Setting the Record Straight on the Recent Eli Powell Interview With Cointelegraph

in LeoFinance11 months ago

Cointelegraph just put out this article covering an exclusive interview with Eli Powell — the managing director of Steemit, Inc.

It’s always great to see some press for the Steem blockchain, as we are the child in the crypto family that does a lot of good work but gets little-to-no recognition for it.

One of the primary issues with the press we do get, however, is that it is almost always filled with inaccuracies. Our blockchain is very complex as there are so many independent moving parts. I don’t expect anyone to really understand the nuances of Steem unless they are minimally spending a few hours a week on-chain learning about our community.

So with that, I thank the author of this piece — Rachel Wolfson — for taking on the extremely hard duty of covering press for Steem. I would, however, like to put out a few corrections to her article and I hope that she/the editors at Cointelegraph consider updating their press release to reflect some of the nuances I fix here.
Italic & Bold Text = my correction.

Original Press Release:

start of Cointelegraph article + my comments (again, my comments are in bold + italic):


In an interview with Cointelegraph at Tron’s San Francisco office on Feb. 25, Steemit Managing Director Elizabeth Powell expressed enthusiasm regarding the new strategic partnership between Tron and Steemit.

On Feb. 14, the Tron Foundation announced it had acquired Steemit, a decentralized social media platform with over 10,000 daily active users.

Following the announcement, a great deal of uncertainty arose from the Steemit community. A recent Reddit thread shows Steemit users discussing concern over the future of the STEEM token and the reversible soft fork that Steem witnesses initiated on Feb. 24.

In the above, it says “Steemit community” which should be read as “Steem community”. — The greatest misconception about the Steem blockchain is the difference between Steemit and Steem. People who use Steemit simply use the Steemit front-end to interface with the Steem blockchain back-end. The exact same information can be viewed on dozens of other interfaces such as, and others. To call us the Steemit community is to only refer to people who purely use and doesn’t refer to the entire blockchain community, in my opinion.

Despite recent remarks, Powell told Cointelegraph that Tron’s partnership of Steemit is incredibly exciting, noting that she expects Tron to provide the resources needed to help grow the Steemit ecosystem. She said:

“Steemit had to downsize in the fall of 2018,, and the Tron partnership finally provides us with marketing, engineering and more resources for both the Steemit and Tron ecosystems to thrive."

This refers to “grow the Steemit ecosystem.” — nothing is wrong with this statement, but to a non-steemian, they would likely think of this as "grow the entire Steem blockchain ecosystem” — one could assume that Eli Powell’s statement on the Steemit ecosystem refers only to the developments that are handled by Steemit and not the entire Steem ecosystem. A small distinction and one that may only be worth noting with an asterisk and a small fine print of “Steemit ecosystem, not to be confused with Steem ecosystem.” If any distinction is necessary.

A fresh start

Powell explained that was founded four years ago as a proof-of-concept by former CEO Ned Scott. Although the platform has successfully brought in over 1 million site visitors, she explained that the number of Steemit contributors has dropped dramatically. She attributes this to poor user experience and a lack of resources needed to improve the site. In turn, Steemit reportedly laid off more than 70% of its staff in November 2018.

”1 million site visitors” should read “1 million account signups” — I am sure that has brought in FAR MORE traffic than 1 million unique site visitors. This just seems to refer to the wrong metric — views rather than account signups. If I were to rewrite this section, I would compare the metric of total account signups (over 1 million) to current daily active accounts (around 50k) as I feel those tell a more accurate story.

According to Powell, the Tron partnership has saved Steemit from reaching a breaking point, noting that new features are already being implemented across the blockchain-based social media platform. She explained:

“We’ve been in a holding pattern due to a financial lack of resources. We’ve always had roadmaps but we couldn’t execute them. But just last week, Steemit was able to launch its new communities feature, which allows users to take advantage of community features similar to those on Reddit. We’ve been working on this feature for three years. This just shows how fast Justin Sun has worked to help us launch communities.”

”Steemit was able to launch its new communities feature[…]shows how fast Justin Sun has worked to help us launch communities” Ok, this part is a bit strange to me. Steemit, Inc. (including Eli Powell) has come on several Steem-hosted radio shows to talk about their development of communities over the past 8-12 months. As far as I can tell, the site hosted the current version of communities way before Justin Sun stepped into the picture (at least publicly). All that has happened since Sun’s takeover of the Steemit, Inc. company is the migration of to To me, this seems like a bit of a kiss-up to Justin. Again, who knows the full story. Maybe Justin has really been behind Steemit’s development team for the past 6 months as communities were developed, but I deem that highly unlikely.

Another interesting thing to note is that in a positive scenario for Steemit and Tron partnering up, the resources of Justin Sun and passion to push out new features could be an extremely positive force for Steemit and for the entire Steem blockchain. I don’t believe that this happened with the Communities feature (as that was built in the months prior to the acquisition) but I do HOPE that it happens in the future with other long-awaited features like SMTs.

Powell also commented that Steemit is able to accommodate the new users migrating to the platform from Tron, a network that has over 700 DApps. She said:

“Scaling is important, and Steemit can handle all the new traffic coming from Tron. We’ve already had 30% more signups this February compared to February last year. This partnership is about bringing the social media aspect to the Tron ecosystem.”

Why the reversible soft fork?

When asked about the recent controversial reversible soft fork, Powell explained that this was a result of people reacting quickly to Tron’s partnership with Steemit. She said:

“I wrote a blog post last week about how anytime there is change, people become uneasy. As we continue to plan our road map with Tron, people will start to understand what our visions are. We have just begun to strategize on this. I understand that Steemit has held the power for so long and that the soft fork was a reaction that came too soon.”

