PIP36 - Appointing Ben as a PNF Director

This appears to some as a blatant power struggle by PNI and it’s vested interests to maintain influence and control of the foundation. Many don’t vote regularly because it generally feels perfunctory, most either vote with the crowd or when they’re whipped to do so, and there are only a few active entities which exert their influence to sway and they are all connected to each other.

What entity was in control and at the helm for many of the worst problems the community has had to bear, the amount of money they wasted hand over fist at the expense of the community already, the culture of pseudo-open source we suffer through the examples they’ve set. Can the foundation even remain credibly neutral if so many seats of influence are held by their alumnus?


I stand by my words; when I call it like I see it, it’s with deliberate intent. You’ve also aired grievances regarding Ming’s departure, hinting at deeper discord. It all feels like typical DAO drama.

It strikes me as peculiar that, despite your proclaimed “living and breathing” the ecosystem, you missed the PNF’s explicit request for technical expertise in their Observer role call, a detail that predated the prop going up for vote.

I share @iannn’s sentiment that this seems like a power play. The suggestion to nominate @Jinx as a Foundation Director, made by @ArtSabintsev, borders on the absurd. While I hold no grudge against @Jinx, their deep ties to a significant node operator and past advisory role with PNI raise questions about their ability to remain impartial—a non-negotiable for a Foundation Director.

In stark contrast to PNI’s era—marred by hyperinflation, a non-existent wPOKT bridge, and misalignment within the DAO—not to mention ANKR’s questionable actions with the PNI Portal (only lord knows what effect that had on token price)—we’ve seen the PNF make leaps and bounds in just a year. The gravity of PNI’s legacy, including the DAO’s substantial POKT allocation to them, cannot be overlooked.

The lack of speed/bias-for-action by PNF mostly came during the PNI/PNF era and the SWOT analysis you speak of was probably done when the separation first happened. Remember, the restructured Foundation has been in full swing for merely a year, and I’m open to being corrected on this.

My original point stands—what we’re witnessing seems to be nothing more than political manoeuvring.


There were serious allegations raised by @ArtSabintsev on the ecosystem call yesterday and in what we understand was a private campaign of calls that took place over the last 24 hours.

We want to bring these allegations out into the open, address them as best we can, and give the community a chance to discuss recent developments.

When conversations happen behind closed doors or even in public forums, with intimations of secret knowledge and insight, it creates information asymmetry that makes good decision making impossible for all. And the distraction involved, as we seek to detangle valuable signal from insinuation and noise, is harmful.

This post will strive to start a process, but we invite you to join us at the community call today at 11am EST in the POKT Network discord server to hold us to account publicly, openly, and transparently. In line with our shared values.

Allegation of “mismanagement of funds”

We’ll start with this as it is probably the most serious of the allegations. @ArtSabintsev used this inflammatory term when suggesting that PNF were not spending responsibly and was too quick to bring in consultants to support our activities.

We publicly account for every line of spend, openly and transparently. We will always do so, and any element of that spend is open to your scrutiny and your challenge.

However, PNF is a team of 5, and we have a huge agenda that we are driving through. We are committed to avoiding bloat in the foundation. In addition to community contributions, that means contracting expert talent where needed to accelerate our progress.

We’re happy to discuss any concerns openly on the call.

Allegation of a “lack of technical leadership” in PNF

While we haven’t seen any material complaints about failings in our strategy, we absolutely want and need more technical leadership in PNF. It is something we are actively addressing. Especially as we continue to decentralise things like protocol development and move towards the credible neutrality that is required in an expanding Gatewayverse.

We understand that this process also involves a shift in locus of control over time, back towards the DAO, the community, and PNF as ecosystem stewards. This will inevitably cause friction among invested parties. That is natural and understandable and we will continue to do what we can to ease the process and provide confidence.

We hoped that Matteo was the answer when he joined the Foundation last June. We now have a much better idea of what we need (a senior technical leader) and what the protocol team needs (an awesome “get shit done” PM type, eg @shane !).

Trying to find one person to do both didn’t work out.

We are working with two recruitment firms and activating our networks to hire a new technical director to sit within PNF. Two interviews have taken place already.

We believe that the right technical hire for this role will want to become a Director, but if we meet an amazing technical leader who can tick all the boxes but doesn’t want to take a Director role, we can be flexible.

We could have done better communicating all of this, which we will learn from.

Allegation of a lack of transparency in Director changes

Art claimed he wasn’t aware of @b3n ’s appointment, the DAO observer appointment process, or PNF’s plan to bring in more talent (including Technical leadership) in parallel with the observer process.

