In his most recent video, Charles Hoskinson frets that massive egos and bitter conflicts threaten to undermine the cryptocurrency community. But, with a touch of Trumpian hyperbole, he suggests that journalists and rivals are trying to keep his project down.
He's in a cluttered home study. Tribal masks leer down from the walls and a six-foot reprint of Jean-Leon Gerome's "Pollice Verso" with its vanquishing gladiator hangs to the left.
Hoskinson leans forward on his desk, folding his arms: "Let's be honest, as a community we've been really treated unfairly, we've been [urinated] on, [defecated] on, 'scam, scam, scam, scam, no working product' ... everything that could be said, has been said."
"In particular, crypto media has got it wrong a lot," he says, looking directly at the camera.
For the past year, the chief of IOHK, the developer house for blockchain platform Cardano, has used YouTube extensively to communicate directly to his followers. Sometimes these videos are basic protocol updates or "ask me anything" sessions (AMAs). Other times it's to hit back at perceived criticism.
This week's animus surrounds a video that made the rounds on social media last week, which showed a marketing group promoting the Cardano project in a rural province of China. Both the Cardano project and Hoskinson said they have no affiliation with the group.
Similarly, Hoskinson talks about an article from industry news site Crypto Briefing that argued the upcoming launch of staking protocol Shelley would not suffice to give Cardano the edge it needs over rival blockchain platforms such as TRON or EOS.
Following the article's publication, he took to Twitter to call Crypto Briefing a "dumpster fire of a publication."
In this video, Hoskinson's head sways as he speaks, eyes still fixed on the camera. Journalists, podcasters and other influential figures, he says, have taken a definitive hard stance against Cardano; many of them won't retract what they've said because they're concerned about losing credibility with their audiences.
"You know, this is where Trump derangement syndrome came from," Hoskinson says, pensively stroking his beard. The U.S. president is a "horrible human being ... but everyone kinda just wrote him off and then, when he won, everyone went a little crazy about that and said we have to remediate this grievous mistake."
Hoskinson goes on: "Well, similarly there is a bit of a Cardano derangement syndrome in the cryptocurrency space. People said our ideas will never work, we'll never deliver, we'll never actually ship anything, we've never actually accomplished anything. They just sometimes misrepresent reality completely."
The tempo rises. Cardano's been going for five years, he says. The critics have ignored everything the project has accomplished and a complex of rival project leads and media entities – he doesn't specify who – have never ceased calling it a scam or a fraud.
Close to home
Hoskinson's brows knit. The criticism is personal: "How would you feel if someone came up to you and said: 'so when did you stop beating your wife? When did you stop being a child molester?'"
Still, he concedes, the digital asset industry has a serious problem with over-inflated egos and a lack of respect towards others. If this isn't addressed soon, he warns, then the Amazons and the Googles will swoop in and co-opt crypto for themselves.
In the spirit of reconciliation, he says Cardano will try harder to connect with other projects. Possibly even build some sort of cross-chain operability with Litecoin. "It'll be fun project – they think about it, we think about it, why not?"
But that doesn't mean Hoskinson will ever stop speaking out publicly, especially when he feels "my community" is being attacked.
"Every now and then I'm going to kick people in the teeth on Twitter, it's my style, I'm Italian, my grandmother's Italian. It's who I am, it's where I come from, it's how I think," he says.
"I'll never apologize for kicking people in the teeth that call my community bad."
Talking to CoinDesk about the use of such strong rhetoric, Hoskinson said, while he may have said and done things that are "counter-productive or regrettable," these came from the strain of "operating in a low empathy medium where people don't even attempt to understand each other."
Plus, what he considered unfair media coverage over the years, "does create a bit of bitterness and disappointment."
In the end, Hoskinson said, "You should never forget that these ecosystems aren't just protocols. They are people."
Disclosure: The author previously worked at Crypto Briefing.
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.