Crypto

Second Ethereum Foundation Researcher Acknowledges Advisory Deal Paid in EIGEN Tokens

Two Ethereum Foundation developers join EigenFoundation, raising concerns over potential conflicts with significant EIGEN token incentives.

By Alex P. Chase

5/21, 13:32 EDT
Bitcoin / U.S. dollar
article-main-img

Key Takeaway

  • Ethereum Foundation developers Dankrad Feist and Justin Drake disclosed paid advisory roles at EigenFoundation, receiving significant EIGEN token allocations.
  • The disclosures sparked debate on potential conflicts of interest, given the systemic risks posed by EigenLayer to Ethereum.
  • Both developers emphasized their commitment to transparency and maintaining critical stances on EigenLayer's impact on Ethereum.

Ethereum Foundation Developers Join EigenFoundation

In a significant development for the Ethereum ecosystem, two prominent Ethereum Foundation (EF) developers, Dankrad Feist and Justin Drake, have accepted advisory roles at the newly established EigenFoundation. This non-profit organization is designed to guide EigenLayer, a pioneering "restaking" protocol that has raised concerns among blockchain experts about potential systemic risks to Ethereum.

Feist announced his new role on social media platform X, revealing that it comes with a substantial allocation of EigenLayer’s new EIGEN token. Although he did not specify the exact number of tokens, the disclosure has sparked a debate about potential conflicts of interest. Feist emphasized that his position is personal and not representative of the Ethereum Foundation, stating, "I do receive a significant amount of tokens from this position. I do not believe that they will change or influence my positions on how the core protocol should be developed, but I believe that the community should know about this, so that they can keep me accountable."

Conflict of Interest Concerns

The announcement has ignited discussions on crypto Twitter about the ethical implications of such advisory roles. Crypto influencer Cobie, who has 724,000 followers on X, publicly questioned Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin about the transparency of core developers accepting lucrative packages from projects built on Ethereum. Cobie’s post was in response to Buterin’s earlier statement that he was "really proud that Ethereum does not have any culture of trying to prevent people from speaking their minds."

Feist acknowledged the concerns, noting that many skeptics fear "EigenLayer will lead to a dystopia of dangerously designed restaking services," and that the additional load on stakers could lead to centralizing forces. He stated, "I think EigenLayer will be a major benefit to Ethereum, if it is done by someone with high integrity. I trust the current leaders are intending to do that, and I am planning to hold them accountable for it."

Justin Drake's Disclosure

Justin Drake, another top EF developer, also disclosed his advisory role at EigenFoundation, which includes a significant token incentive. Drake revealed that the value of these tokens could easily surpass the combined value of all his other assets, mostly ETH, amounting to millions of dollars vesting over three years. He pledged to reinvest all advisorship proceeds into worthy projects within the Ethereum ecosystem, either as investments or donations. Drake also committed to ending his advisorship if EigenLayer's direction conflicts with Ethereum’s interests.

Drake’s role will focus on researching restaking risks and advocating for mitigations. He stated, "My focus on restaking risks you can expect my default public stance to continue to lean critical of EigenLayer. I will try to make my criticism constructive, advocating for mitigations to risks like the erosion of solo validators and the intersubjective overloading of Ethereum consensus."

Community Reactions

The community's reaction has been mixed. Some, like @lex_node on X, praised Cobie for insisting on ethical disclosures and holding people accountable. Others, like @themandalore9, expressed skepticism about the potential for subconscious bias due to financial incentives, despite the transparency.

Drake addressed these concerns by highlighting the integrity of the Ethereum Foundation, stating, "Nowadays the EF is a large organization with 300+ people. To my knowledge, 3 EFers have a formal relationship with EigenLayer entities: one as an early EigenLabs investor, and two as recent EigenFoundation advisors. EFers are some of the highest integrity people I know and I don’t see the 1% of EFers formally involved with EigenLayer compromising their morals."

Street Views

  • Cobie, Crypto Influencer (Neutral on Ethereum and EigenLayer):

    "How do you feel about 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?"

  • @lex_node, Twitter User (Neutral on ethical disclosures in crypto):

    "Props to @cobie for insisting on ethical disclosures and holding people to account despite the onslaught of toxic bagerholderism he gets in response...very few willing to do it."

  • @themandalore9, Twitter User (Bearish on potential conflicts of interest):

    "I applaud the transparency, but he was probably the biggest / most well known voice in the fight against LST's and restaking. I know he say's he'll stay critical, but money corrupts the subconscious in ways that you'd never believe."

Management Quotes

  • Dankrad Feist:

    "I am taking this position personally, not representing the Ethereum Foundation, and with a focus on risks and decentralization. I am therefore fully expected to take contrarian views on Eigenlayer."
    "I do receive a significant amount of tokens from this position. I do not believe that they will change or influence my positions on how the core protocol should be developed, but I believe that the community should know about this so that they can keep me accountable."
    "Eigenlayer will lead to a dystopia of dangerously designed restaking services... A second type of risk comes from additional load imposed by running restaking services which can lead to centralizing forces."
    "I think Eigenlayer will be a major benefit to Ethereum if it is done by someone with high integrity. I trust current leaders are intending to do that and plan to hold them accountable for it."

  • Justin Drake:

    "[I] pledge[d]to reinject all advisorship proceeds towards worthy projects within [the]Ethereum ecosystem either as investments or donations..."> "[My focus is]on restaking risks you can expect my default public stance [to continue leaning critical]."> [...]“advocating for mitigations like erosion solo validators intersubjective overloading consensus.”