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OpenSea’s product chief is out after insider NFT flipping accusations

OpenSea’s product chief is out after insider NFT flipping accusations

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He’s accused of buying NFTs before they appeared on the trading platform’s homepage

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

OpenSea head of product Nate Chastain, who was recently accused of a form of NFT insider trading, appears to no longer be working for the company. His Twitter bio now includes the phrase “Past: @opensea.” OpenSea has not publicly named the employee involved in the incident, but CEO Devin Finzer says the NFT trading platform asked for and received their resignation.

Yesterday, Finzer put up a blog post saying an employee used knowledge gained from working at the company to purchase NFTs that were about to be posted to the popular trading site’s homepage (and would thus likely go up in value). While an investigation is apparently still ongoing, OpenSea does say that it’s implemented clearer rules to prevent employees from doing this kind of thing in the future.

What’s an NFT?

NFTs allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain. NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. An NFT can either be one of a kind, like a real-life painting, or one copy of many, like trading cards, but the blockchain keeps track of who has ownership of the file.

NFTs have been making headlines lately, some selling for millions of dollars, with high-profile memes like Nyan Cat and the “deal with it” sunglasses being put up for auction. There’s also a lot of discussion about the massive electricity use and environmental impacts of NFTs. If you (understandably) still have questions, you can read through our NFT FAQ.

The incident came to light after the NFT community began digging into transactions in Chastain’s public wallet. Community members, taking advantage of the blockchain’s openness and semi-transparency, were able to find transactions that seemed to indicate that he was secretly flipping NFTs. The community members also say that the transactions show that this flipping earned the employee thousands of dollars or more — you can read more about the investigations and accusations here.

Chastain has yet to make a public statement or acknowledge the situation in any way. However, his Twitter profile, and OpenSea’s blog post, would seem to indicate that his time at the company is over.