A call for an end to tribalism in Ethereum

[Originally a tweet-storm made on 25th January 2018]

You are SO SO SO, wrong, @antiprosynth. Open your mind. Don’t be a hater. How much time have you spent looking into the details of the work which has been done on @Cardano_? Have you looked into the amazing talent base which they have built?

(@uFearETH: No need for hate, true. But Bob, kindly remove Ethereum info from your profile and just go all in on cardano that is until hoskinson leaves that protect too. Anyways they too late to table. Maybe ask Andreas to change his book Mastering Ethereum: Smart contracts and Dapps.)

That is not a kindly request. Kindly consider not trying to dictate to me how I act when I have spent 2.5 years of my life building this platform. You are not my boss. You are not a shareholder. We are building a platform for personal freedom. Not for tribalism.

(@antiprosynth: Yet you very clearly started pushing Cardano recently. Talk about all platforms then. There are far more interesting things happening in crypto than yet another DPoS powered ‘Ethereum killer’)

(@1flokre: I, for one, also can’t shake the feeling that – for one reason or the other – you all of a sudden seem to be very very keen to talk about Cardano… definitely strange considering your stance before)

I did not have a different stance before. I just didn’t take any position. Look back and read again.

(@1flokre: Hm, so let me get that straight. If I say studies have shown that McDonalds uses toxic ingredients, underpays their workers and damages the environment, I am actually not taking a position against McDonalds? Hm, hm)

I did not say anything against Charles or IOHK in the past. Check the record. I shared “accusations”. I did not say I agreed with them.

(@antiprosynth: That’s not what you told me back then. Not in the slightest. If your objective is to extinguish tribalism in crypto, then I wholeheartedly agree, but your specific choice of Cardano, and your aggressive shilling of it recently, is suspect to say the least.)

Right – so I see now that I responded to you in a DM on December 1st and warned you away from Charles. Shame on me. While I was remaining neutral in public, I was the beginning of my exploration of the Ethereum Foundation story.

And I thought badly of Charles at that point. Really badly, actually. And I shared that with you. Shame on me. But *I* was wrong in having such a strong conviction, because I wasn’t there, and in fact all of my information was coming from people who were not there.

Over December and January I have spoke to nearly everybody who was involved in the Ethereum Foundation story. And I have come to realize during that process that the simple bad-and-good narrative which ours minds always strive for are seldom the truth.

And I was wrong about Charles. So badly wrong. And thank goodness that I didn’t publicly slander him based on second hand information like so many before me have – whatever my private doubts may have been.

I am sure that @IOHK_Charles won’t mind me mentioning that after the launch of the @EntEthAlliance in Feb 2017 he messaged me to LinkedIn to congratulation us, and pondered whether IOHK would be permitted to join (given the ETC history)

I said that I didn’t see why not. @monaxHQ were members, despite their very public doubts as to the very legality of #ETH. We also had other members with their own chains and different approaches. The EEA has a broad umbrella.

It would not be my decision as to whether or not they were accepted. These is a process, and a membership group who make the determination as to legitimacy and reputational risk.

Charles’s concern was that his own “bad rep” would hinder IOHK joining, where the company as a whole was an entirely different matter. I told me that he should apply and see what happened. I suspect that he never made the application. @IOHK_Charles? So you should. Today.

And let’s start to put an end to this situation. Shame on me for thinking ill of you, Charles, and shame on me further for sharing that over-strong conviction with a stranger on the Internet in a period of personal doubt.

So this latest round of fireworks kicked off with @BlockGeekDima calling out @diiorioanthony as somebody he would never want to work with, but not giving any specific details. That happened on LinkedIn on November 8th:


On November 10th I highlighted that discussion on Twitter, and noted my personal belief that both “down-votes” and “up-votes” have value when looking at social networks and reputation systems:

Without making any personal comment on the individuals.

And then I noted the echoes with @leashless calling out both @IOHK_Charles and @stephantual as “bad actors” in the immediate aftermath of the DAO:


And that kicked it all off again between Vinay and Charles.

That was referring back to this interview on 13th August 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6xpqTxmlD0&t=26m45s … So @leashless, @IOHK_Charles and @iamtexture did the dance again, but we didn’t move forward. So I spoke up with specifics, because I wanted closure and resolution:

And @IOHK_Richard chipped in. That was my first interaction with RIchard, who I still want to have a 1-1 with. Please DM me, Richard, and let’s schedule that. I have some time on Mon and Tue next week.

I was seriously trying to get to resolution with my actions. I wanted to get the bottom of the matter. To get to the deep truth of the situation. @IOHK_Charles is used to getting shit thrown at him. It has been happening for years.

But when I shared this article:

View at Medium.com

That is where Charles had enough, and blocked me. He said that I couldn’t have it both ways, and play neutral while also sharing such an article. I re-read the article (which I had read months before) and I retracted.

