Dear Dash Community Members,
I would like to offer my thoughts about the project direction and possible changes we, as a project and community, should consider. I am not writing this to demand changes but rather offer my point of view and have productive conversation about the project's future.
I think Dash needs some corrections on strategic and operational levels and I would like to present some of my propositions on this matter. I am not going to argue with those who think the direction of the project is correct - this is not my intention.
The intention of this post is to focus on improvements and a better future of the project. This only - no fights, unproductive arguments and finger-pointing.
Few years ago, when Evan was still around, the brilliant idea of Evolution was created. At that time Dash was already a payments-focused project and Evolution was going to be a great supplement for the project's strategy. It was going to be a Venmo-like wallet run on blockchain. Sadly, Evan left the project and other engineers continued his work. Simple solution (wallet with user names and list of friends) grew to the idea of a development platform and DashPay wallet. According to the development teams, it was supposed to take only a few months to develop the platform and wallet, so the management team made a decision to go into that direction, despite possible delays. From the business perspective it was much more attractive and the estimated difference in the delivery time (3-6 months, according to the devs) was insignificant, compared to the possible advantages. It was 2018 - you know the rest very well.
2018 was also a year when the market crashed and DCG had to make many difficult decisions about the budget and headcount. The development teams constantly assured us about the relatively quick delivery time of the platform, management made a decision to focus on technology delivery, and not on other equally important iniatiatives such as marketing, comms, bizdev. All of our efforts and funds were used to retain developers and deliver Evo. This approach has not changed to this day and I consider it to be a mistake. I confess that as a member of senior management I am also guilty that it was kept this way for such a long time.
Crypto industry evolved, markets evolved, communities evolved but Dash remained narrowly focused on Evolution delivery and focused solely on developers and delivering the best possible technology. We can see now that it was not a perfect choice - markets punished us hard for this choice.
In my opinion changes in the current strategy and direction are necessary, if the Dash network wants to survive and thrive. We have always heard from our devs that good tech is going to defend itself and eventually will be recognized by the markets. I think the reality does not support this claim anymore. We have probably the best tech in the industry and despite this, the project is slowly fading (from the market perspective). Much (technologically) weaker projects managed to explode in the space - projects that are still in development, or completely without development, constantly failing (eg. stopped blockchains) are much more recognized and have a much better position in the industry. I think we should stop ignoring markets? and put more focus on what is working for other projects. And follow. Let's not repeat the same mistakes, expecting different outcomes.
It seems like the common thing to successful projects in our space is not a great tech, perfect decentralisation, sophisticated solutions and focus on development but instead:
- Focus on promotion and marketing
- Consistent, effective and incremental technology development and delivery
- Welcoming and enthusiastic communities around the world
So what, in my opinion, could we change?
1. More promotion and marketing
We already have great tech - there is no doubt about it. And almost no one knows about it. I am pretty sure that there is no need to create more new products or more sophisticated tech-oriented solutions. What is needed instead is cheering on what we are having, comparing to the competitors, screaming how good we are, creating videos, memes, messages etc. We have a lot to talk about.
After the expected platform release, I think there will be no necessity to put more money and effort into developing more tech. I think that much better use of the network money would be to spend it on promotion. It doesn't mean that we should stop development - no. I think we should limit money spent on development for a year or two and redirect this money towards promotion and marketing. Existing development teams should not be expanded but focus more on documentation, marketing support and actively participate in the promotion efforts (e.g. by doing videos, samples, tutorials, joining development communities and promoting our tech). Their help will be largely needed to promote the platform in the development community.
Recent changes in DCG communications and growing efforts on the community side created a solid foundation for better promotion. This created a constant flow of Dash-related information, increased visibility of the project and it should be definitely continued.
I think what is missing is a professional marketing campaign, driven by experienced agencies and/or people, who have experience in the field.
Dash needs good promotion and recognition - and there are people out there, who could help us to achieve it. In my opinion we don’t need perfection, we don’t need more experiments with DAO, we don’t need radical transparency, we don’t need more tech etc. We have made many of those experiments and we are pioneers in many things. However, we don’t have to be pioneers in everything and constantly experiment.
Let’s simply use the tools that work. Traditional marketing works.
So what would be my proposition here?
2. Less focus on tech and developers
- Continue community and DCG efforts in constant flow of messages, communication and promotion. This is a great foundation and starts working well.
- When the platform is launched, move developers to promote it in the development community, create videos, visual materials, code samples, tutorials, great docs, articles, participate in conferences and hackathons and engage in discussions with other devs. Just don’t stay hidden in the caves or create more and more features - we don’t need more.
