Ethereum Merger Raised Stakefish’s Profile But Resulted in 25% of Its Staff Leaving

One of the significant validators, stakefish, was plagued by instability on the same day that the Ethereum Merge greatly increased the role of validators in the blockchain ecosystem. According to those with knowledge of the situation, more than 25% of its personnel was either let go or quit, including two top leaders: Jun Soo Kim, head of strategy and operations, and Daniel Hwang, head of protocols.

For this report, four former and present employees who all objected to how the layoffs were handled were consulted. One of the employees requested that their identity not be revealed because they have signed a non-disclosure agreement. Eight staff members were laid off, and three more left the business just as stakefish was about to reap large benefits for securing Ethereum’s new miner-free network.

According to these employees and internal correspondence examined by the media, Individuals claim they were not notified they would be fired from stakefish until a few days before their termination date. That day also marked the Ethereum Merge, the occasion for which stakefish had spent years creating the foundation. On that day, validator operators like stakefish formally took over the management of Ethereum from miners.

Chun Wang, the CEO and founder of stakefish, said, “It is normal in a bear market to reduce team size and optimize costs.” He added: “Only non-tech positions are laid off. We’re still working hard to hire more developers and devops.”

Notably, Kim’s retirement is a big setback for stakefish, which allows users to contribute to the security of proof-of-stake blockchains like the recently upgraded Ethereum in return for rewards. Former workers claim that Kim, whose retirement will become effective in October, was considered a possible Wang replacement and filled in as the CEO instead of the missing founder. Kim said he decided to quit so he could launch his own venture.

Hwang, the only senior executive at stakefish affected by the layoffs, chose resignation over a two-week severance payment. Hwang said that Andrea “Dimi” Di Michele, one of his direct subordinates, gave him the heads-up that he would be fired. A few days after being chosen as Hwang’s replacement and having worked at stakefish the longest, Dimi announced his resignation.

“They gave, like, two days’ notice,” Dimi said. “I don’t want to throw shade on stakefish – it’s not my intention – but I think it’s not fair what’s going on,” he said. “In general, stakefish had a great opportunity to do something great,” he added. “I’m very disappointed.”

By moving ether (ETH), the native currency of Ethereum, to an address on the chain where it cannot be purchased or sold, validators now control the second-largest blockchain instead of miners who previously held control. At the time of posting, Stakefish, which deploys interest-earning validators on behalf of its clients, had nearly 2% of all ETH staked. In addition, it plays a significant validator role in the Cosmos, Polkadot, Polygon, and Solana ecosystems.

With offices in Palo Alto, California, and Seoul, Stakefish maintains a basis in the British Virgin Islands. Most of its employees work from home. Co-founding F2Pool, the third-largest bitcoin (BTC) mining pool, was Wang, the inventor of stakefish. According to employees, the two businesses routinely communicate and exchange resources. Several staff members turned to the company’s Slack message system as word of the layoffs spread within stakefish to express their complaints about how the information had been disseminated to employees.

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