Meet the 21 companies you’ve never heard of that are battling to control bitcoin

Flashy startups like Coinbase, Circle, Blockchain, and BitPay are some of the most famous companies in bitcoin.

But arguably more important are the miners — individuals and organisations who form the core backbone of bitcoin, ensuring the digital currency’s integrity.

Bitcoin runs on a blockchain, a decentralised and public ledger of every transaction made on the network. By offering processing power towards this, users get a chance to win bitcoin — creating an arms race of miners scrambling to assemble ever-more sophisticated and powerful equipment to “mine” new bitcoin.

Some individuals go it alone; others join open “pools” where they combine their resources to improve their odds; some larger companies also have mining efforts. While the #1 spot can change from week to week, we have ranked the biggest mining companies using data covering August 5 to August 12 from bitcoin network analysis company Blocktrail.

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#21-unknown-entity–01-1″
title=”21. Unknown Entity — 0.1%”
content=”An ‘unknown entity’ is currently responsible for 0.1% of the hash power on the bitcoin network. It could be a private organisation quietly building a mining operation, or a public pool that is flying below the radar.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d4dd0895f3048b45ed”
source=”vhines200/Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/vhines200/14385758426/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#20-unknown-entity-028-2″
title=”20. Unknown Entity —  0.28%”
content=”Another unknown entity.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d4dd0895f3048b45ee”
source=”Warner Bros.”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#19-p2poolorg-047-3″
title=”19. P2Pool.org —  0.47%%”
content=”This relatively small pool was created in 2011 by programmer Forrest Voight. It claims to be ‘the most transparent mining pool on the planet’ because it distributes all pool data for the public to view. As of September 2014, it had mined more than 78,000 bitcoin (£13.4 million or $US20.9 million at current prices).”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d4dd0895f3048b45ef”
source=”Flickr/hlry_jennings”
caption=”Yep, it’s a pool.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#17-unknown-entity–066-5″
title=”17. Unknown Entity — 0.66%”
content=”A third unknown entity, this one is responsible for a little over 0.5% of the total hash power.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d4dd0895f3048b45f1″
source=”Vivek Narayanadas/Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#16-kano-ckpool-066-6″
title=”16. Kano CKPool —  0.66%”
content=”CKPool is a public pool created by an Australian anaesthetist and programmer, Con Kolivas, and bitcoiner ‘Kano.’

It was launched in September 2014, and for risk-takers, it also offers a ‘solo’ pool. This means that users will pool their resources to find a bitcoin block faster than they would alone — but only the user who discovers the block gets any reward.

This is the standard pool.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d4dd0895f3048b45f2″
source=”Paul Townsend/Flickr (CC)”
caption=”Laughing gas, an early anaesthetic.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#13-bitclub-network–133-9″
title=”13. BitClub Network — 1.33%”
content=”Unlike some other pools, BitClub Network does not disclose its founders, saying only that it is ‘run by a team of programmers, digital mining experts and entrepreneurs who have come together with MLM experts from around the world.’

MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing — a referral system whereby a user gains bonuses for each new user they bring in, who then gains bonuses for each new user they bring in, and so on. MLMs can be controversial because they resemble pyramid schemes, but BitClub Network insists that it is legitimate and not a ‘Ponzi Scheme.’

For some users, it works as a cloud mining pool: Users don’t have to own their own hardware, just pay to rent some owned by BitClub. Miners with their own rigs can also join the network, however.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45f5″
source=”Paramount Pictures”
caption=”‘Everybody in the (bit)club gettin’ tipsy…'”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#12-unknown-entity-142-1110″
title=”12. Unknown entity —  1.42%”
content=”This fourth, largest unknown entity is behind more than 1% of the network’s total hashing power.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45f6″
source=”Colin Kinner/Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#11-unknown-19-1111″
title=”11. Unknown —  1.9%”
content=”This is everything else on the network that is unknown and that managed to mine a block in the last week. (Other smaller pools and individuals that did not manage to of course also exist.)

This could include miners trying to go it alone, or pools and organisations too small to register by themselves.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45f7″
source=”Martin Pettitt/Flickr (CC)”
caption=”¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#10-ghashio–199-1112″
title=”10. GHash.io — 1.99%”
content=”Ghash.io was launched in July 2013 and last year gained some notoriety through its success: In June 2014, it briefly gained control of 51% of the entire bitcoin network. This majority control is arguably the biggest threat to bitcoin, and demonstrates the power of miners when they get too large — it could have rewritten the blockchain however it saw fit, potentially fatally unstabilising the network in the process.

