“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.
aeolian is a longtime JB member and a front-end wizard. He has worked tirelessly for the JB cause and seemingly writes lines of code in his sleep. Lately he has championed discussions around how we evaluate compensation in the DAO, and most recently has submitted a proposal (in-process as of this writing) to reduce payouts across all JB contributors. Read on to learn a bit more about this front-end developer turned fiscal activist.
How’d you get started with JB and how has it changed since you’ve been here?
Before JB, and technically even now, I’ve been a software engineer in the traditional web2 space working for startups, etc. I’ve been loosely dabbling in crypto over the years, but I always wanted to dive into it in a bigger way. Generally when I want to dive into something, I really wanna get into the nuts/bolts and learn it from the ground up. I finally found myself with the time to do that, and me and a couple friends found this NFT project we liked, and even though we couldn’t really afford to buy the NFT separately, if we pull our funds together… and it was like a lightbulb moment. We thought hey, what about this whole DAO thing happening— what if we make a DAO that buys some NFTs. So I found JB and started poking around, and it was coincidentally the same time that ConstitutionDAO was happening. I was drawn in by the amazing branding of Banny (a banana smoking a joint was just amazing) and the next day I wake up, log into discord, and I see the treasury has grown to like 20 million overnight. Once I saw that and started really thinking about the potential of this thing I immediately dropped everything I was doing and started trying to contribute where I could, especially on the dev side and front-end side. Peri welcomed us with open arms and the rest is history as they say.
Awesome. So much talk lately about V2! How would you put V2 in perspective for someone not technically aware of all the changes?
V2, hmm. When we talk about V2 we’re talking about the protocol itself. Jango, Drgorilla and a bunch of others have identified some tings about V1 which were restrictive, like that projects can only raise money in ETH and not in other currencies, that there’s less flexibility around how they can configure projects to meet their needs, and so on. The protocol guys said let’s start developing V2 and improve it from the ground up, and so the front-end’s job in that is basically to support those new additions. There’s exciting potential use cases, like funding your project through your own NFT launch, or like a project that comes along that says we want to award contributors with an NFT that they can sell on secondary market, and the proceeds of those NFTs will go straight into a JB treasury. Another biggie is supporting multi-currencies— projects accepting stablecoins instead of just ETH. Truthfully we don’t even know all the possibilities that it is hopefully going to open up, which is what makes it all the more exciting.
I’m reminded of the story of that city planner in England way back when, who had the roads built twice as wide as necessary. People thought he was crazy, but he saw a future with population explosion. Do you view V2 as built for the realities of tomorrow?
Haha, I super admire anyone that can have that kind of forethought and conviction in their idea of the future. When you’re building a protocol as the ecosystem saw with V1, it enables a set of use cases which, in the case of V1, proved to be successful with big fundraisers that make big volume in a short amount of time. Look at the internet– such a non-restrictive, base-level protocol, and look at it now. The creators of the internet would have had no idea that it would become what it is now. Not unlike JB with this website of this smoking banana that enables millions of dollars of fundraising.
There’s been this wonderful discussion about compensation lately. Where does a DAO strike a balance between compensating members and staying lean for a down-the-line bigger payout?
It’s really hard. Like someone said in that thread on compensation— I don’t remember who— but comparing people based on a number is just not healthy, right? That’s what people don’t like about traditional corporate life, and that’s why people find themselves in web3 and crypto. They want to escape that world and operate in a space that lets them do what interests them the most. In terms of how to think about it from a first-principles perspective, which I’m trying to do, let’s start with startups. I don’t think the startup model is perfect by any means– it probably disproportionately rewards the founders more than early builders. So that’s not exactly a blueprint for us either.
It’s just so complicated right? So many smart people and no one has been able to find that holy grail answer...
Right. And drawing from the corporate world and those structures probably is not the right way to go about it either. I’m not a crypto/web3 maximalist in that sense though, I do think people can learn things from those who have come before us, but we’re here to make our own rules and to do what makes sense for us and what leads to the most amazing ecosystem that we can possibly build. That’s what we’re all here to do. The fact that that thread exists and other threads like it exist is a real testament to this community because we’re driven and passionate about figuring this stuff out. That, in my opinion, is the sign of a really healthy community.
No egos can be around in this right– how come egos don’t seem to clash more in these situations?
There’s something about JB, or the way that the community presents itself, whether on socials or within the discord, that it leads to a certain type of person sticking around. People are sufficiently motivated at JB. When teams break apart and things don’t happen it’s because people gave up on figuring out how to make it work. Everyone here recognizes the opportunity we have in front of us, to build this amazing thing and a solid foundation for us to all go forward. It’s a recognition that if we can really sit down and work all this stuff out we’re really gonna be able to build amazing things.
Do you think the JB runway threatened by the compensation models we have now? JB never had any VC coming in, so how do you reconcile that?
That’s the key point– and I’ve been guilty of this in the past myself— JB is very unique and the dynamics of the ecosystem are crazy. We really do have to think about this stuff. We have to sit down and think about it from a first-principles perspective, rather than approaching it in the traditional way of doing these things.
What about the workflow over time problem– ie, what happens when your job drops off in work to do because you executed the task, but you’re still getting this big recurring payout?
That’s the biggie, you’ve hit the nail on the head. One model we’ve stewarded is that the front-end team has broken out into its own treasury in Peel, and that allows us to be more intentional with how we fund projects. It really allows two things: we can onboard quickly those who we think are really good, and we can also understand their skill set right away. We know what we’re looking for and the broader DAO doesn’t have to go in and make a decision on every single recurring payout proposal that comes through that affects the front-end. That’s one model that’s been working for us, but these things are all emerging, and that what makes me super excited to be here in JB and in web3.
Got it. Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. Who’s your favorite JB member, and why is it jango?
Jango said something a while ago that really nails home why he’s so amazing, and the culture he’s ushered in at JB. I’m just gonna quote it here:
“i like hangin with folks that can be fluid between bullshitting and manifesting, fluid between appreciating beauty and ugly, fluid between conversation and silence, fluid between humor and practicality, fluid between been in awe of everything and focusing on the next idea in front of us. I'm attracted as fuck to people with big imaginations who make moves towards them.”
That was like such an amazing statement because it’s really hard to find people who are your people. I feel like my people are this: people who strike that balance between brilliance and focus, but also are able to laugh at the ridiculousness of life, and so I guess when I read that I was like damn, I will definitely be vibing here for many years.
But my homies at Peel definitely need a huge shoutout. This is the dream team and I'm super lucky to be a part of it.
What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Hmm… I don’t really know. I guess one thing is that I started programming very late, and I actually always wanted to be a film composer— writing music for movies. That’s what I was doing before becoming a software engineer. Through high school I was pretty much all about music; I played piano and a bunch of other instruments and I got really into writing music for film, and I thought I would take that road. Eventually I kind of just realized it wasn’t coming from a place of pure passion and excitement. I realized as a musician you have to write music you don’t care to write oftentimes, and take jobs that don’t interest you at all. So I looked for another avenue and it was kind of just random how it happened: I went to university for some unrelated degree and fell in love with programming and comp sci along the way.