In order to better understand the shape and unique differentiators of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, this research studies DAOs through two lenses:
- DAOs as Internet Native Organizations that harness decentralized technology.
- Studying the transition process from “legacy or centralized” to decentralized, in order to document the real changes, catalysts, and decisions made to clearly distinguish between the two.
This proposal fulfills the following deliverables:
- Polish and publish a framework that maps the journey of decentralized organizations
- Utilize the framework to document main challenges in each stage
- Onboard contributors to the framework
- Present the framework and updates at ETHAmsterdam
- Identify and write up at least 3 use cases of existing teams’ efforts towards building decentralized organizations
- Document consistently used and best practices in the space: Token Engineering/economics, Governance models, Ecosystem development, Legal Entity, Org design, etc
With the surge of DAOs in the past year, many have been asking the same questions in order to grasp and define “the shape of DAOs”. What are DAOs? How are DAOs unique to Co-Ops or Corporations? What kind of challenges do DAOs have?
While the purpose of this research is not to define “What is a DAO”, it does attempt to define primitives or consistent challenges that decentralized organizations may have, particularly to help others in the decentralization process. Through initial studies, my current hypothesis is that DAOs have a combination of unique features not seen in other models today:
- Internet Native Behaviors (ie. Network effects and Autonomous execution)
- Connected, Multi-party Ownership (ie. DAOs in DAOs)
Through this lens, this research will explore questions:
- What are the unique features of internet native organizations?
- Why and how is decentralization (social and technical) a key part of this?
- Are we able to identify those through the lens of existing DAOs?
- What are the current use cases and are there any we have not uncovered yet?
- What makes DAOs unique in comparison to existing structures? With this in consideration, are DAOs any better than regular corporations?
- Secondary: Is (and if so, why) is community ownership an advantage?
The secondary goal will be to explore the nuances of building and growing organizations. These tensions include:
- Information & Trust: Intimate <> Scale
- Decisions: Wisdom of the Crowd <> People with Expertise/Context
- Ownership: Speculative vs Participant
- Stakeholder Balance: Token Holders, Delegates, Community/Wisdom of Crowd, Facilitators/Executioners
- Rational Thinking / Engineering behaviors <> Understanding People/Community Behavior
This research attempts to document best practices and provide practical guidance for teams embarking on the decentralization journey today.
This existing thesis will serve as a base, with research further refining the model.
- Onboard contributors to the framework
- Gather historical information
- Identify and write up at least 3 use cases
- Identify and document consistently used and best practices in the space: Token Engineering/economics, Governance models, Ecosystem development, Legal Entity, Org design, etc
Interview and Research Projects:
Some interviews will be more in depth (ie. Full case study on Maker), and some will be specific areas (ie. Token Launch). Some examples:
- DeFi/Protocol: Maker, Yearn, Synthetix, Element, Sushi, Compound, Uniswap, Gnosis
- Product Focused: Index Coop, Radicle, DxDAO, Gitcoin
- Other: The Graph
- Social/IP: FwB, MetaCartel, HollyDAO, plsrDAO, Lil Miquela/Brud
- DAO2DAO/Service/Tooling: Orca, Gnosis Guild, Sourcecred, Tally, Snapshot, FairmintCo, Tribute Labs, collab.land
|Week 1-2||Publish Initial Framework (Public Post)||Refine framework, Onboard team members, Introduce ongoing research|
|Ongoing||Weekly Updates in SCRF Forum||Short summaries from weekly syncs and Braintrust sessions|
|April 2022||Publish Mid-Update (Public Post). Present at ETHAmsterdam||Highlight lessons from ongoing interviews with teams & experts|
|May 2022||Publish Final Output (Public Post)||Include at least 3 case studies|
- This should not be too academic. Response to the framework is practical, approachable, actionable.
- References/Citations of the framework from external parties
- People build resources (ie. business model canvas) based on this framework
2 Case Study Researchers: Writer + Design Researcher
Braintrust Session: A mix of builders and active delegates to provide diverse insight into the development of the framework and research.
Other Partners: DAOs and other people who are interested in building around this framework
|Onboarding||1.5 Hr / One off||Bringing team up to speed on current research and methods for collecting information||Team|
|Interviews||1-3 Hrs Week / One off||Interviewing team members, sourcing first-point perspectives||1-2 Leads|
|Weekly Sync||1 Hr / Weekly||Discussing findings and updates to the framework||Team|
|Braintrust Session||1 Hr / Bi-Weekly||Gathering deep thinkers to discuss existing research and models||Team + External Researchers|
|Async Work||3-10 Hrs Weekly||Writing and synthesizing||Team|