There have been posts about all of this on the forum (November update, December update, the post about Ben directly two weeks ago, January update on board processes) and mentions on every community call since the end of November.

PNF also holds bi-weekly calls with Grove leadership to support protocol development and discuss ecosystem evolution etc.

We understand that it can be difficult for many of our stakeholders, who don’t enjoy bi-weekly calls with PNF, to stay abreast of all of the changes and workstreams in the DAO. If there are any other ways that we can highlight these, please continue to share this with us and we will work to do better.

For example, @Jinx made a very valid point about missing the Technical Leadership figure because the title of the post felt less relevant. We could have done more to call attention to this.

Allegation of a lack of community representation

In an open system like ours, where the DAO can directly force appointment/removal votes, observers can have a lot of influence. We expect the DAO-appointed board observer to have a big role in shaping PNF’s future, which is exactly what we want.

We presume that this is an unfortunate misinterpretation as the process clearly sets out that anyone can submit (provided that they aren’t a scammer essentially) and that the DAO will vote to approve their preferred choice. We doubt that anyone would suggest that PNF would ever rig the process.

Vague allegations of ineffective performance

It is (perhaps intentionally) difficult to address these since they are never fully articulated.

But we understand that @ArtSabintsev has suggested privately recently in 1:1 calls that he has concerns about PNF’s performance.

We strongly believe that private calls are not the right way to go about this and would like to invite @ArtSabintsev to bring any legitimate concerns into the open, to substantiate them, and give us a chance to address them openly and without politics.

Implied allegation of cronyism over the proposal of Ben as Director

@nelson stepping down as a Director left a gap that @b3n is well qualified to fill.

Our full rationale is in the forum post, but I’m sharing a couple of headlines here for ease.


As you’ll see in that post, appointing Ben isn’t a zero sum exercise.


We are at an exciting point in the evolution of POKT Network.

Anything that helps us raise our game and accelerate towards that will always be welcome.

Anything that doesn’t, that isn’t shared in good faith, is a distraction that hurts our collective ambition and that should be called out as such and put an end to.


Yes, I missed the non-proposal post made last Wednesday, and only read (the exact same information) posted yesterday. I very much noted the technical expertise called for in the Observer role when originally discussed, and as I explained at length and with detail, do not feel an Observer is adequate for a technical organization.

It’s not surprising you’re able to manufacture an alternate motivation for my stance when you make things up out of whole cloth. Once again, I will ask that you engage with the merit of my ARGUMENT, not made up bullshit about my motivations.

I assume you mean Node River, where the vast majority of my sizable stake lives, correct? Oh, no, you don’t mean them? Curious. Oh, you didn’t realize I have multiple stakes all over this ecosystem? Wow. It’s almost like I’m deeply connected to this ecosystem and have put my money where my mouth is supporting the ecosystem in many ways and across many providers. I’ve been dealing with these baseless claims of impartiality around PoktPool since I helped start it as a minor partner. And of course I have deep ties with the person who wrote the economics whitepaper and one of the first investors. Like them, I’ve been around since the project’s inception.

Unlike these two replies, I haven’t engaged in character assassination in the slightest. I’ve clearly stated my position and reasoning, neither of which you’ve addressed, instead choosing to respond with ad hominem.

Weak sauce.

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LOL, I’ll make this my final post on this prop to sidestep any further back-and-forth and keep the focus on the vote. I still stand by everything I said. PNF MUST stay neutral.

But i’ll do you a solid though, I’d recommend you revisit the link from my quoted message and verify the date before capturing screenshots and marking them up. Then maybe delete that part of your response before anyone sees.

Ahh I see you quickly edited it from " Observer post was made 16 hours ago" to “Observer post was made last Wednesday”. Gg

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The screenshot I caught and marked up was from yesterday, and someone pointed out that there was a previous explainer link posted last Wednesday, which I clearly missed, and updated the post to reflect that. Incredible call out, that I missed a single post, which still contained the exact same concern in structure that I actually addressed in my argument, and which you’ve once again completely failed to rebut in any way.

It’s a significant sign of weakness of position when you can’t rebut a point at all, and instead attack the person. The accusations of bias are similar. You can’t point to anything at all demonstrating the bias, you just fling the word like a weapon. As my grandfather used to say, comes mi culo. Put up or shut up.

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@ArtSabintsev, could you please clarify the point around the PR agency under ‘funds mismanagement’?

For transparency, I advocated for the termination of that contract because it was not performing. I do not believe that the use of agencies or consultants per se is mismanagement of funds.

But I’d like to better understand points of view on this topic.

