Dash, Kuva and the Hopium Trade
“Houston we have a problem!”
A very expensive Kuva rocket sits on the launchpad, waiting for fuel to launch. Whether it is ready to fly Dash to the moon or simply explode in space, nobody knows.
A lot of Opinions on what is going on are starting to be thrown around. Questions are being asked: “What Happened?”, “Who’s to blame for this?”, “That guy Drako is being mean to other proposal owners!” and so on and so forth.
I’d like to share a perspective on a few Dashy things, and how I reckon most of us can all get back to kumbaya and finishing what we started so that we show the world what Dash is really capable of. After all, Kuvacash does have large majority support from masternodes, at an almost 2-to-1 ratio, besides being a positive and realistic use case for Dash.
But a little housekeeping first.
There are noisy people with Good Opinions who may try to divert you from reading all of this article or will attempt to dismiss or suppress important insight and debate being brought forth — well, Dear Reader, ignore them and press on. I will do my part to keep it as short as I can, and there are also lots of “extreme lo-fi pictures” in case you need a break…
For those that don’t know me, my background is in building and investing in green-fields technology and insight companies. I had a couple of ‘fintech’ startups back when the word was only just coined — and I’ve also had the experience of having a major bank attempt to destroy our businesses. I also run a couple of insight businesses, and I both invest and formally advise technology startup companies. I’m an entrepreneur and as such have made my fair share of mistakes too!
Like many of you, I saw the potential of cryptocurrency early and became more deeply involved in the world of crypto as time went on. James Saruchera, myself, and the rest of Team Kuva are now having an exciting adventure creating Kuvacash; a way to make Dash useful for people in Africa as a contemporary money system, starting in Zimbabwe where the need is most acute.
I tell people who ask how Kuvacash is being paid for about the DAO because I love to see their faces become incredulous with wonder and even disbelief when they hear how it all works. After that, they usually ask me where they can “Get Some.”
I realised early on that cryptocurrency was able to give two kinds of immense hope to many people;
(a) This is a form of digital money that wasn’t administered (or corruptible) by any central authority — a new kind of fair financial system that can and will change the world. We are watching history in the making.
(b) This thing will probably go to the moon, and I’ll live off it forever!
I shared in this excitement and both forms of hope, starting back in the days of Bitcoin and losing more than a few coins at MtGox…
Then in ’14, I discovered Evan and his creation, Darkcoin. Not only did Evan possess the ability to think very differently about what a functional incentive model for a sustainable digital currency would look like, but he also wrote the thousands of lines of code into the early Litecoin codebase required to create the key features of Darkcoin initially. Darksend, the masternode network, and InstantX, putting his own time and money into making his conviction and vision a reality. This was my kinda guy.
It was also the tenacity and work of people who held and defended that vision, the ‘kooks,’ who came together into a community and were responsible for establishing Dash as a top-tier cryptocurrency. I remain truly thankful to those ‘kooks’ because we wouldn’t be here today without them. They are the revolutionaries that think differently, align with a vision and defend it so it can start to flourish. They took the seedling that Evan sprouted and nurtured it into a sapling.
In the meantime, Evan had ‘left the building,’ realising that other people with different skills to him could take this vision much further than he could, and he was onto his next project. That humility earned my deep respect and attention, but it left a gap. I did wonder who would hold the vision for Dash going forward.
Around February 2017 was when I became aware of a few problems emerging with the Dash proposition, and I reached out to Ryan Taylor who was not yet the CEO to see if I could help reset the strategy. I visited Ryan and Evan a couple of times in their newly established Scottsdale, AZ offices. After meeting with me and seeing my initial work and proposal development, Ryan offered the position of Head of Strategy for Dash which I initially accepted. I began my engagement with individuals within Core to consolidate a strategy to try to move the Dash proposition forward, but what happened is that I found a lot of problems with the Evolution project, which was in a real mess. I also found that my initial inquiries and strategies, for which I generated a lot of insight to develop, conflicted with the ideas of the early Core Founders. So instead, we calmly parted ways, and I regrouped with James to start the Kuvacash project.
