Some changes at the Aragon Association

October 30, 2019

It was a year ago when I announced I was to join the Aragon Association as the first Executive Director.

Reading older blog posts you’ve written is a fruitful exercise. It can help you re-contextualize information, and can help you remember why you had particular hunches or stances on specific topics.
That’s what happened while preparing this post and re-reading my “Decentralized organizations are the future” post.

It has been an amazing year, full of learning. But it has also been a very challenging year for myself and the whole Aragon Network.

Aragon is still an early experiment, but one with a live product and more than 50 full-time employees (across the entities funded by the Aragon Association) that need to coordinate between themselves and the wider ANT-holding community, the Ethereum community and the wider blockchain community.

All the while shipping software at the speed of light, and not your usual SaaS web app. Cutting edge software and governance mechanisms.

The number of threads have started accumulating in the recent months, hindering the ability to work on longer-term strategic initiatives.

A few months ago, when the Aragon Network was having discussions around the Flock grants process, and re-reading my announcement post, I realized why I was so extremely bullish about Aragon and its role in bringing about the decentralized future we all believe in: it was the founders. It always is the founders.

And that part had been “taken out” from the Aragon Network. I was now in charge of the Aragon Association, but I was not, shouldn’t be, and never intended to be, the leader of the Network.
What has become clear to me is that at such an early stage, the Network still needs a strong leader, and that it’s very, very hard to delegate to a community or to hire away.

It dawned on me that an “external” leader at the Aragon Association could not have the vision, motivation, will, context, standing, respect and care that a founder has.
I was starting to worry that the expectations placed on the Aragon Association by the founders, Flock teams and the wider community were much higher than the ones I internally had, and more importantly, could fulfill as still a small two people team having to handle a wide range of functions including legal, accounting, grant programs, events, payments, security programs, and the decentralization process.
What initially looked like a chairman-type position had now completely revealed itself as a Founder and CEO position.

So, I sent an email to the Board of Directors (aka the founders) venting my worry about the lack of leadership for the network and my ability to fulfill those expectations, asking for a deeper involvement from the founders.

Thankfully, it was a shared conviction, and today we are happy to announce that Luis will be replacing me as the Executive Director of the Aragon Association!
In order to fully dedicate himself to the role, Luis is resigning as CEO of Aragon One, with Jorge stepping up to the CEO role, taking a larger role leading the development of the core parts of the Aragon Network.

This also frees up my time so I can start focusing full-time on investing with my Planet+ investment thesis.
But I will stay involved in the Aragon ecosystem: I will be transitioning to a newly instituted Board of Advisors, which will guide the work of the Aragon Association helping Luis and the team be as effective as possible, while advising on more strategic initiatives. We are slowly going to add and announce members to the Board in the coming months.

This transition ensures that going forward, the Aragon Association can act like the leadership figure the network needs, and that it will have the resources to deliver on its goals with a larger team.

With that regard, I am again very happy to announce that one of my last tasks has been hiring our new Head of Operations: Joe Charlesworth.

Joe will bring a lot of new energy and experience to the Aragon Association, having worked for years as a partner and CFO at Playfair, one of the leading pre-seed venture funds in London, and having shown an intense interest and knowledge about the Aragon Network.

I’m incredibly grateful to all of the participants in the Aragon Network, employees of Aragon Black, Autark and Aragon One, and the founders for trusting me with this role and to Louis and Joe for taking a chance on me and joining us in this adventure. They will have a great new leader to learn a lot from.

I’m specifically grateful to Luis for recognizing the need for leadership and taking bold action.

The Aragon Network could literally not be in better hands now, and I’m more excited than ever for its future. With Fundraising live on testnet, the Court almost ready, and a new Aragon Chain in the works the coming months are going to be incredibly exciting.

For freedom,
Stefano Bernardi