Something on which everyone can agree, whether fans of Christensen or not, is that the existing governance system is in need of reform. “There are a lot of teams, and it is not always easy to get a sense of the value they are providing,” says Derivaux, and MakerDAO is paralyzed by an inability to reach decisions quickly. Less clear is whether Endgame will resolve these problems.
“The impact Endgame will have is really difficult to say,” says Johnny_TVL, senior research analyst at Messari, a specialist crypto research firm. “Certainly, if fully executed, it seems like it would adeptly decentralize the protocol. But given the complexity, it is unlikely to work exactly as advertised.”
To characterize Endgame as complex is perhaps to put it too lightly. In a Substack post, Luca Prosperi, who works in lending oversight for MakerDAO, described Christensen’s Endgame posts as “very detailed, extremely articulated, unforgivingly frequent, and excruciatingly long.” To understand the latest version of the plan, he says, a “Tolkien-esque glossary” is required.
Despite his doubts during the voting process, Di Prisco is willing to put faith in the MakerDAO founder, whom he describes as “smart and honest.” He says he has come to terms with the fact that, often, “the founder is the only one who can really picture things end to end.”
Christensen admits he is probably the only one to grasp the Endgame proposal and its implications. “In some ways, I don’t even understand it fully,” he says. “I can’t predict all possible future paths.”
“But the current status quo is infinitely more complex; you can’t see the wood for the trees. But with Endgame, things start to crystallize to a point where you can at least count the things you need to understand,” says Christensen.
A Reckoning for DAOs Everywhere
At the center of the conflict within the MakerDAO community are questions surrounding whether complete decentralization can ever be achieved—and if it’s even a good idea.
Some believe decentralization should be the DAO’s single priority, as the only protection against the overreach of governments and corporations, while others are willing to compromise on decentralization to make DAI accessible to the largest possible audience.
But Danny says the debate has been hindered by “a real lack of intellectual rigor and consistency” around the concept of decentralization, which has become a cliché used to signal a general philosophy rather than a clearly defined objective.
In spite of their admiration for the spirit of the MakerDAO project, none of the community members that spoke to WIRED (with the exception of Daverington) claimed to be optimistic about the long-term viability of DAOs as a model for organizing human effort. Even Christensen says he had almost given up on the concept, until Endgame reignited his belief.
“I think DAOs, up to this point, are pretty much a failure,” says Di Prisco, who suggests that the problem has to do with “the architecture of the protocols and expectations people have of governance.”
Danny, who is equally pessimistic, says the biggest problem is the failure to get enough people to vote—and asking them to vote on highly complex proposals. The result is a system that pushes people to fall in line behind a figurehead, like Christensen, and therefore begins to resemble a traditional business ever more closely.
The fundamental question is whether DAOs can be organized in such a way that the best ideas rise to the top, but Danny says that’s simply not the case here. “MakerDAO is as far from a meritocracy of ideas as you can get.”