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Posted on Jul 24, 2023Read on Mirror.xyz

The Rook DAO Story: Postmortem of the $25M governance takeover.

Intro: The current RFVooor Meta

Recently, the Aragon Project outlined a coordinated governance attack from a group named the "Risk-Free Value Raiders". This "sophisticated, well-resourced, and coordinated group" (potentially related to a public VC fund) weaponized governance aiming to loot Aragon Association's $200M treasury, granting ANT holders immediate financial benefit.

Other alleged incidents include Invictus DAO, Fei Protocol, Rome DAO, Nouns DAO, and Balance Capital. One potential member Avraham Eisenberg, has been arrested by the US DoJ for their involvement in the $114m Mango DAO exploit.

This group is socially armed and dangerous. If you are a governance participant, warn your community immediately about the viciously real governance attacks going around the ecosystem. If you have a project you care about, be prepared for war.

On April 11th 2023, the Rook DAO officially voted to dissolve with KIP-44: Create Incubator DAO. This was a long debated compromise between the “Risk Free Value Raiders” (who will be affectionately called RFVoors) and the Rook Labs Team. ROOK token entered a 3-month opportunity window where holders could register for a direct claim on the $25M treasury. As of July 12th, the ROOK token exchange has been suspended.

This is the story of RookDAO.

The Context of RookDAO

RookDAO has a riveting history which I contributed to in real-time. My intellectual and personal growth during this period has a lot to do with participating in DAO governance. I’m certain fellow governance participants would agree, but this story reminded us how fragile this experiment still is. Listen up or disaster might strike {insert your DAO} next. Participating in Rook governance was a 2 year emotional rollercoaster that a simple article can’t possibly capture. I’ll try, here’s the most accurate timeline possible.

As technical and financial innovation exploded on Ethereum between 2019-2020, a number of glaring inefficiencies arose. The public nature of Ethereum transactions to DeFi protocols created a violent competition on-chain. The ordering and priority of on-chain transactions presented a goldmine of arbitrage opportunities, leading to the rise of Miner Extracted Value (MEV) in the mainstream. Anyone familiar with this niche will laugh at this gross oversimplification but all will agree that this problem is crucial to solve.

Many teams formed to bring order to the Dark Forest by building cutting-edge infrastructure. Professional market-maker Joey Zacherl (JZ) and a small team began fundraising and building what was then Keeper DAO. Their mission was different from the other more merciless actors. Keeper aimed to minimize extraction from Ethereum user wallets instead of enriching the established mining juggernauts with MEV partnerships. Let's speedrun its history and highlight a few key events.

  • KeeperDAO (eventually Rook DAO) was officially announced in 12/2019 and saw a number of Venture Capital raises throughout 2020. In December 2020, the ROOK token and protocol officially launched. A similar story to many current projects I’m sure.

  • Rook DAO Protocol was launched through a series of MEV game theory contracts that directly exchanged external assets for ROOK rewards. The game theory aimed to consolidate MEV searching into a controlled environment that was mutually beneficial to all parties in the Ethereum user stack. This encouraged protocol usage as well as distributed tokens to the public.

  • The MEV game theory protocols generated external assets that founder and lead developer JZ used to seed the Rook DAO treasury multisig. It reached over $100M during the distribution phase. There was no token sale used at any point in the emission process.

  • After months of token distribution, the remaining token holders and Discord community participants began to organize into a loose DAO like collective. In Q4 2021, Rook DAO was initiated as a DAO in the KIP-0 vote which formalized the improvement proposal process. Additionally, it established a hierarchy of proposal reviewers called Sophons acting as the authority figures on KIP management.The DAO was as organic as it gets, mirroring the best crypto projects across the space. How many others can relate to revolutionary technology, built by an honest collective, looking to bring decentralized financial products to the world?

  • Within a few KIPS, Sophons were elected and a development budget was approved (Creating the Labs team). This process was completely transparent to all members of the Rook community and this process was never abandoned. Transparency regarding pay would only increase from this point.

