Cosmos Developer Ignite Sees Staff Exodus and Layoffs as CEO Exits

Ignite, the development studio formerly known as Tendermint behind the Cosmos blockchain, lost CEO Peng Zhong at the start of the month.


Source: Cosmos


key takeaways

  • Two other top executives have joined CEO Peng Zhong in leaving the Cosmos developer, four months after it rebranded from “Tendermint”
  • Hints of layoffs at Ignite were first dropped in May, when former CEO Jae Kwon returned

The grim wave of industry layoffs continues to wash across the crypto landscape, with Cosmos blockchain developer Ignite (formerly Tendermint) the latest to downsize.

Peng Zhong, CEO of Ignite, said Friday that he’s formally left the firm. The company’s headcount has been reduced by over 50%, CoinDesk reported on Saturday, citing two former employees and a source close to the matter. 

While some were laid off, others left voluntarily in exchange for severance packages, the report added.

According to an update in February, Ignite’s headcount stood at 120. After its recent reported layoffs, nearly 60 people are estimated to have left the company.

CoinDesk said two other unnamed top executives joined Zhong in leaving Ignite. Their exits come four months after the company rebranded from Tendermint as part of a reorganizational shake-up.

Launched in 2014 by co-founders Jae Kwon and Ethan Buchman, the company is best known for its role in founding blockchain protocol Cosmos.

Loading Tweet..

Kwon left his role as CEO in 2020, amid concerns about wielding too much authority, but he returned in May when the firm split into two separate entities — Ignite and NewTendermint. 

A source told CoinDesk the layoffs were first hinted at during Kwon’s return in May. They said details about the new organizational structure between Ignite and NewTendermint were obscure for several weeks. 

Employees were reportedly given the option to apply to work at NewTendermint. Those who didn’t were told they would be invited to join a revamped version of Ignite — a venture called Cosmos Cash, echoing the Bitcoin hard fork that birthed Bitcoin Cash in 2017.

Kwon reportedly said not all employees would make the cut.

Ignite weighed by Cosmos price collapse

The downturn in cryptocurrency markets is said to have worsened Kwon’s initial projected headcount reduction.

Cosmos’ native token ATOM,is down 73% so far this year, and has fallen 13% in the last month alone to $8.01 on Monday as of 5:00 am ET, data from Blockworks Research shows.

Zhong didn’t disclose who will succeed him as CEO, spurring concern that Ignite’s leadership may be hanging in the balance. Ignite and Kwon didn’t immediately return Blockworks’ request for comment. 

Ignite joins a raft of other high-profile names laying off employees, including Celsius, BlockFi, Coinbase, Gemini, and Vauld.

Cryptocurrency markets have shed 60% of their collective values in the year to date, with bellwether digital asset bitcoin falling from $46,300 to below $20,000.

“The narrative remains bearish with anything possible in the [bitcoin price range from] $20,000 to $10,000,” Digital Asset Investment Management analysts wrote in a recent report. “But max pain in bitcoin generally means max opportunity. There will be a time when the negative news runs out.”

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

Explore the growing intersection between crypto, macroeconomics, policy and finance with Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Subscribe to the On the Margin newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2024

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Unlocked by Template.png


With the spot ETH ETF approval, the institutions are coming. stETH - given its dominance in marketshare, existing liquid market structures, and highly desirable properties - is poised for institutions.


Launching cryptocurrencies the old fashioned way may soon make a return


Kraken and CertiK brought their beef to social media after Kraken said researchers exploited $3 million through a bug


NVIDIA’s historic run is only deepening the divide between mega-cap tech stocks and the rest of the market.


EIP-7702 was quickly adopted for the next Ethereum upgrade, but developers haven’t quite locked it down