Governance Controversy Arises in MakerDAO Community

The founder of one of the first DeFi protocols, MakerDAO, which has over $18 billion in total value locked, launched a subproposal on October 30 to offboard the current Facilitator of the Real-World Finance Core Unit, Sébastien Derivaux (Seb). This has spurred controversy within the MakerDAO community. 

“Healthy” Conflict

The recent subproposal on MakerDAO’s governance forum begins with Rune Christensen (Rune) expressing general praise and appreciation for Seb, and includes mention of an open position in the decentralized workforce for Seb should he be removed from his current Facilitator position. 

Seb responded expressing gratefulness for what he and the team have accomplished, writing:

“I worked with values like scientific governance, decentralization and transparency in high esteem. DAO is still an early concept and what is played at MakerDAO is an awesome social experiment where every member of the community plays a part. You are all shaping the future. Every time you act, you decide the culture and values of MakerDAO.”

However, he did also clarify that it was not his wish to leave his role, and that Rune seemed to not trust him as a facilitator and would “do whatever it takes to get [him] out.” Seb mentioned that Rune seemed to have quite a lot of power lately, but he also wrote that he wanted to avoid drama that might hurt the MakerDAO community. 

Overall, it seems that Seb has been met with much support from others in the forum. One participant wrote that Seb “has been doing a tremendous job so far and we’d be lucky to retain him,” and this post has a relatively large amount of upvotes. 

Ashleigh Schap (Ash), a past employee of MakerDAO, took what seems like support for Seb in an unexpected direction, writing in the forum (the extent of her post and all of her points/concerns are beyond the scope of this piece) that she was alarmed by Rune’s approach: 

“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.”

One of her major concerns seems to be, simply put, that Rune has too much control, and she warns that the great strides in MakerDAO governance could, consequently, be harmed. Ash writes:

“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.” 

Ash’s post has received quite a bit of pushback in general. Rune has made two posts in response (again, extensive coverage of his posts are beyond this piece): 

“Let me be clear, the only way I benefit from this project is that I hold a large amount of MKR. I am not getting paid anything, my only motivation is to try to benefit MKR holders, of which I am one.”

He also questions Ash’s claims that Maker governance is going well, citing a lack of active MKR holders and the free rein that the Core Units seem to have, writing, “That’s why I’ve had to step in and be active again, because as it stands right now I would not be comfortable just leaving and holding on to my MKR—there is far too much uncertainty.” Rune goes on to further explain and add detail as to why he wishes to offboard Seb from his Facilitator role. 

In his most recent post, Rune assures the community that this sort of “drama” is natural and expected in a DAO and that he is overall “actually quite happy with how the conversation is going.” He claimed that it was important to normalize removing/replacing those in leadership roles. 

Neither Rune nor Ash immediately responded to Crypto Briefing for comment; Seb responded but had no comment to add. 

Nathan VDH of Snapshot Labs wrote to Crypto Briefing, sort of affirming Rune’s closing points:

“DAO governance is complex, and it’s messy, but that’s how you know it’s really decentralized. It’s like if you bake a cake, if the kitchen isn’t messy by the end then you’re not doing it right. Conflict is always a healthy sign for any democratic system. MakerDAO is the first organisation of its scale to go full DAO and that means they have to run through many of the pitfalls that all decentralized organisations will eventually run into.”

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, the author of this piece held BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies.

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