Now around the time that Kuvacash kicked off with its initial proposal, Dash ramped up over a couple of short months to more than 100 times its value at launch, and I saw a bunch of “hopes” become chronically dominant. Hope that the mortgage could get paid off in one go, hope that financial difficulties could disappear and economic fortunes are made, hope that libertarian dreams would be realised, and the kid’s college fund would appear with a new shiny Lambo on top. Ten grand a coin and to the moon! A hell of a lot of hope.
I watched as Dash became a potent drug that people could use to get high hopes.
Let’s call this drug Dash Hopium. A few lucky/observant people bought a good dose of the Hopium when it didn’t cost too much, and they reached their first massive high back in NYE ’18. Indeed, Dear Reader, it might even be that your own mortgage was paid off in one of those highs, or that you ‘Didn’t Hodl’ and now possess a fine Lambo, which is always a great buzz. Well, good for you and I am sincerely glad for your fortune! But many people held on for more. They were again craving those highs.
Street names for Hopium like ‘Adoption,’ ‘Venezuela,’ ‘Integration’ and “13.0” became eagerly whispered in a dark chatroom with great excitement. Let’s call this the “Hopium DN” — pronounced “Hopium Den”. Highly vocal representatives in the Den extolled its hope-giving properties and wished they had more of it themselves. Proposal Owners came into the Hopium Den and dealt in all sorts of hope for Dash because those hooked on it couldn’t get enough and were willing to pay top dollar. It was the “kooks” that would be particularly jonesing for the strongest of Hopium.
Strains like “Integration with a German bank that has tens of thousands of ATM’s”. ‘Mass adoption’ in Venezuela. A libertarian F-list “celebrity” sponsored for eye-watering amounts to speak kindly of it on his videos*. An MMA fighter who graciously represented it briefly for the price of a house*. Youtube and airline entertainment system adverts costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Exchange airdrops that would bring it to the front of the crypto universe*. “The Three Amigos”- individuals who get paid a lot to get high hopes on Hopium and have people tune in to watch the hopeful talk. “Conferences” and pizza/biscuits meetups to drive “Adoption,” and the king daddy code-word of all Hopium;
Meanwhile, Dash plummeted in relative value to other cryptos from 5th place to 14th by market cap. Newcomers displaced it and the community growth stalled. What happened, we all asked!?
A 9-month Hopium hangover is no fun. It’s certainly better to try for another hit rather than have a cold shower and face the light of day. Of course, some projects/proposals had real potential — but from the very beginning of the DAO until now, in my humble opinion, you can count those on one hand.
While building Kuvacash and even throughout the period I got involved with Dash, I watched the most utterly ridiculous proposals get funded. Those who know me understand there’s no way I’ll just sit back and watch, so I stepped in on a few occasions to attempt to get rid of the worst of them or improve the situation*. Every time I did this, it would weaken the Kuvacash proposal. I spoke to Core execs all the way to the very top, who refused to weigh-in on proposals they knew were junk because they rightly feared for their own funding, their assumed power, or even their jobs — which was understandable given my experience*. It was a delicate balance — every month on our proposal following an intervention, there were more complaints about me ‘bashing other proposals’, there were more NO votes, and we’d be only just handfuls of votes over the line. Then last month, we were no longer over the line…
All this has to be taken in context to what was happening in the Kuvacash business itself. Incredibly, Mugabe who was dictator of Zimbabwe for 37 years, was deposed right in the middle of our first proposal, in one month. We’d gotten a head start, but it would also require a fantastic team to do what we needed to in as short a time as possible. Anyway, to summarise, we completed all we said we would, and then some. Our purpose was to build an operational money system based on Dash and get it launched as fast as we could, with partnerships that would let us leverage into a user base of millions — and from there we launch Dash across the wider African continent.
Pure refined Hopium, you might say.
