Dash, Kuva and the Hopium Trade

A Kuva rocket sits on the launchpad, waiting for fuel to launch. Is it ready to fly to the moon. Yes, but now it’s going to be done a bit differently...

A lot of Opinions on what is going on are starting to be thrown around by the Dash people. 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 Kuva is really capable of. After all, Kuva does have large majority support from masternodes, at an almost 2-to-1 ratio, besides being a positive and realistic use case.

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 blockchain as time went on. James Saruchera, myself, and the rest of Team Kuva are now having an exciting adventure creating Kuva; a contemporary money system, starting in sub-Saharan Africa where the need is most acute.

I tell people who ask how Kuva was initially paid for about the Dash 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 blockchain technology 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 (unfortunately he has ‘left the building’ of Dash along with the rest of the talent).

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 initially as a top-tier blockchain project. 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 before he ran to find where the rainbow ends.

Indeed, 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 the Dash project going forward.

Around February 2017 was when I became aware of a few problems emerging with the Dash proposition and governance, 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 Dash 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 Kuva project.

Now around the time that Kuva 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 (EDIT 2021: and now even further to under 50th place where it hovers). Newcomers displaced it and the community growth stalled. What happened…well…

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 Kuva 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 our own proposal. I spoke to Core execs all the way to the very top, including the weak-willed Ryan Taylor, who refused to weigh-in on proposals they knew were junk because he rightly feared for their his own funding, assumed power, and the jobs of DCG execs — 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 Kuva 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 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 have made anyone involved in Dash very proud. So, what was 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 Kuva and the Good Business that we do. 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, it looks exactly how Kuva 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 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 dry sapling in a pot, and has been all but ruined 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, Dash might thrive and grow as it should. If not, at best it will remain a hobby house-plant with a few kooky fans. At worst it continues to wither and eventually die.

Some people will say; “Dude, we like Kuva! 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 our project.

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, Kuva 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 Kuva, 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 either of the kook representatives — Joel “The Desert Lynx”, Brian “Mastermined”. Or both of them at once if they like. Let’s hear their reasoning…

The 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. Such a debate is of high interest to the community. The offer now stands.

Massive thank you to all our supporters, more to come very shortly...

— Drako


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!

  • 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
  • DACH — now long-gone, they were epitome of sucking on the Good Opinion appendage of Dash and getting paid nearly $1M a year for nothing of value.
  • https://www.coindesk.com/dash-crypto-venezuela-zimbabwe/
  • Youtube video demonstration of our wallet here: https://youtu.be/GMrvH5nosMo
  • 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
  • Like DACH, Ben Swann, Huobi, Bitgo…

Co-Founder and Chief Inventor of the Kuva Network - https://kuva.com