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The ENS Saga and the Pitfalls of DAO Democracy

Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are touted as the ultimate governance structure, but where do they break down?

March 9, 2022

Will Gottsegen, CoinDesk’s media and culture reporter, joins “Opinionated” hosts Danny Nelson and Ben Schiller to discuss what recent events in the Ethereum Name Service Foundation (ENS) say about the limitations of DAO governance.

When homophobic and transphobic posts from ENS director Brantly Millegan were uncovered, Millegan was promptly fired from his role at the nonprofit that operates the ENS. However, the ENS put the decision to remove Millegan from the organization as a whole to a DAO vote, but it failed to pass.

Millegan himself was able to sway the vote. Without his voting power, obtained through tokens and delegations, the vote would not have failed. Additionally, almost a fifth of the total votes cast were abstentions.

What does the ENS voting outcome tell us about the effectiveness, ethics and future of DAOs?

This episode was produced, announced and edited by Michele Musso with additional production support by Eleanor Pahl. Our theme song is by Elision.