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Running Diary of Joel Valenzuela's interview of Roger Ver
Last night I decided to revist the two interviews Joel Valenzuela did of Roger Ver and Amaury Sechet regarding the IFP. I admit the first time I only listened to them while running errands (at 2x speed no less), so they didn't get my full attention. Forcing myself to sit there and actually watch them really opened my eyes to the differences between Roger and Amaury and I thought it would be worthwhile to write a running diary for each.
Before I proceed, I want to note how impressed I was by Joel's interviewing skills and breadth of knowledge. These were two of the best interviews I've seen in a long time. I highly recommend watching them in their entirety and at regular speed if you have the time.
Now here's my running diary:
2:30 Joel asks Roger when the IFP was first introduced, but rather than answering the question, Roger spends the next several minutes attacking the IFP. He compares the IFP to universal health care, which he points out is nothing more than a plan being forced by men with guns. But again I can't help but ask where is the gun?
Then he talks about how the IFP is just a way to enrich one developer while destroying the network in the process. I obviously disagree that's Amaury's intent is to only enrich himself, but I also can't read anyone's mind. Roger does bring up a good point about having to entrust the network to one man. Men are fallible, and as much as I respect Amaury, he is human, but that's a risk I'm willing to take, especially when my other option is to entrust the network to a group of people who can't seem to agree on the path forward for BCH.
3:48 Roger continues his attack by pointing out the IFP and the 8% coinbase diversion is making BCH a whole new coin. That this is something Bitcoin has never had. He compares BCH to Zcash, Dash, and other coins that pay a miner fee to devs. Then he mentions how even BSV never had that. I don't know why Roger keeps bringing up BSV all the time.
4:35 Talks about how ABC has minority hash since everyone is signalling BCHN, and that the futures market only prices the ABC fork at 10% of the value of BCH. So it's going to be a free airdrop u can sell for more Dash or more Bitcoin Cash. He's also surprised that Vin Armani is a fan of ABC and implies it might be because Vin sees dollar signs, which is just a horrible take. Roger discusses the meme wars, the bitshevik name calling, and says it's ABC that is acting like the communists by forcing people to pay them for building the roads. Again, I will point out ABC isn't forcing anyone to do anything. There are no guns. Miners are free to choose not to mine with ABC. But if they do choose ABC, and ABC gets funding and the network gets security, hopefully ABC will use that funding to improve infrastructure and BCH's price goes up, and the miner's revenues will go up. I'd also argue that not even giving the miners this option would be shortchanging them, taking away a choice from the market, which is anti-capitalistic.
7:50 Once again Roger starts by answering the wrong question. It almost feels like he's being evasive. Then Roger walks Joel through how only 2% of the IFP will be paid for by BCH miners. It's good to see Roger understands how the IFP works. Roger also mentions that "voluntary and forced is kind of blurry in all this". I'm glad to see he finally seems to be admitting that ABC isn't exactly forcing anyone to do anything. Roger also says he thought it was interesting that the IFP would be paid for mostly by BTC miners but balks at the idea of who gets to decide what to do with the money, even suggesting maybe Bitcoin.com should get it. I'm sorry but that suggestion is preposterous. Bitcoin.com is a business that should be profiting off the network and funding infrastructure, not getting subsidized.
10:03 Roger compares the IFP to the ring in Lord of the Rings and says the IFP is "this really powerful tool that can be used to pay for a lot of interesting things". Then adds that the problem is deciding who gets the money and how it is used, which will lead to a lot of infighting and a fracturing of the community. I get that, but I also think it makes no sense to not use a "really powerful tool" just because you're afraid of what it might do. I think it makes more sense to figure out a way to harness that power, and that's what ABC is trying to do.
10:50 Nice humblebrag about owning a number of Dash masternodes =)
10:56 Roger talks about the social contract of BCH and how it never included a miner fee. He says it's different for a project like Dash that included it from the start, but Joel corrects Roger and explains that Dash didn't originally fund developers through the miner reward either and it wasn't until about a year in that they pivoted and evolved to the current model. If only the BCH community could be that forward thinking.
