The Cardano Foundation’s communiqué on recent organizational changes and community feedback
(Written by the Cardano Foundation team)
The recent staffing changes within the Community Management department has raised various questions in the community.
Some community members have stated that they no longer feel adequately heard by the Cardano Foundation. Likewise, there is a concern that the work, which has been done by the Community Management team, will not be continued or will not be properly monitored by the Foundation following the recent staffing changes; or that two-way communication channels will be lost.
Rick McCracken, one of our community members, shared a video on 2 September 2020, via his personal YouTube channel, to draw attention to a perceived lack of communication and dissatisfaction.
He posed some questions surrounding the current leadership and the further practice of community management at the Cardano Foundation, which we are glad to address here. All questions—whether hard or easy—are always welcome, and we need to constantly reevaluate our processes to create a better Cardano, improve its reputation, and expedite widespread adoption.
There are also healthy discussions with the community on producing a public roadmap for the Cardano Foundation, and this focus group has expressed diverse goals. These include setting out community expectations, providing more guidance, and offering help to the Cardano Foundation.
The Cardano Foundation always welcomes and actively encourages our valued community to congregate, discuss, and suggest ideas. You act as an extension of our team in our efforts to achieve our missions, and you complement our work to drive the adoption of Cardano. The ongoing community effort is a clear signal that our community is mature and willing to go the extra mile to build a global social and financial operating system. This is an effort that will take years of dedication and patience, but we are confident that together we will get there.
The Cardano Foundation has collected and examined the community’s questions and identified two common themes:
There is a desire for better transparency from the Cardano Foundation, in regards to current workstreams, achievements, and the leadership of the Cardano Foundation;
There is a desire to maintain the current two-way communication channels between the Cardano Foundation’s team and the community in light of recent staffing changes.
We would like to take this opportunity to ensure you that we are on the right track as an organization, and we will address these wider themes below.
Does the Cardano Foundation have a leadership problem?
No, the Cardano Foundation does not have a leadership problem—we have a very committed Council and a diverse leadership team assembled from multidisciplinary fields, including representatives from EMURGO and IOHK. In addition, we will soon be bringing a CEO on board to steer the Cardano Foundation even closer towards its missions.
As blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) become more mainstream, it is evident that the Foundation is on the right path with its plans to bring talented persons with diverse capabilities onboard, and to maximize the adoption of the Cardano protocol. The current leadership has assembled a team of talented individuals and we have grown from less than five team members (excluding the Council) at the beginning of 2019, to an entire team of almost 30 people today—an incredible achievement, which brings the Cardano Foundation closer to delivering on its missions.
Investing in talent and adding more skills at the Cardano Foundation is absolutely critical—as our ecosystem partner IOHK delivers the technology of tomorrow, we must be ready for maximal impact and widespread adoption. As such, we will further strengthen the Foundation’s team, add more skills, and keep close contact with the community on ways we prioritize implementation that will bring us closer to the Cardano vision.
All of our new team members introduce themselves on our forums, and you are always encouraged to reach out to every single one of them in case of questions—either to find out more about their role or just learn more about them. The entire Cardano Foundation, including the leadership team, is very easy to approach.
Staffing changes are a normal course of business—we have only had four changes over a two-year period—and we will continue to be very effective with our growing team. Our growth as a Foundation has only just begun and we are glad you are with us during this trying journey—holding us accountable along the way and asking testing questions.
Is there a plan in place for the Community Management team?
Yes, of course, there is a plan in place to expand and further strengthen the community management function within the Foundation. While we recognize that a change in the Community Management team may raise some questions, we would like to highlight that we have multiple strong and capable Community Managers, who continue to lead and serve the best interests of the community, the Cardano protocol, and the Cardano Foundation diligently, and with the full support of the rest of the Foundation.
You will know many of these Community Managers personally, they are the face of the Foundation, and we rely on them heavily to gather your concerns and communicate with you on a daily basis. In fact, we have onboarded many former Cardano Ambassadors as Community Managers to our ranks since 2019.
We kindly ask that our wider community respects the work of our current Community Management team—they do a fantastic job overall and these past couple of weeks have been tough on them.
Keeping two-way communications open and transparent
We always welcome and encourage open and transparent dialogue with our valued community and everyone else. We have processes in place to ensure two-way communication channels remain open and transparent, to that extent, every team member of the Cardano Foundation is reachable. Together through frank discussions we can accelerate our missions.
The entire team has a great deal of autonomy within the Cardano Foundation, in keeping with our decentralized roots. When a question is asked by the community or the wider public, any team member of the Cardano Foundation—irrespective of their role—is empowered to reach out for answers.
We have well-established internal procedures for addressing community and any other feedback. Usually, the frontline for community feedback is our Community Managers, and questions are escalated internally as needed through our organizational channels. In every instance, senior leadership and Council members are aware, and when required they step in to support.
Many of our communications channels have been established by our Community Management team. For example, our YouTube channel, which features our Davos Diaries, yearly reviews, and educational content, was produced by our Community Management and former German Ambassador Tommy Kammerer (unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions our filming schedules have considerably shifted).
Similarly, Tiago Serôdio in Portugal has led the hugely successful Phase 2 (Rewards) of the Ambassador Program. Niels Schoof, another former Ambassador, established a dedicated channel, LINE, for our Japanese-speaking community—making Cardano content accessible for more people.
