DeFi Llama'd

A rift between the founders of DeFi Llama over how the direction of the platform has caused a faction led by 0xngmi to "fork" it under a new name.

Samuel McCulloch
Samuel McCulloch
March 20, 2023
DeFi Llama'd

Update: Charlie and 0xngmi seem to have figured things out and the official Twitter announced there would be no token and that the LlamaCorp would continue to work together.

Wen token?

A classic question that doesn't solve everything in crypto. Some products are just good enough to make money on their own without dropping a half-baked token for the sake of it. This is especially the case for websites, apps and other front end facing, retail consuming products.

What exactly does a token add? In most cases it’s used to govern the deployment and maintenance of smart contracts used by a distributed group of people. Tokens are also used to accrue value generated by the protocol through buybacks or distributions.

Without a clear use case for a token, it can really detract from the overall health and growth of the actual product as moonbois only talk about price. As a founder, it can be extremely distracting to endure the constant barrage of questions why prices aren’t exactly tracking value on a daily basis and what is intended to pump prices as soon as possible.

If you can create a functioning business without a token, it’s the easiest method towards sustainability. But with open source software the licenses typically allow permissive modification and private use without many restrictions. Anyone can just “right click save” the code, deploying it how they wish and for their own purposes.

Llama Llama, What’s The Drama?

On Sunday March 20th, a schism erupted when lead developer of DeFiLlama posted this tweet:

The move came as a shock to many in the community. What did 0xngmi mean by “hostile?” Who were the attackers leading the charge to takeover an open source project? What were the implications of moving to a new, but closely branded fork of the code? The initial response was more confusion than anything else as the situation was pieced together.

The community started a discussion in LobsterDAO, asking first in 0xngmi’s account had been hacked to which he said “not compomised” and offered to verify with his wallet signature. A few minutes later, LlamaIntern, who runs the DeFiLlama roundup told the chat that 0xngmi had gone “rogue” and he was “actively looking to seize DeFiLlama IP and community.

LlamaIntern’s initial response in LobsterDAO

With two sides calling each other “rogue” and “hostile,” the public rift was apart of a long brewing internal fight between Charlie (0xLlam4) and company Director 0xngmi, who owns a 70% of DeFiLlama. Over a two year period, the majority of DeFiLlama’s expenses have been paid by donations. Minority shareholder Charlie funded server costs for the growing site, but stopped several months ago when the internal dispute started. 0xngmi has also contributed towards expenses during this time. But his biggest value has been as a prolific contributor to the DeFiLlama Github, with more than 2,000 commits in the last few years.

0xngmi’s Github commits

The whole situation spun publicly out of control just one day after the official DeFiLlama twitter account posted a long thread on the its growth and future. One of the last tweets named several “surprises” that were upcoming and finished the tweet with a parachute emoji.

The core issue was that Charlie wanted to issue a Llama token as a way to monetize the currently free site. However, no one else wanted to take the repetitional risk associated with launching a token for a product that arguably doesn’t need one. Ads, subscriptions, and other revenue generating alternatives are a better way to monetize. The reputational capital built up by 0xngmi and the rest of the team is more than enough at this point to test out new methods to monetize. A token should be the last option.

Ending the debate in LobsterDAO, Ivan was right on the sauce:

DeFiLlama is one of many companies operated by the Llama group. It is majority owned by 0xngmi with Charlie as a minority shareholder. 0xngmi also owns a majority stake in LlamaSwap, LlamaPay and Llamalend. On the other hand, 0xLlam4 has a majority stake in DeFiLlama News, LlamaNodes, and Llamafolio.

Charlie still controls the DeFiLlama Twitter and website front end. 0xngmi launched a sister site, which is serving as a temporary front end until the two sides can negotiate a peaceful outcome. There are no risks to continue using either site.

We at Flywheel hope that the parties involved can reconcile their differences and reunify. The Llama’s are an essential part of DeFi. We will leave it to Gabriel Haines with his great summary of the situation. Wen token?

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