DBGrow Inc.

Legal Entity Name: DBGrow Inc.
As Represented By: Nic Robinette
AKA: SanFranSeahawk

Candidacy Statement - Guide Role

DBGrow Inc., as represented by Nic Robinette, is running to become a Guide in the Factom Protocol.

Education and Affiliations

I graduated from University of California, Berkeley and hold a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Outside of Factom, I work as an Assistant General Manager for JLL’s commercial property management division. This entails managing a variety of accounting and contracting processes and making sure our commercial clients are happy, as well as pitching services to institutional owners and investors -- most recently pitching and securing management for the Transamerica Pyramid Center in San Francisco.


I have been an avid and active member in the Factom Protocol since mid-2017 when I first became interested in cryptocurrencies. Beginning my journey into the factom ecosystem with the username SanFranSeahawk on Reddit, Slack/Discord, and Factomize, I participated in many discussions outside of being a part of an ANO. Over this time, I participated in discussions on matters primarily centered around governance, building community morale, and decentralizing standing in the factom ecosystem more broadly. I also served as a Sponsor for Factom Inc.’s Protocol Development Grants.

About a month and a half ago I joined the Authority Node Operator, DBGrow Inc., as a Governance Builder to provide value in furthering governance, to help facilitate processes in the factom ecosystem, and to bring the general community into the discussion of Protocol matters.

Since joining DBGrow Inc., I have enjoyed engaging more heavily in the factom community and governance system. I brought forward the newly implemented RBV framework in evaluating Grants, facilitated process discussions for various dimensions of the upcoming ANO Election (max number of new ANO’s, Guide vote weighting, trial period for new ANO’s), am currently re-working the ANO application and scoring process with Mike from Cube3, and am beginning the Research Group to consider inter-ANO review (which includes a non-ANO in the group which is exciting to see). I have also enjoyed participating in things like writing a Protocol Governance Article for the Factomize website, and conducting a FAT Protocol Educational Interview for the Factomize Newsletter, and look forward to continuing to write marketing articles for the Factom Protocol. Moving forward from here, I am most excited to work on crafting the frameworks and processes surrounding on-chain voting and onboarding future Standing Parties, which is the most central component of decentralizing the social layer of the Factom Protocol. I will continue to work to integrate general community members into these conversations on governance matters.

I have worked closely with current Guide, Julian Fletcher-Taylor, to gain a firm grasp of Factom Protocol governance, and have begun working on a variety of documents and processes including Doc 001. I am ready to jump headfirst into the guide role from day one.

I am very excited by the Factom Protocol’s novel approach to securing data and direct applicability to processes all around the world. I am eager to delve deeper into building out the factom ecosystem and its governance, and to ensure that we are successful in our efforts towards becoming a global utility.
Thank you for volunteering for this challenging and valuable role.

At this stage I have one question for all of the prospective guides:

If you were able to change only one thing during your tenure what would that be, why would you choose it and what would you specifically bring that would make a difference to the outcome?

(I recognise that certain guides have already made some of these things explicit in their statement and do not expect them to have to repeat that, in which case a partial answer or simple reference to their statement will suffice.)
First, thank you for stepping up as a Candidate. Putting yourself out there like this is not easy and I appreciate your willingness and desire to work for the Protocol.

1. Do you have a LinkedIn? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

2. Certain processes such as Document Ratification require a 4/5 vote from Guides prior to the process moving on to additional Standing Parties for a vote. Do you feel this is a centralization of power in the ecosystem? Why or why not? And under what circumstances would you vote "no" and gatekeep that process from progressing?

3. Do you feel Guides should always be a Standing Party? If so, why? If not, when would you like to see the role removed?

4. It's important that our Guides be diverse in their thinking and approach to problems. Which current Guide are you most opposite to in your thinking, how so, and why is that a good thing?

Thank you.
@Azn1nvas1on Thank you for asking! I can commit to a maximum of 30 hours a week (approximately 3 hours each weekday and 8 each weekend day). From my discussions with current Guides, I estimate that the minimum workload needed to facilitate guide processes is around 10-15 hours a week, but we’ve got a lot more work to do than just the minimum:

- The facilitation and improvement of ANO Election rounds (I am already working on this for the upcoming ANO Election)
- The expansion of Standing Parties via the Support Categories of: Proof of Use (EC users), Proof of Stake (FCT Holders), Efficiency, and Grant Success--which the onchain governance group is planting the seeds for.
- On-chain governance and voting
-Bringing Doc 001 in line with our current state and vision
-And many more

The Guides need to be more than just process facilitators at this stage of our ecosystem; they need to be central components of building out our governance, and I will put as much time as I can into making that happen as I am deeply passionate about this Protocol.

