Massive ego battles are a fairly regular occurrence within the crypto sphere. It’s almost a rite of passage for a cryptocurrency–the founders of Bitcoin Cash, Tezos, Ethereum, and many others have been embroiled in them at some point. But in some of these battles, it can be difficult to tell where the egos end and serious allegations begin.
Earlier this month, Lucien Chen, one of the co-founders of the TRON network and the network’s former CTO, made a sudden exodus from the project. And Chen didn’t go quietly–on his way out the door, Chen made some serious allegations against the project and its founder, Justin Sun: he told the world that Tron has become excessively centralized–and that (by the way) his new project, the Volume Network, is much less so.
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He said that although his decision to leave Tron was based on several reasons, the centralization of the network was the most significant reason. “As a technical man, I feel very sad that the Ton has departed from the faith of ‘decentralize the web,’” Chen wrote in a post made from a Medium account that has since by suspended.
Tron responded immediately, claiming that the allegations were false and that Chen’s exit from the company was an involuntary removal after he was suspected of being involved in fraudulent activity. However, many members of the Tron community have questioned the way that Tron handled Chen’s alleged dismissal, and whether or not there could be any truth to his claims.
Could there be more than meets the eye?
Chen wrote that “the DPOS mechanism of Tron is pseudo-decentralized.” In other words, Chen alleged that the distributed-proof-of-stake algorithm that confirms transactions on the Tron network is far more under Tron’s control than the company would like to admit.
Why does this matter? Blockchain networks depend on decentralization in order to be secure. In order for the security of a blockchain network to be compromised, more than half of the “nodes,” or computers that are responsible for upholding the network and completing the processes that confirm transactions.
On Tron’s network, the main nodes on the network, called Super Representatives, were elected by TRX holders when the network was launched. Tron’s network operates such that the Super Representatives are in control of the governance on the network.
Congratulations to all the 27 #TRONSRs, now we are in constitutional phase(after SRs replace GRs. Officially online). #TRON #TRX $TRX pic.twitter.com/Ea6yTeHd0b
— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) August 22, 2018
Could There Be Any Truth to Chen’s Accusations?
Chen’s loud exit from Tron and the opportunistic shilling of his own project certainly smell strongly of a conflict of interest. However, there could be some truth to what he was saying.
While there isn’t any scientific proof behind Chen’s words, he isn’t the only person to point the finger at Tron and projects like it. Last year, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin said in February that while algorithmic models similar to Tron’s may be able to run more transacitons per second, their security and decentralization is often compromised.
“When a blockchain project claims ‘we can do 3,500 TPS because we have a different algorithm,’ what [it] really means is ‘we are a centralized pile of trash because we only have 7 nodes running the entire thing,” he said at the Blockchain Connect Conference.
Users also began to question Tron’s decentralization when the network made the decision to take over the r/Tronix Reddit feed. While Tron alleged that the move was made in order to protect the integrity of the information that was shared on the feed, members of the Tron community saw things differently.
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“This is centralization of power and control of communication,” wrote user aesthetik_–and while the Reddit takeover was not exactly network centralization, “if they only allow posts relating to apps with financial interests aligned to generating profit for themselves and remove competition, then this project will rapidly form a cartel structure stripping wealth from its members for the benefit of a few.”
The problem with many platforms and networks in the cryptosphere at this moment in time is that serious problems are often only identified after it’s too late. If Tron is overly centralized, the world will probably only know the extent of the problem after something unfortunate has happened.
Regardless of whether or not Chen’s allegations are true, the network needs to take steps to show its community that it is trustworthy–and that it prioritizes its users’ best interest over making profits.