But the difference is this; look at our software demo, our licenses, our transparency, the people involved, the interest and actual contracts from serious partners, publications like Coindesk that pick up the story and feature it*. This isn’t running on high hopes alone — Kuva has the strategy and momentum to land this, and on top of that, it’s beautiful software* that people will find a joy to use and which would make anyone involved in Dash very proud. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that Drako occasionally does not have “Good Opinions”. Instead, unfortunately, he has what are called “Other Opinions”. Turn over a package of Kuva Hopium, to read the ingredients;
Good Opinions and a bunch of people holding them are necessary for Hopium to work. As soon as Other Opinions start to surface, that sweet feeling of getting high hopes is replaced by a niggling sense of uncertainty and even revulsion against individuals who dare speak these Other Opinions. Who’s to blame for the Warm Fuzzies turning into Cold Prickly’s? If they do it again, they are obviously not one of us, and it’s a ban from the Den. Do it once more, and it’s a permaban. This is because the “Court of Good Opinion and Warm Fuzzies*” separates the world into “One of Us” and “Not One of Us”. Good Business be damned.
But where do Good Opinions come from, and why do they override Good Business? Well, let me offer an opinion or two. I own a couple of insight companies which developed tools used by social psychology and qualitative research experts and companies worldwide to collect Opinions of all forms, so I have a reasonable understanding of what is going on. A quick summary;
Shared Good Opinions are used to reinforce beliefs through social proof and build a social identity for an individual.
Some individuals are very prone to use the Good Opinions of a group to feel that they belong in a particular community — it gives them an identity. This is called ‘seeking social proof’ and actually comes from a lack of internal conviction. This is because when everyone else also has good feelings and shares the same thoughts, an identity is established, and those thoughts feel more secure and correct. Good Opinion is to go with the group and bounce around Warm Fuzzies, so you can feel like you have an identity and belong somewhere. All the while you feel that you are actually making up your own mind or have come to your own conclusion about certain Opinions, but that isn’t happening anymore — you are merely aligning and reinforcing the shared Good Opinions of the group and excluding Other Opinions.
But what about those individuals who don’t give two sh*ts for existing Good Opinions and care only for Good Business — having the strength of internal conviction developed over years of doing actual business? Well, speaking up with Good Business that goes against existing Good Opinions is likely to get a person like that ostracized from the Den* by the “Court of Good Opinion and Warm Fuzzies*” which means that this particular Good Business generally won’t be around for long.
Socrates had something to say about all this, and he made a point of his conviction by spelling it out to the kooks (they sentenced him to death) drinking the hemlock and, well — dying.
Well, Kuva won’t be doing anything quite as drastic — because unlike Socrates, we actually have a large majority that supports Kuvacash and the Good Business that we’re doing. And no, Other Opinions won’t destroy or fragment the community, but they might change its nature and improve it a lot. In fact, this open-minded approach may make it a lot more welcoming to newcomers with Good Business ideas who won’t necessarily come loaded with Good Opinions, but instead, have Other Opinions…
Anyway, onto Good Business. What’s that all about?
Good Business is both an art and a science and relies on demonstrating performance. Performance can mean different things at different times of the business. For example, when a business is established, performance can mean putting together an A-team. Then establishing a legal business structure. Later on, it might mean getting the right partnerships in place. After that, it might mean you get licenses and freedom to operate from regulators. Then it might mean that you create all the software and make it beautiful and aligned with a killer brand. Getting your rock and mortar premises in place. Building and training an operations team. Eventually, a pilot is launched, and you get customers. Later on, you might do a full public launch — performance might then mean developing an initial public customer base. After that, you might raise further funds to scale. You might also need to report to your investors and keep them confident through your transparency. Other times you pleasantly surprise them. You may or may not need to fix things quickly, or even pivot. But with the right team and concept, your business generates value, and the sky is the limit.
That is generally how Good Business unfolds. As you might expect, and as you have seen since we have been very transparent about it across numerous updates, Dashwatch reports and attestations, it looks exactly how Kuvacash is unfolding. This is no surprise since we’re following our own philosophy. Now, it may seem odd how people will ask at irrelevant times performance-like questions such as “Where are all your transactions” “How many wallet installs have you done” when Kuva is actually at the stage of developing banking relationships or finishing software, and apps as per their plan and budget…but the Court of Good Opinion and Warm Fuzzies isn’t primarily interested in Reason when considering Good Business. It’s interested in Good Opinions and Warm Fuzzies so a bunch of kooks will say the most random nonsense or bring trumped-up ‘charges’ to “call Drako out” in an attempt to bring back their version of the Hopium.