Edited: To give credit to the onchain governance group for their work.
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@Mike Buckingham Thanks for the question!

The single most important task, in my mind, is onboarding more Standing Parties. Achieving this objective is critical for increasing interest and active participation in our ecosystem, is necessary to further decentralize the Protocol from a regulatory standpoint, and is even central to the safety of the Protocol -- as both the technological and social aspects of the Protocol's development are fundamental to its success.

I will also discuss a second major goal of mine which is sustaining momentum. I think it’s extremely important that we make sure to keep momentum going in our governance buildout. We have stalled a bit at times, but we need constant forward progress for Factom to become a global utility. Reducing overhead for ongoing tasks is part of this, and automating certain processes, as well as bringing other processes on-chain (which inherently automates them to some extent), can help this effort. Something Spencer at DBGrow espouses, which has had an impact on me, is the importance of properly limiting the scope of processes and discussions. This can be accomplished by properly defining the goals, and then chunking out tasks (I gave this a try with the ANO Election questions, asking limited scope questions in independent timed discussion threads, and I believe this helped keep discussion on point), as well as properly steering discussions to keep them in-line with the defined goals. Lastly, and most importantly, is to just keep the pressure on with work, week after week.

An example of sustaining momentum in a process that I facilitated was the change to RBV for Grant voting. We identified the issues around the last Grant voting mechanism, and defined the specific outcomes we wanted from a change to that voting mechanism (less ambiguity in voting strategies while still being easy for the voter to understand the system). I initially desired using STV (Single Transferable Vote) as the framework for Grant voting. However, after walking through such a solution on some calls with Julian, Canonical Ledgers, and Paul Bernier, we realized that incorporating STV, while very cool, would be a massive undertaking (as STV assumes a static number of “spaces” being voted into, and brings new dynamics such as voter subsets into play which was outside the scope of what we could manage before the Grant vote).

Faced with this reality, we pivoted to RBV, and I composed the RBV Proposal that was presented to the community. RBV accomplished the scope of what was outlined while maintaining less complexity than STV. RBV was then swiftly incorporated into the Grant process. From my discussions, it seems it was preferable to most in comparison to the previous mechanism (except maybe to the Guides who had to do some extra counting :p), but we can continue to solidify and automate these processes. This was the first change I brought to a core Protocol process, and I look forward to making that a habit.
@David Chapman Thank you for the questions.

I did not have an updated LinkedIn account prior to reading your question, and I admit that I have not found it necessary in my career to this point. However, I believe that representatives of our ecosystem should have one, as it is becoming a standard of professionalism across the tech industry. I also realize that having an established identity in a democratic ecosystem, where I have a hand in building out and pushing forward sensitive governance processes, is of the utmost importance from an accountability standpoint. Your post spurred me to action, and I have created a new LinkedIn. Thank you!

As with most of these questions, I believe the answer is more nuanced than just “yes” or “no”. While it does not give the ultimate power to gatekeep, it gives the Guide that power until Standing Parties can replace the Guide in question, which is still a problem.

It is also important to realize that no matter how important these nuances are, sometimes nuances are lost and we have to take that into account. To an outside entity, whether it be a potential client, investor, developer, ANO-candidate, or regulator, those nuances are likely to be missed, and all that’s left is “decisions in factom can be made or blocked by 2 people”. This perceived centralization makes for a nice headline to bounce around on Reddit or in the mind of a regulator, and in the long term, that’s unacceptable.

I would vote “no” to keep the process from the community only if the process in question was a substantive, direct violation of anything within a Standing Party ratified document. Before this even came to a vote, a good faith effort should be made to communicate these problems to whatever entity is putting the process forward in order for them to rectify such issues.

