The ICON Team

Broadly speaking, the ICON “team” consists of three major players:

  • The ICON Foundation, the “founder” of the project and its most important actor.
  • ICONLOOP, ICON’s chief technology partner and primary developer of the blockchain network’s infrastructure
  • The community of node validators, or P-Reps, who also develop many of the services that operate on the network.

All three of these groups are composed of teams with years — and in some cases, decades — of experience across a wide range of fields, including finance and fintech, software development, network architecture and business development.

They have also demonstrated a willingness and ability to not only keep the network functioning at peak performance, but also to push the technological envelope, most notably through the development of the network’s signature interoperability solution, BTP.

Beyond the core team outlined above, the broader ICON ecosystem includes partner blockchains in the BTP network. This includes some of the largest blockchain networks in the world, including the Polkadot ecosystem and BNB Chain, as well as compatibility with Ethereum Virtual Machine.

The ICON Foundation

The ICON Foundation led the development of the ICON network prior to its decentralization, and is arguably still the network’s most important actor, playing an outsized role in promoting the development of the project. It’s also the No. 1-ranked P-Rep.

Key figures in the ICON Foundation include:

  • Min Kim, Founder: Min received an education in business, graduating from UC Berkeley and Columbia Business School. Prior to founding ICON Foundation in July 2017, he had built a 15-year career in the finance and business sector with companies such as Deutsche Bank and DAYLI Financial Group.
  • Scott Smiley, Strategist: In addition to being an ICON strategist, Deutsche Bank veteran Smiley is also a co-founder of ICON accelerator ICX Station and decentralized finance platform Balanced, as well as Web3 investment company Lydia Ventures. He started building a professional network in the blockchain technology industry in early 2017, and began work on the ICON Project in April 2018
  • TJ Hunt, Product Manager and Strategy Associate: A recent graduate with a finance degree from the University of Minnesota, TJ has been an ICON investor since late 2017. He is focused on core ICON strategy & product management, including improving the Contribution Proposal System (CPS), MyIconWallet coordination, BTP and other ICON-based products.
  • Daeki Lee, Head of Ecosystem and Co-Founder, ICX Station: A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Lee helps build out ICON’s ecosystem, largely through his role as co-founder of ICX Station. Lee started his career as venture capitalist at TransLink Capital, one of the leading cross border VC funds based in Silicon Valley, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.
  • Elise Shin, Director Of Strategic Communications: The ICON Foundation’s chief communication’s officer joined the team in 2021. A graduate of Yale University, Shin was also the COO and co-foudner of crypto donation platform Reached and an investment associate at blockchain VC Deblock.


Seoul-based blockchain developer ICONLOOP is ICON’s chief technology partner, responsible for building the blockchain engine that powers the network.

  • Jonghyup Kim, CEO: A graduate of Korea’s prestigious Pohang University of Science and Technology with a degree in computer engineering and science, Kim has been CEO of ICONLOOP since 2017. Prior to this, he spent about two decades in the data security sector, founding security solution BTWorks in 2002. Kim first started working with blockchain technology in 2016, when he began applying blockchain technology to security solutions for banks.
  • Hyeokgon Ryu: CTO: Ryu is an experienced CTO with a long history of working in the internet industry. Skilled in blockchain, embedded software, J2ME, Android, mobile applications and Java, Ryu earned his MS in Computer Science from Pohang University of Science and Technology. He began his career as an engineer at LG Electronics before moving on to become CTO at Infraware Technologies and managing director at SELVAS Healthcare.
  • Junghoon Lee, CSO: Also a director with the ICON Foundation, Lee was formerly a researcher with Woori Financial Group’s strategic planning team. He has a PhD from Seoul National University’s technology management school.
  • Jay Kim, CFO: ICONLOOP’s chief financial officer spent seven years as a manager with PwC before becoming the CFO of Dayli intelligence, a business technology company in the field of artificial intelligence and blockchain services and part of the larger DAYLI Financial Group, one of Korea’s leading fintech companies. He joined ICONLOOP as CFO in 2016, and is also a director with the ICON Foundation.
  • Yujin Sohn, COO: Sohn got her MBA from NYU, and then joined New York-based online marketing company Oddcast as director of marketing. She then joined Korean internet giant Kakao, where she headed their Indonesia office and was VP of international business development. She was also management director at Kakao’s Singapore-based subsidiary Path Mobile.


