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YFI, FTM Tank After Andre Cronje, Anton Nell Claim They're Leaving Crypto

Both YFI and FTM plummeted by double digits immediately following the announcement.

4 min read
YFI creator Andre Cronje. Image: Andre Cronje

Prolific developer Andre Cronje has quit decentralized finance, according to an announcement today by his colleague Anton Nell, a senior solutions architect at the Fantom Foundation, who's joining him in that decision without citing a reason.

Cryptocurrencies associated with Cronje’s projects, such as FTM and YFI, dove sharply after the surprise announcement—yearn.finance (YFI) plunged 13% from almost $20,000 to $17,000. Fantom (FTM) was down 15% over the past 24 hours, trading at $1.42 as of this writing. Solidly (SOLID), which only launched last week, has fallen 64.73% over the past day, now worth $1.13.

“Andre and I have decided that we are closing the chapter of contibuting [sic] to the defi/crypto space. There are around ~25 apps and services that we are terminating on 03 April 2022,” Nell tweeted on Sunday.

The applications—or websites that function as DeFi protocol front-ends—that will be discontinued by Cronje and Nell include yearn.fi, keep3r.network, multichain.xyz, chainlist.org, solidly.exchange, and bribe.crv.finance.

Neither Cronje nor Nell immediately responded to requests for comment from Decrypt.

FTM, YFI dive

Some contributors to projects associated with Cronje expressed surprise at the market reaction to the news.

“People burying YFI, you do realize Andre hasn’t worked on it for over a year? And even if he did, there are 50 full-time people and 140 part-time contributors to back things up,” tweeted banteg, a yearn developer.

DeFi is an umbrella term for financial applications that use blockchains such as Ethereum for banking services. DeFi applications are built on top of blockchain-based smart contracts, which are permissionless by nature and can continue to function without input from original developers.

“As long as the contracts are immutable or don’t require Andre’s approval for changes they will continue to work as deployed,” James Hancock, a former Ethereum core developer, told Decrypt. “What [Cronje] is shutting down is webpages that plug into those contracts. Technically, anyone can deploy a UI to these services, but it doesn’t mean anyone will. You need an incentive too and need to grow legitimacy."

Although DeFi is technically a trustless system, investors look to those behind the applications for confidence. “Anyone can deploy a [user interface], but anyone else who wants to use it needs to believe it is safe too,” Hancock added.

In late January, Fantom took over Binance Smart Chain (BSC) to become the third-largest chain, with over $12.2 billion in total value locked (TVL) across its DeFi ecosystem, according to data from DefiLlama. The uptick was due to an anticipated snapshot of top Fantom protocols for Cronje’s new project, Solidly.

“I think from a DeFi perspective we’re seeing the last puffs of whatever narratives we were all shouting for several months back. Andre leaving is a big deal. He’s the reason why so many projects and people flocked into [Fantom] ecosystem,” Wassie Capital, a pseudonymous DeFi investor, told Decrypt. “Thankful that I was rotating a lot so didn’t have any huge investments, but I can only imagine how hard things are for those who locked up their assets for several years.”

For those invested in projects associated with Cronje, the understated announcement came as a huge disappointment—widely likened to a rug pull, normally a term for DeFi exit scams but nowadays one that’s also used loosely to mean any developer decision that plunges related cryptocurrencies.

"I feel rugged in terms of communication. We were just told that ‘websites will be terminated,’” miroyato, a pseudonymous DeFi investor and developer of Web3 file-sharing service fileverse.io, told Decrypt. “But in reality, this will be a great test of robustness for DeFi open-source software. There are so many amazing developers contributing to Yearn and other ‘Andre projects’ that I look forward to seeing how they flourish even after [the] creators left."

'Sick and tired'

Cronje has a history of temporarily rage-quitting DeFi.

“Close to rage quitting again,” he told Decrypt in August 2020 after Hasu, another DeFi researcher, raised potential red flags about yearn finance. “So sick and tired of this space.”

“Pointless trying to be a builder in this space,” Cronje said at the time.

“Andre loves to build things. He will always be back,” Stani Kulechov, founder of the Aave lending protocol, told Decrypt at the time. That prediction turned out to be correct— at least until now.

Nell, who made the announcement today, clarified that the latest decision is “unlike previous ‘building in defi sucks’ rage quits, this is not a knee jerk reaction to the hate received from releasing a project, but a decision that has been coming for a while now.”

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