Guides fulfill so many critical functions at this stage of the Protocol’s development. In a sense, it’s hard to imagine the Protocol without the guidance of a group of dedicated people whose job it is to facilitate the governance. Currently, Guides fill in roles that some day will be shifted to onchain governance, and take a large role in setting up the ecosystem's governance, itself. However, there will come a time when the Protocol is sufficiently decentralized to other Standing Parties via Support mechanisms as described in Doc 001, and governance processes will be automated via onchain mechanisms. At this juncture, Guides as they stand today will no longer be necessary. We will always need people focusing on governance and facilitating governance processes, but they may not be named "Guide". Instead, they will likely have very different functions, will almost certainly have greatly reduced power in governance processes, and at this point, will reflect a substantial step toward decentralization.

I believe that would be Brian. I have great respect for Brian’s thinking, including on governance processes, but there is a fundamental divide between how we approach governance that revolves around a difference in time horizon. Brian has stated that he believes that the development of the Factom Protocol is a multi-decade undertaking. I believe this will be a decade long project only if we treat every day that we are not more developed like we are losing clients, developers, and capital to projects with 100x the budget. We need to hone our efforts to ensure that progress is efficient, and push the boundaries of what we believe is achievable on every front of this ecosystem.
Firstly, thank you for putting yourself up for election for this important and challenging position! These are general questions that I am asking to all applicants. If you feel the questions are redundant to your previous replies. Feel free to cite that and move forward.

Having recently ratified changes to Doc 001 I would appreciate it if you could take a moment to explain how you will intend to carry out the following as a guide.

1. Under Guide eligibility standards.
(a) demonstrate independence in thought, leadership, and business
(b) be of good moral character with a demonstrated interest in the long term best interests of the protocol, willingness to serve the community of users, and history as a leader in the community.

2. Under Guide responsibilities
(a) make themselves available to the community
(b) Maintain orderly operation of the protocol network and facilitate the relationships between standing parties and the community. Further, by ensuring an adequate number of applicants to run a large enough pool of servers to ensure 65 servers are always available for the Authority Set.
(c) Be responsible for overseeing the application of the protocol governance to the operation of the the protocol.

Finally I see the responsibility of “Maintain orderly operation of the protocol” to extend beyond simply the technical and governance parts of the protocol and extending towards the wider community. Do you agree with this interpretation? If so how do you intend to achieve this?

Thanks Again
For legal reasons, we elect entities, not individuals. As such, the entity is the Guide and not a single individual. Therefore, in theory at least, any individual under the entity's umbrella can act in a Guide manner. This creates a scenario where an entity could get elected and then bring in an unknown individual as a part of said entity to execute the Guide responsibilities.

So the question is: If elected, will any other individuals besides yourself be acting in a Guide capacity for your entity?

Thank You
@DanG, Thank you for taking the time to ensure we adhere to the wording set out in Doc 001. I will demonstrate independence in thought, leadership, and business by:

1(a) I believe that the work and initiative I have portrayed over the past couple months is a good demonstration that can be used to evaluate how I fulfill this requirement.

1(b) While determining moral character will always be a subject, I hope that I have portrayed a fairness in attitude towards all members of this community, and I can say that I always try to hold the interest of the Factom Protocol as paramount.

2(a) I have attempted to be very open to working with any group within the ecosystem, and have enjoyed all of the relationships I have developed across the ecosystem. Anyone should feel free to bring anything to me - Guide-related or otherwise.

2(b) Most of the benefit I can bring here will be in governance and social processes, as that is the direction my skill-set lends itself to rather than in technical areas. I have been working to bring what I can to these processes in my time working for DBGrow, as well as before that. In relation to ensuring an adequate number of ANO candidates to ensure 65 servers are available for the Authority Set, I believe that the tempo of onboarding needs to be largely regulated by the current Authority Set. Pursuing high quality candidates should always be a high priority, but the cadence with which we do onboard new ANO's should be carefully examined, discussed by the Guides and the community, and should reflect the best interest of the Protocol and its health.

2(c) While the current work I am doing is more focused on envisioning the governance processes and facilitating the development of such processes, I believe that, along with a commitment to apply these processes in a fair way, my behavior will naturally translate to proper overseeing towards the application of governance to the operation of the Protocol.

Last, I largely agree with this interpretation. I believe a fine line needs to be walked between Guides regulating the behavior within the Protocol, and Guides trying to steer discussions in a positive and constructive direction. I believe this truly should be a goal of any member of a community. The Guides tend to be at the center of discussions to a high degree, so they have the opportunity to apply this goal more often. I believe that consistently staying open minded, positive, and attentive to different viewpoints within the Protocol is central to this goal, and I plan to do so to the furthest extent possible.
@Matt Osborne Thank you for asking!