RookDAO's core mission is to align MEV incentives to benefit Ethereum users and the ROOK community. The DAO pushed forward, smithing weapons with financial innovation and utilize their massive warchest to tame the wild MEVest... That pun was sour but the energy was pulpable….A number of interesting innovations passed in the coming months:

  1. KIP 4 outlined a strategy to buy back and burn ROOK tokens with protocol revenue (this is where I rejoined the community after months away).

  2. The DAO aimed to acquire revenue-generating assets to create a self-sustaining treasury, independent of protocol performance in KIP-5, with a sizable purchase of CVX.

  3. Rook DAO innovated in governance by electing a company-evolved structure with C-Suite leadership team bound by democratic oversight (established by the Baige Paper). The highly competitive MEV space required quick adaptation not possible with a traditional DAO democratic majority vote at every step. The most important decisions were still voted on by the community.

  4. Further ROOK token buybacks were approved by the community and executed out of the treasury multisig (likely with JZ clicking accept).

  5. Budget proposals were routinely passed with progress monitored in quarterly governance reports. Rook was at the cutting edge of practical transparency, something other DAOs should strive for.

Let’s zoom out slightly and continue:

  • In April 2022, the highly anticipated Coordination Game was launched, a year-long development cycle that finally came to an end. It represented a fully realized version of MEV infrastructure initially envisioned in the protocol's early days. However, **the unprecedented launch resulted in a resounding...flop?
    **
    The Coordination Game was largely unsuccessful and failed to gain a sustained user base over the coming months. It functioned well, granting users rebates for their DEX trades that generated MEV. This was the first product that paid the source user for their DEX order flow (Counter to competitors like Flashbots MEV Boost which allowed miners/validators increased revenue).

    The Coordination Game gated access to MEV with its native token ROOK, aiming to align MEV searchers seeking profit to the Rook community. Searchers would engage in a contained, blind auction that would minimize the gas repercussions on the fee markets. This was a resounding feat of financial innovation...which had too much friction…

The ROOK token was crucial for MEV searchers to access MEV order flow through the coordination game. They would bid on ROOK in a blind auction to secure the right.

The counterparty risk of ROOK and the securities landscape terrified DEX aggregators, DEX futures platforms, and wallets from utilizing the system. Volume in the coordination game was minimal, and progress ground to a halt. RookDAO voted to use WETH as the bidding asset to accommodate this fear, shortly before disaster struck.

  • As time ticked on and the crypto market struggled, KIP-28 aimed to align the treasury completely with the continued survival of protocol development in the coming years. A dramatic focus on longevity was the most responsible direction forward. This established a long set of criteria to evaluate treasury-related proposals moving forward.

Labs was forced to enter another long-term development cycle to completely restructure the protocol...

Enter the RFVoors

Slowly, a trickle of new accounts joined the discord which I naively believed were hearing rumbles about Rook’s new product cycle. Instead, the Discord was filled with intense FUD for three months. Complaints and concerns were constantly repeated with similarities that seemed almost scripted. More new token holders were joining by the day under false pretenses of a vindictive development team. Some conversations would last from 7am to midnight. After one particularly hostile DAO voice call attended by the community, founder Jz posted a highly controversial KIP draft proposing a completely separate DAO, the incubator, which would retain $10M of the $44M Rook Treasury.

An RFVoors named Tedward with a background in Mergers and Acquisitions negotiated with the leadership team to refine the draft into its final form. The Incubator DAO represented a complete divorce of ROOK token governance from the previous DAO while retaining a $25m Treasury. The Labs Team was free to form a new company, retain the protocol contracts and intellectual property, and receive $20m as an allocated runway. In a call, the labs team alluded to their justification as follows:

  • The ROOK token and its associated fees represented immense friction from partnerships and protocol integration.

  • The Incubator DAO could potentially elect a board seat on the new company.

