Then, things turned ugly and have stayed that way ever since. In addition to facing two lawsuits, Tezos is riddled with in-fighting at the highest level. This week, the foundation’s president, Johann Gevers, was accused of operating a dictatorship as the acrimony intensified.
Tezos, last year’s most notorious ICO, is back in the news and once again it’s for all the wrong reasons. The blockchain project, with its promise of decentralized governance, was hailed as a paragon of success after raising $232 million in 2017.
When Blockchain Goes Wrong
For investors who contributed to Tezos’ July crowdsale, the ensuing six months have been agonizing and expensive. Bitcoin traded for $2,000 back then and ethereum went for a little over $200. Had things played out differently, many investors would have flipped their tokens long ago once the platform went live. The Tezos imbroglio has cost them at least 8x their investment.
Tezos Foundation president Johann Gevers
On Tuesday, Johann Gevers, the Tezos Foundation president, outlined his vision for relaunching the project with an all-Swiss team at the top. In the weeks prior, Gevers had received a number of applications to help lead the new-look Tezos Foundation, and supporters were confident that these appointments would add the much-needed leadership and impetus for progress to finally be made.
Their hopes were dashed though after Gevers unilaterally vetoed all of the applicants, as an email from the foundation’s Diego Pons to the candidates revealed:
Three days later, Gevers despatched a series of rambling tweets doubling down on his message. Quoting Elon Musk, he wrote: “Building a startup is like staring into the abyss of death and eating glass” and then followed up: “The Tezos Foundation is a Swiss foundation, based in Crypto Valley, Switzerland, and its top leadership teams will be heavily Swiss-weighted. Physical proximity and cultural fit is especially important initially, to build trust and productive working relationships.”
Storecoin’s Chris McCoy who attended a Swiss blockchain conference where Gevers outlined his plans last week, tweeted:
This Gevers character came across as a sociopath dictator extraordinaire. His speech was some weird shit. I’m now unsure how this plays for Tezos, the blockchain protocol. Very unfortunate.
A Community-Led Revolt
Storecoin’s head honcho is not alone in having grave reservations about Gevers’ character. An extraordinary Google Document assembled by the Tezos community goes through the foundation president’s professional history, pinpointing a string of failed businesses and unsubstantiated claims the executive has made. It scathingly notes: “The number of failures that Mr. Gevers has launched is both impressive and shocking for someone allegedly qualified in matters of accounting, law and business.” It finishes:
The Tezos Community vehemently opposes keeping Mr. Johann Lothar Gevers as the President of the Tezos Foundation for reasons enumerated in a widely circulated and supported Petition, and subsequent press release, signed by over 1600 contributors and well known members of the crypto community from over 95 countries, in December, 2017. The Tezos Community Petition requests Mr. Gevers’ immediate removal from the board.
Handbags and Bad Blood
The soap opera that is Tezos has been popcorn for cryptocurrency observers, but for those still waiting for their “new digital commonwealth” to appear, the debacle has been wearisome. Regardless of Johann Gevers’ business acumen, he seems to have a knack for making enemies.
Over the past three months, he’s somehow managed to alienate the Breitmans, his foundation colleagues, the Tezos community, executive applicants, and numerous crypto luminaries, who’ve been watching the situation with distaste. One small ray of light for Tezos supporters: the projects’s Github has at least been busy. The ship is almost constructed. Now all it needs is a crew capable of sailing it.