Ethereum L2 Eclipse Appoints New CEO Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Neel Somani, Founder of Ethereum Layer-2 Blockchain Eclipse, has been replaced as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) due to accusations of sexual misconduct. Eclipse Labs announced Vijay Chetty, the company’s Chief Growth office (CGO), as the new CEO, taking over Somani’s responsibilities.

Ethereum L2 Eclipse Changes Leadership

Eclipse Labs is a software firm that “contributed to developing the first Ethereum layer-2 using the Solana Virtual Machine (SVM).” Per Neel Somani, “Eclipse is built to be Ethereum’s fastest layer-2, leveraging the best pieces of the modular stack available today.”

On Thursday, Eclipse Labs revealed that Vijay Chetty would be “effective immediately” elevated from his CGO position to become the company’s CEO. The new appointment came due to the “departure” of Somani, Eclipse’s Founder and former CEO.

In the X post, the company highlighted Chetty’s decade-long trajectory in the crypto industry, having held leadership positions at Uniswap Labs, dYdX Trading, and Ripple Labs. Furthermore, Eclipse’s team explained that the new CEO played a “critical role” in building the Ethereum-based project’s community, investors, and partner base.

The announcement failed to acknowledge the reason behind Somani’s departure. However, Eclipse’s team previously stated they took the allegations against its former CEO seriously, claiming to be committed to “maintaining the highest personal and professional standards.”

In March, Hack VC, a Web3 Venture Capital firm, co-led Eclipse’s $50 million Series A Funding alongside Placeholder VC. Due to their link to the company, the Venture Capital firm replied to the post, acknowledging the serious allegations.

We were deeply troubled to learn about the serious allegations made recently against @EclipseFND founder Neel Somani. We do not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct in any form at Hack VC, and we hold our founders and portfolio companies to the same high standards. To be… https://t.co/2g5P7Bjqq3

— Hack VC (@hack_vc) May 16, 2024

 

The firm stated it does not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct “in any form.” As a result, Hack VC revealed that their team had worked with other investors and Eclipse’s team to “correct the situation” since learning about the accusations, including urging Somani to resign from his position.

Crypto Community Calls Out Inappropriate Behavior

At the end of April, a member of the crypto community publicly called out Somani for his alleged inappropriate behavior against women. In the X post, user Beachmojito urged women to stay away from the Eclipse founder, sharing a telegram message of Somani seemingly “hitting up” someone.

Moreover, the user claimed having thought that Somani’s behavior was “open knowledge in the industry.” After his post, many women came forward to back up the accusations and share their experiences with the founder.

In the following days, stories of Somani allegedly grabbing women by the waist and pulling them toward him despite being physically and verbally rejected started to appear.

When he grabbed my waist and pulled towards him even after I said NO and pushed him away, I knew that this will happen one day. Thank you for speaking up ser. https://t.co/cDjYT3n7uv

— Jiwoo Jun (@jiwoo_jun) May 8, 2024

Other females in the industry shared how the founder seemingly invited them to dinners under pretenses, as the women believed the meeting was supposed to be business-related. Further allegations against the former Eclipse CEO continued to be shared, with many including a pattern of inappropriate touching without consent despite clear rejection.

Somani denied all allegations on May 10, claiming to have “never sexually assaulted or harassed any woman.” He stated he didn’t intend to minimize this ongoing issue by his “denial of these false allegations.” At the time, Somani announced he would temporarily reduce his role as Eclipse’s public face while he cleared his name.

Since the accusations, a vital conversation has opened: sexual harassment remains an issue in the industry that must be taken seriously.

Despite not being exclusive to the crypto community, the persistence of harassment and minimization of this behavior should always be called out. As a community member pointed out, advocating for respectful and professional conduct in all business interactions should be a priority.