Ryan He in Shanghai has grown our Chinese-speaking community many times over, and Andy Hendrikx, former Ambassador from the Netherlands, has been evangelizing Cardano since the first exchange listing in 2017 and promotes the protocol in the Dutch-speaking world.
All of our team members as well as our Community Managers produce valuable contributions to Cardano every single day, and they are invaluable for keeping our community together. We would like to ask you, our community, to recognize the contributions our current team has made and will continue to make long into the future of the Cardano Foundation.
We also invite you to read our regular updates on the Cardano Forum and our official websites.
The current set-up of the Cardano Foundation
The Cardano Foundation in its current form is the result of multiple phases of development both as an organization and alongside the needs of the evolving Cardano protocol.
You have all helped shape the Cardano Foundation through various initiatives and your active contributions to the Ambassador Program. We can assure you that we are on solid fundamentals, employ agile methods, and we have achieved so much since the new administration came on board. Let’s recap on where we have been, and where we are heading.
Past – Present plan
Phase 1: Nathan Kaiser, Domino Burki and Manmeet Singh took over as Council Members at the end of 2018. The focus in 2019 was on putting the Cardano Foundation on the right track (more than a 100 control measures were implemented), hiring key people, and bringing the operational basis to one that is compliant and sustainable. In 2019, we had less than five full-time staff members—we are now a team of almost 30 people in more than 20 locations of the planet, with women making up over a third of the personnel.
Phase 2: In December 2019, Nicolás Arqueros and Tamara Haasen joined the Council to bring additional skills to the Council (Nicolás in Technology, Tamara in Human Resources). Additionally, the Cardano Foundation grew further, bringing additional skills into the team.
Phase 3: In March 2020, the Cardano Foundation initiated a strategy workshop for all of our Cardano ecosystem partners to harmonize various streams, align and agree on the next steps for the protocol. As a result of this gathering of more than 50 people from all three entities, various workstreams—not only for the Cardano Foundation—but for Cardano as a whole were established. The efforts of the workstreams from all three entities are ongoing and will take a considerable amount of time until full fruition. Phase 3 saw the Cardano Foundation’s team growing further, and also saw initiatives, such as the Ambassador Program’s Phase 2 (Rewards), Project Renovare, the WEF at Davos, the rollout of RFPs and CIPs, and the release of Shelley.
Phase 4: Starting when our new CEO joins in November 2020 or earlier, the Cardano Foundation will reach a phase where we have solid, compliant, and sustainable operations, and now need to laser focus on adoption, partnerships, and third-party integrations. The Cardano Foundation will also take over key responsibilities from IOHK later this year.
Phase 5: Will start with the launch of Goguen, smart contracts, DApps, Marlowe DSL financial contract, and a whole host of enterprise partners joining the Cardano ecosystem when IOHK delivers this innovative technology.
The community-led roadmap and future of Cardano
We welcome the recent community-led initiative to produce a roadmap for the Cardano Foundation.
Our needs, the needs of the community, and the needs of the protocol are dynamically evolving and are heavily interdependent on all involved ecosystem partners—such as EMURGO and IOHK. An agile roadmap for an innovative technology, such as blockchain, is advantageous especially when there are numerous interdependencies and many involved parties.
Given the close collaboration between the three entities and the community, any roadmap should be inclusive of all Cardano organizations—providing actionable, tangible and measurable suggestions. All three entities have the best interests of Cardano at heart and act as one ecosystem, and as such the roadmap should be inclusive of all stakeholders and Cardano as a whole.
Yes, we need to be more transparent with our agile goals with our community and wider public. Therefore, current initiatives are very welcome, and they compliment our work, empower us to advance our missions knowing we have our community’s support and we encourage any initiative that will bring us closer to achieving our goals of adoption.
In our efforts to achieve our goals, hiring and building a world-class team takes time and patience. Firstly, it requires time and has a long funnel, and secondly, we have also focused on building the teams to be ready for the product launches as and when they occur, and this continues to be the case.
For example, in the lead-up to and immediately after the Shelley release we brought nine new team members across multiple functions within the Foundation, and we currently have open positions for technical staff ahead of Goguen. We do not have a staff turnover problem, in fact, we are growing at an unprecedented rate in a sustainable manner.
Further questions, follow-up answers, and your feedback
Our goals and mission at the Cardano Foundation are multiple and diverse. You, the community, are a crucial area of focus for us, and you keep us accountable and transparent. In addition, we have wider goals and we gladly can elaborate on these.
We are responsible for bringing together multiple stakeholders, including our ecosystem partners, to build on and explore the Cardano protocol. This is no easy task. For example, our work with legislators and regulators, just one facet of what we do, takes years of behind-the-scenes work to reach major milestones.
The same is true for enterprise relationships and attracting established businesses to the Cardano blockchain. Many of the Foundation’s leadership are busy delivering on these projects. Because of this, it may seem that they are not always visible in community channels—but they are available and interested in your feedback.
This is important for us to be able to collect and formally respond to feedback. Questions asked in busy public Telegram or YouTube channels quickly get lost in the midst of hundreds of messages, or even worse become easy points of attack for bad actors and damage Cardano’s brand and its reputation—hampering our adoption efforts.
We will be answering more of the community’s questions in a dedicated session on the Cardano Effect podcast. We invite you all to take part and leave your feedback, and once again we sincerely thank you for holding us to account and keeping the Cardano Foundation and the entire Cardano ecosystem fit for purpose for every stakeholder.