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Jump Trading Splits from Wormhole, Downsizing Crypto Operations

Jump Trading Group, after injecting approximately $320 million into Wormhole nearly two years ago, has now parted ways with the crypto project following a significant hack, according to a Bloomberg report. This move aligns with Jump’s retraction from the digital-assets sphere.

Recently, key Wormhole team members such as CEO Saeed Badreg and COO Anthony Ramirez departed to steer Wormhole as an independent entity. The exact number of departures from Jump Trading in this transition remains unclear.

Wormhole, previously under Jump Crypto, has witnessed a downsizing this year alongside Jump Trading’s reduction of exposure to volatile cryptocurrency markets. Post the split, Jump Crypto’s workforce has dwindled by about half since its peak of around 150 employees in 2022.

Jump Trading declined to offer comments, and Badreg along with Ramirez did not respond to comment requests. Wormhole comprises Wormhole Labs and the Wormhole Foundation.

The decision for Jump’s partial withdrawal from crypto coincides with lower trading volumes despite price surges, such as Bitcoin’s doubling. Rival Jane Street Group ceased token movements from its known crypto wallets in late June, potentially indicative of market fluctuations.

Nonetheless, there are signs of market recovery amidst speculation about forthcoming approval from US regulators for Bitcoin-based exchange-traded funds. Jump Trading might reconsider its crypto involvement should the SEC greenlight an ETF, according to sources.

Reports surfaced last month regarding Jump’s discussions with BlackRock Inc. about a potential market-making role for BlackRock’s proposed Bitcoin ETF, pending SEC approval. Jump had acquired Certus One in 2021, incorporating the team responsible for developing Wormhole, a bridge facilitating transactions across different blockchains like Solana and Ethereum.

However, in early February of the previous year, Wormhole suffered a major hack, resulting in the theft of cryptocurrencies valued at approximately $320 million due to software security vulnerabilities. Despite this setback, Jump swiftly replenished the drained funds. Kanav Kariya, Jump Crypto’s President, previously emphasized Wormhole’s significance as one of the unit’s core projects with a top-notch engineering team.

Reports from Blockworks Research in February indicated Jump Crypto’s apparent recovery of the stolen cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this year, nine employees from Jump Crypto, focused on the Pyth Network—a financial-data feed based on blockchain tech—left to establish an autonomous project, mirroring the move with Wormhole.

Legal complications have also entangled Jump in the aftermath of last year’s industry scandals. In a lawsuit against Terraform Labs, the SEC alleged a clandestine arrangement between Terraform and Jump, boosting algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD a year before its collapse, resulting in substantial profits for Jump. However, Jump hasn’t faced accusations of wrongdoing in this regard.

The stablecoin was a creation of South Korean entrepreneur Do Kwon, a co-founder of Terraform Labs, who faced legal issues and imprisonment in Montenegro this year, wanted by both South Korea and the US on fraud charges. TerraUSD’s collapse led to losses of at least $40 billion for investors.

In a separate class-action lawsuit involving investors in TerraUSD and the Luna token, Jump defended its trading in TerraUSD, claiming it didn’t manipulate the stablecoin.

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