P-Reps are central to the ICON ecosystem. While their primary function is to validate blocks on the ICON blockchain, they play many other roles as well. They are the network’s policy makers, deciding all network decisions. They also build or support development and launch of many of the services and products built on the ICON network.

Major P-Reps include:

  • Lydia Labs: Formerly ICX Station, Lydia Labs is a venture studio focused on building blockchain-based applications. Lydia Labs has built or supported some of the most important services on ICON, including DeFi protocols Balanced and OMM Finance and NFT marketplace Craft Network.
    • Its co-founders are Scott Smiley and Daeki Lee, who are also members of the ICON Foundation (see above),
  • GangstaBet: GangstaBet is an international collaborative project between artists and developers from across the globe. They launched the popular GangstaBet NFT project, a collection of digital images based on classic gangster films of the 1980s and 1990s. They are also building Emerald City, a metaverse powered by GangstaBet’s digital characters.
    • Gangstabet’s core team has prior experience building NFT projects on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • ICONFi: One of ICON’s premier DeFi platforms is a cryptocurrency staking-and-earn service built for beginners.
    • Prior to founding ICONFi in 2020, CEO Sean Kim had a long career in financial services, having served as a senior manager at financial consulting firm EY and as a financial services advisor at PwC.
  • Binance Node: Globally top-ranked cryptocurrency exchange Binance also serves as one of ICON’s major node validators. Binance also operates BNB Chain, a major blockchain network in its own right and a key partner in ICON’s BTP interoperability solution.
  • Everstake: Ukraine-based Everstake is one of the world’s biggest decentralized staking providers with over 600,000 users and over USD 6 million staked. The everstake team includes experienced developers, financial experts and blockchain enthusiasts.
    • CEO Sergii Vasylchuk: Also the CEO of blockchain technological company Attic Lab, Vasylchuk has over a decade of experience in web and software development in finance, investment, banking, crypto and blockchain.
    • Everstake is collaborating with the Ukrainian government to enable crypto donations to Ukraine.
  • ICONOSPHERE: Led by San Francisco-based fintech and blockchain development company Ibriz, ICONOSPHERE has helped develop some of ICON’s major DeFi solutions, including Balanced and OMM. It was also heavily involved in the development of ICON’s CPS grant program, designing its front end/back end and UI/UX system.
    • CEO Bijay Niraula: Niraula has been involved in the Silicon Valley incubator and tech scene for two decades. He is also a veteran organizer of hackathons and conferences in the Bay Area.
  • ICONDAO: This decentralized autonomous organization of ICON community members has been heavily involved in not only building services on ICON, but promoting the network through hackathons and education programs. Most recently, they helped spearhead the effort to integrate ICX into leading crypto wallet Ledger Live.
    • CAN (Community Alliance Network):  ICON DAO is powered by CAN, which provides a comprehensive set of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) tools to build Internet/mobile community platforms without an in-house tech team.
  • PARROT9: New Zealand-based design house Parrot9 is “here to design the user experience of the future.” Their expertise in UX writing and design is most evident in ICON’s DeFi platforms Balanced and OMM, for which they led the product design and marketing.

Official Blockchain Partners

BNB Chain

  • Formerly called Binance Smart Chain, BNB Chain is a blockchain network built for running smart contract-based applications In essence, it’s the layer-1 blockchain network of crypto exchange giant Binance, though with a real emphasis on interoperability.
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  • NEAR Protocol is a decentralized application (dApp) platform and Ethereum competitor that focuses on developer and user-friendliness. Its native NEAR tokens are used to pay for transaction fees and storage on the Near crypto platform.
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  • Moonbeam is a new Polkadot smart contract platform that makes it easy to build natively interoperable blockchain applications.
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  • Harmony is a layer-1 blockchain using sharding and Effective Proof of Stake to achieve scalability, security, and decentralization. The network was launched in 2019 and features trustless cross-chain bridges and four shards, which process transactions in parallel.
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  • Algorand is a proof-of-stake blockchain cryptocurrency protocol. Algorand’s native cryptocurrency is called ALGO.
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  • ICE aims to become a crowdloan-funded Polkadot parachain that serves as an extension network and application hub for the ICON ecosystem. ICE is the first network to use the Substrate SDK to extend the feature-set of an existing layer one blockchain.
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