Unfortunately for the kooks, Dash, like most other organic cryptocurrencies, is a public utility. It simply does not belong to anyone. It will keep on doing its thing, but for now it is a sapling in a pot, held back by a minority of people enforcing Good Opinions, while the community itself no longer grows*.
Like a sapling, it is time to take Dash outside the nursery, out of its pot and put it into the Earth. If we do this, we let Dash thrive and grow as it should. If we don’t, at best it will remain a house-plant with a few kooky fans, at worst it will wither and die.
Some people will say; “Dude, we like Kuvacash! But you are making it hard for us to vote for you! Why don’t you just suck on the Hopium like the rest of us? Why must you sow the seeds of Discord in the Den and be a downer of high hopes? Just be like that Swann guy or those DACH guys — they have Good Opinions — #itsapleasure, and you’ll be funded, see! What’s the problem”?
To that, I say; “Why would I compromise in any way on what I know to be the truth? Why would I try to mix in Good Opinion platitudes with my Good Business and make it weaker, just to make it palatable for a minority of Good Opinion enforcers? *
Kuva supporters TRUST me because, aside from having a killer A-team to deliver Kuva, I have demonstrated multiple times that I’ll speak my mind and won’t insult people’s intelligence by sugar coating or withholding what has to be said just to ‘get the money’. And that’s not going to change anytime soon, because it’s a part of my character. It has gotten me in a lot of trouble but has also meant that I get things done in the right way when it matters.
Anyone is, of course, free to vote against Kuva and instead vote for horrendously expensive and ineffectual proposals costing hundreds of thousands of dollars* just because the proposal owners stay on the Good Opinion bandwagon and keep the Hopium high hopes flowing. But perhaps they should listen to that nagging feeling that Good Opinion isn’t the same as Good Business. If they are an MNO, then their own income will suffer — and Dash will lose real, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like Kuvacash.
In the Socratic tradition, I’d like to make an offer to those in the Dash community who will likely feel that what has been said here is not ‘Good Opinion’ and wish to pass Kuva the hemlock. To date, Kuvacash has received over 1.25 Million USD in funding from the DAO, and it is clearly of great interest to the Dash community and the vast majority that support Kuvacash, what happens from here. Kuva has delivered everything it said it would and is now parked on the eve of its launch like a rocket on the launch pad waiting to be fueled. Kuva has done this with professionalism, financial and operational transparency, and full engagement with the community — including the kooks and all.The offer — indeed the challenge — is this; I’ll be happy to have a LIVE video debate over hangout or in-person with those who maintain a public audience in Dash that is followed by the community and who have been very vocal against Kuva. I would suggest the counterparty be one of the following Joel “The Desert Lynx”, Brian “Mastermined”. Or both of them at once.
This debate is to be unscripted and will be titled simply “Is Kuva Good Business for Dash?” — Which will also be the first question to kick it off. A moderator will be agreed in advance by both parties, my suggestion is that this is Ryan Taylor — CEO of Dash, although I’m open to suggestions.
In this way, the Court of Good Opinion in Dash has the opportunity to present its side, but so does the Court of Good Business. It was a lot of money that Kuva was paid to get this far, and certainly, such a debate is of high interest to the community. The offer now stands.
In the meantime, Kuva has had to suppress its September launch due to us being defunded in the last cycle. Two large whales reversed their votes and added NO votes in the few last minutes before voting closed, but we did briefly get over the line. We have now had to go back to our partners and explain our situation. What happened is that everyone involved, without exception, has given us overwhelming support and the financial leeway to continue with Kuva until we do get funded.
To ensure Kuva does not get funding derailed again when we need it, we have been developing some software to help us bring our supporters and those who believe in Good Business for Dash together. Our developers have been trying to fit the production release of this software into this cycle, but this will need 2–3 more weeks.
We could certainly do with being funded this month.
