Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin robbed his earliest employees of the value of stock awards that drew them to his blockchain firm, Consensys, in the first place, ex-workers allege in a lawsuit.
(Bloomberg) — Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin robbed his earliest employees of the value of stock awards that drew them to his blockchain firm, Consensys, in the first place, ex-workers allege in a lawsuit.
More than two dozen ex-employees sued Lubin, accusing him of leaving workers with worthless shares in a Swiss holding company called Consensys AG by shuffling assets including crypto wallet provider MetaMask out of the unit.
In 2020, Lubin arranged to have those assets — including crypto tools developed in part by the software engineers and product designers who are suing — transferred to a new, US company, making the shares held by some of his earliest workers nearly worthless, according to the complaint filed in New York state court on Thursday.
“He broke his word,” lawyers for the employees wrote in the complaint. “In the process, he violated his legal commitments and duties. While Lubin got rich, plaintiffs got nothing.”
The lawsuit is similar to a case in a Swiss court that has not paid off for the former employees, a representative for Lubin and Consensys said in an email.
“After two years of getting nowhere with their frivolous claims against Consensys Mesh in a Swiss court, plaintiffs now believe their merit-less claims stand a better chance of yielding a pay day if they game US courts and entangle Consensys Software and other unrelated parties in litigation,” a company representative said. The ex-workers “will soon find this gambit is another fruitless attempt to enrich themselves from the success of others.”
The ex-employees all started working at an early version of Consensys that Lubin founded in Brooklyn in 2014, according to the lawsuit. They accepted lower pay on the promise they would get equity in the company.
Lubin eventually carved out 30% of the holding company for employees. The workers who are suing hold about 9% of that unit. They’re seeking damages.
The current version of Consensys has raised at least $726.7 million from investors and is valued at more than $7 billion, according to the suit.
Lubin co-founded Ethereum with several others, including Vitalik Buterin. It has become a commercially important blockchain platform, hosting a range of applications from decentralized exchanges to automated market makers.
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