"I understand that Steemit has held the power for so long and that the soft fork was a reaction that came too soon.” I don’t want to call this disingenuous, but it is certainly lacking a lot of the facts. Perhaps it’s just for a desire to relay the situation in a simple and clean way. If you understand the nuances a bit more deeply, you would know that this soft fork is actually just implementing a “lock” on Steemit-held stake which has long been promised to be used only for positive community developments and decentralization for the Steem blockchain by former CEO Ned Scott. To say that this reaction came too soon is not a great way to put it, in my opinion. This reaction by the Steem blockchain witnesses/top stakeholders was a means to preventing a hostile action toward Steem from Steemit, Inc. and Tron by leveraging stake that is not intended for witness voting based on verbal agreements between Steemit and the Steem community.

According to a Steemit blog post, the reversible soft fork was implemented due to uncertainty around the company. The soft fork also resulted in the Steem blockchain’s network validators, known as witnesses, blocking STEEM held by a limited set of accounts from voting on who governs the network.

Certain transactions will not be processed from the pool of tokens known as the "Steemit Inc. ninja-mined stake.”
Powell explained that the Steemit Inc. ninja-mined stake is intended to help with further support and financial developments of the Steemit blockchain.

I think there is more clarification needed regarding the background of this ninja-mined stake. For many people (Steemians included), it is news to hear that Steemit, Inc. holds the keys to accounts that have vast quantities of STEEM that they ninja-mined in the early days of the Steem blockchain. Throughout the past few years since, Ned Scott (former CEO of Steemit) has made several verbal agreements on videos, AMAs, etc. in which he promises that the stake should be used for the sole purpose of further decentralizing the Steem blockchain and enhancing the community of Steem.. Not to enrich himself by selling said stake to a third-party (which, it turns out, is what he did with Justin Sun). Some in the community have gone as far as to say that this should be regarded as a criminal act on Ned’s behalf.

Touching further on the background of the Ninja-Mined stake, there was a hard fork a few years ago called HF14 (hard fork 14) in which the Steem witnesses and Steemit, Inc. negotiated to implement a feature to decline certain voting rights for that particular ninja-mined stake in order to secure the future of Steem and ensure that the stake wouldn’t be used against the community’s interests. That feature was added to the blockchain code, however the next step of actually applying the feature to that stake did not receive follow-through by Steemit, Inc. nor from the Steem witnesses at the time. Instead, we (the Steem community) have relied upon verbal statements and agreements given by Ned Scott. Which have all been subsequently broken through his closed-door sale to Justin Sun.

Justin Sun calls for a town hall meeting

Founder and CEO of Tron Justin Sun wrote an open letter to the Steemit community on Feb. 23 to communicate to users that Steemit 2.0 will be an improvement on the current platform:

“With so much happening in Steem right out the gates for me and everyone at Tron and Steemit Inc, such as the launch of Communities and a soft fork 22.2 we weren’t expecting, I feel it is important to show you guys I am here and ready to begin building with you.”

Again, I would like to see some sort of distinction for the Steemit versus Steem community. If Steemit disappeared tomorrow, there would still be a Steem community. Steemit is simply 1 interface to the Steem blockchain ecosystem and doesn’t refer to any of the other applications and interfaces that run on top of Steem.

According to Powell, Sun’s letter not only provides positive reassurance but also demonstrates communication during a time when it’s needed the most.

Sun’s letter also mentions that there will be a Steemit town hall summit on March 6 to discuss the Tron and Steemit roadmaps and to communicate the goals and objectives of the two ecosystems.

Powell commented that most likely the town hall summit will take place on DLive, the largest decentralized streaming community powered by the Tron network.

end of Cointelegraph article + my comments (again, my comments were in bold + italic)

I hope that this could simply clear the air on a lot of these hotly debated and misconstrued ideas. My hope with this is to simply set the record straight on a few of the ideas presented in this article and if someone at Cointelegraph could make a few changes to the original press release, I think that would bring a beneficial degree of clarification.

Posted via Steemleo


Appreciate the clarification and additions. At the moment, we all seem to be sitting in this great fog of uncertainty.

I just hope the "town hall meeting" also serves to clarify a little more of "what is what" around here. To be honest, I don't think Justin Sun fully understood what he was investing in, and I can't help but think that Ned was applying lots of lipstick to the pig he was desperately trying to get out of...


Posted via Steemleo

Well done.. it's sad we need clarification from a Steem tribe rather than steemit inc.. but I guess the town meeting will hopefully provide a road map to cementing the ties to STEEM in general.

this is a good clarification which is necessary....@khaleelkazi

Posted via Steemleo

Posted via Steemleo

That’s rather dismissive if you’re a journalist with any sort of training you’d know to look into question on what you publish and realize one source is never good enough

Since we close to the chain we know what’s going on but now it makes me think what other half truths are published and I’ll read about EOS for example and judge their project without knowing what’s really going on

Coin telegraph has clearly gotten too big to care about quality and just want to pump out content for the views! I’ve worked with enough media sites to know that they don’t care about research only deadlines

Resteemed in the name of our SYNERGY fund of projects being built on the STEEM blockchain.

Builders gonna build, let's see if these self-important hacks can figure something out.

Posted via Steemleo

I was not really sure Eli had a full knowledge about blockchain let alone a complex place like steem. I didn't really expect much.

Posted via Steemleo

Thanks for the news, had not seen it there yet!

Thanks for writing this post. I’ve been here a while but still struggle with all the finer details and to have this kind of explanation,along with others that have helped clarify points, it is most helpful. I am hopeful for the future of steem whether that’s with TRON or not. Exciting times and am looking forward to the town hall meeting on the 6th...