Is Hedera really decentralized if it is governed by a group of big corporations? How do you reconcile that with how the rest of the crypto ecosystem uses the term?
Governance & Transparency
We recognize the genesis of frustration around decentralization on Hedera by the broader web3 community stems from its unique governance — in a majority of other ecosystems, anyone can choose to participate in governance, even if in practice it becomes more centralized, as we’ve all seen happen commonly ( for example, 65% of Bitcoin mining pools were in China before the government banned mining & there are only 13 prominent mining pools today).
Hedera’s model of governance consists of up to 39 term-limited organizations across six continents. Every council member has a single vote (so 3.8% vote today at 26 council members, and 2.5% at the full 39 members); each member is prevented from gaining extra power by design.
Nearly every proposal for technological decisions and standards comes from the developer community, proposed via an active HIP (Hedera Improvement Proposal) program, and approved by the council’s technical steering committee (that process can be found here).
Hedera publicly publishes the minutes of each council meeting, hashed on Hedera using the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS). The Member Agreement signed by these organizations to join the council is also public and hashed the same way.
Global organizations from a diverse set of geographical jurisdictions and industries make decisions and independently operate nodes today — each node is hosted in either a council member's own data center or across different cloud providers, avoiding the centralization of nodes within cloud providers found in other projects. Examples include Google (United States), eftpos (Australia), LG (South Korea), and Standard Bank (South Africa). Hedera has nodes on every continent except Antarctica. Coming this year, members of the Hedera community will be operating nodes, as well.
Unlike proof-of-work blockchain, Hedera’s proof-of-stake model prevents concentration of power among a small group of nodes. At maturity, nodes only gain power only when $HBAR is staked to them by individual users.
Software on Hedera (network services, developer tools, etc.) is open-sourced under an Apache 2.0 license and contributions to its development are performed in a decentralized way — changes are proposed via HIPs, and development is performed by members of the Hedera developer community, the Swirlds developer team, and 3rd party development groups with an interest in fostering the ecosystem (such as LimeChain and OpenCrowd).