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    Reality Intrudes on a Utopian Crypto Vision


    Community strife has also prompted a price crash at Wonderland DAO, whose founder was recently forced to disclose that the platform’s treasurer, known as Sifu, was a man going by the name Michael Patryn. Mr. Patryn was previously convicted of financial crimes in the United States and Canada and was a co-founder of the failed Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, whose other founder’s mysterious death has left law enforcement suspicious and customers out about $135 million in crypto.

    Among the topics debated since then on the Wonderland governance forum are whether the DAO should dissolve, or transform into something more like a classic corporation by hiring “a team of professionals that have background checks,” including chief financial, legal and operating officers.

    The problems that have emerged often stem from the anonymous nature of DAOs and cryptocurrency.

    This anonymity can undermine accountability and facilitate what critics call abuses of power, like at SushiSwap, where its creator, who goes by Chef Nomi, left the project abruptly, cashing out on nearly $13 million worth of tokens amid infighting.

    A developer who goes by OxMaki and who was involved in starting SushiSwap told The New York Times in a Telegram chat that the DAO’s strengths — diversity and decentralization — also turned out to be weaknesses.

    “It was formed from a wild spectrum of people worldwide without relation between all the parties. The vision and direction being different for each group. It was never fully decided internally. Which was a mistake,” he wrote, adding that he never met other Sushi team members in person. (OxMaki, who called himself an “anarcho-capitalist,” declined to disclose his real name.)

    American CryptoFed calls itself the first legally sanctioned DAO in the United States. It was registered in Wyoming, which passed the first state law formally recognizing DAOs and exempting crypto tokens from state securities laws.

    In September, it notified the S.E.C. that it would create two new cryptocurrencies for payments and governance in its internal economy, both of which would first be distributed to the public and then later bought, sold and traded.

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