Ethereum Foundation Researcher Faces Criticism Over Paid Advisory Role with Eigen Foundation

  • May 20, 2024
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Justin Drake, a prominent researcher at the Ethereum Foundation, has disclosed his acceptance of an advisory role at Eigen Foundation, the organization behind the EigenLayer protocol.

EigenLayer, a platform that enables users to re-stake their Ethereum to secure third-party networks, has recently garnered attention due to its token distribution and potential impact on the Ethereum ecosystem. This announcement comes amid discussions about potential conflicts of interest between EigenLayer and the Ethereum Foundation as some core developers and researchers take on advisory roles with external projects.

Ethereum Foundation Researcher Justin Drake’s Advisory Role at EigenFoundation Sparks Debate

I recently became an advisor to the EigenFoundation. I feel the community deserves transparency so here is an extended disclosure

1) The advisorship comes with a significant EIGEN token incentive which could easily be worth more than the combined value of all my other assets…

— Justin Ðrake (@drakefjustin) May 19, 2024

In a detailed post on social media platform X, Drake revealed that his new advisory role includes a significant EIGEN token incentive, potentially worth millions of dollars over a three-year vesting period. This revelation has sparked a debate within the crypto community about potential conflicts of interest and the influence of EigenLayer on the Ethereum Foundation.

Drake stated that he accepted the advisory role with the understanding that he would focus on researching restaking risks. He emphasized his intention to “continue to lean critical of EigenLayer” despite the potential reputational risks involved. 

“By being an adviser, I hope to have a front-row seat to restaking issues and steer EigenLayer from within,” Drake wrote. He expressed regret for his past inaction regarding liquid staking, viewing this role as an opportunity to avoid repeating such mistakes.

EigenLayer, partially launched on the mainnet last month, allows users to stake liquid-staked Ether (ETH) tokens. These derivative tokens represent ETH staked in protocols like Lido, effectively enabling ETH to be staked twice.

I’m really proud that ethereum does not have any culture of trying to prevent people from speaking their minds, even when they have very negative feelings toward major things in the protocol or ecosystem.

Some wave the ideal of “open discourse” as a flag, some take it seriously.

— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) May 18, 2024

On May 18, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his pride in Ethereum’s culture, which allows individuals to voice their opinions freely, even if they are critical of the protocol or its ecosystem.

In response, prominent crypto trader Jordan Fish, known as Cobie, directly asked Buterin about the incentives offered to Ethereum Foundation core developers or researchers. 

“How do you feel about Ethereum Foundation core developers or researchers taking life-changing $ packages from projects built on Ethereum to become ‘advisors,’ when those projects may have conflicted incentives with Ethereum, either now or in the future?” Fish asked, using EigenLayer as a hypothetical example.

In contrast, Polygon’s Vice President of Governance, Hudson Jameson, zkSecurity co-founder David Wong, and Standard Chartered Ventures’ Director of Crypto Investments, Robbie Nakarmi commended Drake for his transparency.

Notably, Buterin did not respond publicly to Cobie’s question. However, the following morning, Drake disclosed that he had recently become an advisor to Eigen Foundation, emphasizing the need for transparency within the community. 

Drake’s Advisory Role at Eigen Sparks Debate Over Potential Conflicts of Interest

Drake assured the community that he would “reinject” all the proceeds from the advisory role into “worthy” projects within the Ethereum ecosystem, either as investments or donations. This pledge aims to mitigate concerns about potential conflicts of interest and demonstrate his commitment to Ethereum’s broader mission.

Addressing concerns about potential conflicts of interest,  In his X post, Drake sought to dispel allegations that EigenLayer was attempting to “systematically ‘bribe’ or ‘corrupt’” the Ethereum Foundation.

Drake pointed out that the Ethereum Foundation is a large organization with over 300 people, and only a small percentage of its members have formal relationships with EigenLayer entities. He expressed confidence in the integrity of the Ethereum Foundation members and their ability to maintain their moral standards.

He said, “I don’t see the 1% of EFers formally involved with EigenLayer compromising their morals” and expressed his readiness to “end the advisorship at any time” if EigenLayer’s direction conflicted with Ethereum’s interests.

Earlier in May, EigenLayer responded to user backlash by airdropping 28 million more EIGEN tokens after criticisms that its program was too restrictive.

The post Ethereum Foundation Researcher Faces Criticism Over Paid Advisory Role with Eigen Foundation appeared first on Cryptonews.

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