If and only if you believe that Kuvacash is Good Business for Dash, then vote YES. Your vote matters regardless of whether we get funded this month or not — but let’s try to make it happen. Massive thank you to all our supporters, more to come very shortly, and as always, if you have any questions, I’m Max Yoga on Dash Nation just PM me.
Appendix: This is what the little *’s reference in the text above, and may be a little bit out of order but you get the idea and if you got this far, well done! You don’t need to read any further. I am pretty flat out these days with actual Kuva work but if anyone wants to number these I’ll be grateful ;)
- Check the Mt.Gox creditor list if you have a copy :-P
- Swann was given a studio that cost 250K USD that he now uses to promote a competing project.
- Rory has also now moved on to other projects like BCH
- For example, Swann, O+M, D-A-CH
- Like Huobi, except that they didn’t — the money sat in a masternode and any ‘airdrop’ had demonstrably near-zero effect on adoption — it simply wasn’t worth the money.
- Swann had over 1000 YES votes, and Kuvacash were close to being funded. I was PM’d by multiple people who wanted him out and knew his budget was a lie. He is now delivering the same exact sponsorship to Smartcash, at a fraction of the cost.
- DACH had the support of the community, and even my support at times, enough to get over the line — but after Triptole’s research (for which arguably he was also lined up and perma-banned from the Den), they also had to go down. For anyone who wants to see why DACH is on the list for a takedown, DYOR or you can PM me anytime. They are the epitome of sucking on the Good Opinion appendage of Dash and getting paid nearly $1M a year for nothing substantial of value. Again, DYOR with an open mind and consider whether a sane investor would give a single penny to this or their other proposals.
- I had my Core email address removed, and after lobbying for T&C, I was booted from Dash Core Slack. “Policy” apparently.
- Youtube video demonstration of Kuvacash here: https://youtu.be/GMrvH5nosMo
- In the Den of Dash Nation, it is Tao of Satoshi who is Judge, Jury, and Exclusioner in the “Court of Good Opinion and Warm Fuzzies”. Not his fault, it’s just his role on DN, which is his private forum that we are guests on and he can of course do with it as he wishes.
- Ryan Taylor told me it was ‘policy’ regarding emails. However, it is not a uniform policy and others who are not Dash Core members maintain Core email addresses and are also in Core Slack. Both instances coincided within one day of lobbying.
- I brought in T&C last-minute to replace the terrible “Pink Unicorn Horseshoes” logo O+M had developed for Dash and lobbied hard to get it over the line and for T&C to get paid for their work.
- I don’t know how to prove this further other than check my LinkedIn profile for the domains I work in and the multiple written recommendations and endorsements from dozens of highly skilled professionals working across multiple industries: http://www.linkedin.com/onlineresearch
- The main reason that Joel Valenzuela of Dash Force News (DFN) (thedesertlynx) is opposed to Kuva is that it was him that was responsible for bringing Ben Swann into Dash, and I was personally responsible for driving the initiative to have Ben Swann defunded. Unfortunately, due to his character, Joel has never been able to get over it.
**Edit — Joel has now plagiarised various aspects of my article and its concepts here: https://www.dashforcenews.com/moving-cryptocurrency-from-hopium-to-the-antidote/. Imitation is of course the sincerest form of flattery ;) so thanks for the compliment Joel. Let’s have that live debate now...
- The reason that Kuvacash was featured in Coindesk, as one of the first ever positive stories on Dash, is that it truly is an opportunity for Dash to make money better and land a cryptocurrency as a money system in a country that needs it; i.e., it is Good Business. That, and the efforts of Team Kuva, Wachsman and Core. Good Opinion like that held by Dash Force News (DFN) has never been able to land a feature article like this on Coindesk, because Good Opinion occasionally makes no sense to people outside of the Good Opinion bubble, but of course Joel (thedesertlynx) and DFN rushed to attempt to take credit for it, which was eventually refuted.
- Dash Nation has 5K members only and is growing at snails’ pace. Less than 1/10th of the members make 95% of the comments on an ongoing basis.
- Like DACH, Ben Swann, Huobi, Bitgo…