It’s not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those more adaptable to change.
Those immortal words of Charles Darwin should perhaps be on display at the offices of the Ethereum Foundation where fundamental structural changes have been underway with no public announcement or public consultation.
“The new organizational structure is hot garbage and anyone who has ever run any organization of any scale would immediately recognize that. You’re all lighting Ethereum on fire and patting yourselves on the back for it,” says Anthony Donofrio (“Texture”), a founding member of ethereum.
His comment was in reply to a statement by Alex van de Sande, a very long time developer at the Ethereum Foundation (EF) who at the beginning of the year told Trustnodes:
“When I started working at ethereum I was paid fully in bitcoin. As soon as the option was available, in 2015/16 I started receiving fully in ether. Now I’ve had the honor to be the first person in the Foundation to be paid in DAI!”
Seven months on, he basically said ever so politely that he didn’t think he was going to get paid, so he went off to his own project, or in his more coded words: “if the resources are going to more teams, there’s more competition for them.”
The Centralized Ethereum Foundation
The Ethereum Foundation burns through about $20 million a year. They currently have some $120 million worth of eth, and from previous statements they have fiat holdings too, but it’s not clear how the fiat might have changed.
That current 608,000 eth comes from a pre-mine when ethereum launched in 2015. Vitalik Buterin, one of ethereum’s co-founders, received about as much himself as well. Others received various amounts too, with one dev who joined later lashing out after what appears to have been an announcement of sorts by the director and/or the management at EF.
The ethereum technology and the Ethereum Foundation are not the same. The Ethereum Foundation is building decentralized tech, but the organization itself is not decentralized.
The Ethereum Foundation is a typical centralized organization, it’s a foundation, has a director, management. The board/director and management decide who to hire and how much to pay.
What they decide to finance is where the direction of the technology will go. If some teams don’t have funding, they can’t develop something and others who do get funding, can develop, so naturally the direction of the technology shifts where there is monetary support.
There are other sources of funding too, but where protocol development is concerned, EF is the main source of funding, if not the only one.
Three Months and Out
Trustnodes has learned the Ethereum Foundation is forcing teams to leave and “graduate.”
They will no longer finance numerous projects, some of whom by coders who have been working for EF for years.
They’re apparently willing to support these projects if they can find some other source of funding too, in which case EF will provide half of the funds.
Otherwise, they’ve been given three more months, and then they’re out.
Ostensibly this is because EF thinks it unfair these contractors have more privileges than outside teams, so they want everyone to apply through grants.
Aya Miyaguchi, the Ethereum Foundation director, and her operations team, apparently decide about everything. It’s not clear whether this was her decision or otherwise, but she hired contractors for operations to execute these changes.
When there was an outcry at the beginning of the year regarding the granting of funds to certain potential competitors, Miyaguchi’s response was to not disclose even the amount of new funds, let alone the reason why the grant was made.
That gave ethereans a taste of the director and her approach, something she calls subtraction, while critics call dictating through absence.
The new Ethereum Foundation website could perhaps be a good example. It’s barren and looks like a C- school project. It also lacks the canary at the footer. An oversight they said, the canary is still displayed somewhere else they argued.
Publicly nothing has been said about all this restructuring, but coders have been arguing for weeks now on Twitter.
The overall theme appears to be resource allocation. Why for example are funds being used to “certify” ethereum as sharia compliant, instead of on other activities.
Then there’s the more competitive element, expressed ever so subtly, that amounts to why is someone still employed by EF, but not someone else, or the same but in regards to a project and so on.
Much of this has been on display in recent weeks, but it wasn’t clear until now what exactly was happening.
We did not speak to any person named here for this article, with few willing to go on the record due to the sensitivity of the matter and with the Ethereum Foundation itself making no public statement on these concrete actions.
So creating quite a bit of confusion as some coders criticized the approach, but some are supportive. Fabian Vogelsteller, an ethereum developer, says:
“I like where the foundation is heading, I have been a strong proposer of the current structure since years and in my opinion EF should solely be a money pot funding projects that are useful to ethereum the tech (not just the main net).”
Meaning ethereum is seemingly going through an organizational transition too, in addition to its two years long planned transition to the Proof of Stake new chain.
The outcome of both will probably not be known for months, if not years, with ethereum so finding itself in the midst of change.