I would fulfill the full Guide function, and expect to do 100% of the Guide work for DBGrow. Even though we are technically electing entities, we are still truly electing individuals. That being said, @Julian Fletcher-Taylor plans to stay engaged with our governance development and will certainly be someone to bounce ideas off of, and even offered to help the Guides out with anything non-sensitive if a crunchtime came up. The rest of the members of DBGrow certainly have their hands full with other work in the ecosystem, whereas my work in factom will be purely focused on Guide work. Should I need to step down due to unforeseen reasons, DBGrow would push for a new election to fill the Guide position.
There are some amazingly capable people in this community and a privilege to be part of it which got me thinking about what draws those people and why do they work together in such an amazing way.

Part of it is the ethos with its underpinnings of integrity, quite a lot is the sheer technical brilliance of the protocol but a lot of it lies in the culture of support that has been fostered by the guides. All of which got me thinking about the characteristics I would seek in a guide and one of the most significant has to be collaboration skills.

Having worked with Nic over the last couple of months I have been able to see how he works at first hand and can provide an insight that others may not have which is why I felt it important to provide this perspective.

Nic has these collaboration skills. He is self-effacing, open minded with good listening skills and importantly always constructive. He is knowledgeable about our governance and by virtue of working closely with Juian, a proven guide, can help provide important continuity. He has real determination and drive, an ability to get things done. He naturally presents himself well and is able to be a good ambassador.

To be able to do this in the hubub of what at times can be a busy and noisy community is vital to ensure things do not get lost and we get the balance right as we move to becoming a progressively more decentralised and respected protocol.

I am not saying that other guide applicants do not have these skills, just that Nic probably won’t shout about them!
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Thank you, Mike! That really really means a lot! It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I look forward to the efficiencies we build in the ANO application and scoring process. Your words are a wonderful and motivating compliment!
As a former Guide, I can speak from experience that being a Guide is time consuming and can be stressful. It can take critical time away from one's duties to their ANO yet the health of your ANO is paramount to the network. Is your ANO in good health where you can work less on it and does your business partner(s) or employer support your running for Guide?
@David Chapman

Currently all of my work for DBGrow is on governance and process creation, which I believe will transition seamlessly into Guide work, and will not affect other DBGrow activities. In my opinion, DBGrow is in a healthy position to support me as a Guide. DBGrow has been very supportive of me to date, and has demonstrated nothing but a commitment to support me in the Guide position going forward. DBGrow offered to let me run for Guide outside of DBGrow, and stated that they would still 100% support me and help with the transition into the Guide position. I know their support is genuine, and I decided to run for Guide with DBGrow as I fully support the rest of the DBGrow team and what they are working on, too; they've been a really great team to work with.
Thanks for the good question David. As this question addresses the rest of the ANO the guide is associated with, I will chime in here.

Running an ANO can be a 24/7 job, and being an entrepreneur certainly is. I think everyone who has taken the guide role can speak to the difficulty of this balance. DBGrow understands the importance of being able to focus on guide work without having time and energy stretched between guide work and entrepreneurial efforts.

Nic’s role within DBGrow will be purely dedicated to guide work: Governance work, process facilitation, discussion facilitation, etc. This is the type of work we hired Nic for, and I believe stepping into a guide role will only increase his capacity in that work. This will have no effect on the health and operations of DBGrow. He is not involved in proprietary or entrepreneurial work with DBGrow beyond keeping up to date with our work, is not expected to manage any day to day ANO duties, and doesn’t even have to worry about running a company to host his guide position as that is managed by others within DBGrow. He can focus 100% on being the best guide he can be for our protocol.

does your business partner(s) or employer support your running for Guide?
Fully and absolutely. We saw many months ago the positive attitude, polished speaking, and genuine thought that Nic put into even his conversations on discord and factomize. DBGrow hired Nic a couple months ago for governance work for those reasons, and it has been an absolute pleasure working with him. We would not support his candidacy if any of us felt that he would not represent DBGrow, and the protocol, in the best possible light to our clients and the rest of the world. We look forward to seeing Nic step into a larger role in the protocol, and supporting Nic in this role in whatever ways we can.

The Community Q&A period has now closed; please refrain from asking further questions. Guide candidates have another 24 hours to finish answering questions after which time the vote will be held.