Since then, its hash power has dropped off: It now sits just under 2%. Londoner Jeffrey Smith, the company’s CIO, acts most frequently as its spokesperson. It also operates Cex.io, a bitcoin exchange.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45f8″
source=”Bloomingdales”
caption=”# # #”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#9-21-inc–379-1113″
title=”9. 21 Inc. — 3.79%”
content=”21 made waves in March 2015 when it announced it had raised $US116 million (£74 million) — making it the best-funded bitcoin startup ever. Investors included top Silicon Valley VC fund Andreessen Horowitz, where 21 CEO Balaji Srinivasan also works as a partner.

This mammoth round came despite heavy secrecy about what the company was even trying to do. When it exited stealth mode in May, it announced what many had already suspected: That it is trying to embed bitcoin network hardware into consumer goods.

21 doesn’t offer a public pool, and its chips are not yet available, but its own private hardware currently makes up a little under 4% of the network.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45f9″
source=”Mike Seyfang/Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#8-slush–408-1114″
title=”8. Slush — 4.08%”
content=”Launched in November 2010, Slush’s Pool is the world’s oldest public mining pool, and remains prominent today. Its formal name is Bitcoin Pooled Mining.

In real life, Slush is Marek Palatinus, a programmer from the Czech Republic.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45fa”
source=”Ian Fergus/Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/darkflare/7294282424/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#7-kncminer–427-1115″
title=”7. KnCMiner — 4.27%”
content=”KnCMiner is a Swedish mining hardware company. It hasn’t been worth mining bitcoin using standard consumer computer hardware for years because of the kind of processing power involved; the overwhelming majority of ordinary members of public pools will have bought hardware from companies like KnCMiner.

It raised a $US15 million (£9.6 million) Series B in February 2015 led by Accel Partners. It boasts its green credentials on its website, and has data centres in Iceland and Finland as well as Sweden.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45fb”
source=”N i c o l a / Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#6-eligius–483-1116″
title=”6. Eligius — 4.83%”
content=”Eligius is a North American public pool launched in April 2011. According to CryptoCoinsNews, its operator Luke Dashjr (or ‘Luke-Jr’) is a Catholic who has previously written religious messages onto the blockchain, the public ledger of all bitcoin transactions.

Saint Eligius, the pool’s namesake, is the patron saint of goldsmiths and coin collectors.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45fc”
source=”Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons (PD)”
caption=”Saint Eligius is the patron saint of goldsmiths and coin collectors.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#5-bw-pool-768-1117″
title=”5. BW Pool —  7.68%”
content=”BW Pool is another Chinese pool. It has almost no publicity in the English-speaking world, despite its size. It made a rare public statement in July 2015, when it co-signed a Reddit post in favour of an increase in block size — an ongoing technicial question the bitcoin community is debating.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b45fd”
source=”Wikimedia Commons/Heinonlein”
caption=”Black & white?”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#2-discusfishp2pool–1649-2220″
title=”2. DiscusFish/P2Pool — 16.49%”
content=”Officially known as F2Pool, this Chinese pool is also known as DiscusFish due to its logo — a discus fish. It is operated by Wang Chun and Mao Shihang, ‘two Chinese technology enthusiasts,’ Chun told CoinDesk in September 2014. A spokesperson told Business Insider that the pool owns no hardware itself; 100% of its hash power comes from users.

In July this year, F2Pool generated the largest bitcoin transaction ever in order to clear up a spam attack of ‘dust’ or tiny bitcoin transactions apparently intended to clog up the network.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b4600″
source=”V.v/Flickr (CC)”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#1-antpool–1782-2221″
title=”1. AntPool — 17.82%”
content=”AntPool is run by Bitmain, a Chinese mining hardware company headquartered in Beijing. It boasts that its technology accounts for 56% of global bitcoin miners. It also claims to be the largest cloud miner in the world.

Bitmain was launched in Q1 2013, and co-founder Jihan Wu is the CEO.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b4601″
source=”Lennart Tange/Flickr (CC)”
caption=”These ants aren’t mining bitcoin.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#and-finally-heres-the-full-breakdown-via-blocktrail-22222″
title=”And finally, here’s the full breakdown, via Blocktrail:”
content=”Source.
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55cc66d5dd0895f3048b4602″
source=”Blocktrail”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.blocktrail.com/BTC”
]
[/slideshow]