Catalyst Catastrophes #3: Broken promises and suspicious NFTs

Source: Luis Argerich from Buenos Aires, Argentina, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The next Catalyst Catastrophe boasts four funded projects from previous rounds of Cardano’s Project Catalyst. And the team has two projects pending in Fund 9.

CASE #3: Cardano Outreach

In their completed Fund 4 proposal, University/College Outreach, Cardano Outreach’s stated goal was to “solicit the youngest and brightest from around the globe to contribute to the network”. Let’s see how they got on and take a look at the results of their Fund 6 project too.

The Cardano Outreach team

  • Jeff G – Idea Proposer, Project Lead, Twitch Host, Idea Submitter and Consultant to Referrers. 20 years + management experience.
  • Steve Murray – Retired Manager of IT.
  • MatthewLeft the project after Fund 6 and became a community adviser at Catalyst, according to the team’s closing video from Fund 4/6. At the time of the Fund 6 reporting in June 2022, he was still helping the team out from time to time, and is still listed as a team member in the Cardano Outreach F9 proposals.
  • Kade – The SPO of FASO pool, who has confirmed that he also left the team after Fund 6.
  • Nacho – A developer. No other info is given. 

Cardano Outreach funding so far

Total requested funds: $366.3K

Total awarded funds: $23.4K

Total received funds to date: $22.5K

Source: lidonation.com

What did the Cardano community get for $22.5k?

See the University College Outreach close-out report here.

In the final report and video (Google Drive link) for the Fund 4 and 6 projects, the results don’t seem too bad at first. The team has a Twitter presence and  provide the progress reports and close-out documents Catalyst requires. In them, Jeff and co. state they spent many early mornings and late nights working for the good of the Cardano ecosystem.

Website? Nah.

But on closer inspection, cracks start to appear. Despite the lack of sleep, the team have not found the time to deliver the website they promised to “deploy” back in Fund 4. Steady lads.

Perhaps they do have a website. But it is not linked on their Twitter. They do link to a website with Cardano and .org in the name, cardano.org. The Cardano Foundation website.

Unknown Twitch and Twitter space engagement

The project seems to have started off as planned. The team sent emails to a few students, but quickly gave up on that when no one was interested. So they focused their attention on Twitch and Twitter instead.

Cardano Outreach write that they streamed several times a week when significant dates were approaching for Project Catalyst. This is not the daily streams promised in the Fund 4 proposal.

But at least they did something, right? Alas, there is no data on how many students participated in their Twitter spaces and Twitch streams. It is a “moving target,” they say. Somebody should really invent a way to measure Twitter and Twitch engagement.

The Cardano Outreach Twitch page

Cardano Outreach estimate that they interacted with an average of 30-80 viewers at each event. As of today, they have 10 Twitch followers. Sadly, none of the live streams were recorded. Maybe they forgot.

Recruited one new project to Catalyst – maybe

Similarly bearish is their progress on recruiting new proposers to Catalyst, the goal of the Challenge of which they were given 20% in Fund 4. They claim to have recruit one project out of the 100 promised, called MintMatrix.

It is unclear whether MintMatrix has submitted a Catalyst proposal. Their Discord server does exist, although at the time of writing, there were 12 actual messages there and little information about the project.

Speed-dating anyone?

Cardano Outreach  claim that they met with almost 3400 students in the Fund 4 and 6 projects, presumably via Zoom calls or events at universities. This claim is hard to assess, as no evidence is provided. I suppose we just have to trust them, bro.

I was able to fact check one claim. On Twitter, Cardano Outreach celebrated their participation in a speed-dating event where businesses met students.

The tweet by Cardano Outreach

The University of Witwatersrand was kind enough to send me a list of participating companies and organisations. Cardano Outreach was not on it. Maybe the Cardano Outreach team sent a student along, although the Tweet implies that they are attending as a business not a participant.

A chess match with “25k” viewers

One big win for this team in Fund 4 was when 25,000 people viewed a Chess invitational they sponsored. There was no mention of chess in the proposal, but projects can pivot. I guess Cardano and Chess attract similar types, so why not?

Finally, a tangible, if slightly odd, result from the team. Now we know where $500 of the 22K went. But the Youtube video only has 155 views, and about 5 of those are mine.

