Block.one is about to begin wielding its juggernaut EOS allocation in the ecosystem's governance, but the multi-billion dollar developer house has some pre-requisites.
In a note last Friday, the Cayman Island-based company, which controls 100 million EOS tokens, just under 10% of the current total supply, outlined the criteria it would use to decide on which block producer (BP) candidates to support and vote for.
There are just three requirements. Numbers two and three are: the BP candidates' node has to be running version 2 or higher EOS software and has to be independently operating as a publicly queryable node.
But it's the first requirement that's perhaps most interesting: "The general location of the node has been disclosed publicly through the BP JSON file." A JSON file is like a BP's public declaration, which includes crucial information such as names and contact information. So, in other words, Block.one wants a BP candidate to disclose where it's based before it will lend it its hefty support.
In an email to CoinDesk, Kevin Rose, who used to be head of BP EOS New York and now manages the relations between Block.one and the EOS community, played down the location requirement, saying it was just a factor to be taken into consideration when deciding for whom to vote.
CoinDesk asked Rose why Block.one wanted to have BPs' location in the first place. "As with any public decentralized blockchain, understanding the general geographic distribution of block producing nodes is helpful information for self-evident reasons," he said.
Back in June 2019, Brock Pierce, Block.one's former chief strategy officer, notoriously claimed that changes to the EOS governance system – which effectively enabled vote-buying – meant the network had been taken over by a cabal of block producers based in China: a "Chinese oligarchy," he called it.
But Rose denied the location disclosure had anything to do with favoring specific countries. It was "not a regulatory or other formal requirement," but merely a factor to be considered when voting for a BP candidate.
"While we do not value one jurisdiction over another, this voluntary location disclosure is something that has been organically championed by the general EOS community, so we chose to embrace it as we begin voting for the first time," he said.
Instead Block.one's location requirement is only to ensure that, as a "globally focused organization we embrace inclusivity and diversity among block producer node," according to Rose. At the end of the day, a location disclosure has been proposed as voting criteria since August 2019, so Block.one, he said, is just "embracing that community desire.".
But Alex Melikhov, CEO and founder of Equilibrium and the EOSDT stablecoin, told CoinDesk that location disclosure would do little to ensure Block.one voted for eligible BPs. Most run node infrastructure on clouds, and it takes "literally seconds to set any geographic location for nodes," he said. "So nobody can verify geographic parameters set in BP JSON and it can't become [a] strong criteria by far."
"The geographical locations of nodes can be easily gamed – it doesn't make much sense to me," Melikhov added.
Block.one's share of the token supply has declined as new EOS enters the system. Its share was down to roughly 9.5%, by November 2019, which still makes it one of the largest token holders. The firm said in Friday's post it plans to vote for BP candidates "in a rotational manner with no cap on how many total candidates we vote for over time."
Block.one stayed out of EOS governance for a long time, saying, at the time of the mainnet launch, that its sizable token allocation gave it an outsized voice in the still-nascent community. As EOS's creator, the firm retains an influential role in the ecosystem, thus receiving support from Block.one would be a substantial and valedictory development for any BP.
But Block.one is rigorously defending its right to change its voting criteria at will. "We maintain the ability to adjust voting criteria at any time," Rose said. "As we engage with community members, our voting approach will evolve, and criteria will be added to ensure that the recipients of our votes adhere to the standards we wish to see network-wide."
CoinDesk asked if the EOS community has any say over how Block.one determines for whom it votes.
Rose said BP candidates can send summaries and recommendations to Block.one to "help inform our vote and future voting criteria."
But, he added, "we maintain the ability to adjust the criteria at any time."
Block.one previously said it was committed to playing a "proportional role" in the ecosystem and their post last week said they would only use 10% of its token allocation to vote in the ecosystem. But that could also change over time.
"We will initially vote with 10 million EOS tokens which may increase over time at our discretion," the company said.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.