Aragon Faces Wave of Resignations and It’s Not Clear Why

[Story was updated at 2:58pm EST]

The Aragon community is facing mass resignations and nobody in the leadership team is being forthright as to what exactly is driving the exodus. 

The latest high-profile resignation was from Jorge Izquierdo, chief executive of Aragon One, the for-profit entity building tools and apps on the Aragon protocol. Izquierdo, who is also Aragon’s co-founder, marked the 13th departure in the past week. Aragon is a protocol which provides the framework and tools to build decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs.

Series of Decisions

Izquierdo tweeted that “a series of decisions were made in the Aragon Association” in the two weeks he had taken off from work, mainly regarding governance, that he disagreed with and that given the circumstances, he felt he couldn’t “keep doing a good job.”

“There were several proposals put forward to fix this, but there was no willingness to revert or amend these decisions and actions,” said Inquierdo. “As a result, no changes were made. This motivated the team to leave, and it is also the reason why I am resigning.”

Lack of Clarity

Lack of clarity around these resignations have prompted some Aragon community members to call for greater transparency from the Aragon Association leadership—an ironic twist for a company whose own manifesto revolves around openness and decentralization of power.

In what might reflect at least part of the disagreements within the community, Izquierdo had been the first to respond to a proposal by Aragon co-founder Luis Cuende to speed up the merger between ANT-ANJ tokens. 

Izquierdo wrote on the Jan. 8 post, “I am strongly against this proposal as it will require putting trust in a centralized entity (Aragon Association and the community multisig) to operate the exchange (not only once, but on a recurring basis) when a smart contract could be built very easily and no trust would be required.”

Differences of Opinions

Even after explicit calls for answers and explanations from the Aragon community on Discord, Aragon Association leadership has remained dodgy on the exact nature of the disagreements. 

Cuende said “as Aragon grows, differences of opinions on how to best govern are inevitable.” He said “recently, the Association took steps to further its own decentralization,” with a recent leadership restructuring, including his own replacement with Joe Charlesworth as Executive Director. Cuende said the move has always been on the roadmap, as being both a co-founder and the Executive Director made governance power too concentrated, suggesting the reshuffling may have sparked disagreements. 

Aragon Association’s recent acquisition of voting project Vocdoni increased competition for funding among Aragon teams, including Aragon One. Vocdoni team members were paid an undisclosed amount of Aragon’s token, ANT, as part of the acquisition. 

When reached for comment last week, Izquierdo said he would be making an announcement Monday, which is when he resigned.

Treasury Rebalancing 

Following Izquierdo’s departure, Aragon Association’s new Executive Director Charlesworth posted details of a treasury asset rebalancing transaction agreed to by the Aragon Association Committee. This would involve Aragon selling around 52k ETH over time in order to increase their relative position in BTC, ANT, USDC, and USD. The sale will be performed through one of Aragon’s financial service partners. 

It’s unclear whether the treasury moves are related to the employee departures. 

Trouble Started 

The trouble started when Aragon Association governance lead John Light posted his resignation letter on GitHub on Jan. 7. In the letter, Light says he believes that Aragon no longer reflects his values or the values of the Aragon Manifesto.

“If power becomes centralized, it doesn’t have to answer to anyone but itself. Decentralizing power is essential to minimizing corruption over time,” he wrote. “We must strive to create systems in which a large number of diverse stakeholders have a say, in order for common goods to be responsibly governed by their communities.”

Light lists a lack of transparency from the Aragon Association as a major reason for his departure, and notes that he is publicly declaring his resignation “because the Aragon community deserves to know more about what the Aragon Association has been doing in their name.”

Light then called on the Aragon Association to “publish all meeting minutes and financials for public review” and “to involve ANT holders and contributors more in Association governance.”

11 Resignations 

Following Light’s resignation 11 employees of Aragon One announced their departures in the Aragon Discord. All of them cited Light’s resignation letter as an apt reflection of their own reasons for leaving. When reached for comment, none of the former employees wished to comment further.

Charlesworth highlighted that Aragon One is just one of many development teams working on Aragon, when reached for comment by The Defiant. 

“There have indeed been several resignations in Aragon One, which I would like to emphasize is just one of many of the development teams that received grants from the Aragon Association,” Charlesworth said. “The only resignation from the Aragon Association is John Light.”

Leadership Reshuffle 

Charlesworth went on to list the recent leadership reshuffle,  with his promotion to Executive Director of the Aragon Association, while Cuende stepped back to Chairman and Jose Nuno Pinto was promoted to Chief Legal Officer. Aragon Association also hired a new head of technical research. 

Charlesworth did little to quell the upset bubbling amongst Aragon community members who wanted to know specifics about what transparency issues caused the mass departures. 

“I’m just flabbergasted that the response not only fails to address the concerns the team expressed, it actively demonstrates those very concerns,” a community member posted.

Demands for answers have continued to rage within the Aragon Discord, and as it stands, specifics still remain unclear.

[Updated at 2:54pm EST: A previous version of the story said Cuende had suggested that Aragon One felt threatened for resources after Aragon Association’s recent acquisition of voting project Vocdoni. We updated the story to better reflect Cuende’s statements.]

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