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HIVE Digital Technologies President and CEO Aydin Kilic wants to drive the future of AI in Canada

Leveraging high-performance GPU infrastructure to power the AI revolution, with a knack for leadership and innovation, Kilic has thrived in an ever-changing business climate.

At a Young Presidents Organization event at Simon Fraser University, Aydin Kilic experienced a profound moment of reflection. Once an engineering science student at SFU, he now stood there as the president and CEO of HIVE Digital Technologies—a NASDAQ and TSX-V listed company specializing in AI computing infrastructure, with origins in Ethereum and Bitcoin mining.

“Returning to my old physics lecture hall where my career started was incredibly humbling,” Kilic reflects. This visit underscored his evolution from an inquisitive student at SFU to the helm of a leading technology firm, navigating the early days before Bitcoin and AI became mainstream.

Looking back, Kilic recognizes every step was pivotal, from his roots as an Engineering Science honours graduate at SFU to his role as an RF Engineer at Sierra Wireless, where he leveraged his expertise in math and physics in the cutting-edge wireless tech sphere. This path was instrumental in shaping his leadership at one of BC’s top-performing tech companies.

The Journey Up

In 2009, Aydin Kilic co-founded a commercial real estate team, which focused on land acquisition and development for family offices for eight years, learning from industry giants Steve Merritt, Bob Rennie and Grant Turnbull. “It was like an MBA in the real world,” he says. During the early 2010s, he navigated successful land rezonings, secured building permits for 350 condos and obtained over $100M in project financing.

Kilic’s breakthrough into crypto came from analyzing vast data sets to forecast trends, a skill that transitioned into deciphering blockchain data. This expertise laid the groundwork for founding Fortress Blockchain Corp in 2017 (TSX-V: CBIT), and Kilic quickly made his mark by raising $30 million as the company’s founding CEO.

This caught the eye of Canadian capital markets legend Frank Holmes, CEO of US Global Investors and co-founder of HIVE, who became a mentor and major influence in Kilic’s entrepreneurial journey.

In a pivotal move in 2021, Holmes invited Kilic to spearhead HIVE’s global blockchain infrastructure solutions as president and COO, focusing on mining for Ethereum and Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is mined with ASICs and Ethereum was mined with GPUs (graphic processing units), powerful servers that HIVE operated in its early days, with a notable $66 USD million landmark purchase from Nvidia in 2021.

Resilience and the Crucial Pivot








In 2022, everything changed. Ethereum underwent a transition from “proof of work” to “proof of stake,” and in a single day the entire global system of Ethereum block validation ceased—and so did HIVE’s Ethereum mining business.

“Imagine a business unit doing $55M USD of annual revenue suddenly ceasing to exist,” Kilic says. “How do you survive? Innovation, of course.”

With a deep understanding of the complexities involved in Ethereum mining, which demands extensive GPU arrays, Kilic navigated the company through the critical Ethereum merge in September 2022. His exemplary leadership earned him the CEO position at HIVE in January 2023.

In 2023, HIVE Digital Technologies shifted its focus, converting GPUs from mining alternative coins into a strategy for Bitcoin exchange to weather a drop in daily earnings from $150,000 to $30,000. With Holmes’ vision and Kilic’s leadership, HIVE pivoted to AI, significantly enhancing its GPU infrastructure. This past year, HIVE grew its high-performance computing power tenfold, preparing it to capitalize on the growing demand for HPC and AI tools using its Nvidia GPUs.

“HPC (high-performance computing), once known as supercomputing, represents the pinnacle of computing power for scientific research,” Kilic explains. He cites the use of GPU-based supercomputers by companies like ExxonMobil to analyze 3D seismic data for oil exploration. Additionally, the surge in demand for GPU computational capability in AI is driven by large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT, which Kilic points out, stands for generative pretrained transformer, a widely used architecture.

It was a clever pivot, to resuscitate the GPU business in a post-Ethereum world. “To realize $100 million of revenue you would need upwards of 100 MW of power in Bitcoin mining, but with AI you can do this with less than 10 MW of power,” Kilic says. “Furthermore, AI revenues are approximately five times greater than Ethereum mining with GPUs.”

Leadership for the Future

Kilic has led the organization through three years of change and adaptation with agility and a very specific brand of leadership.

“I’m a hands-on problem-solver and innovator,” Kilic explains. “Navigating open-ended problems by framing the right questions and finding their answers has been key to my business success. I am also grateful to have one of the best teams in the biz.”

The next move? Establishing HIVE as Canada’s premier AI infrastructure provider, focusing on owning and operating tier 3 data centers and HPC setups with cutting-edge Nvidia GPUs for sophisticated AI tasks.

Currently, HIVE has tier 3 GPU operations in Stockholm and Montreal with plans to grow its  footprint another tenfold in the next year through expansion in Canada. “I’ve travelled to Silicon Valley three times in three months,” Kilic says. “We are working with global AI leaders including Nvidia; however, I would love to see Canadian AI infrastructure provisioned on the world stage.”

Fuelling AI

Kilic envisions businesses leveraging open-source LLMs on privately accessed servers, prioritizing ownership and data privacy. This approach surpasses using generalized tools like ChatGPT, which, despite its capabilities, lacks privacy for sensitive data analysis.

“Our goal is to fuel the AI revolution for businesses, likening it to how smartphones democratized computing power,” Kilic states. “Our servers will empower businesses with open-source AI, enabling them to utilize custom-tuned LLMs on their own data sets for a genuine competitive advantage.”

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