  • The Incubator DAO could potentially engage in a mutually beneficial contractor relationship where it serves the company with marketing and extended application development.

  • The Incubator DAO could establish its own relationship between the token and treasury with any contractor revenue.

The proposal was not fate and not guaranteed for a public vote but if the community overwhelmingly agreed, it might see the snapshot stage. Optimistically, the compromise represented a future where disgruntled “token holders“ could govern the token and treasury as they choose while being part of the former protocol's future endeavors.

Of course, a mutually beneficial relationship was never part of the RFVoors' plans, as we will soon explore. Regardless, it was now time for the voting process….

Some key takeaways:

  • The Rook DAO was formed organically, forged by contributors in Discord and distributed MEV talent. Although VCs were present initially, their contributions and engagement have been near zero since the launch.

  • Rook DAO has an extensive history with experimental token design. From treasury buybacks, token burns, and integrated token systems, Rook has tried it all in the name of financial innovation.

  • Rook has designed a reliable DAO governance structure that allowed the protocol to innovate quickly while aligning capital with its long-term vision.

  • The Incubator DAO was proposed as a compromise to appease token holders and allow continued collaboration into the future that could be mutually beneficial.

    • The incubator DAO now could choose to entangle the treasury and token.

    • The core protocol had zero relation to ROOK or the governance process, appeasing the friction it presented to partners.

  • Rook’s fate represents a path all DAOs can stumble down.

Mechanisms of a governance attack.

Let’s outline the next section. Aragon did a solid job of explaining the characters involved in their governance attack. Defining this group is difficult, but I will try. Next, a clearly defined entity will be highlighted with direct ties to the Rook attack. This entity paints a broad ethos for the DAO dissolution movement. Then I will highlight a comic book villain for our story, personifying the RFVoors. Fourth, the 3 fundamental DAO attack vectors will be explored.

Lead with some clarification, RFVoor Tedward defines the group in the Rook Discord.

The ROOK token was crucial for MEV searchers to access MEV order flow through the coordination game. They would bid on ROOK in a blind auction to secure the right.

An RFVoors is a "part value investing and one part activist investing" trader who identifies perceived "unused capital" within "poorly managed" DAOs and looks to realign the treasury value with the market cap of the circulating token. Markers like DAO spending, development delays, and poor communication identify DAOs that may be a target for a RFV trade. Fixing "broken" incentive structure between a token price and its DAO is the next course of action. Agreeably, there are a lot of things broken about DAOs, and these range from protocol development to aggressive regulatory attacks, but mercenary capital investing does NOT fix these problems.

Speaking of mercenary capital. Let’s introduce Temple DAO, an entity whose sole purpose is to provide a “way holders can benefit from [TEMPLE DAO] investments” as “TEMPLE token appreciates in tanden with… the Treasury Price Index. This argument about token and treasury alignment was used constantly by RFVoors when debating ROOK’s purpose. Temple DAO is highly suspected to have direct involvement in the Rook’s dissolution vote which would allegedly make them a financial benefactor. (allegedly mean this is parody so please don’t sue, thanks)

It’s possible that the Temple DAO Treasury was the largest single voter in the Rook Dissolution.

TempleDAO is a prominent player in this story, despite deliberately not publicly engaging in this narrative. RFVoors… errr wait: Templers have a strict philosophy ossified in their community social contract. It seems possible but not probable that the mission of the DAO is to accrue as much value to the treasury as possible. This is accomplished through a rebase mechanism in the TEMPLE token that mints/burns to align the price range with the Treasury Price Index (TPI) through a mechanism called RAMOS. It keeps TEMPLE pegged into a tight price range (around 1 dollar) while increasing holders' token allocations while accounting for changing token balance due to AMM trading. In short, as the treasury grows, holders own more TEMPLE, which is worth about $1.

