Ethereum Foundation to have conflict of interest policy after EigenLayer crossovers

Ethereum tokens stacked in the middle of the image.

The Ethereum Foundation will institute a policy on conflicts of interest, executive director Aya Miyaguchi said on May 24. The announcement came in response to controversy in the crypto community over connections between the foundation and EigenLayer developers.

Two Ethereum researchers joined the ranks of paid advisers at the EigenFoundation in the week preceding Miyaguchi’s announcement. Justin Drake announced his appointment at EigenFoundation on May 19 in a lengthy X post. He said he would receive incentives from EigenFoundation worth “millions of dollars” but would reinject the money in the Ethereum ecosystem. Dankrad Feist made a similar long announcement the following day. Feist acknowledged receiving “a significant amount of tokens,” adding:

“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.”

Both researchers said they were taking the posts personally and not as representatives of the Ethereum Foundation. Drake promised “to continue to lean critical of EigenLayer,” and Feist said he would “take contrarian views.” Reaction to the researchers’ moves was mixed. ZkSecurity co-founder David Wong tweeted on X about Drake:

“This is some next level transparency. You have to love the EF people for their integrity, really. I don’t know if we deserve these people.”

But many commenters expressed skepticism. “Are you serious? He only disclosed it because Cobie leaked it,” one responded to Wong. Crypto trader Jordan Fish, also known as Cobie, asked Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin about foundation staff’s links to EigenLayer the day before Drake made his adviser position public. Another asked Feist:

“You are keeping the 20M for yourself but you don’t believe in the power of incentives? […] lol”

Miyaguchi said in her X post, “It is clear that relying on culture and individual judgment has not been sufficient [to preserve the foundation’s credible neutrality], and we have been working on a formal policy to address this problem for a while now.” She promised more information soon.

Sources: Aya Miyaguchi, Lefteris Karapetsas

Drake said there was a third Ethereum Foundation member with ties to EigenFoundation as an investor. He did not identify the person.

EigenLayer is an Ethereum layer-2 restaking protocol that allows Ethereum node operators and validators to earn fees by restaking liquid Ether

they received in exchange for staking. They can place those assets on EVM platforms such as Lido—possibly using ETH received on that platform—or validate and secure other networks, such as sidechains or non-EVM blockchains. Therefore, they are able to stake the same assets twice.

EigenLayer launched on the Ethereum Goerli testnet in April 2023 and was partially launched on the mainnet in April.

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