Parity’s Gavin Wood Says Ethereum’s Biggest Holder “Became the Darth Vader”

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“I believe in the harmony this community can create,” Aya Miyaguchi (pictured embracing Gavin Wood), Executive Director at the Ethereum Foundation, said in a statement where she argued against “any maximalist approach” and where she said ethereum has more in common with polkadot (sort of an ethereum 2.0 copy clone) than differences.

This is in the context of a debate on whether there should be a clean split between ethereum and polkadot personnel where it concerns leadership positions, including to the level of a moderator.

Miyaguchi is somewhat new to ethereum leadership, joining after she left Kraken last year. As an aside, her leadership has been non-existent as far as the public can see.

Her communication skills are shown very well by the fact she choose to make a statement by attaching an image to a tweet, so we can’t even copy paste a paragraph to quote.

It is that lack of communication which has been a concern and remains a concern. Many eth investors have had their confidence shaken at times solely because of abysmal communication which, as the executive director, is where responsibility lays.

Moreover, when more transparency was asked, Miyaguchi’s response was to offer less. Here, we’ll let Vitalik Buterin, Chief Scientist at the Ethereum Foundation and eth’s inventor, do the talking:

“There’s definitely, in all blockchains and cryptocurrencies, some notion of what I call the high priest.

A high priest is basically someone who has high status inside a cryptocurrency community for whatever reason, and sometimes high priests say things. I don’t know if you want to mix religious metaphors, but they can issue fatwas.”

As Miyaguchi is new, and as criticism of certain devs for certain statements has so skillfully been turned into a whip over any comment regarding this polkadot matter, it is perhaps time to figure out where we are by going back to where we came from.

The Historic Meeting That Still Reverberates

We’ll quote at some length the reporting of journalists who have been afforded far more time than us to inform the public of an early split among the so called founders of ethereum. First, Nick Paumgarten of the New Yorker writing this October 2018 says:

“Lubin positioned himself as the grownup in the room, the worldly chaperon. Wood, with whom he eventually clashed, said, ‘He wanted to be the mentor, the Obi-Wan Kenobi, but unfortunately he became the Darth Vader…’

Different groups among the eight founders staked out different positions, with some favoring for-profit, others not-for-profit. ‘Things started souring pretty quickly,’ Hoskinson recalls. Wood told me, ‘There was this sense, which I found distasteful, that Vitalik was the goose that laid the golden egg, and he was treated in that objectivizing form by everyone else, like he was some alien from Mars sent to help us all.’

‘There was a lot of drama,’ Lubin said. ‘It got really complicated.’ Broadly speaking, the developers, among them Wood, were wary of the motives and methods of the business guys, who in turn felt that the developers lacked practical sense and an appreciation for the allure of a big payday.

Eventually, the founders agreed to let Buterin decide. ‘I was definitely the person that people had respected and trusted more than they trusted each other, which was unfortunate and sad,’ Buterin said. He was also, he said, ‘seemingly the most harmless of the group.’

‘Vitalik was innocent and unprepared,’ Dmitry Buterin told me. ‘He had to learn a lot of tough lessons about people.’

Six months after Miami, the whole team holed up in a house in Switzerland, in the canton of Zug, an old commodities-hedge-fund tax haven now known as Crypto Valley. This was the first time all of the founders were in one room together. Buterin, after some time alone on the patio, told Hoskinson and another founder that they were out. Later, he made clear that Ethereum would proceed as a nonprofit. ‘It was a shitty time, and it was a shitty thing for Vitalik to have to do,’ Wood said.

‘That was one of those few nuclear bombs that I threw into the Ethereum governance process,’ Buterin told me. ‘I felt very strongly that Ethereum is meant to be this open-source project for the world,’ he continued. ‘Having a for-profit entity be at the center of it felt like going way too far in this centralized direction.’ The remaining founders established the nonprofit Ethereum Foundation, with headquarters in Zug, to help fund development. (Ethereum itself is based nowhere, and in traditional corporate terms is as substantial as the ether.)

And so the founders, driven by discord and the appeal of more lucrative endeavors, decentralized themselves. ‘We all scattered to the winds,’ Hoskinson told me. He eventually started a crypto company called IOHK, and a blockchain project called Cardano. ‘Now I run my own company, with a hundred and sixty people,’ he told me. ‘I’m basically a billionaire. At this point, I couldn’t care less about those six months of my life with Ethereum.'”

It was a difficult time for ethereum with this meeting occurring in June 2014, six months after ethereum debuts at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami in January 2014.