TEMPLE holders allegedly benifit financially if Rook DAO dissolves, talk about perverse incentives. So we all understand, up to the moral and legal tolerance of its individuals, TempleDAO allegedly benefits if Rook DAO is gone and it’s treasury captured. If this incentive does exist then it seems all DAOs are opposed to the same enemy. Speaking of enemy, every comic book story needs a villain (cringe transitions are done).

Rook was under constant attack on Twitter for its “unethical and exploitative treatment of token holders”. As one of the biggest voices, dcfgod is undeniably a huge part of this story. They used their audience repeatedly in a way that might suggest personal interest to a specific outcome. I’m sure we could allegedly argue that dcfgod might have encouraged the public to support disolution. The fact remains, a TEMPLE position could suggest alignment with dissolution incentives.

dcfgod never owned ROOK but instead, possibly TEMPLE. A wallet adjacent to them held a LOT of tokens ($M). TempleDAO is allegedly a top holder in pROOK and possibly the largest holder for its dissolution.

Their tweets will be reviewed shortly along with other propaganda warfare but most evidence on their Rook opinions has been deleted from the internet. A person influencing public opinion for personal gain has a name (politics), but the crypto world is limited to self-policing, so I call it NOT COOL. A message to other DAOs, be extremely careful about who is representing the “community interests” in the public square because they have a brutal sword, not a microphone.

One person does not define all RFVoors but patterns emerged as an almost written strategy to confront, disrupt, and destroy Rook DAO, which make it a worthy case study. Further effort needs to be done to illustrate a coordinated network of profiteers occurring (which can be done with on-chain transaction tracing), but it won't occur in this document due to the sheer size of that undertaking.

There is no established entity to join to become an RFVoor, as is with most things in crypto. I'm sure Discord and Telegram groups exist for those interested in this sort of trade, but there is evidence pointing towards this being an organized effort. Let's look at the frequently used methods that activists use to "fix" whatever is broken.

The three strategies are:

  1. Strategic breakdown of DAO process.

  2. Public propaganda warfare

  3. Outright vote buying

1. An utter disregard for DAO process

DAOs are decentralized systems of process, which differentiates them from being just a Discord with a multisig.

RFVoors display continued disregard for intellectually honest debate or answering questions.

Almost all “concerned token holders” had joined in the last several months. Rook emphasized transparency and pushed it to the competitive edge. C-Suite leadership had volunteered significant pay reductions due to poor protocol performance and the community voted in agreement. The relentless repetition of RFVoors' mantras could easily mislead a passerby into believing the entire community was at war with the Labs Team, instilling an atmosphere of chaos. A completely false reality as evidenced by a dedicated community of contributors. RFVoors revealed their true character by personally attacking at any opportunity.

It is difficult to encapsulate the chaos of the discussion and how little progress was made when addressing concerns for new members. The team and community shared countless resources with the RFVoors to address their concerns. The most important resources were:

  • The Governance Beige Paper

  • Rook Quarterly Reports (Financials, salaries, protocol performance, development progress, MEV research)

  • Rookbase, which summarized all DAO activity.

  • KIP 28, the DAO Treasury Charter aligning the interests of the treasury

  • Weekly community calls

  • C-Suite calls

  • RookDAO Legal Team Q&A

I estimate that within 8 hours of education, RFV traders could have been fully educated on all things RookDAO.

In the end, none of it mattered.

Even seeming credible attempts to engage were met with relentless bandwagoning and were positioned under false pretenses (IconiumBCV’s blog post addressing tokenomics was intended to mislead the community as an alleged long-time Rook LP. Despite claiming to have participated since Rook’s inception, no supporting evidence was found). Enter me, a naive governance participant who was eager to engage in contested governance. Unable to imagine the true intentions of the RFVoors, I countered with a draft aligned with the governance elected processes. Major L. Eventually, the urge to fully dissolve the treasury clarified the “intellectual position” of this governance attack.

2. Propaganda warfare against Rook DAO.

RFVoors wage war abroad and on native soil, tainting the public’s perspective of the Rook DAO situation and presenting a false sense of frustration within the Discord. This skewed the external public perception of the situation while misleading less engaged DAO members on the status of their fellow participants.

