I’m Ashleigh, I used to work very closely with Rune, Greg, Equivrel, and many of the parties involved in the current debate. I was one of the earliest non technical employees of Makerdao and was responsible for overseeing the adoption of single collateral Dai.
I am re-entering the chat because I see an alarming pattern emerging.
To explain the nature of the alarm, you’ll need some context. In the early days of Maker, the idea was that we could create an alternative system that was governed by different rules than the financial system we all grew up in: more decentralized, more free, more malleable, more honest.
We all believed in this vision. Rune was the spearhead, but he had a lot of help. His ideas were put into code by some of the most brilliant minds building in the smart contract space at the time, namely Dapphub. The understanding was that it was a flat hierarchy–that we were out to build something that wouldn’t be controlled by any one entity, that would be stateless. The project had kind of a renegade culture.
In 2018, something changed. Rune began to feel that he needed to take control of the project.
A little more backstory: This wasn’t unfamiliar to anyone involved in the project at this point. In the previous couple of years, there had been lots of ups and downs. At one point in 2016-2017 , Rune actually disappeared from the project for 6+ months with no word. When he came back, he came back with a “vision”, demanding more MKR as payment for his role in rejoining the project he had started.
I won’t go into the details of that particular situation now because they aren’t relevant here, but suffice to say, a pattern has emerged.
In 2018, Rune began to feel that the weight of regulation was weighing on MakerDao heavily and he began to fear massive retribution from sovereign global governments. As such, he began to make some changes. He hired expensive lawyers and got the Dao to agree to put the Dev Fund into a Cayman foundation. This was for our protection, he said. He set up a dummy board made up of OG Maker devs and contributors (plus a few more recent hires of his own) and we moved the funds to the entity. His aim was to create a Holding Company which would be centralized and run all of Maker’s development interests and side businesses. His goal was to start earning revenue via these side businesses. He was never very clear on how the dev funds would be spent or how reporting would work to MKR holders. He made a big speech where he said that you could either take the red pill and be against him, or take the blue pill and go with the flow of progress. Several of us protested, but things moved ahead.
A few months later, several people at Maker (myself and several of the board members and dapphub) realized the extent of what had happened and sought a compromise. We had a group chat that was jokingly titled “Purple Pill”, our goal being to create a compromise between Rune’s red pill and his blue pill. Our thinking was that the current state of MakerDao wasn’t what we had signed up for, but in a DAO there should be room for different ways of approaching a problem. We proposed that Rune keep on with his Holding Company, but that a certain piece of the Dev Fund be carved out that would be controlled by governance and be able to fund different teams who wanted to work on Maker but who weren’t a part of the Holding Company. We finished our presentation on Tuesday or Wednesday in mid march 2019. I scheduled a meeting with Rune for the following Monday, and his assistant sent me a calendar item. Thursday, someone in the planning chat for this meeting told him the nature of the chat, and by Friday half of the board (who were all long term, deeply caring, deeply invested individuals in this project) had been fired. Rune had created a board wherein he had unilateral firing control over all of the board, unbeknownst to the people who sat on that board.
A few weeks later, I was also fired. There was massive turmoil at the project at this point and everyone was left feeling pretty discouraged.
In the years since, Rune has taken a step back. In that time, a new MakerDao bureaucracy has emerged. Rich and Amy Jung helped shepherd MakerDao into the future, moving the Dev Fund under the control of governance (to the immense satisfaction of the “purple-pillers”). Most of the foundation has moved on. Some people have even told me how they selflessly worked without pay for months as the project transitioned from a company with entities that could issue paychecks to a foundation controlled by governance.
I was so proud when I saw that MakerDao had finally reached the final form we imagined for it.
Now, everything is back to square 1.
Rune is back to his old tricks.
In this case he is trying to fire someone (via governance, which is so machiavellian that I would need an entire new post to comment fully), who has, by all accounts, done a great job. Multiple sources who have been deeply involved in Maker governance over the last few years have said that Seb is doing a great job. Rune has also said in various conversations which have been relayed to me that he wants Seb gone for any of the following reasons (of course edited depending who he is talking to): 1) Rune doesn’t trust Seb 2) Seb is not proficient in risk assessment 3) Seb does not care about “clean assets” vs. other types of Real World Assets (RWA). I have a suspicion that it has something to do with the company owned by Greg and Joe which I believe Rune is an investor in. They have previously tried to insist on middle man payments to their entity in exchange for being listed as a RWA on makerdao, but I will relegate this to a side note now***(below).
Rune has delegated 47,000 MKR to various parties, all of whom he has a close relationship with and who are, presumably, taking orders. I deduce that he has a close relationship with them because he literally told me about some of these people when we had a friendly catch up chat to clear the air a couple weeks ago and he mentioned several of the delegates by name (e.g. planetx) .