16:50 Happy to see Roger pointing out that BCH is the 3rd largest proof of work cryptocurrency in the world, which is important considering the scaling problems that are currently hampering the top two. To me, that's the reason I'm invested in BCH, because I believe we have a huge opportunity right now due to the scaling problems on BTC and ETH, but that window won't stay open forever.
Roger goes on to say that he believes that both the tech and the community are equally important, but I disagree here. The tech comes first. A community will form around superior tech. A superior community doesn't guarantee great tech will come out of it no matter how collaborative it might be.
17:46"You have to be nice and friendly to people" according to Roger. Really? Is that the best argument against Amaury? What I care about are results.
18:09 Joel views Amaury as being bold. Joel gets it. We need more Joel's in BCH. Roger tries to counter by positing that Amaury might not have been that bold but was simply paid by Jihan to start BCH. Well, if Jihan did pay Amaury to start BCH, what do you expect him to do come November?
19:20 Roger complimenting BSV again and says he hopes BCH will slow down the 6 month upgrade cycle to make life easier on businesses running on top of BCH. Kind of reminds me of Napoleon in Animal Farm saying they don't need the windmill because it's too much work and they should focus on their current needs rather than plan for the future.
22:45 Good to see Roger smiling again after he notices the tape on Joel's fingers and they briefly chat about jujitsu =)
23:50 Joel brings up this idea of the tragedy of the commons. How a miner's role in Bitcoin is to profit by securing the chain but developers don't have that same incentive mechanism in place. Roger then compares what's happening today with what happened to the Bitcoin Core team and how Gavin and Mike Hearn were kicked out when others in the community basically hijacked the network and took Bitcoin in a direction that wasn't originally intended. I think what roger fails to see is that though the IFP was never planned, it doesn't mean the network is being hijacked. ABC started BCH so this would be the equivalent of Gavin deciding to raise the blocksize despite what Blockstream and others wanted. Would you have said Gavin hijacked BTC in that situation, or would you say he had every right to do so? I think ABC has the right to do what they want. The IFP is like raising the block size from 1MB to 2MB despite disagreements from the community at large.
26:38 Roger is talking about how much he's donated over the years to various Bitcoin projects, and as much as I respect his altruism, the fact is it's just not enough. Compare the money raised for BCH to AVAX recently raising $42M. Roger's donations to flipstarter campaigns can't be more than $400K. And we don't have 100 Rogers to fund everything. The IFP can remedy that situation. And that doesn't mean you can't still directly fund projects you see value in, whether it's because you think it will raise the price of BCH, or you see it as an investment opportunity. Roger also mentions the $1M raised by flipstarter, and as Amaury points out in his interview, that number would sound like a joke to someone like Vitalik Buterin because he knows that $1M is nowhere near enough to fund infrastructure.
27:15 Roger highlights the fact that ABC's flipstarter was only one that didn't get completed. He states:
"It's not because the quality of [ABC's] work isn't pretty good. I think it's the attitude that you go into it with. If you want people to collaborate with you or donate money to you, you have to have a good attitude to go with it."
This is more of the being nice argument. Once again I disagree completely. I think the most important thing should be the quality of the work, not someone's attitude.
28:54 Joel mentions that even Bitcoin Core very recently has been complaining about a lack of funds. This is the first I've heard of this, but it only further supports the need for a mechanism like the IFP to fund infrastructure development.
29:48 Roger talks about Amazon and how they're not an organization that grew by asking for donations. "No they built a business, and charged customers, and earned money." Exactly! That's what ABC is doing now, charging their customers, the miners, to earn money.
31:00 Roger says it would be in his economic interest to pay developers to make the protocol more useful, not for charity, but because the economic incentives are there to do so. My question is so why isn't it happening? ABC has waited 3 years for this to happen. How much longer are they supposed to wait? We'll see if the miners think 8% is worth paying for ABC to continue building BCH, because if they don't, and ABC leaves, they're risking their future livelihoods. It's like having home or car insurance. No one wants to have to pay for insurance, but it's necessary to insure you don't get rekt.