Because a key assertion of the article was that Cardano had not been delivered and was complete vaporware. Well, that had been proven completely false in September 2017 with the launch of the Cardano mainnet.

And beyond that it was mainly just throwing shade and repeating all the old points (pointing to the Dan Larimer bitcointalk post, etc). There was obviously “pumping” coming from Alan Silbert and friends when ETC hit the exchanges unexpectedly, but Charles and IOHK didn’t do it.

As to treasury models, well yeah, that is not something which I am used to, but I would agree it is becoming a more common pattern. It isn’t one which I like personally, but it is not overly controversial.

As to “Tadashi Izumi”, well yeah, that doesn’t look good. Perhaps you could explain a little about how that campaign rolled out, @IOHK_Charles? My suspicion is that those partners just completely overstepped the mark and that it is all a bit embarrassing in retrospect.

And as for “AceOfWallStreet” not getting “straight answers” while wading in like a complete tool saying that ADA was the Japanese OneCoin, well, yeah, it is unsurprising that he was not treated as somebody with genuine concerns:

Leon Fu asserting that ETC was led by Charles in the same way that ETH was led by @VitalikButerin is wrong on both scores:


Open source companies are not companies. Vitalik is not a dictator. And this assertion is obviously even more incorrect for ETC.

And let me make some brief comments on “An Analysis of Charles Hoskinson’s Apology Letter”

View at Medium.com

See quote below. Damn straight. I met @dieguito in Miami. This quote was labeled as FUD, but it is absolutely on the mark, IMHO.

This also. Spot on.

So anyway … I think we are left with pretty much nothing of substance here. We have @leashless’s assertion that @IOHK_Charles did sociopathic things while at the Ethereum Foundation, but Vinay wasn’t there. It was stories he heard and my belief now is they were exaggerated.

Everyone was under huge pressure, and I can utterly believe that Charles was blunt and opinionated and pissed people off, and they ended up thinking ill of him. And truly believed that he was trying to sabotage the project or coerce it. And that he doing weird stuff.

And @iamtexture has never been afraid to be very blunt in his assessment of Charles as a sociopath. Is that true? Is it not. Well, I have been clinically depressed. I have been suicidal. At various points it has been suggested that I may be bipolar and even narcissistic.

More We are all misfits and outsiders in some form. Most of the people who have been involved with Ethereum are not neurotypical. If we were, we would never have dropped everything to go work on this amazing dream.

Most people are probably unaware that sociopaths can operate within social groups or organizations without destroying them. Think “recovering alcoholic” and you are probably not far off the mark. Your close friends know and they watch you. Codewords. Minders. That stuff.

Is Charles a sociopath? I don’t know. I don’t really care. Even if he is, that doesn’t make him evil or a bad actor in itself. What counts is his actions. And I have talked to various people who vouch that his only “crime” during his time at Ethereum was being himself.

Did he do and say things which hurt people’s feelings? Probably. Did he weird people out with his intensity and passion? Probably. Does he deserve the years worth of slander and hurtful comments? I don’t think so. I really don’t.

Under our tent, I believe we have people who could be labelled:

  • Sociopathic
  • Egotistical
  • Autistic
  • Chronic social anxiety
  • Depressive
  • Suicidal
  • Greedy
  • Selfish

But on the upside:

  • Autistic
  • Genius
  • Altruistic
  • Visionary
  • Selfless
  • Fearless

And the fact is that this army of misfits we have, starting with the founders and moving on through those who came later (myself included), were the only people who could have done what we have done, and achieved what we have achieved. We are not done yet, but we are so close.

And really, we have no need for anybody to hate anybody else who has been part of this journey, because we are all just a bunch of misfits who changed the world. Don’t think ill of others who took part. If they hurt you then it was probably not intentional. They did their best.

I think that Vinay’s assertions about Charles and Stephan were based on incomplete information, or on personal biases. In particular, with regard to Vinay’s assertions about Stephan, I have learnt that there was bad information there, leading to incorrect conclusions.

So @leashless, let’s grab some time together, and I can give you some better information which I think will change your mind on Stephan. Maybe you can never be friends again, but I certainly think you should be able to see your way to retracting the “bad actor” label, Vinay.

There are numerous feuds and grudges between individuals involved in those early days, both between Founders, and between “second round” people like Vinay and people in the “first round”. And between EF and Parity.

And even I have been part of this mistrust, over the C++ relicensing:


Well, do you know what? I am done with mistrust and suspicion. I was hurt. So deeply, deeply hurt by this episode, as I’ve spoken about before.

On 31st October 2016 I stood on Granville Bridge in Vancouver around 11pm, ready to throw myself to my own death, I felt so helpless and powerless. I had seen what I thought was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Ethereum to be the basis for all enterprise blockchain.

If we had just completed the relicensing paperwork there was an army of IBM engineers ready to jump into action and bring that codebase up to the standard which it so desperately needed to reach. We could have bridged Ethereum Foundation and Linux Foundation.

