Ethereum dev’s paid EigenLayer role sparks debate on ‘conflicted incentives’

Ethereum dev’s paid EigenLayer role sparks debate on ‘conflicted incentives’


An Ethereum Foundation researcher’s decision to take a paid adviser role for the foundation behind EigenLayer has sparked criticism on social media, with one commentator suggesting it could create “conflicted incentives.”

In a lengthy May 19 X post, Ethereum researcher Justin Drake disclosed he had taken an adviser role at EigenFoundation that “comes with a significant EIGEN token incentive” vested over three years worth “millions of dollars” and “more than the combined value of all my other assets.”

EigenLayer is a protocol that partially launched on mainnet last month and allows users to stake liquid staked Ether (ETH) tokens — which are derivative tokens for ETH staked in a protocol such as Lido — effectively allowing ETH to be staked twice.

Drake said he took the role on the condition he was limited to researching restaking risks and claimed his default stance would “continue to lean critical of EigenLayer” while acknowledging the role “inevitably comes with downside risk beyond my personal reputation.”

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“By being an adviser, I hope to have a front-row seat to restaking issues and steer EigenLayer from within,” Drake wrote. “I feel I did too little, too late with regard to liquid staking. This is an opportunity not to repeat the mistake with restaking.”

A day earlier, crypto trader and UpOnly co-host Jordan Fish, who goes by Cobie, asked Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin his thoughts on Ethereum Foundation staff “taking life-changing [monetary] packages” from projects that “may have conflicted incentives with Ethereum” — giving EigenLayer as a theoretical example.

Source: Jordan Fish

On the other hand, others including Polygon vice president of governance Hudson Jameson, zkSecurity co-founder David Wong and Standard Chartered ventures crypto investments director Robbie Nakarmi praised Drake for being transparent.

Related: Is onboarding too hard? Crypto adoption still faces major obstacles

In his X post, Drake aimed to quell claims that EigenLayer is “trying to systematically ‘bribe’ or ‘corrupt’” the Ethereum Foundation.

“The EF is a large organization with 300+ people,” he wrote “To my knowledge 3 EFers have a formal relationship with EigenLayer entities: one as an early EigenLabs investor, and two as recent EigenFoundation advisors.”

He added he didn’t “see the 1% of EFers formally involved with EigenLayer compromising their morals” and that he was also ready to “end the advisership at any time” such as if EigenLayer went in a direction “against Ethereum’s interests.”

Earlier in May, EigenLayer airdropped 28 million more of its EIGEN token to users after it faced backlash from users claiming its program was too restrictive.

Magazine: Ethereum restaking — Blockchain innovation or dangerous house of cards?



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