Another reporter to cover those early days is Joanna Pachner of Globe and Mail. This time it’s Anthony Di Iorio, one of the eight core individuals spearheading the launch of ethereum in the very early days, or the so-called founders. Writing this November 2018, Pachner says:

“After Miami, the team registered Ethereum Switzerland GmbH in Zug, Switzerland, a country with relatively permissive laws regarding cryptocurrencies. That summer, Di Iorio flew to Zug to sign papers that would make him and a few others directors of the new company. He found a group of people there he hadn’t expected to see. At the meeting, Hoskinson, who had been named CEO, was fired. Chetrit also left. ‘We were totally blindsided,’ says Di Iorio. ‘It was like a coup.’ The next day, Buterin, who as the project’s creator could resolve decision stalemates, informed everyone that Ethereum would switch to a non-profit foundation. He later told a business magazine that making Ethereum a for-profit company went against the ethos of a community without a self-interested central authority. (Both Buterin and Ethereum declined to provide further details.)

Di Iorio retained his position as co-founder, but he was furious. ‘I hadn’t dropped all my other ventures to build a nonprofit,’ he says. ‘I felt Vitalik was overstepping his reach in making that decision. I had my money in this project, which I still hadn’t fully gotten back.’ He estimates he had put in $300,000 to $400,000 to fund operating and development costs, money he considered a loan. But even with a nonprofit structure, Di Iorio stood to profit. Ethereum had always planned to raise capital through a crowd sale, which is like an IPO but instead of receiving shares in a company, buyers get digital currency—in this case called ether. Di Iorio got a share of the 10% ether allotment granted to the roughly 60-member contributing team (because he was a founder, it was ‘substantial,’ he says), and he later bought more on the market.”

Di Iorio now is a billionaire, but 2014-15 was a very tough time for ethereum. The btc they had raised in the ICO had plunged in value. The foundation had only about $2 million left.

In one of the few direct public comments on these events, Hoskinson said about three years ago in 2016 or late 2015:

“It was a terrible strategic mistake to simply have a single not for profit entity in charge of the ecosystem with some sort of strange EthDev entity attached without a clear mandate or relationship established.

I originally intended for a VC funded for profit entity to build Ethereum version 1 and then have a US blacklisted crowdsale to fund a separate not for profit custodial entity with a different and independent board that would serve a role in governance, standardization and future development grants…

I had no control over people’s pay in the structure we had. The HR person I retained to try to get a handle on salaries was fired. Gavin refused to take a paycut and wanted to be paid even more than both you [Buterin] and me.”

Di Iorio became a billionaire through his eth holdings with Hoskinson too making a billion or more through eth and/or through launching an eth sort of copy clone called Cardano which reached a market cap of $14 billion in 2017 before it had even launched.

No one would even think twice of whether a Cardano director or employee should be removed as mod from ethereum fora if they had such position. Nor would anyone think twice of whether such Cardano individual should have any leadership role in ethereum. That’s however currently the discussion in regards to another conceptually Cardano like project.

Wood announced in a very generic blog post that he was leaving the foundation in January 2016. Why he left remains unclear. Some say Lubin “fired” him, while others say he left as the foundation was struggling financially.

In an interview around that time Wood said some made more money than others with Wood giving a vibe of dissatisfaction.

The VC funded for profit Parity Tech company was soon launched, with the Parity client then rising to prominence after a DDoS was carried out on EF’s geth clients at the opening of Devcon Shanghai in September 2016.

That DDoS even today is used to justify Parity’s prominent role in ethereum decision making as the Parity clients were somehow not affected at all.

A year later, there’s the Parity ICO of Polkadot, with Polkadot at the time described as a general interoperability method in a whitepaper.

Now that the testnet is out we find out it is actually sort of a copy clone of ethereum with some differences here and there, but no real invention and no interoperability to begin with. The interoperability bridges will “be released as they become ready,” Wood said.

“It’s important to realize that it could get worse. One Polkadot team member, frustrated at Vitalik for acknowledging that fund recovery had been rejected by the community, said that they wanted to hard fork Ethereum and restore their funds. Should Polkadot want to fork Ethereum, their best strategy would be to infiltrate the community as deeply as possible, making as many friends as they can, and then try to bring as many projects over to the fork as possible, being maximally divisive to our community. I know this is a hypothetical, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to me, and I definitely wouldn’t want Ryan Zurrer of all people as a moderator providing guidance on the discussion then. Imagine him calling you a ‘maximalist’ because you’re against the hard fork.”

So says Ameen Soleimani, CEO at eth dapp SpankChain and ConsenSys Alumi, in response to an astonishing statement by a number of r/ethereum moderators that was submitted by Taylor Monahan, founder of an ethereum wallet.

