The decentralized CEO

Andre Cronje
3 min readDec 15, 2022

If you read the title, and saw the oxymoron, you get it.

A decentralized system can not have a centralized controlling entity or benefactor. If there is an authority, or team, or foundation that you expect needs to take a certain action, then it is simply not a decentralized system.

If anyone can do that action, it is a decentralized system.

As a community we often cling to traditional structures. A company (project) has a team (contributors) that have a board (multisig) working to create profits for the value of its shareholders (token holders). As opposed to; A project has contributors that activitly create conflict to align their incentives.

I see this often in blockchain ecosystems, in Ethereum you will hear statements such as “I can’t believe the ACD didn’t include this EIP, they are clearly showing bias”, “EF isn’t supporting client teams”, in Fantom we will hear “The foundation isn’t doing enough to support dapp teams”, “The foundation should be spending more on marketing”.

In some ways, having an authority group is comforting, perhaps the ACD isn’t including the EIP because it isn’t well developed, but it’s a lot easier to say they have bias. It is significantly easier to blame others and claim conspiracies, than to accept personal responsibility or shortcomings.

The problem is, this isn’t binary, it isn’t 0 or 1. Our industry has become so nuanced, that there are many different segments. A centralized exchange for example is a business, it has a company, a CEO, a board, shareholders; it is not decentralized, nor does it have to be. Even some dapps require teams to support and manage them, these are normal companies, their goal is to earn profits for themselves; it is not decentralized, nor does it have to be. Intent matters.

“Code is law” is an often used statement that loves to ignore intent. Not everything in crypto is a public good, nor does it have to be, not everything in crypto is meant to be decentralized, nor does it have to be. There are a myriad of opportunities both centralized and decentralized & everything in-between, and this is amazing. If you want to build a for profit business, you can, its a great time to start, but make your intent clear.

Now from here on, I speak personally, my goal, and Fantom Foundation’s goal, has always been decentralization. We don’t build to sustain us, we build to remove us. Our goal, and every choice we make, isn’t towards “how does this benefit us (as a company)”, but towards “how can we remove any dependencies on us”, the goal isn’t “how do we make more money so we can fund more projects”, its “how do we create an environment where projects can sustain themselves and gain funding from the community”, as can be seen in our proposals for gas monetization and Gitcoin grants, these support the ecosystem irrespective of our involvement.

If your goal is truly decentralization, your goal should always be “how can we build this so we can walk away”, “how can we build this so it exists long after we are gone”, “how do we remove our single point of failure”.

The biggest mistake we can make is building for ourselves, instead of building for the community. This is not to say we build for their benefit, but we build so that we can empower them with tools to create their own benefit.

Crypto is dead. Long live crypto.