The Ballad of 0xc4ad

The DeFi legend who serendipitously gave the world the Permissionless Launch

DeFi is notorious for what outsiders see as eccentricity and excess. An obsession with food-themed protocols, a surprising amount of vigilante justice, and a preoccupation with bunnies and doggos… 👀

Another quirk is a history of groundbreaking “happy accidents”–  times when the best-laid plans went awry – and resulted in unexpected, positive-sum outcomes that set new precedents. Take the launch of Curve, in which an anon known as “0xc4ad” suddenly and unilaterally deployed the smart contracts that 'yolo- launched' the CRV token and CurveDAO contracts on Eth mainnet.

Here’s what went down on that fateful August day in 2020:

5:20 PM Users start to notice that $CRV tokens are getting premined.

  • 9:25 PM – 0xc4ad tells the world that Curve is “ready to rock,” crying, “I gots to MAXIMIZE MY ALPHA!”
  • 9:48 PM Curve writes on Twitter that “someone deployed $CRV based on smart contracts we had published on Github, front-running our efforts.”

Though caught off-guard by this turn of events, the Curve DAO reacted with grace. “Interesting,” Curve wrote on Twitter afterward, “We are proceeding with caution here, so far looks like contracts are the correct ones, as well as the deployment parameters correspond to real ones (should verify though.)”

Here follows the Ballad of 0xc4ad.

Everyone Loves a Surprise!

The launch certainly proved to be interesting, and 0xc4ad, the degen who set it in motion, has since been mythologized as “The Alpha-est Crypto Chad of All Time.” Perhaps most surprisingly, this generated a string of benefits for the CRV community – benefits Tally Ho plans to replicate and improve on in its upcoming fair launch.

0xc4ad's actions not only undermined the carefully laid plans of Curve's developers, but they also invalidated the long-held maxim that a launch should be controlled by the team that wrote the code. Then – only then– people began to think...  when should the community begin influencing a project’s direction?

0xc4ad’s unexpected release of the CRV contracts changed all that. With early-release tokens in hand, the community was able to get involved with the DAO at an earlier stage. This provided more equal access to rewards and allowed the entire ecosystem to create liquidity, earn rewards, and participate in the process of launching the DAO. 0xc4ad’s actions ended up turning the launch into a participatory event for the entire Curve community, not just one reserved for the core devs.

Unfortunately, not everything about the episode proved so egalitarian. While 0xc4ad was able to deploy the smart contracts on his own, Curve’s dev team still had to verify the launch. During the hours it took to do this, 0xc4ad and anyone else confident enough to ape in had a window to "pre-mine" CRV. In other words, they were able to access the tokens before other community members. And although these pre-miners didn’t collect all that many tokens, they still had an unfair advantage.

Still, since all community members were able to participate in the launch process, they began their membership on a more equal footing. And the benefits they reaped from this accidental launch paid dividends, literally.

A Truly Transparent Launch

Although it almost certainly wasn’t his intention, our hero’s brazenness sparked a lot of discussion about what a truly transparent launch process could look like. And while it’s unlikely that any DeFi protocol would wish to repeat exactly what happened with the CRV launch, parts of the saga can be replicated for the benefit of the DeFi community at large.

In a sense, the kind of permissionless launch initiated by 0xc4ad is the ultimate "nothing up my sleeve" move. No one has the power to abscond with, conceal, or manipulate any part of the process. The level of transparency this affords makes community diligence and audits much easier – which should be a boon to everyone.

By replicating what 0xc4ad did in a thoughtful way, we can create a model for a truly permissionless launch that can be used across DeFi. A number of projects are already exploring this possibility. Tornado Cash – which eventually became completely permissionless – is a great example. Or, better still, Tally Ho!

A new standard for fair launches

What if there was a project that baked in all the pros of 0xchad’s yolo release, but did it in an organized, purposeful way? It might look something like this:

  • Rewards for the early chads that deploy them on mainnet
  • Contracts released community-wide on GitHub
  • Some time delays to make sure that everyone has a fair chance to farm

A permissionless launch helps to clarify the roles of those who built a project and their relationship to the project itself. If developers are also responsible for smart contract deployment, they may appear to possess a level of authority that they do not – and should not – have in a truly decentralized autonomous organization. In a permissionless launch, devs are not responsible for deploying smart contracts or holding sway over a project. They’re responsible for code. Operations and governance of the DAO? That’s the work of the community.

Beyond decentralization and security, there are a few other important reasons why a permissionless launch has the power to strengthen DeFi communities. After all, everyone loves to be the first to try something exciting and new. And projects can create special incentives for users to participate in the launch process. The more participants there are, the more decentralized – and ideally secure – the process will be.

Plus it’s just really damn cool :D

Tally Ho!

As we prepare for the Tally Ho fair launch, we are (and always will be!) looking for more ways to offer the Web3 community what it deserves: a truly decentralized digital wallet that acts in their best interests.

A permissionless launch that puts the whole community on a level playing field – what could be more on-brand than that?

There are lots of ways to help Tally Ho build a freer and more transparent financial world in the meantime. Join our Discord community or check out our governance forum. And if you’re a developer who’s interested in working on Tally Ho, we’d love to hear from you.