Paradigm, one of the top crypto venture capital firms, is under fire from a developer team that is unwinding its flagship project and accusing the firm of copying its open-source code.
On Nov. 24, Erigon announced that it is winding down support for Akula, a Rust implementation of OpenEthereum. The team said they decided to sunset the project after becoming aware of a competing product from an entity with incomparable resources and influence.
“We have come to a decision to unwind our technological, managerial, and financial support for Akula,” the blog post said. “We think that the other project will, after it is open-sourced, become better supported and more popular, and will very quickly match and overtake Akula in functionality.”
“Sadly we cannot outcompete multibillion VCs who copy-paste our architecture and code (open-source, right?),” tweeted Artem Vorotnikov, the creator of Akula.
Erigon noted that Akula’s development was funded by grants, predicting that it will be hard to secure future funding now that it has competition from a major entity. While Erigon did not name who its outsized competitor is, observers were quick to point their fingers at Paradigm on social media.
“It’s a sad day for Akula, said Twitter user 0xalti. “Rather than contribute to the open-sourced project, Paradigm chose to launch a rust implementation under their own brand, using much of the code written by the Akula team.”
But Paradigm’s CTO, Georgios Konstantopoulos, insists the firm did not fork Akula’s code.
“Paradigm is building Reth, a Rust Ethereum Execution Layer,” Konstantopoulos tweeted. “Reth is not a fork or a rewrite of any other client implementation… Reth does not include code from any existing client but stands on the shoulders of giants including Geth, Erigon, and Akula.”
He added that Paradigm is building Reth to promote client diversity, calling Akula’s decision to cease development a loss for the space. “We are building the client we wish existed, and the components that we ourselves want to build on top of,” he wrote.
Many in the community are skeptical of Konstantopoulos’ depiction of events, with Korotnikov sharing screenshots showing Paradigm’s CTO asking Akula about its code in intimate detail.
“It seems like the feeling from the Akula and Erigon teams is that you guys went out of your way to obscure your plans and goals while getting info from them,” tweeted Wilson Cusak, a web3 developer.
0xExecLayer, a retired software engineer, speculated Paradigm may have opted to build its own Rust client to sidestep Akula’s use of the Affero General Public License, which imposes stringent conditions on the reproduction of code despite being open-source.
“The conspiracy theory here is that Paradigm did a clean-room rewrite of Akula so that a portfolio company can use it as a fast EVM execution layer (Akula has AGPL that can be annoying to deal with),” they said.
Not everyone is unhappy with Paradigm though.
“I don’t really see the problem,” said Dotta, a web3 developer. “Open-source is all about learning from and building on one another… I can’t wait to see Reth.” 0xfoobar, a popular developer and influencer, echoed the sentiment.