Also, IMO, if you’re going to publicly allege mismanagement of funds, and seem to suggest some kind of shady hiring practices, then you need to elaborate on that publicly too. You either make an allegation publicly or you don’t. Otherwise it just hangs there but can’t be responded to, and that isn’t right.


Given that this is related to the concerns I voiced here, I think it’s important to note that I have directly spoken to the foundation more than once about this concern, with specifics, and have recapped some of the details of those concerns in multiple conversations over the last 24 hours. Given some of the other posters’ propensity for attacking my character in this forum, I can’t let that go without clarification.

That being said, I appreciate the acknowledgement of the need, along with the need for better communication around these points, and have found the Foundation to generally be in alignment with my position around this issue. I’m looking forward to hearing more on the next call.

I certainly wouldn’t suggest that. This position was based on two specific points:

  • The foundation is appointing one of the two observers unilaterally.
  • The foundation reserves the right to reject any application not just on it being considered spammy, but also on them not considering the applicant to be fitting with POKT’s DNA, which is a qualitative versus quantitative choice:
  1. PNF will have the right to remove any submission if someone’s submission is not for themselves, is spam, contains a personal attack, or otherwise does not align with POKT Network’s DNA.

I don’t think this is a misinterpretation as much as a point that may need further clarification so as not to feel arbitrary. The DAO and the foundation may disagree on whether a candidate aligns with POKT’s DNA, and in that case, which perspective reigns supreme? From my reading, the foundation is the final say.

Aside from the boring personal attacks, I do feel that some important concerns have been addressed in this thread, and I’m glad to see that the foundation shares my desire for the addition of critical skills currently missing, and recognizes my concerns around those voices having appropriate sway in strategy and decision making. I’m looking forward to the call this morning.

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Seems to me that there’s two issues at hand here – succession planning for the Foundation directors, and litigating some of past PNFs spending/hiring decisions – and we’re doing ourselves a bit of a disservice by lumping them together.

My vote was in favor of PIP36, based in part the fact that this had been announced in advance coupled with @Dermot 's glowing recommendation of Ben. It also seems that Ben has already taken on some of the roles of a Director, so a ‘yes’ vote would help ensure a smooth transition. Art’s concerns are last-minute, and while they didn’t change my mind on the vote, I nonetheless think it’s worth having a conversation about the makeup of the new Foundation as it relates to the skills the Directors bring to the table, and which ones are the most pressing at the moment. I don’t see much disagreement that someone with technical expertise is needed on PNF; however, I don’t know whether having a tech-oriented director trumps the skill set that Ben has in the short term. Hopefully this conversation will continue, because it seems that there are still many opportunities to affect the makeup of PNF, in the form of bringing on board observers and finding a replacement for Jack.

As far as the issue of PNFs spending/hiring practices… to me, this touches upon larger issues of transparency, communication, and working in the open. On both the community call and in some of the forum posts, allusions were made to private conversations between PNI, PNF, ex-PNF, and community members at large. And I find it hard to have a productive discussion when some parties are operating on information that others aren’t privy to. I think it’s fair to periodically (re)evaluate whether the Foundation is getting its bang for the buck on big spending items. But I’m not sure we’re doing that effectively. As an example, I recently questioned the spend on the Messari reports, as I was (and continue to be) disappointed with the end product. @JackALaing was quick to engage my posts and provide some helpful context. But I can’t help but note that almost 11 months passed between communications (from the announcement that the vote had passed, to my post questioning whether we were getting value for our pokt). I was unaware that PNF regularly meets with the larger stakeholders in the ecosystem; all that I saw from my end was a lack of updates, and an alleged partner that had snubbed us in their reporting. I think having some kind of regular (e.g. quarterly) updates to allow for this discussion would be helpful, both to keep the community updated, and to allow for feedback/suggestions for improvement. @Dermot has on numerous occasions praised the strength and level of engagement in the community, and PNF should take every opportunity to leverage that. But I think that’s a separate discussion, and bringing it in as part of this vote muddies the waters somewhat.


Strong points here.

This is not (by far) the first time that relevant connected issues have been litigated in a not directly related proposal. We’ve seen that a number of times (such as the Foundation for the Future proposal), so it’s not as though this is unusual for a proposal.

I think there are two different perspectives here around this proposal:

  • Is Ben qualified to be a Director? Seems to me there is strong agreement that he is.

  • Have the Director roles been filled appropriately to account for the skills and resources required for the foundation to be successful? This is the question where much of the side litigation has come from, and why it’s a relevant proposal for that discussion.

Completely agreed at large on the issues around communication, which underpinned a lot of my replies.