- As a supplement for the foundation, from time to time (not constantly) launch campaigns with professional agencies. Good example is Coca-Cola and their summer campaigns. When the time is right - which in our case is a bull market - we should push hard. Agencies from the industry know how to do it - they successfully promoted many projects. Let’s use their experience, hire them and work together. There is no magic in that - one or two experienced PMs could coordinate these efforts. What is needed is money. We could collect the funds earlier - slowly, to not drain the budget, and prepare for the right time.
What is important is to not do these campaigns during the bear market - it would be a total waste of money.
Just to be clear - by writing “developers” in this post, I mean all functions within DCG that are responsible for the code: developers, tech leads and CTO.
It is not easy to say but it needs to be said. Simple and straightforward - for a couple of years this project has been kept hostage by developers. And this needs to be changed.
As mentioned above, in 2018 the Dash network and DCG became focused on developers and gave them a lot of power and independence. And since then we were hearing that we need 3-6 months to deliver. We have GREAT developers but we also have problems with developers and the delivery process. It requires changes - the good thing is that those changes are easy to do.
The biggest of our problems is that developers are cheered, almost worshipped, despite not delivering as promised and not kept accountable for that. We have always shielded our devs. As a result, they do whatever they want, without focus on the delivery but with focus on development instead. If you let developers drive the project, they will do what they do the best - they will develop the code (the more sophisticated and geeky, the better) as development is fun for them - but this is not necessarily what the project needs. We need timely delivery, releases and products - not more and more super-complicated code.
This should be acknowledged and changed. We need results and delivery, not development for the sake of developing code.
There were tons of books written about why you should not give developers power to lead the project and product development. I am not going to repeat that - DYOR. Great summary of this is this the tweet from Andreas - it reflects our situation very well:
Just watch the latest 2-3 sprint reviews and you’ll know what I am talking about.
Our efforts should NOT be focused on developing code. Focus should be on delivering products and explaining why these products have value. Value to investors, users and also external developers. Great code is great but this code should serve the purpose of giving value to our users (not just giving fun to developers). And also encourage potential investors to buy Dash. This is really important - don’t ignore the power of the markets.
So I propose to apply the following changes in the delivery process:
- Delivery excellence should be the key. Keep developers accountable for what they do and what they promise. Make sure they understand the goal of what we are doing (and this goal is not to develop as much code as possible to be clear)
- Replace those, who don’t deliver like they promised or are unreliable. Accidental failures can be tolerated, constant failures and broken promises not.
- Let other people do what they should do and let them control developers. We have other people, who could improve the delivery process a lot - let them work and not interfere. Scrum Masters should oversee the development process. Product Owners should control product roadmaps and delivery of products. SMs and POs should oversee and control developers, not the other way around.
- Create a clear vision of what is going to be delivered and explain what is done already. In a simple language, understandable for the average person. Geeky, tech language is counterproductive in the long run - people don’t understand that.
- Better plan of the releases. Avoid big releases (platform is a great example of that mistake) and plan small, incremental releases instead.
- No releases during the bear market (or at least minimal number of releases). Bear market annihilates the positive impact of the releases - we have experienced this already. Market situation has a big impact on the project and Bitcoin dictates the market situation. Follow the market.
- Last but not least - put the right people in charge and give them power to apply necessary changes. Even if those changes are difficult. If we don’t want to have more years of development but effective delivery instead, changes are absolutely necessary. Start from CEO - in my opinion it should be a market-, business- and user-oriented individual with a good understanding of financial business. We should only consider a person whose primary objective is the quick delivery of a platform.
- On the other hand, if you think everything is great, any changes are unnecessary.
There is also an option to contract an external party, completely detached from the project, to make an audit and assessment of the technology development situation in DCG. They would create a report and suggest necessary changes - this is not uncommon and there are many consulting companies doing such assessments of agile companies. It is also not expensive. I would strongly recommend considering this to gain an external perspective on the internal challenges instead of relying solely on DCG internal developers opinions as those may be biased.
3. Community evolution
I think we also need change and evolution in our community. I remember well what a great community we were. Community is a vital part of the project and the backbone of it. We don’t need politics, manipulation, “transparency”, “investigations” etc. Dash needs enthusiastic and positive people who are all working together to make the Dash network successful..
I am not going to write a big elaborate entry here. Let’s just eliminate negativity and those who create it - it doesn’t serve the project in any positive way. Let’s focus on building a positive message, supporting those who do things, being welcoming to new people, inspiring positive change, supporting each other, and spreading the word about the project. I think you know very well what I mean here.
If you managed to read this to this moment - thank you very much. Please let me know what your opinion is about the changes needed for Dash.
I am happy to have a productive discussion and help make necessary changes, as I have much more free time now, and care deeply about this project.