Most Influential 2021: Robert Leshner

The Compound founder expects the bridge between DeFi and traditional finance to narrow next year.

AccessTimeIconDec 10, 2021 at 8:16 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:26 p.m. UTC
Layer 2
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Good morning. Robert Leshner has built one of the essential cornerstones of decentralized finance (DeFi) with Compound, a lending protocol. This year, Compound Treasury launched, providing a pathway for non-crypto financial institutions to earn yields in the rapidly expanding “institutional DeFi” sub-sector. That’s important. As are the series of investments Leshner has made in fledging DeFi projects through a “scout” fund he co-founded, Robot Ventures. He’s right at the center of decentralized finance, helping both large and small players get started. But you might say his affect and personality are just as influential.

In late September, when a bug was introduced into the autonomous Compound protocol, which then erroneously disbursed $80 million worth of COMP to some users, Leshner handled the situation poorly – at first. He seemed to threaten users with Federal action when asking that they return the funds. This caused some confusion and consternation. Realizing this, Leshner quickly apologized, owned up to his “bone-headed” statement made in haste and exhibited a type of leadership that’s rare in crypto with the resolve to admit fault. Leshner may not be a philosopher-king, but in calling the decision whether to reimburse Compound a “moral dilemma,” he showed that humans still have an important role to play in DeFi, even if robots run the code.

Here is what Leshner expects for Compound in 2022: “Compound Labs plans to grow Compound Treasury into a primary bridge between traditional financial markets and DeFi, and release new research/products for the Compound community to use, modify and adopt.”

(Kevin Ross/CoinDesk)
(Kevin Ross/CoinDesk)

CORRECTION (DEC. 12, 5:40 UTC): Updates language that suggested Compound was hacked and around Leshner’s statement at the time.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.