Big thanks to @Dermot and @doctorrobinson for a very productive and informative community call addressing a number of these issues. I am encouraged with the amount of direct community engagement I see from the Foundation these days.


Hey all - thanks again for another good community call - appreciate the questions from you all to clarify the proposal, and i hope that we can separate the issue of this proposal, voting Ben as a director, from all the other concerns & needs that need to be addressed.

As always @Jerry will post the video today to the POKT youtube, so look out for that.

For now I’ve included the transcript from our good friend Fred the robot. There’s some good info on how PNF is structured around here if you want more details.

Here are my key takeaways from the call:

  1. The current board consists of Jack & Dermot, with Ben filling in for Nelson as the interim director.
  2. This proposal is for Ben to come on as a director, focusing on operations and finance with Nelson stepping down.
  3. PNF is planning on hiring a technical leader, with the expectation that they will want to be a director.
  4. The expectation is that Jack will then step down as a director, which leaves board looking like:
  • Dermot: Growth & Partnerships
  • Ben: Ops & Finance
  • (New Hire): Tech

After the vote ends, we’ll post some next steps & start working on the other concerns brought up here as well.

Thanks all


Hey folks - quick reply on my end as it’s been a busy day and I have to run and get the kids shortly, but I owe a reply, so giving a quick one here right now. I apologize for missing the community call as well - had a meeting that I could not move to as it was with an outside party that was scheduled 2 weeks ago. I got the download of what was discussed from a couple folks an hour ago, but as I wasn’t there, I can’t comment on it too much. @doctorrobinson thanks for the summary above.

First, Mismanagement of Funds was the wrong term. I own it. I meant Mismanagement of Outcomes, or how I I believe funds should or should-not have been spent based on the results. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Second, to @Dermot, yes we meet often, but I have no recollection of us personally chatting about Ben’s nomination. I knew Jack and Nelson were both going to step back (Jack gave me a heads up in Q4), but I have no recollection broaching this specific line item with anyone. I’m happy to apologize for this item.

Third, @Adrienne, yes happy to clarify re: Agencies. PNI had two CMOs for a combined 2 years that hired multiple PR agencies. All PR agencies were deemed a waste of funds and were cut off, since we’re in a space with a product (at the time, and even now) that did not lend itself well to press release material. When I found out that PNF was doing it, I felt the lesson wasn’t learned or carried over. It’s not a knock on you, as you were new here, it’s just the fact this was already done, it failed, and should have been avoided. I applaud you for canning it quickly. It’s not your fault, but the fact it was done irked me as these funds could have been spent better.

Fourth, @Adrienne, for hiring practices, I feel that certain people should not have left, others should not have been hired, or those who were here should have left sooner. The feedback was provided by constituents that were closer than I am to the Foundation and was ignored repeatedly (so I have been told by my own trusting parties). In this case, money was not well spent, which is what I meant by mismanaged, so the outcome was poor. I am choosing not to go deeper as to not disparage people who cannot defend themselves.

Fifth, as for a technical leader, I still believe Olshansky is the only person today that can fill that role. We moved heaven and earth to migrate knowledge of Morse from Luis and Andrew and the founding team to Olshansky. As the chief architect behind the protocol, Olshansky is the only one who has the best insight on Shannon. Hiring outside for this role is not ideal as you’re adding another cook to a kitchen too early on in the process. I believe Olshansky should fill the technical leadership role (not as a director) but as the primary authority until a much later date in the future and if it requires more of him than he’s able to provide, then PNF funds a full time engineering hire to help backfill.

I’ve said my part. I will own that this did not come out the way I originally intended it to - part of it is an emotional response, as I have had a very tenuous working relationship with the Foundation at times (as mentioned in my earlier post) and part of it comes from many folks feeling like they cannot speak up in the forums or with their votes (or can even obtain votes). These were my signals for wanting to shake up the Foundation directorate to bring a community veteran voice. I saw the opportunity, albeit very last minute, and decided to act.

I hear that Shane may be considered for something here. If that’s the case, then I consider that a win.

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“You and @Dermot tend to be unreasonably reasonable humans.”


Apologies for pulling this quote in from chat, but I think this may be the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. And in spite of some of the side noise in here, I think we’ve demonstrated that again in this thread.


…covers my single largest immediate concern. And the commitment to work together on improving communications, oversight, and general accountability, along with making sure that observers have direct input into relevant strategy conversations, cover the rest of my concerns. Although these debates can be frustrating sometimes, there hasn’t been one yet that I don’t think has come to a reasonable conclusion.

