María shares her thoughts about Aragon and what got her into working on an Ethereum based project
As a continuation on our team interview series (Luis' Interview | Jorge's Interview | Tatu's interview), I interviewed María --- Aragon's Head of Strategy and Operations --- to learn more about her, her interest in Ethereum, how she came to work, and her role, at Aragon.
Hello María! Could you tell us about yourself and what is it that you do at Aragon?
I'm María, Head of Strategy and Operations at Aragon. Currently, I'm helping to build the Aragon ecosystem. We want users to get the maximum value from the product as soon as it launches. I'm also overseeing legal, non-tech HR, and doing anything I can to help the team focus on the product.
I was born in Colombia, and even though I currently live in Bogotá, I've lived outside my country for over 10 years, mainly in Europe and the USA. I've moved and I move a lot. This has made me a bit of a minimalist. I love traveling as much as I hate tourism and I also love food (all kinds of meat) as much as I hate cooking ;)
Fashion design is one of my hobbies. I have taken courses about it. I love colors, fabrics, and patterns. I think I got it from my mom and my aunt; they used to make some of my clothes when I was a kid, my aunt still does sometimes. We design it together, I find the fabric and she makes it. One of my favorite designers is Rei Kawakubo.
How did you come to work on a blockchain, more specifically an Ethereum project?
My participation in the Ethereum community has been a process; I'm not a developer. My background is in corporate law and Bitcoin was what got me interested in the blockchain tech (I love Bitcoin as well). After I first discovered it, I read the white paper, books and blogs about it and soon enough I was totally bullish about smart contracts. This brought me to Ethereum.
I first started working in business development for a digital currency exchange. This experience was a good training in terms of compliance and the regulatory issues of the tech and the business around it, in different jurisdictions of the world, mainly in Latin America. I also started learning about programming languages and computer science in general, on my own. I have to confess, I'm not very good at coding at the moment ;) but at least I'm enjoying it.
Then, I started helping some small projects building on Ethereum that haven't come to light yet, with their legal assessment in the Latin America markets. This work taught me a lot from a technical, business and legal perspective.
Which aspects in particular do you find the most interesting about Ethereum?
In terms of tech, the smart contracts for sure. This computer protocol that once deployed on the blockchain can self-verify, self-execute and self-enforce the rules encoded on it. I know this is not an exclusive feature of Ethereum, but being Ethereum the smart contracts platform, here is where you see most of the activity in terms of development and implementation.
The most interesting use cases for me here are identity, DAOs, stable-value currencies, prediction markets and distributed data storage.
What are your thoughts on the Ethereum community?
I think it is a talented and open group of people. There is a collaborative environment that is attracting lots of developers and people with different backgrounds.
What I find interesting is how Ethereum, and the different projects building on it, are approaching project governance. We can see different models and combinations: on-chain/off-chain governance. Build a participatory community first and then gradually change from off-chain to on-chain, as the technology, the projects and the market mature.
Project governance is something the community is just starting to directly tackle. Another interesting thing, linked to governance as well, is this concept of community ownership. Building a great product that distributes tokens to users and aligns incentives within the participants of the network, creates strong network effects and could solve the agency problem, as Nick Szabo pointed out in one of his brilliant tweets..
What features would you hope to see implemented into Ethereum?
I don't know if this is a feature, but a few days ago Vlad Zamfir posted some tweets about the softer topics of blockchains. Ethical and governance issues are not discussed often. The blockchain tech has a very human element; it can transform society. Yet, we know that tech can be used for evil or for good. If this powerful tech is used in the wrong way, it can end up being a horrible tool for abuse. So we need to deal with ethical issues sooner than later.
Fortunately, some of the Ethereum projects, like Aragon, are starting to work on some of those issues.
Why did you choose to come work at Aragon?
We know the blockchain tech enables people from anywhere in the world to interact and transact without jurisdictional, cultural or political constraints. This is enabling new types of organizations and more cost efficient and productive forms of collaboration. Aragon will make this tech accessible and easy to use to anyone. You will be able to create and manage your organization in a decentralized and trust minimized way, even if you don't understand or don't want to bother with the tech running behind it.
Local laws and physical jurisdictions will not go away. But, we are choosing the exit option here, à la Balaji. Aragon is an opt-in token-governed digital jurisdiction. This is an alternative. The better we make this work, the more people will opt for it. This is not the first time in history that law can't cope with the changes of the world and has to give up space to new systems. Take a look at how the lex mercatoria emerged (pag 44--45) or how the London Stock Exchange or the New York Stock Exchange started.
I think law, in general and simple terms, is a governance tool, as much as the tools that the blockchain tech is enabling. In some cases these new tools may make law obsolete and in others they may even complement it. One thing is sure: the team in Aragon will be exercising the quantum thought muscle a lot!
What are the key tips to keep a team motivated towards the same vision?
I think one key tip is making sure that as a team we all know why we must do what we must do, not only what we have to do.
This was María, Head of Strategy and Operations at Aragon, you can also follow María on Twitter.