Juicebox in the Words of jango

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“Juicebox in the words of” is a series that highlights JB community members in interview form. Learn about members’ roles at JB and what makes them tick.

jango is one of the two OG’s of JB, having created JB along with peri and worked tirelessly to streamline it, organize contributors, and deliver excellent work at a breakneck pace. Along with peri he has by far the widest perspective of the JB story and the vision that created it. Read on to learn a bit about JB’s beginnings and the vision that spawned it.

How'd you get started with JB, and how has it changed since you've been here?

It started as a seed of thought. Around 2014/2015ish, I was building this app in iOS dev world. That was back in my younger days when I loved building shit, working with friends, piecing together who’s good at what, etc. We didn’t have a tonne of users on the app, but we had an open slack server where several users would come hang out with the builders

We didn’t want to think about price, business models, advertising etc. We just wanted to build, and we didn’t like thinking of this structure with users on one side to pay fees, and builders on the other to create and get paid, since we felt like the folks using the app were a part of the building process as well.

One day I was sitting with my notebook, trying to figure out how this whole thing was going to play out, and I captured an idea floating by. If we figured out exactly how much it would cost to run this thing, including server hosting, salaries, and so on, we could come up with one number we needed to get to by the end of the month. When we realized we could enumerate exactly what those expenses were to the users, fully transparently, and tell them listen, this is what we need to get to each month for the service to run, and if we exceed this number, we’re going to use that overflow to push down the price of the product– once we realized that, we just ran with the idea and that became the product. It seems like a win-win– the team gets paid, the users get a service, and if it becomes more successful, the service becomes more and more affordable, or even free.

That sounds like a light-bulb moment. How did it translate into your project at that time?

So I stopped the project to focus full time on the building out this new concept, but tried to do it all in the Web 2 world, and it was really really hard– trying to forge relationships with banking systems about a system where there’s fees, maybe fee refunds if we have overflow, etc., and someone would have coordinate all these fees, refunds, and so on, it just wasn’t possible to manage all that with Web 2 structures. Around that same time I was delving into crypto, learning about the blockchain, smart contracts, and then in hit me: this idea was executable, but we were totally swimming against the current trying to do it in the Web 2 space. So I hunkered down and jumped into learning everything I could about smart contracts, did some prototypes, and by that time a lot of the team was like man, I can’t get dragged on another project, so I decided to kind of jump in head-first and take the lead on seeing how this would play out. I figured the moment we had something tangible, all these brilliant people who I’d met and who I had the luxury to spend time with would just hop on and help give it life.

At this point I was working hard along with peri to get this concept built out, and we actually went a few different iterations of the name. There was “the sustainers market”, back in the Web 2 world, and then eventually we called it “fountain”, because of how overflow from payments kind of would trickle down, and then at a certain point, I think it was peri who said, let’s just call it “milk”, and we got real funky with it and said fine, and so it was “milk” for about five minutes, and then we decided on “juice,” and that actually stuck for a while. It wasn’t until like a week before launch that we felt like man, something’s missing, and then somehow we came up with “Juicebox,” and we all felt immediately like yes, that’s the one, and so we launched with that.

In terms of where JB is today: everyday it changes a little bit, and early on we had no idea how it would be used. I had a decent understanding of how I may use it, but seeing how it’s been used has been really awesome. But who the hell knows where it’s going. We learned so much along the way, and a lot of incredible badass motherfuckers started to come through and add on to it, and it’s only gotten better and better because of that.

peri told me about the “DAO immune system” - a term you coined - can you explain it in a bit more detail?

I remember that! That’s a fascinating concept. People are diverse, and JB has always had an amazing team, but over the span since launch there have been some ideas that have come up and vouched for adoption or funding, or were communicated in non-productive ways, and other folks started running away from these or critiquing them heavily, the same way a body would reject a pathogen. I found that so fascinating, and wondered how that worked, since it seemed to happen all on its own.

The DAO is interesting, in that I see it more as a place where ideas exist and sometimes compete. I don’t think people are bad for DAOs, but ideas can certainly take root and harm the operation of a DAO. The interesting thing is early on in a DAO, ideas that come up for vote are not only important short-term, but also precedent-setting. This is a double-edged sword though, because while setting precedent can kind of immunize a DAO against future bad ideas, it can also lead a DAO to try to solve new problems with old methods. All of this is still in a nascent stage, and very fragile, so it’s interesting to see how it plays out, but I do think a DAO has some built-in mechanisms, certainly JB does, that kind of helps it move in positive, productive directions.

Speaking of how fragile all this is, how do you approach managing risk?

A lot of the things I learned come from taking risk, and I’m not a risk averse person. In this context specifically, maybe as a programmer of the contracts you tend to feel a bit more of that weight, and you can sense a community in anticipation, and a zealousness, and so just peeling toward balance in general I think is healthy. More generally, and this is something I constantly point out, is that we need to keep the focus– it’s tempting to go to the next thing prematurely– but we need to keep the focus and stay the course on the tasks in the here and now.

JB seems so inclusive and friendly, so I’m wondering: where are all the assholes?

I’m kind of a proponent of assholery, if it’s needed.

So wait, JB doesn’t need it now? Did it ever?

At JB, we’re doing a thing and everyone has a mode of operation– when you talk about inclusivity, it’s not saying that anything goes. After all a lot of people are taking a lot of risk here, and we can’t be inclusive of things like cutting corners or taking simple approaches that don’t match the complexity of a problem. I don’t think being an asshole is good, obviously, but sometimes you do need to focus in the conversation, and there will always be some people who don’t want to do that, but I think that’s where the limit is to the inclusivity. So I don’t think there’s assholes around, but if we needed them to keep us honest, or if a situation requires people to act that way to make real progress, then maybe we’d see more of them. Fortunately at JB we’re a good team and we communicate well, the transparency is there, but if that wasn’t the case then I don’t know that assholes would be a bad thing.

Who is your favorite JB contributor, and why is it Zeugh?

Zeugh is a complex, charming character. I’m a sucker for really complex, charming characters. I don’t care for yea-sayers or nay-sayers, and people like Zeugh are their own person. Love him for it.

Without question peri is my favorite for many reasons, Zeugh for many reasons, Mieos for many reasons. Twodam is a fucking legend, he’s subtle and sometimes goes unnoticed but holy moly, anytime I talk to anyone about some of our contributors twodam comes up and oh my goodness, what an incredible incredible person. Not a fair question.

Folks who have a strong belief or mindset or some part about them that isn’t looking to step aside (or who just want to be there by association), but rather people who want to be there because of who they are, that tends to be the ones that stick out to me. People who, given a good enough idea, argument or situation, will 100% get behind something and contribute to its success, even if they at first have a hard time with it, are the kinds of people that stick out to me. It’s not stubbornness per se; it’s productive arguments and debates and vibes and fun.

Oh man… It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but that characteristic of people is definitely important to me.

Excellent answer. Okay, final question! What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m not a very fun or interesting person, really. Nothing to see here, move along.