RFVoors engaged in multiple public attacks to tilt the scales during pivotal periods during Rook’s dissolution saga.

Many of the posts were intended to create direct governance outcomes due to their timing and phrasing. The RFVoors would publicly comment and engage from the perspective as “curious Twitter users” as a public front. Some members weren’t scared to push borderline criminal (allegedly) narratives and medal in deeply personal situations. The attack was turned inward to community coms channels.

dcfgod accidentally exposes a Discord alt account confirming the synthetic nature of this “Token holder revolt”.

It's very possible that using public influence to sway perception to achieve a desired outcome is a part of politics, and I concede its usefulness. However, doing so within the "DAOs Public Square" is misleading and predatory. This is not democratic, intellectually honest, or ethical. Psychological warfare and manipulation represent the rot in DAOs aspire to fix within a broken global economic system.

Alright, we need to lighten things up a bit, please imagine…

A small group greedy neets form a groupchat, they all have a shared interest in crypto and have acquired some capital through sheer luck or soulless, extractionary, TradFi 9-5’s. They form a book club. The first book? Sun Tzu’s Art of War. In one League of Legends match the squad lead speaks up.

“Guys what are we doing? We are playing league for ladder points when we could gank a DAO, stealing their livelyhoods and diverting treasuries into OUR wallets. If we crusade as morally virtuous we might get away with it. Everyone hates DAOs right now and lost all their crypto money. This seems like the perfect opportunity to provoke angry bagholders and squeeze every last drop!”

So armed with a strategical plan of attack (Discord channel), they shrouded their numbers in shadows (alts) and attacked with the aggregation of their fury at a precise moment of weakness (copy pasted fud for 2 months straight). I’m going off a Chat GPT summary of the book here so forgive the soft climax but so did they probably, these guys do NOT seem like readers.

But hey it worked, they won the battle. The final straw was capturing control of the DAO through the only process not intended for destruction. Perverting the remaining democracy (51% attack) was the final nail.

3. Acquire voting power in a simple token governance system.

The ROOK token saw a substantial price drop over the last 1.5 years, which was capitalized on by RFVoors seeking governance power.

The Rook governance process is not strictly simple token governance. Sophon review allows industry experts to review governance and make changes in the name of improved outcomes. Voting is not a 51% majority; highly contested Snapshot votes can be debated by the community to better align outcomes with the majority, an attempt to further limit governance coercion. Despite this a massive percentage of resistant voters could still grind development to a halt, signing a death sentence for a competitive MEV startup.

The resistance vote inflow began, initially seeming small compared to ROOK's 1.2M total supply but massive compared to voting engagement. Small proposals would pass with 6k-10k votes while important proposals would see strong turnouts reaching 40k-50k. The final vote to dissolve saw 75k votes for dissolution, WITHOUT the team contributing to the vote as requested by the RFVoors. This was the second-highest voter turnout to date, bested only by the highly controversial "Acquire a CVX Position" vote at 81k. At the very least, the Q3 budget proposal seemed like an impossible feat, the Labs Team’s personal livelihoods had officially been threatened by RFVoors.

Summary of Section 2 (1 more left).

From my perspective, the RFVoors group, by capitalizing on the significant drop in the ROOK token's value, managed to secure considerable governance power in our DAO. This behavior starkly contrasts with the ethos of DAO governance, as it entailed misleading, predatory tactics and aimed to incite chaos and confusion within our community. RFVoors utilized multiple Discord accounts, amplifying their voice and influence, thus potentially skewing community sentiment and the democratic process we value so deeply. The fallout from the RFVoors' actions not only stalled our DAO's protocol development but also put the livelihoods of the dedicated team at risk.

Key takeaways DAO participants NEED to know.