I wonder if the other 24,845 people watched it live. The only other Twitch channel I could find it on had received 33 views. I asked Cardano Outreach on Twitter where the rest of the views came from, but received no response.

Shilling an NFT project with a few red flags

At least Cardano Outreach’s Twitter account is active almost every day, so the team has met one of the proposal’s KPIs. Then again, I retweet stuff on Twitter every day too. For free.

One “highlight” from the Cardano Outreach Twitter account is Jeff G shilling Tiny House Revolution NFT, the Ethereum NFT project he works for.

Recommending THRNFT on Twitter

Jeff Granger states on LinkedIn that he works for this project.

Copy-paste or original designs?

Let’s take a closer look at the NFTs he is advertising via his Catalyst funded platform.

THRNFT.io makes big promises (a bit like Cardano Outreach).

THRNFT project description from THRNFT.io

So how does Jeff G fit in? He is not listed on the website as part of the team. On LinkedIn it sound like he is right-click-saving videos and images of tiny houses.

This might be ok, as long as the project team is honest about it, and pay the original creators of the artwork, or in this case Tiny House designs and videos. To put my mind at rest, I joined the THRNFT Discord.

A conversation on Discord with THRNFT

Architect? I thought Jeff was an accountant. And he said on LinkedIn he was sourcing and repurposing legacy designs. An NFT project passing off other people’s work as original designs by their own architects is a massive red flag.

A closer look at PlutosPowerTeam, the London based creators of this NFT project, was also a bit concerning. A search in UK business registers reveals a network of dozens of similarly named companies, many of which have been dissolved or struck off. All of them are run from the same two addresses in London and controlled by the same two people (with a whole carrousel of different directors). In banking due diligence, this would be considered red flag.

One website mentioned on THRNFT.io is Plutos.org.uk.  This belongs to an accounting company, which seem to do everything from selling LED lights and mushrooms to renting out small bedrooms in shared accommodation. Tiny Houses indeed.

Source: imgflip.com

I could go on, but let’s just say these are not people I would send my Ethereum to, if I had any. Jeff G may be unaware of red flags in this NFT project, but if I can find them in a day or so, I would expect a trained accountant to do so before associating himself with a project.

Jailed for tax fraud

While we are on the subject of Jeff’s LinkedIn page and accounting background, there are also a few red flags here. I am not sure what semi-retired means to Jeff now. But in 2010 it meant that he was in prison for tax fraud and forging documents.

Let me make this clear. I am a firm believer in rehabilitation, and if someone has done their time then they should be given a second chance. If nothing else had been amiss in his Catalyst project, I would have shrugged my shoulders and moved on. But in the light of the NFT project he is part of, and the misleading Catalyst reporting, Jeff Granger’s past may be highly relevant in the present.

Self funding soon

Cardano Outreach’s Fund 7 and Fund 8 final project reports are still pending. In their Fund 7 proposal, they define success as receiving an email from IOHK, so I hope that they can at least hit that milestone.

It’s important to have goals. Source: Lidonation.com

And since they also promised in Fund 6 that they would be self-funded within a few months, they may not ask for more cash in Fund 10. In their closing video for Fund 4 and 6, they say they hope to be funded by Catalyst Referral Rewards. Not likely if they have only onboarded one new project to Catalyst.

I had no idea Project Catalyst Referral Rewards existed until I saw their video. I am sure that is a watertight system that can’t be gamed, right?

Right?

Jeff G and the Cardano Outreach team are currently requesting a total of $9k in Fund 9, with two projects that aim to reach China and Africa.

You can make sure great projects get Catalyst funds – Vote!

Catalyst is us, the Cardano Community. The ones who vote on all the Nice Polls. The funds come from our ADA rewards, and we all play a role in ensuring the money goes to the most deserving projects.

First, vote on Fund 9! Voting ends on Monday 19 September 2022 at 3 PM UTC!

Or register to vote for Fund 10 if you are, like me, too late to get in on Fund 9.

If you find any more sus projects in the Catalyst Catacombs and the Maze of Incessant GitBooks, send me a message on the contact form.


SHARE THIS ARTICLE