Shaun Belcher
Jun 17 · 10 min read

Please understand the individuals referenced in this article do not reflect upon the contributions, credentials, work ethic or contributions of the OCamlPro engineers who we hold dear. A special thank you to Corey Soreff, Board member at Tezos Commons for compiling all of this information.

Introduction

It is with a heavy heart I write this on behalf of the Tezos Commons Foundation, Board of Directors in pursuit of building a network that continues to seek the truth together.

Over the last several weeks there have been numerous community conversations related to the breakdown of negotiations between OCamlPro’s management and the Tezos Foundation.

Part I: Network Division, A Tezos Hard Fork

The following is text from an email supposedly sent from a “crypto fund” called Starchain Capital. The email details a plan led by Starchain and OCamlPro leadership to fork Tezos to create a new chain called Dune Protocol.

It’s worth remembering that anyone can fork the Tezos software, which is open source. The issue is not that they intend to fork Tezos, but the alleged manner in which OCamlPro leadership conducted itself, in bad faith, and misrepresentation of historical behavior to be in the best interest of the community.

Please note that this material was provided via a third party and authenticity of the materials has not been verified (nor that it hasn’t been tampered with). That said, there is significant corroborating evidence of the plan throughout this document. We found the text also includes a number of inaccurate (to put it mildly) statements that are intended to exaggerate the position of OCamlPro leadership. They did not create OCaml, Fabrice was not the ‘teacher’ of Tezos co-founder Arthur Breitman, and the main Tezos engineers who were originally at OCamlPro are now working at Nomadic Labs, not OCamlPro.

…We’re partnering with OcamlPro (The French engineering team behind the OCaml programming language) in order to Fork the Tezos Blockchain. It will take place in September 2019 and will be one of the major news in the industry. We’re creating a SPV to raise $1m from friends (fund and angel, FR/US) to fund this operation. We (Starchain) are investing and are very hands on (Branding, Marketing, Community, Financing, Strategy) while OCamlPro is coding/finishing the … Read Full Text

This alleged email evidence, read in full here, suggests that Dune protocol is not a principled hard fork. Starchain Capital describes a liquidation event planned for later this year. What is described as an opportunity is set up to provide a quick turnaround for investors and OCamlPro leadership.

Projection:
Low: day1, the fork captures 5% of the current Tezos market cap, which lead us to a +$50m valuation
(liquidity event)
Middle: day1, the fork captures 20% of the current Tezos market cap, which lead us to a +$200m
valuation (liquidity event)
Good: day1, the fork captures 40% of the current Tezos market cap, which lead us to a +$400m
valuation (liquidity event)

If this was the only source, it would be difficult to authenticate. There is documented evidence to support a series of events leading to this point.

Exhibit 1:

French Business Registration Document by Fabrice Le Fessant

Above is a business registration document filed to create a new company ‘Origin Labs’ in France, filed on May 27, 2019 appointing Fabrice Le Fessant, founder of OCamlPro, as the President. As noted in the document, the verification code is ‘betyvKlPmH’ which you can verify on their website. A simple Google query for Origin Lab’s registration number “siret 851307629” yields several documents, including a mandatory publication in Le Figaro for Origin Labs Company in Paris (75014).

Exhibit 2A:

SPOON SPV LLC public U.S. registration documents, prepared by Starchain Capital for the Dune Protocol.

SPOON SPV LLC KEY TERMS

Exhibit 2B:

Certificate of Formation from the State of Delaware for Spoon SPV, LLC formed on May 20, 2019 by Starchain Capital.

Exhibit 2C:

Starchain Capital is listed as a managing member of Spoon SPV, LLC which outlines the company’s primary objective is ‘to achieve capital appreciation through an investment in Dune Foundation and its resulting tokens developed on the Dune protocol’.

The registration shows Starchain Capital formed a U.S. Delaware based LLC on May 20, 2019 for the purpose of raising funds to support the Dune Protocol through the Dune Foundation. The collection of documents paint a more complete picture given Starchain’s Dune protocol is named as OCamlPro’s Tezos fork in the alleged email. Could this however be an entirely separate project entirely unrelated to Tezos?

The web domains for dunefoundation.com and duneprotocol.com were both registered on May 20, 2019:

http://whois.domaintools.com/dunefoundation.com
http://whois.domaintools.com/duneprotocol.com

The U.S. registration documents go further to specifically name Origin Labs as the company contracted to develop the Dune Protocol. As you recall, Origin Labs is new company created by Fabrice Le Fessant in France only (3) weeks ago.

