Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Organization and Operation of Our Business

Organization and Operation of Our Business
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2021
Organization, Consolidation and Presentation of Financial Statements [Abstract]  
Organization and Operation of Our Business

Note 1. Organization and Operation of Our Business

Nature of Operations:

Riot Blockchain, Inc. operates a cryptocurrency mining operation using specialized computers equipped with application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips (known as “miners”) to solve complex cryptographic algorithms in support of the Bitcoin blockchain (in a process known as “solving a block”) in exchange for cryptocurrency rewards (primarily Bitcoin). The Company has also historically mined Bitcoin cash and litecoin; however, the Company has focused its efforts on mining Bitcoin.

The Company participates in “mining pools” organized by “mining pool operators” in which we share our mining power (known as “hashrate”) with the hashrate generated by other miners participating in the pool to earn cryptocurrency rewards. The mining pool operator provides a service that coordinates the computing power of the independent mining enterprises participating in the mining pool. Fees are paid to the mining pool operator to cover the costs of maintaining the pool. The pool uses software that coordinates the pool members’ mining power, identifies new block rewards, records how much hashrate each participant contributes to the pool, and assigns cryptocurrency rewards earned by the pool among its participants in proportion to the hashrate each participant contributed to the pool in connection with solving a block.

The Company generates substantially all its revenue through two business segments, its Cryptocurrency Mining segment and its Data Center Hosting segment.

Cryptocurrency Mining:

Generally speaking, mining operators with greater hashing power relative to other miners attempting to solve a block have a higher chance of solving the block and receiving a cryptocurrency award. Further, as the market price for Bitcoin has increased, we have observed generally that the relative number of miners and the total hashing power deployed on the Bitcoin blockchain has also increased. Accordingly, we seek to increase our hashing power capacity relative to the total hashing power devoted to the Bitcoin blockchain by acquiring and deploying increasing numbers of the latest generation of more powerful and energy-efficient miners.

As of June 30, 2021, the Company exclusively operated the Antminer series of miners manufactured by Bitmain Technologies Limited (“Bitmain”), which use ASIC chips designed around the 256-bit secure hashing algorithm (SHA-256) used by the Bitcoin blockchain and, therefore, the primary cryptocurrency the Company seeks to mine is Bitcoin.

During the six months ended June 30, 2021, the Company continued to expand its quantity of miners and the scope of its mining operations, and the acquisition of Whinstone provided the Company with the necessary infrastructure to increase its operational efficiency and performance.

During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company entered into purchase agreements to acquire 33,646 Antminers from Bitmain, including 12,000 model S19j-Pro miners, 20,606 model S19-Pro miners and 1,040 model S19 miners. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had received and deployed 7,043 total miners at the Company’s mining operation pursuant to a co-location mining services agreement with Coinmint, LLC (“Coinmint”) at Coinmint’s facility in New York (the “Coinmint Facility”), including 4,000 model S17-Pro miners purchased from Bitmain in 2019, as well as 3,043 of the miners purchased from Bitmain in 2020.

During the six months ended June 30, 2021, the Company received 16,603 additional Antminer model S19-Pro miners related to its 2020 purchase agreements with Bitmain and, as of June 30, 2021, had deployed a total of 16,146 miners in its mining operations.

During 2021 the Company entered into two additional purchase agreements with Bitmain to acquire 43,500 Antminer model S19j (90 Terahash per second) (“TH/s”) miners, for a total purchase price of approximately $145.7 million. Pursuant to these agreements, approximately $41.1 million of the total purchase price, has been paid by the Company to Bitmain as deposits, with the remainder payable in installments in advance of shipment of the miners, which is scheduled to occur on a monthly basis between October 2021 and October 2022.


Riot Blockchain, Inc. and Subsidiaries

Notes to the Condensed Interim Consolidated Financial Statements


Data Center Hosting:

On May 26, 2021, the Company completed its previously announced strategic acquisition (the “Whinstone Acquisition”) of Whinstone US, Inc. (“Whinstone”) from Northern Data AG, a German stock corporation (the “Seller”).

Whinstone’s data center facility is believed to be the largest single facility, as measured by developed capacity, in North America for Bitcoin mining (the “Whinstone Facility”). Construction on the Whinstone Facility in Rockdale, Texas began in 2020 and is located on a 100-acre site, hosting Bitcoin mining customers in three buildings totaling 190,000 square feet. The site is subject to a long-term ground lease agreement, with electricity provided via a long-term power supply contract. Upon completion of the Whinstone Acquisition, we commenced expansion of the Whinstone Facility to 750 megawatts (“MW”), from its existing 300 MW developed capacity. This expanded Bitcoin mining infrastructure is initially expected to comprise four new buildings totaling approximately 240,000 square feet, with the capacity to support an estimated 112,000 S19j Antminers based upon current configurations. It is expected that the first portion of this expansion will be completed by Q1 2022 and the balance during Q2 2022. The expansion of Bitcoin mining infrastructure at Whinstone provides critical capacity for Riot to deploy its future shipments of Bitcoin mining hardware, in addition to providing an opportunity to expand Whinstone’s hosting business for third-party Bitcoin miners.

In pursuit of achieving the most efficient power strategy, Whinstone combines fixed low-cost power agreements, real-time spot power procurement and income from ancillary power services revenue. Bitcoin miners benefit from low-cost energy to maximize production margins, benefiting from an electricity supply with the flexibility to respond rapidly to supply and demand events in the power market. The combination of Riot and Whinstone allows the Company to rapidly scale its self-mining business with one of the world’s largest mining facilities with power costs among the lowest in the industry.

Whinstone currently hosts Bitcoin mining operations for institutional clients. In addition to hosting revenue, Whinstone also generates engineering and construction services revenue from hosting clients on site, including revenue derived from the fabrication, installation and maintenance services and deployment assistance on immersion cooling technology for Bitcoin mining.

Investments in Marketable Equity Securities:

In September 2017 and February 2018, the Company acquired a minority interest for $9.4 million in Coinsquare Ltd. (“Coinsquare”), which operates a digital crypto currency exchange platform in Canada. The investment resulted in an ownership in Coinsquare by the Company of approximately 11.7%, on a fully diluted basis. In 2020, the Company determined there were indicators that would cause a 100% impairment of the Coinsquare investment, resulting in the Company recording an impairment expense of $9.4 million in 2020. The Company elected under Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2016-01, Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities, (“ASU 2016-01”) to account for the Coinsquare investment using the measurement alternative at cost, less any impairment, plus or minus changes resulting from observable price changes.

During the period ended June 30, 2021, under agreements generally between Coinsquare, Coinsquare’s shareholders (including Riot) and Mogo Inc. (NASDAQ: MOGO) (“Mogo Agreement”), a digital payments and financial technology company (“Mogo”), Riot sold its 3.4 million common shares of Coinsquare (the “Coinsquare Shares”) in exchange for approximately 3.2 million common shares of Mogo (the “Mogo Shares”) and approximately US $1.8 million in cash.