Over the last two years, I have heard everything from “DAOs don’t work” to “the Foundation is ineffective” and everything in between. This not a POKT problem, really; that sentiment is echoed through out web3. Governance is hard. The broader the form of governance and the more “citizens” involved, the harder it gets. The ONLY thing that helps mitigate this is when there is a common shared goal to which all the players are aligned.

Here in this ecosystem, the success of the protocol, both in adoption and economic health, is that common goal. It is my central driving purpose in participating in this ecosystem, and why I spend full time work hours every week unpaid engaging and supporting the community and contributing my experience and expertise to various entities in the ecosystem. There is no entity in the ecosystem for whose success I would risk the health of the total; the math is wildly lopsided given my stake in the network.

Given that, it’s not only ludicrous that I have to deal with claims of bias every time I participate in debate, there’s a specific lack of good faith in moderation here that those posts aren’t addressed according to the community guidelines we’ve all agreed to adhere to, specifically item 2:

Do not make personal attacks at any one individual or organization. This includes arguments or reactions directed against a person or organization rather than the position they are maintaining. Debate the idea, not the person or organization. Personal attacks also consist of making damaging remarks relating to one’s lifestyle or choices such as questioning a person’s intelligence, values, integrity, motivations or decisions.

In the reasonable portion of the debate here, I found my concerns well addressed. The lack of enforcement around “integrity, motivations, or decisions”, however, undercuts the success of the debate in proving the merits of the proposal.

I would respectfully suggest to leadership that when emotions are high is precisely when it’s critically important to enforce the standards and decorum that we hold as central values. I expect in the future to not have to battle ad hominem attacks without appropriate moderation.

Given the resolution of this debate and the commitment by the foundation to empower board observers appropriately, I am changing my vote to approve.


I appreciate all the time that folks have put into clearing up these definitions. Understanding that this role isn’t trying to assign “The Director” but instead making @b3n a “director” of Finance and Operations was really helpful for me. From how I see it, this vote doesn’t deter the need for filling technical expertise, nor does it limit what that position could be. They are separate.

This sums things up for me :point_down:

I voted in favor because I think Ben would do well as a head of finance and ops. The need to fill a technical lead shouldn’t prevent Ben from taking lead on Nelson’s responsibilities (which was never technical in the first place).

Ben is a good fit IMO. If it passes, then great, if not, then PNF should resubmit with the clarity we have gleaned from the past 24h. Regardless, it is really encouraging to see change happening :slightly_smiling_face:


I am in support of both the proposal and as well the sentiment posted here in regards of a change of representation in PNF directors.

Proposal Focus

As Shane and others mentioned, this proposal is simply to replace Nelson (who is likely going to be inactive). Given the director Ben is replacing, there is very little argument that he is not capable of his director responsibilities. It is important to ensure that PNF can continue its multi-sig operations and have proper handoff. 2 signatures is too insecure and risky, three is the minimum threshold.


We should assume the back channels are not malicious and are used as an effective communication channel for time-sensitive matters. Given that it didn’t reach @ArtSabintsev 's attention until early this week, I believe it’s fair game for him to raise his concerns as long as it’s within the voting limits. After catching up a little more, there is very little reason to believe this is simply a “powerplay” by any actor, but rather genuine concerns voiced by the community and leaders. The timing wasn’t as good, but it led to good discourse and gave voice to a lot of community members behind the scenes. I fully understand Art’s intentions here and like he said, everything that has happened so far can be considered a win.

Technical/Community Directors

It is my personal opinion that POKT would benefit from a technical director who does not have previous ties with the network such that

  1. Ex-Employee of PNF/Grove
  2. Ties with a VC that bought into the token sale

It would make for a far more balanced neutral Foundation.


This proposal has become a lot more than just voting Ben into director. It has led to great arguments on what the Foundation can look like in the future, and this should help PNF prioritize better what the DAO wants to see. As Jack transitions to part-time, I see an opportunity for his director role to be superseded with what everyone has been echoing , but this should not exclude Ben from being appointed as director, and hence why I’m voting for the proposal.


Succinctly and perfectly stated.


This proposal has passed with 21 yays and 7 nays on Snapshot.

Thanks everyone for your input and participation in the last couple of days. A real community effort.

We at PNF have learned a lot from this process, and I hope everyone involved has too.

Please also welcome @b3n as a new director!!


Thanks all for your faith in me to perform this role and for the many messages I received. I’m glad the debate led to more clarity around PNF’s board operations.

What happened here is a good guide for how we can solve any challenges our ecosystem faces - directly, together, and by seeking to better understanding each others needs and talents. That’s a blueprint for what I hope to bring to the role and now this is done I’m excited to get on with it.


This PIP got all the grandpas out of hiding… :smile: :smiley:

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