Five years since DEX’s launch, Balance CEO Ric Burton decided to share his story publicly, revealing how he was excluded from the Uniswap round despite being Adams’ sole backer at the early stage of the protocol’s development.
In 2018, Burton, then CEO of Balance, was looking for DApp developers to invest in for the betterment of the Ethereum ecosystem. Among other founders, Hayden Adams really stood off — in the words of Burton, Adams was “on an absolute warpath” and the only thing he could talk about was Uniswap.
To support Adams in his quest to bring his vision to the market, Burton invested time, effort, and an unspecified sum of money, keeping Uniswap founder afloat when he ran out of money to pay rent. At that point, even Vitalik Buterin was reluctant to invest in the project, so Burton was Uniswap’s sole backer.
However, as protocol showed potential, Ethereum Foundation stepped in and provided a grant to Adams, and crypto VC firm Paradigm soon followed, eyeing participation in Uniswap’s funding round.
“Suffice to say, things were not good at Balance. Things were VERY good at Uniswap. Hayden raised just over a $1m,” Burton recalls. Shortly after, he was asked to step down as CEO of Balance by his fellow co-founders, which he did.
According to Burton, he just assumed that Hayden will include him in the funding round, but Paradigm apparently had a different vision. “They were not at all interested in having a failing founder on the cap table of their new unicorn,” the ex-CEO believes.
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During this time, Burton said Adams completely ignored him and never offered to repay his debt. However, before the launch of the UNI token, Adams contacted his former backer and offered to pay him back under one condition: Burton had to sign a confidential agreement that would prohibit him from talking publicly about his early support of Uniswap.
“This was one of the most offensive contracts I had ever seen. So I decided to sue Hayden myself,” Burton said, inviting the community to step into the dispute.
Adams, however, dismissed all accusations, saying that Burton’s recent comments “range from very misleading to outright lies.” According to Adams, Balance's ex-CEO was actually provided with the opportunity to invest, but declined the offer, citing that his company had only one month of runway left.
“Ric is lying when he says his breach of contract claim is going to trial. That claim has already been dismissed by a judge - and is a matter of public record,” Adams tweeted.
“I could keep going — there are more falsehoods in his recent tweets. I eventually cut off contact with Ric because of how poorly he treated people around him, including my friends and colleagues,” he added.
Still, Burton is determined to keep the case from going cold. As a reaction to Adam’s thread, he posted a link to his Substack post, along with a meme titled “Where’s my money?”
“One question you failed to answer publicly: what did you do with my money? Did you spend it on software development, flights, rent & a new laptop? That you used to create Uniswap V1. Because I think you did. So does the court. Which is why. The case. Is not. Closed,” Burton wrote.