Rune has been away for a long period, and in that time he has decided that we are at war again. This time, the battle is partially about regulators and partially about the future of the planet. Rune thinks the two things are related. He thinks we are in a climate crisis (no argument there), but he also thinks that the future of crypto is somehow dependent on our being a part of the fight for the climate, and if we can do that, we will somehow be in the good graces of governments and regulators the world over.
I actually think Rune is right in many respects. Crypto has the potential to fund global, regional and local climate initiatives at a scale that could never be accomplished by the traditional financial industry. Its investors are risk takers, free thinkers, anti-establishment weirdos who have the potential to save the world. If we can live up to his vision and take this mission under our mantle, it would be a beautiful thing to behold and also be a singular victory both for the planet and for those of us who want the planet to be governed by non-state financial regimes.
That said, his approach is, as usual, one of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Rune has the benefit of coming back to a much more nimble MakerDao. Given that he is the founder, he would have a lot of natural support behind him. He could have come in with his Clean proposal and created a whole new governance segment which creates new teams who are experts in the type of green energy funding he is proposing, that have experience pricing the type of risk he is assuring everyone should be the cornerstone of Maker collateral, thereby adding something new to the future of the protocol, and allowing what has been going well to flourish.
Instead his strategy has been to go to war. I think in his mind that means he MUST take control of the protocol again.
At this point I am not even debating the merits of who should or shouldn’t be in control. What I am debating, and strongly censuring, is the idea that one man should be in control of such a protocol.
Rune was running a travel program for danish people to come to asia and learn languages before he got into crypto and came up with the idea for makerdao. He had the energy to direct people, and Nikolai, another early founder who is rarely spoken about these days, had a lot of the economic ideas. They were lucky enough to meet some developers who made their vision a reality.
And we, as a community, are also lucky. Because Dai is great.
But as we should all know from looking at the dollar, the euro, or the venezuela bolivar, sovereign money is only as good as the people who rule it. Dai is in danger of becoming defacto sovereign money. Not sovereign in the sense of the state, a worse kind of sovereignty: the sovereignty of a dictator.
The problem is that Rune is making a mockery of everything that has been accomplished by token governance over the last 24 months. Great strides have been made, and a fairly competent bureaucracy has been established. We need to abide by these norms in order to continue the future of the protocol. A clear leader won’t always be available, and the ability of the many to govern such a specific function has actually been fantastic to witness and something that all other governable protocols have learned from.
At this point, there are two questions we should be asking ourselves: 1) How do we make sure that we are doing what’s best for the Maker protocol and not just blindly following what Rune wants? And 2) How do we build systems that are more resilient to these types of things in the future?
- will take some time. 1) only requires that everyone reads up, and votes accordingly.
Some other questions everyone should be asking themselves:
Is Rune qualified to control this protocol? Does he have a background in pricing risk on volatile real world assets, clean or otherwise? (answer: no)
Why does he prefer to work with Will instead of Seb?
Is there anyone who is benefiting financially from his proposed changes?
Keep the bureaucracy that the foundation has created as is. It isn’t perfect, but in this case the process of reaching a governance of the majority is more important than the question of whether the system is perfect, which is a luxury we will not continue to enjoy as DAI scales. Right now we can afford to make governance mistakes. We should make them until we hone in on the right way to do this.
Request that Rune create a separate campaign for his goals. They can be separate and still just as effective. But his taking control in this manner right now is undermining token governance not just for his own protocol, but for all token governance protocols. It is hard to get people involved in governance. What motive do they have to put their time into it if they know that the distant founder will just come in at some point and obviate the need for all of their prior work by redirecting all resources to his own priorities?
***This is a side note, but it is interesting, Rune has long been in partnership with Greg Diprisco and Joe Quintillian of Distributed Capital. They were both part of a tradfi trading shop that made some money and invested heavily in crypto in the early days. They approached makerdao as a VC, but ended up taking control of several parts of the operations of the company despite having little to no experience running or supporting an innovative technology company. Greg gave himself the title of “Head of Business Development” and proceeded to hire people to develop business on his behalf, despite never having closed a significant deal on his own. Joe never gave himself such lofty titles, preferring to stay in the background. That said, he managed to siphon significant funds from the Maker Dev fund to build Oasis, which he and Greg both own equity in despite the fact that Rune explicitly promised everyone at the project that there would be no equity given out in various entities at the time of Holding Company creation. I would like to note here that they are currently building an ATS which is partially borne out of the creation of maker Developers but for which MKR holders are in no way the beneficial owners. I believe this company was also intended to be a “risk assessor” (read: middle man) for various real world asset platforms that wanted to onboard into the maker ecosystem.
Interestingly, from what I have heard, Greg and Joe were perfectly happy with the state of progress as it related to Real World Assets (RWA) being brought onto the platform until they realized they would not be able to charge a middleman fee. It seems they have now begun to wage war, behind closed doors of course, against any such programs which are not amenable to their management fee. This is conjecture based off of things I have heard and seen, so obviously DYOR.