All with no risk to control of the public protocol, which was completely outside of any possibilities which relicensing of a specific codebase would have opened up. We were a hairsbreadth from glory. We just needed @gavofyork and @mkotew to sign and it was in the bag.

And I had spoken to Gav at the start of the process and he has said he would be supportive if there was consensus amongst the developers. We we had that consensus:


@nessence was the single individual who expressed any public objection. @ConsenSysAndrew acted as peacebroker. And I spoke to Alex myself on several occasions. And he signed. And maybe he felt coerced.

Did we coerce Alex? Perhaps we did, but it was really in the belief that he was literally the only objector, and would be put in a horrible position in the community were he the sole barrier to this thing with huge potential benefit to the everyone.

Much later, Matthew Wampler Doty objected too, which would have meant we would need to have removed ethash (or moved it into a plugin or whatever), but that would have been fine for the enterprise scenarios. So then it was literally down to yes/no from Parity.

@gavofyork stopped communicating with me. Nobody from Parity would talk to me or give me a straight answer. Or even just have an open and frank discussion. I think that literally having a one-hour Skype call would have straightened things out. But that never happened.

Instead, it was @brianbehlendorf who ended up being the recipient of the bad news, that Parity had considered the situation, and they were aware of the collateral damage on the community but that they felt the existing licensing was best.

They had considered the impact on all the other individuals who had worked on the cpp-ethereum codebase since (like me), and which they were no longer involved with, but which they had built, so needed to sign off on their own contributions for relicensing.

That was a hammer blow to me. I had been working 60+ hour weeks for months and months to help build this amazing dream. I was being paid the equivalent of $60K with no vacation, no benefits. No nothing. I had actually got myself and my family into financial trouble doing so.

I had spent 5 months working on the most dreary, thankless paperwork during that process. Why? Because the upside would have been world-changing, and (at the time) looked like a one-time opportunity.

My perception was that the answer had been “no” for selfish reasons. That bad old Gav saw that a revitalized cpp-ethereum with the resourcing of the Linux Foundation and hundreds of companies behind it would have been a huge commercial challenge to his Parity business.

And so that he selfishly “killed his first child to protect the second child”. The utter selfishness of that perceived situation in my mind, together with my perilous financial situation, together with my perception of permanent missed opportunity to Ethereum was crushing.

Combine that with my financial pain, and the perception that I had failed my family and especially my wife in chasing this Ethereum dream which had turned into a nightmare. Was it all a delusion that this Ethereum dream could happen? It felt that way.

I felt a complete failure, and that my boys would be better off with me dead than continuing to screw up again and again in a way which damaged my family and spiralled me into depression. Well, I didn’t do it. And I am so glad that I didn’t.

And in Cancun at DEVCON3 I got to spend some time with some of the Parity developers and even a few minutes with Gav himself for the first time ever IRL. And it was lovely.

Over time I have come to realize that their actions in 2016 came out of fear that the beautiful Ethereum dream would be derailed and corrupted, and that they had to defend it, even with the collateral damage that caused. I understand that now. I really do, and I hold no ill will.

Last week I went to Miami and I gave @derose a big hug, kissed him on both cheeks and gave him a gift of a big bottle of maple syrup. And we did a podcast and it was lovely. Because EVERYONE in this blockchain ecosystem has way more in common that they have differences.

All we have to do is to open our hearts and to truly listen to others. If I can do that with Chris de Rose then I can most certainly do that with Gav and with Charles and with anybody at all in Ethereum and within blockchain as a whole.

So on February 5/6 I am going to Berlin. And I am going to give Gav, that beautiful, wonderful man who has been so instrumental to building this Ethereum dream a big hug, and I am going to kiss him on both cheeks. And I am going to give him a big bottle of maple syrup.

Because there is no more room in this space for hate, for distrust, for shit-talking and for judging people badly who we have not spent quality face-to-face time with. I will smoke the peace-pipe and I will revel in doing so. Because I love @ParityTech and I love @gavofyork.

They have done amazing work for humanity. All free of change. Often under heavy criticism which is so unjustified. And THEY have changed the world for the better. Love not hate.

Peace out, world. I will stop typing now 🙂

(@IOHK_Charles: Bob, I appreciate you trying to build bridges and mend the past, but you have to understand that for nearly 4 years there’s been a campaign to make Hoskinson a swear word in the Ethereum circles)

I know Charles. I really do. Seriously, assign somebody to monitor social media channels and have them Twitter DM me whenever this happens, and I will go and berate them. Because we need to be better than that.

(@gavofyork: See you in a week or two Bob :))

Just 7 days, my friend 😀 And this time will should get more than the 5 mins of IRL time we have ever had together! This was at DEVCON3.

(@LefterisJP: Get a room you two ;))

And shortly afterwards …


3 thoughts on “A call for an end to tribalism in Ethereum

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