  1. Do not expect DAO participants to be honest, even though barriers to democratic access seem antithetical, a cost must be tied to participation modeled by the disincentives of PoS and PoW. Establishing seniority systems or potential token penalties might be necessary.

  2. Do not believe everything you read on the internet! Never forget that bandwagoning on the current Twitter dunkfest might have real real-world implications which can endanger the livelihoods of crypto builders.

  3. The RFVoors strategized to capitalize on ROOK voting discount in order to control a substantial DAO serving as a stark reminder to all DAOs the dangers of simple token governance.

The Idealized value proposition of Rook DAO

Before section 3 allow me a short emotional outburst about why I care.

On January 28th, 2021, Robinhood suspended trading for a selected group of assets, attributing it to a "clearing house" issue. One of the suspended assets, GME, had recently skyrocketed from $18 to $347.51. This rapid increase resulted in an estimated $7B in unrealized losses for Melvin Capital due to their short position on the asset. Citadel LLC, responding to the situation, injected an estimated $2B in cash to backstop short-term liquidity amid the dramatic $7B unrealized losses arising from the short squeeze. Intriguingly, Citadel is Robinhood's most significant customer, having bought billions in user order flow from the platform….

While this incident may appear minor, it serves as a microcosm of a much larger criticism: finance is exclusionary by design. In 40 years I believe DAOs replace the financial elite club, and revolutionize finance. I am an activist investor after all. Ethereum offers an alternative to this gatekept system, with DeFi providing a glimpse into a possible future of financial freedom. Imagine a world of neutral commerce, where an off switch doesn't exist even if you're $1.7B underwater.

The MEV and block building design space remain the biggest threat to Ethereum economic exclusion. Despite its shortcomings, this project represented a revolution to me. Whether it took 2, 5, 10, 100 years, or never, Rook deserved shot.

Failures of DAO governance

Despite my optimism about the futures, the RFVoors are a symptom of a much larger meta problem. DAOs as a functional and productive structure are in shambles. Currently, there are NO benefits of a DAO structure over the "traditional company that develops open source" model.

As Vitalik points out in his critique of the DAO meta, Rook governance need more work still.

we need to move beyond coin voting as it exists in its present form”

Rook fell victim to a 'vote buying' attack simply due to the fact that the token became so cheap that attackers could buy far more voting power than the dedicated governance participants had. That, combined with a completely socially engineered attack, meant the DAO stood no chance.

Rook DAO’s battle with external pressure left it wounded and vulnerable to attack. "Native assets” which play a role in “simple token governance” weakened the security of a protocol. Unlike the “only crypto asset” BTC or ultrasound ETH, ROOK token was toxic to the protocol.

A select number of legal events left Rook DAO nearly paralyzed.

  1. After the SEC won its case against LBRY DAO, the ROOK token's history of VC investment before its launch painted it with a scarlet letter. As an Ethereum infrastructure provider, the protocol would require direct integration with the largest providers and applications. None could risk their established and fragile businesses by integrating with an unproven and experimental MEV protocol attached to a potential security. Turns out DAO judicial innovation is hiring a good lawyer, not developer.

  2. DAOs not only fail to be recognized as a legal entity, they fail to protect any member from liability. Even if 'democratically voted', individual members of a DAO can be held liable for its actions and prosecuted.

    Ooki DAO put ROOK's history of experimental token design in jeopardy. Whoever was directly signing transactions that made these burns possible (likely JZ) could be directly liable for securities fraud, in a worst-case scenario. How many other DAOs have tried experimental token design? Is that what makes some attractive?

  3. Developers can be incarcerated and held for a long time due to the actions of others using their protocol.

    The smart contracts created by Alexey Pertsev are being used to unjustly persecute him for money laundering. Protocol founders are being unjustly incarcerated for their participation in open source smart contract development. There is currently no separation between developer and implementable usage, a dangerous precedent.

