SushiSwap Swaps Out Co-founder 0xMaki

SushiSwap co-founder and project lead 0xMaki is reportedly stepping down from operations leadership, though he will remain engaged in an advisory capacity.


SushiSwap is the decentralized exchange of the Sushi DeFi ecosystem


key takeaways

  • Pseudonymous lead dev will issue a statement Friday regarding his changing status
  • The Sushi DEX has been deployed on more than twice as many blockchains as any other

0xMaki, the pseudonymous co-founder and project lead of decentralized automated market maker (AMM) SushiSwap, is reportedly stepping down from his leadership role, though he may remain tied to the protocol though an advisory role. 

The departing developer was expected to release a statement related to the matter on Friday, sources told The Defiant, and subsequently confirmed by 0xMaki on Twitter. That came in the form of a lengthy post on the Sushi forums, late Friday, in which he outlined his new role as an advisor.

“I’ll be moving away from day-to-day operations into an advisory role to help foster the next generation of teams building on top of Sushi, supporting from the sideline, and helping without affiliation the broader DeFi ecosystem regardless of where they are deployed.”

0xMaki was elected as a multisig member — one of the lead decision makers in the community-run ecosystem — in September 2020. His “owner” rights were removed from the operations multisig wallet on Tuesday, September 14, Ethereum transaction details revealed. 

Operations was a five-member multisig where members are responsible for adding and removing protocols, approving transactions and any changes to smart contracts. 0xMaki was still listed as a member of the community’s Treasury multisig, which oversees some $154 million in assets — mostly the protocol’s native governance token $SUSHI — as of Friday.

In 0xMaki’s follow-up statement, he noted, “I’d like to remain on the treasury multisig but if this isn’t desired by the community [I’m] ready to step back there after a snapshot vote.” Snapshot refers to a governance tool that allows $SUSHI token holders to vote on actions without spending ether in the form of fees on Ethereum’s mainnet.

Rise from controversial origins

0xMaki was instrumental in rescuing the project after its original lead developer, Chef Nomi, quit shortly after the protocol was launched. The project’s admin keys were transferred to FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, before the current multisig solution (of which Bankman-Fried is also a member) was deployed.

SushiSwap began as a clone of Uniswap, and drained liquidity from the leading AMM by offering users incentives to migrate their assets in what is referred to as a “vampire attack”, at the end of what became known as “DeFi Summer.”

Despite early tensions, Uniswap founder Hayden Adams tweeted praise in response to the news, calling him “an impressive community builder”. Under his leadership, the automated market maker expanded into a diverse ecosystem that encompasses a digital asset money-market protocol called Kashi, staking and yield farm products.

Sushiswap has also expanded to a dozen other blockchains, making it the most widely deployed decentralized exchange by a wide margin. 

The intense pace of work on a leading DeFi project with over $4 billion in total value locked, has taken its toll on the developer, according to the statement.

“On a personal level, I’ve put Sushi before my physical & mental health, my relationships, my family, and my friends. I’ll be slowing down for the next month or two.”

Not cited in his statement was the topic of developer compensation, but he did recently reveal on Twitter that core developers own less than 1% of the protocol, signaling that may have been a contributing factor.

An ecosystem addition in May, MISO, which provides a way to launch new tokens, was exploited Thursday for 865 ETH (or about $3 million), in a suspected inside job, but the funds were subsequently returned in full on Friday.

Amid the multifaceted turmoil, $SUSHI is down about 19% in the last 24 hrs. At time of publication, $SUSHI was trading at $12.90, down significantly more than the tokens of rival DEXs Uniswap, Balancer and Bancor, which have seen declines of 3-6%.

Updated, Saturday, September 18, 9:00 (UTC) with 0xMaki’s statement.

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