DeFi Protocol ROOK ‘Gagged’ From Sharing Road Map by Clients, CEO Says

The pseudonymous CEO Hazard said "we’re bound by the will of the order flow providers,” on a community governance call.

AccessTimeIconMar 23, 2023 at 10:22 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:11 a.m. UTC

Decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol ROOK seems to get more attention these days for its multimillion-dollar crypto treasury than its progress in its actual business of building tools for the Ethereum blockchain. That’s sparked dissent from some of its token holders – and on Thursday a response from the CEO.

In a governance call on ROOK’s Discord server that CoinDesk attended, the project’s pseudonymous leader Hazard pushed back on perceptions that management has failed to deliver. Their recent silence on progress and lack of a road map is a function of ROOK’s clientele and their “conservative” lawyers' preference for staying quiet, he said.

“We’re bound by the will of the order flow providers,” Hazard said of those who want to use ROOK to capture transaction value – aka maximal extractable value, or MEV – on Ethereum. “They’re the customer, and the customer is always right.”

The comments came as some in the ROOK DAO chafe at what they view to be a stagnating project no longer working in the best interest of its community. One recent proposal calls for the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to dissolve and split ROOK’s treasury – worth nearly $50 million in various cryptos – among holders of the ROOK token.

ROOK’s token has gone largely sideways this year even as many other crypto assets have rallied hard. Still, it was trading around $15.71 at press time, up nearly 12% in 24 hours.

On the call Hazard downplayed the importance of the token and cautioned speculators not to think it will perform based on the output of ROOK – a key prong in determining what is and isn’t a security. ROOK token gives its holders voting power in decisions put before the DAO.

But the DAO has had little operational say recently in what ROOK’s been doing – or even transparency into what ROOK’s management has been doing. Hazard acknowledged this on the call and blamed it on the “large projects” interested in using ROOK: “Their constraints are what's causing us to be a little bit more gagged about what we can talk about.”

“It's difficult to have public governance with private information,” Hazard said on the call. “Perhaps it’s the case that it has swung a little bit too far toward private information and maybe we need to swing back a bit.”

For Wismerhill, a pseudonymous self-described trading fund who recently called for ROOK’s dissolution, Hazard’s demurring on road map transparency “can be understood,” but only to a point.

“If this is the case this project can no longer be governed by a DAO, which relies on public information to operate,” Wismerhill said in a message with CoinDesk.

The emcee on Thursday’s call, Jason Windawi, did not respond to a request for comment.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

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