Dune Foundation defines their development relationship with Origin Labs SAS

Spoon SPV LLC, Starchain Capital, and Origin Labs are responsible for the funding the creation of the ‘Dune Protocol’. There is clear evidence linking Fabrice to the Dune Protocol, it is our opinion that the text of the first email has a high probability, although riddled with typos, considered authentic and that the Dune Protocol will be a fork of the Tezos Protocol.

OCamlPro is forking Tezos. So what?

Let’s imagine all of the information up to this point is correct and the ‘Dune Protocol’ that OCamlPro/Origin Labs creates is in fact a Tezos fork. Ignoring the potential fallout due to dumping an asset on unsuspecting users or the damage to the Tezos community by its very nature alone, there are other concerns:

1. Suspect Timing

Spoon SPV LLC was formed on May 20, 2019. Origin Labs was created on May 27, 2019. We can also assume that this was planned between the associated parties long beforehand.

During this period numerous debates arose in the Tezos Community surrounding TzScan and Liquidity’s licensing agreement. OCamlPro leadership started publicly accusing the Tezos Foundation of ‘blacklisting’ them from their grant program.

They appear to have purposefully stirred the community over the fear of Liquidity to be a paid licensed product, and not free or open source. The reasoning given was they had not received further grants to support their development. They received grants in the past, and were in at that time in negotiation regarding future grants with the Tezos Foundation, but the reasoning as to why they had not been approved remained a mystery to the broader community. A segment of the community sided with OCamlPro without knowing the full context.

This sparked a large debate on whether or not all Tezos grantees should be making their software open source because many features of TzScan also were not, and eventually fizzled out for the most part as they decided to change their Liquidity license to a free one, even if still not MIT.

Piecing together recent actions by OCamlPro appear to run parallel with the launch Dune Protocol in September, concern trolling, division of community, and complaints appear highly suspect.

Our interpretation of OCamlPro’s intent is strategic division of the Tezos community, convincing a minority segment into supporting their pump-and-dump.

Fabrice Le Fessant rarely spoke to or addressed the Tezos community ever, and immediately after they filed their registrations for this supposed fork, they begin dividing the community claiming it is for the community.

This explains OcamlPro leadership’s refusal to comply with the terms and conditions of their grant, to release all of the code for TzScan under an open source license and Liquidity in the past. Our suggestion to community members developing applications with reliance on TzScan or it’s API should prepare for the possibility it may not be available. Please speak with Cryptonomic, Tezos.id, Airgap, Baking Bad and others building solutions.

Part II: The History of OCamlPro & Tezos

Past interactions lead us to believe OCamlPro management does not have the best interests of the Tezos community in mind. Board member Corey Soreff had a chance to speak with Diego Pons, former board member of the Tezos Foundation, to ask a few questions about the situation:

Do you have any comments about this alleged email?

The email appears to contain factual mistakes, which we did not have time to clarify.

i) OCamlPro is not the engineering team behind the OCaml language even if they participate in the community working on OPAM (https://opam.ocaml.org/about.html#opam_1) and one of their engineers contributes to the OCaml compiler with FLambda. OCaml is a language done by the French research institute in computer science INRIA who own the copyright
https://caml.inria.fr/ocaml/license.en.html

ii) The email says “Up to date, Arthur Breitman is still project leader (co-founder)”. Arthur is the co-founder of the project, but as he has stated himself “Tezos will succeed because it has no leader” (https://cryptobriefing.com/tezos-no-leader-says-founder/). The email doesn’t seem to understand that Tezos is a decentralised project with people all around the world contributing to its evolution.

iii) The email doesn’t seem to understand Tezos governance model “Tezos is basically famous for having an amazing tech’ but big governance issue”. If they are alluding to the issues within the Tezos Foundation, those who were legally responsible for getting them solved were the 3 board members (Johann, Guido and myself), and the Swiss authorities. Nobody else. Also, the governance issues of one organisation (the Tezos Foundation) are completely independent from the governance of the Tezos protocol itself, which is governed by the stakeholders.

iv) “(founder Arthur in lawsuit vs the fondation, big scandale in 2017)
https://www.wired.com/story/tezos-blockchain-love-story-horror-story/" Nope… that’s not what that article says ! They may want to read it again.

