By Douglas Horn
Quietly over the end of the year holidays, a landmark election occurred in blockchain. Members of the Telos Foundation, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) made up of people who have been recognized for their contributions to the Telos Blockchain Network elected an executive board that will administer the foundation and the 6 million TLOS tokens it’s charged to use in advancing and promoting the chain.
The Telos Foundation (TF) election is historic not only because it took place on a blockchain, but because every single part of the election occurred on chain as did the transfer of voting permissions determined by the outcome. Let me explain a bit more because this is very exciting.
Telos has over 90 voters who received Telos Foundation Voting Tokens (TFVTs) for their work on the Telos launch. (More will be awarded in the future to expand the voting ranks.) Using the Trail Service voting functions built into Telos, any TFVT holder could nominate a candidate, accept a nomination, and vote for candidates right from the Sqrl wallet. No special ballot needed to be prepared. The entire ballot creation, nomination, acceptance and voting is built right into Trail.
Just as important, the outcome of the election also occurs entirely on chain with no extra steps required. The 12 winners of the seats were automatically awarded control of TFBOARD tokens that confer voting rights to accounts controlled by multisig permissions. This allows the board to do things like approve the spending of funds, or to elect an executive director and RAM administration director for the foundation. These positions will receive their own spending powers directly from the votes of the TF board members who were, in turn, nominated and elected by TF voters. (If there had been a consequential tie in the board voting, there would have been an automatic runoff election for those tied.) When the board members’ current terms expire, or if a board seat becomes vacant, a new election will be opened — again, entirely on chain.
One of the classic use cases for blockchain is secure and transparent voting, so there have been previous elections voted and recorded on the blockchain. But to my knowledge, the Telos Foundation is the most comprehensive on-chain voting cycle — from nomination to voting, to empowerment, to a new election — that any blockchain has ever conducted. It is certainly the most comprehensive in the eos.io world.
And if that weren’t exciting enough, the Trail System voting functions are available right now to any DAO or DAC on Telos. The TF Voting tab in Sqrl will soon change to a Trail Voting tab to accommodate the vast number of DACs that will eventually utilize this feature. For those organizations that can benefit from the DAC structure but don’t want to do the programming themselves, GoodBlock will soon release DAClab, an app for easily creating customized, modular DAC structures using Trail and other functions of the Telos chain. Of course, since Trail is only available on Telos, DAClab will be a Telos exclusive as well.
Telos Foundation Director Roles
Back to the Telos Foundation now. The board will face several issues — it is going to be a lot of work, frankly. My hat is off to those elected and I hope that the excellent candidates who were not selected will continue their work in building Telos. We truly had an astounding crop of talent among the nominees. The foundation is off to a great start.
Among the first duties of the TF Board will be to elect an executive director and a RAM administration director. Jan Smit has been acting as the interim director for the RAM administration since before the launch and he has done a terrific job. Under his stewardship, Telos RAM prices quickly came into line with the Published Guidance Price, where they remain today, with only moderate nudging. Jan has helped Telos launch without the explosion of RAM speculation that took part on EOS. I think Jan has been a great asset to Telos and I hope that the TF will soon elect him as the official RAM administration director.
Some people have asked me if I would stand for election as the TF executive director. I’d like to take this opportunity to be very clear about why I will not be pursuing this position.
Since I proposed Telos, it has been closely associated with me personally and my company, GoodBlock. This is appropriate and I’m very proud of this association, however, I believe that Telos is much more than any one person or company. I don’t think that the almost cult-like following of blockchain project originators is necessary or healthy for these projects moving forward. Ethereum prices cratered on a rumor that Vitalik Buterin had died in a car collision, meanwhile billions of people use the World Wide Web daily without even knowing that Tim Berners-Lee invented it. I envision a future for Telos that is much more like the World Wide Web than Ethereum. It’s arguable that broad adoption of a system demands removing the reliance or perceived importance of any single person or small group.
If I thought that the TF was going to be a fragile organization that could only survive with my personal and ongoing oversight, then of course, I would seek the executive director position. Fortunately, the TF board is already composed of a group of highly competent people with a variety of perspectives who have worked together closely for six months to launch Telos. There are several excellent candidates on the board and in the Telos community who would do an excellent job as the executive director.
Of course, I am not withdrawing from Telos in any way. GoodBlock will continue to be a Telos block producer for as long as the tokenholders vote for us. GoodProxy is the largest Telos proxy. And the GoodGrants program will seek to bring in numerous new apps to deploy on Telos. I also intend to continue leading Telos development by combining the Telos dev team and the many other contributors into a Telos Core Developers DAC that should be funded and guided by Telos voters through worker proposals. And GoodBlock is developing several of our own apps, like DAClab, that will be deployed exclusively on Telos. Moreover, Beth Farnham from GoodBlock is already an elected board member on the Telos Foundation. So I am already all-in on Telos. By not being a part of the Telos Foundation, I allow others to step in, broaden out the Telos leadership, and provide a powerful rebuttal to anyone who may believe that Telos is tightly controlled by just a few people.
By me not participating in this role, I am also free to continue speaking with app and tool developers considering deploying on Telos without needing to do so in an official capacity and without having my statements seen as promises on behalf of the foundation. I am working with many groups in this manner. Recently, Greg Simpson announced that EDNA would deploy on Telos. These types of “big gets” are crucial for the network and they are often a product of many conversations over time that would be hindered if I were in an official role.
I congratulate the Telos Foundation board members and all nominees on their participation in this landmark election. I will support the board and its directors moving forward and I am committed to building Telos far into the future.
About the author: Douglas Horn is the Telos architect and whitepaper author, and the founder of GoodBlock, a block producer and app developer for the Telos blockchain network.