31:50 Roger brings up a BSV thought leader, and I can't help but wondering if maybe Roger would prefer building on the BSV network.
33:30 Joel points out how Blockstream was a company that funded Bitcoin development but they only "increased Bitcoin's usefulness for their own economic purposes and unfortunately those economic purposes were not in the economic interests for the rest of the world." He highlights the problem with funding development this way, which is that oftentimes funding can come with strings attached. It reminds me of Hayden Otto's recent flipstarters and how he is basically being told that he won't get any money unless he tows the party line.
34:45 They discuss the one area of improvement for Nakamoto consensus system is the miners. Even in Dash, Joel points out that many people who control masternodes still don't bother to vote for projects. Basically he's saying miners have been too passive, and I agree, but I believe the IFP can help in this area.
35:35 Joel asks what would Roger do to make things better, to incentivize miners to act? Roger answers: "I don't really know." Well, ABC has an idea. It's to charge miners and force their hand to make a choice. I'm also glad to see Roger concede that "maybe the IFP version that forks away from Bitcoin Cash, maybe they'll build all sorts of really useful tech...", even if he does think it's "really really unlikely".
42:25 They've been talking about BSV and Craig again, but they mention that BSV Is closed source and I wanted to point out a key difference from ABC charging miners to use their client to validate blocks versus what BSV is doing. ABC code is still open source. Anyone is free to copy the code and do what they want. That is not the case with BSV.
43:00 Joel brings up Zcash and Library and how they both seem to be working even though it's one team that has all the control on both coins. He says they've been making all this cool tech and Roger says it's fine to have that kind of mechanism when it's from the beginning, but not a decade into the project. Roger brings up an early fork of Zcash called Zclassic that didn't have the funding mechanism. He points out that Zcash is the one that has done significantly better and admits it's evidence that infrastructure funding matters, but adds that it might also have to do with the community. I say the funding is what made Zcash more successful than Zclassic because the tech was better and a community formed around the tech.
49:00 Joel discusses how governance works on Dash, and that it might work well for choosing their logo, but it doesn't work well when it comes to the grant system. I think this is important. In the Dash model, the funding of developers acts like a subsidy. With the new ABC model, I see it not as a subsidy but as payment for services rendered. I'll touch on this in more detail when I break down Amaury's interview.
54:35 Roger contends that miners don't want the responsibility of governance and they just want to mine their coins and be left alone. I think that's the wrong attitude. I think we should all see ourselves as stakeholders, as owners and not renters, so we can improve the network and build BCH to become the best money in the world.
In conclusion, I understand Roger's reservations about giving "all that money" to one team, but the reality is it's not that much money. We're talking about 6.25*6*24*365*0.08*220=$5,781,600 a year at current prices. Honestly, that's nothing. But I still want to see what ABC can do with that nothing. If they're smart, and I believe they are, they know that the best way to make real money is to increase the price of BCH. Being successful that way will bring them orders of magnitude more money than just pocketing a few million in the short term. If the coin doubles in price, suddenly that $6M becomes $12M, and double that is $24M. They are directly incentivized to make the coin more valuable. And if we give them a couple years and we don't see any real improvement, then the market will decide and the miners will move to another chain. I admit it's a bold move. But it's the right move.
Ultimately, no matter how many people joined the BCH network and helped by creating wallets, or working to get merchants to accept BCH, or hosted meet-ups, the project was started and maintained by ABC for the last three years. Yes it gets murky because this is open source software, but no one has the right to tell them what they can or can't do with their own code. BCHN, BCHD, Flowee, Knuth, BU, Software Verde are all free to do whatever they want with their code as well. They can implement their own IFP and make it 6% for all I care, but they won't because no miner would pay it.
We don't yet know if anyone will mine with ABC and divert 8% of the mining reward to the ABC address either, but we'll find out on November 15th.
In part 2, I will break down Amaury's interview the same way.