v) “A programming language co-developed by Fabrice le Fessant (French researcher, teacher at Polytechnique and Inria) 20years ago.” I don’t think that Fabrice has ever claimed to be a co-developer of the OCaml programming language, despite his contributions. The official manual release 4.08 from February 8th 2019 lists “Xavier Leroy, Damien Doliguez, Alain Frisch, Jacques Garrigue, Didier Rémy and Jerôme Vouillon” (http://caml.inria.fr/pub/docs/manual-ocaml/)

vi) “Fabrice was the teacher of Arthur Breitman.” I remember Fabrice being teaching assistant at the Ecole Polytechnique when Arthur was there, Arthur’s professor of system programming was Didier Remy [see above]. I don’t think Fabrice has ever been professor at the Ecole Polytechnique, that said it is not obvious to keep up with all the details and titles of French academic institutions so I wouldn’t blame anyone there.

vii) “Arthur called Fabrice earlier in 2017 as he needed help to build Tezos.” I recommended OCamlPro to Arthur, and that was in 2014. I met Fabrice when he was doing his PhD, and had already worked with OCamlPro before, hence the recommendation.

viii) “OCamlPro started to dedicate time and resources for Tezos, and has since then built 90% of the Tezos code and tools. (language programmatic, block explorer, smart contract, TZ scan, etc). These are facts/public information, available on Reddit/Githhub.” I doubt the value of 90% is accurate… I hired most of the engineers currently working for Nomadic Labs, which has been operating since October 2017 under various names. I contacted Obsidian Systems to help Tezos in December 2017. Also DaiLambda in Japan, Nine Chapters in Taiwan. And while I haven’t been involved with any form of project management and therefore cannot give any estimate, the 90% value seems very excessive.

ix) “Due to lack of payment, different vision and governance disagreement with Arthur, OCamlPro decided to part away from Tezos.” In my opinion a serious venture firm shouldn’t make claims like this unless they want to end in front of a judge for libel. Who hasn’t paid OCamlPro? The Tezos Foundation of which I was a board member and thereafter legally responsible for its actions ?

You have worked with OCamlPro in the past, and you have known them for a long time. What do you think of the situation ?

OCamlPro has excellent engineers, but has trouble understanding business practices and the law. Signing a contract with them [i.e. OCamlPro management] is challenging as they refuse to follow accepted business practices, and always try to be “creative” with the law. It’s difficult to make them understand they need to behave as a company, and stop the Twitter or Reddit flame wars, the blackmailing, the weird business ideas, etc.

Other reports on OCamlPro — Tezos Foundation negotiations

We also spoke with an anonymous source who was close to the negotiations between OCamlPro and the Tezos Foundation before launch.

According to the source, pre-launch negotiations with OCamlPro leadership were constantly rife with conflict.

OCP leadership often made unreasonable demands resulting in stalled negotiations which harmed the project, including but not limited to:

  • A contract requiring that all Tezos Foundation communications must go through OCamlPro leadership to be approved.
  • Contracts with payouts that would not be tied to any specific engineers’ time or deliverable results. In other words, a check without being bound by contract to produce anything for it.
  • Long vacations (4+ weeks) by OCamlPro management at critical times before the launch of Tezos. (In August/September 2017)
  • Demands to go back and change previous contracts signed with separate companies.
  • Threats to delete intellectual property they were already obligated to provide if demands weren’t met.

Recently, OCamlPro has been publicly accusing the Tezos Foundation of ‘blacklisting’ them. Based on this history of behavior, it appears likely that they have simply always strongly pushed their own interests, regardless of the impact on the Tezos protocol and community.

It’s critical to emphasize that we deeply appreciate the incredible hard work of the OCamlPro engineers, and hope that they can remain active players in the Tezos community despite all of this.

We also aim to present all of these details in the interest of the community, independently of personal disagreements and animosities.

We believe these new developments needed to be shared to minimize any damage to the Tezos community in advance. If any of these assumptions formed from these revelations are incorrect, we strongly urge Fabrice and others from OCamlPro to address these concerns.

I hope that we can all move forward in the best interests of the Tezos ecosystem. As a development team, OCamlPro is of course entitled to pursue their own interests, even with a new fork based on Tezos.

That said, we believe the Tezos community deserves insight into the situation in light of their recent actions, and to judge any further public actions or statements by OCamlPro with this new information.

Tezos Commons

Updates and insights from the global Tezos community

Shaun Belcher

Written by

(@Bitc0m) Executive Director @TezosCommons

Tezos Commons

Updates and insights from the global Tezos community

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