    Ideally, the Rook Protocol would be the 1st destination for ALL Ethereum on-chain transactions. With the OFAC sanctions list completely violating free speech principles, would the Labs team be personally liable for questionable use of the protocol? Possibly, which is a sacrifice much too large for a US-based and publicly doxxed development team. The US still leads in technological innovation putting the best teams in crypto at risk.

  4. The shotgun persecution of crypto is causing enormous legal overhead. The SEC issued $2.6B in penalties alone in 2022, not to mention the astronomical legal fees of fighting a potential lawsuit. The XRP case is estimated to cost $100Ms, which make Rook’s $45m treasury look like a one-quarter runway.

  5. Importantly, DAOs are separate identities from Collective Investment Schemes which are also under the jurisdiction of the SEC and require them to be registered as such entities. The DAO's history of direct token investments made this case particularly strong.

    Not to mention that JZ had personally seeded the enormous treasury, opening him to enormous tax burdens in a best-case scenario. Not to mention the complications that a collective investment scheme represent. What represents collective investment? A native token? An unregistered stablecoin? Wait….

  6. Meanwhile, in this hyper-competitive niche, Rook's competitors like Flashbots were pursuing a traditional company model with infinitely more success to show for it. They had released their MEV Boost product, a system package for Validators to build blocks with MEV efficient bundles, increasing their profit.

    95% of validators run the MEV-boost standard.

Over the last 6 months the team shared limited information about Project Starlight, the antithesis of MEV Boost prioritizing Ethereum users. Here, searchers would compete to pay users, the generators of MEV, for the opportunities instead of validators. Maintaining competitive advantage in this area was paramount but the team shared a simple vision of Starlight for many months pre-RFVoors. MEV infra where little guy got paid not screwed, aligned to the crypto ethos while accountable to DAO governance.

(As the governance battle was raging, competing teams launched user-facing “transaction-flow” MEV products such as MEV Blocker and Flashbots Auctions, capturing crucial first-mover mindshare. Although similar to Starlight, these missed core components separating Rook from the rest)

Instead of the DAO model enabling Rook, it crippled it. As Flashbots was seeking VC investment at a $1B valuation, Rook was being governance attacked having years of effort and growth ripped away by greedy and selfish "activist investors". Oh crypto, never change.

Gary Gensler was on a crusade to save his name in the wake of FTX. The weight of Rook’s history was crushing and Starlight never saw the light of day.

Closing

Rook DAO will likely fade into crypto history unremembered with only this story, some on-chain breadcrumbs, and a former community recognizing the name.

Maybe we can remember the lessons learned:

  • Economic innovation is stalled not defeated. Finacial innovation will rise again in the form of tokenomics. It may take many years, but the programmable money thesis thrives, at least in friendly regulatory jurisdictions (till it eats the others).

  • An organized collective is attacking DAOs. This it is not a figment of imagination. Often appearing as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, watch out for the organized behavior laid out in this story and confront it immediately (before your DAO ends like Rook).

  • DAOs need to work together to establish a legal precedent. Governance participants need to do their duty on the social front with organizations like Coinbase: Stand with Crypto to see positive change.

Recently, the dichotomy of outcomes for DAOs was vindicated:

  • Under the pressure of an SEC investigation, BARNDAO completely ceased all operations.

  • A judge ruled that XRP's direct on-chain or CEX token distributions do not indicate security status (likely closer to ROOK's case).

Regardless, this was a consideration for every action ROOK made in the last 6-9 months of its life. In the end the RFVoors won.

Rook had spent years developing governance processes, crafting power-checks into a complex hierarchy, and operating an effective improvement system system, it still fell short. My heart breaks for the honest people in this community trying to make a difference. In the end, I agree with Vitalik's initial statement in his article,

Decentralized governance in some contexts is both necessary and dangerous.”

I believe MEV should one day be a public good with its development overseen with democratic oversight, aligning MEV infrastructure to the people. It must embody the cypherpunk roots of crypto industry.

To echo infamous and legendary DeFi builder Andre Cronje, RIP Rook DAO, Long Live Rook DAO.

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