Controversy Over Uniswap Cross-Chain Migration: A Case Study in Crypto Governance

April 10, 2023

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    In Jan 2023 the Uniswap DAO conducted a vote to determine which bridge it would use to expand to BNB Chain (BSC), as Uniswap V3's license is due to expire on April 1st, 2023. Uniswap decided to port its contracts and functionality to BNB Chain to avoid losing market share to Pancakeswap. Wormhole and LayerZero were the two main contenders, backed by Jump and a16z respectively. Jump owns Certus One, which helped develop Wormhole, and a16z previously co-led LayerZero's $1 billion investment round.

    The initial vote saw Wormhole win by 11 million votes, with Consensys, GFX Labs, and Argent HQ being among the prominent supporters. LayerZero was supported by student societies at Stanford and Michigan, both of which received delegations from a16z. a16z, whose 15 million votes would have swung the outcome, did not participate, citing an issue in their custody structure. Subsequently, a16z’s CTO Eddy Lazzarin requested on the Uniswap forum that their votes be counted as going towards LayerZero anyway. 

    Uniswap Foundation Executive Director Devin Walsh responded that the original vote would stand and Wormhole would be used as the bridge.

    a16z pushed back. They used their now active voting power to oppose the entire move to BNB Chain, which was also subject to DAO vote, given the selection of Wormhole. In a post explaining a16z’s opposition, partner Porter Smith highlighted Wormhole's prior vulnerabilities and losses from exploits. 

    Despite a16z’s 15 million votes against, the proposal passed in a 30-point landslide, with a16z accounting for the majority of negative votes. Many who voted in favor had supported LayerZero in the initial bridge provider vote, including both UMich and Stanford Crypto.

    Source: Tally