coinbase. This news came out just as the site began to release news of a possible IPO. The poaching of these experienced developers comes on the heels of months of continued aggressive expansion in China. It is difficult to understand why an organization which claims to be open and transparent would put two of the leading developers of the industry in the same time zone as the United States or even in the same city.
Perhaps the most serious question here is what the relationship is between the Poaches and OkCoin. Although neither developer is directly connected to OkCoin, it is more than possible that this is a clear attempt to steal the technological assets of Blockchain.com, which is very much the leading producer of cutting edge website technology. Regardless of whether the new executives in China are actively trying to destroy an already developing technology with the intention of destroying the company or whether they are simply having a little fun, there can be no question that this development is very troubling for those who hope to create a global free trade website.
OkCoin made the announcement through their official website, in Chinese, English, and Chinese. The fact that there was a need to send both their developers a press release from their official media page speaks volumes about their willingness to work with these developers and how much faith they have in their technology and ability to establish a successful market. However, there were no other details provided and one must wonder whether the move was directly related to the timing of their release.
It is easy to see how this could have been done. One of the most popular Chinese search engines, Baidu, controls nearly a third of the country’s search market. By poaching two of the developers at Blockchain.com and Coinbase, OkCoin could be showing that it has a large enough pool of resources to be a serious competitor to Baidu andbe able to develop a strong foothold in China. While it would be wise to continue to monitor the status of this situation in the short term, it would be important to be cautious and do your own due diligence before investing your money in any venture that could potentially compete with one of the most dominant search engines in the world.
Another question that arises is what prompted OkCoin to poach two executives with such experience? One possibility is that there are some of the bigger and more well-known venture capital firms in the United States that are working with and advising OkCoin, and they felt that the poaching of these two experts would be helpful to their own growth. From a consumer standpoint, this could be a great idea, but one must also consider how deeply the users of these products might benefit from having these engineers on their team.
There have been several questions raised about whether or not the developers at Blockchain.com are Chinese, but the developers at Coinbase are actually American. They are most likely trying to avoid the perception that they are part of the Chinese government propaganda machine, but to the average internet user it might not be that hard to believe. Whether or not this effort is going to be successful is an entirely different story.
The poaching of these two CEOs should come as no surprise to anyone. This is yet another example of the Chinese government flexing its muscles and attempting to stifle the emergence of their international competitors. In most industries, such as the Internet, the lack of competitive advantage for one country is not necessarily a bad thing. If you take the time to analyze the situation you can easily come to the conclusion that it was nothing more than a case of a small group of China’s top leaders trying to impose their will on the world and have put their personal gain ahead of the country’s success.
It seems that the only clear difference between OkCoin and Blockchain.com is that OkCoin feels like it needs to leverage its connections in the United States to grab as many talented developers as possible and not necessarily the other way around. Please consider all this.
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