Bitfarms appoints Ben Gagnon as CEO amidst activist threats from Riot Platforms

bitcoin
Bitfarms parted ways with a CEO in March, kicking off a lawsuit and a public spat with Riot.

In the middle of a public dispute with activist investor Riot Platforms, Toronto-based Bitcoin mining company Bitfarms has appointed Ben Gagnon as its new CEO. 

Following the announcement of Gagnon’s appointment, Riot responded by publicizing its new website, ABetterBitfarms.com.


Gagnon joined Bitfarms in 2019 as director of business development, later becoming the company’s chief mining officer in 2021. As chief mining officer, Gagnon was responsible for the company’s mining strategy and operations, portfolio management, and evaluating and integrating new technology. 

He takes over from interim CEO, co-founder, and chairman Nicolas Bonta. In a statement, Bonta said Gagnon is a “seasoned leader” and has been a “vital member” of Bitfarms’ leadership team over the past five years. 

“We look forward to leveraging Ben’s insights and experience as the company works to expand and diversify the business into exciting and synergistic new areas, such as energy generation, heat recycling, energy trading, and high performance computing for artificial intelligence,” Bonta said. 

The CEO search kicked off in March, when Bitfarms announced its previous CEO, president, and director, L. Geoffrey Morphy, would be departing the company but would lead until a replacement was found. Bonta was then forced to take the reins in May, after Morphy reportedly filed a $27-million lawsuit against Bitfarms in the Superior Court of Ontario, claiming breach of contract, wrongful dismissal, and aggravated and punitive damages. 

RELATED: Riot Platforms raises stake in Bitfarms following Riot’s rejected takeover bid

The drama continued just a few weeks later, when Colorado-based Bitcoin mining company and Bitfarms shareholder Riot Platforms publicly disclosed it had proposed acquiring all outstanding shares of Bitfarms for $2.30 USD per common share in April. Bitfarms leadership rejected the roughly $950-million USD deal, leading to Riot to publicly question Bitfarms’ competence amidst the lawsuit. 

Bitfarms later responded to Riot’s critique, saying a special committee of its board determined that Riot “significantly undervalues [Bitfarms] and its growth prospects,” and that it is reviewing “strategic alternatives to ensure it achieves maximum shareholder value.”

Since then, the two companies have been in a public brawl, with Riot raising its stake in Bitfarms to 14 percent while Bitfarms adopted a ‘poison pill’ strategy, all as the two parties accuse one another of not acting in good faith. 

The morning Bitfarms announced that Gagnon was appointed CEO, Riot responded by publicizing its new website, ABetterBitfarms.com. The website makes Riot’s case against Bitfarms’ governance and promotes its preferred candidates for the company’s board seats, as it looks to oust Bonta and some of the company’s other directors. 

Founded in 2017, Bitfarms owns and operates Bitcoin mining farms and provides computing power to cryptocurrency networks. The company trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Nasdaq under the symbol “BITF.”

Feature image courtesy of Dmitry Demidko via Unsplash.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

0 replies on “Bitfarms appoints Ben Gagnon as CEO amidst activist threats from Riot Platforms”