Monahan has already publicly acknowledged she effectively does no moderation in r/ethereum. As an inactive mod, you’d think she’d be removed, but she isn’t.

Moreover, her reddit nickname carries a very visible advert for her own project, with it stating: insomniasexx MyCrypto – Taylor.

Soleimani hasn’t been afforded the privilege of his nick having Spankchain next to it. Only mods get to – not so subtly at all – advertise their project, with MyCrypto next to the name of many employees who happen to comment on eth’s reddit.

Meaning mod status has significant benefits, including free advertising. Hence Monahan doesn’t give it up even though she is performing no mod duties.

The reason is perhaps this idea that if one mod is criticized, then all mods might be criticized, so circle the wagon. Thus despite ethereans making it clear they want to remove as mod Ryan Zurrer – who is director of Parity related Web3 Foundation – because Soleimani had said Zurrer had tried to poach him or his team, we get this response:

“Will we remove any of the current moderators? Not at this time.”

If Zurrer was working for Cardano, Monahan and the rest would have not dared to be so arrogant. Nor would have there been confusion because of what are in fact Polkadot devs have for so long worked on eth and keep portraying themselves as eth devs. Nor would have there been such picture by the executive director with Hoskinson as in the featured image.

Nor would we have heard of such criticism being toxic, or maximalist. Nor would have there been silencing based on some comment by one random redditor when none other than Gavin Wood gets to call Joe Lubin a “Darth Vader.”

Yet we do get all this because Parity actually has a PR team. Some of their PR team, in fact, worked in election campaigns for US governors.

The rage quitting move was brilliant in all ways. The silencing of debate based on what now appears to have not been a personal threat at all, was also brilliant.

It seems this whole “bad ethereans, sit down” was based on one redditor’s probably hasty comment of “should be hanged” which was quickly edited by the commenter himself and then was quickly removed.

Not to excuse it because this space should never go there, or anywhere near it. That’s based on criminal grounds, on moral grounds, and on practical grounds because a real threat to one side is a threat against both sides as both sides have public figures.

It’s worse actually, a threat to one side can be more threatening to the other side because the other side can now effectively emotionally be blackmailed.

So now we have this cringe of ooo Afri come back, as if anyone told him to leave.

If some hasty comment by a complete randomer that was quickly edited and removed can shut down a debate on say whether Cardano or EOS or ETC personnel should have any “leadership” role in ethereum, or should be moderator, or whether they should go publicly make a big fuss about not being invited to some meeting, then we obviously have a priesthood.

For how else can one explain the EF executive director embracing an individual who says of someone who has done so much for ethereum that they are Darth Vader.

Obviously that’s not toxic. Such language, form the highest leadership figure, and in public, is perfectly fine. Yet dare any randomer even wonder whether a certain person should be removed as a mod, they are “attacking” and thus they get censored.

“I believe in the harmony this community can create,” said Miyaguchi. As the highest leadership figure in such community, at least technically, what is she doing to facilitate such harmony? Or does she think there can be harmony when someone who calls ethereum’s biggest holder a Darth Vader, happens to be the same person that is in charge of a team that manages an eth node client which runs circa 40% of ethereum’s network.

We tried to ignore this matter for now some weeks, but clearly some people have an interest in continuously bringing it up for now more than a month.

The latest doing so being the executive director herself, which we can’t ignore. She is probably the one who made the decision to grant $5 million to parity with no strings attached as far as we know. She is probably the one who decided to hide the amount of future grants. She has in many ways failed to engage with the public. And she basically has been a non existent figure in public fora despite her hugely important role.

We cover ethereum everyday. We only learned about her name recently as Buterin has made it clear he’d rather focus on code which is reasonable.

Reasonable too because it is Miyaguchi’s job to deal with these matters. Her job to hold people in EF accountable. Her job to communicate with the public. Her job to lead in creating such harmony.

A job in which she has clearly completely failed. And measured must be our words, but, we’re not in the business of making friends. We’re in the business of providing information.

Competition is good, cooperation is even better, but fair competition, and “sovereign” cooperation. If Parity Tech wished to compete fairly, they’d spin off the Parity client under a structure that is independent of Polkadot.

Instead, most of the Parity devs probably are promised dots and no eth, with their interest obviously being that of dots performing better.

That’s fine, but the interest of ethereans is for eth to perform better. So there should be a a clean split with cooperation then between two entities, rather than between an entity which also has leadership role in their competitor.

That’s conceptually kind of a stealth takeover. No where near it in reality, but time to recognize Wood pretty much hates ethereum’s biggest proponent and therefore his team has no business in eth just as Hoskinson’s team doesn’t.

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