A BULL/BEAR case for Gitcoin/GTC in 2023

BASE SUMMARY

Gitcoin is DAO that makes Gitcoin Grants - a suite of protocols for distributing capital to any EVM based community. It’s protocols include

  1. Gitcoin Passport - a protocol for creating sybil resistence
  2. Gitcoin Grants Registry - a grants storage/retrieval protocol
  3. Gitcoin Grants Round Manager - a protocol for easy CLR Funding for any DAO

In addition to Gitcoin Grants protocols, Gitcoin also offers a funding programs - basically Gitcoin Grants protocol as a service.

Gitcoin has reinvented itself as a DAO instead of a company. It now has nearly 100% turnover of talent, governance, model, code from its days as a company in 2020.

BULL CASE

Gitcoin Grants

The bull case for GTC is that Gitcoin could be a “back office” tool or protocol for community capital allocation any EVM community out there. That means any L1, L2, DAO, DeFi Protocol, NFT Project, etc could use Gitcoin’s protocols to supercharge their ecosystem development.

According to DeepDAO there is roughly $8 billion in assets in DAO treasuries. According to CoinGecko there is at least $200 billion in market cap for EVM chains. According to coincodex there is $7 billion in market cap for NFTs. According to CMC there is $38 billion in market cap for DEFI.

In total that is $8 + $200 + $7 + $38 = $253 billion. Assume 10x growth over the next 5 years, and thats $2.5 trillion in Total Addressable Market. Assume 0.1% of this market cap is allocated for incentivizing community participation within these markets on a yearly basis, that is roughly $2.5 billion in serviceable market yearly - about 300x-1000x higher than what Gitcoin is doing now.

Gitcoin Passport

Gitcoin Passport is a tool for creating sybil resistance on Gitcoin Grants, but also the wider EVM world. It relies on verifiable credentials to create scoring of each unique identity on a basis of how human each user is.

Sybil Resistance is quite a small web3 market at this time, so it is hard to quantify. But sybil resistance is a hard problem that has eluded computer science researchers for decades. Similar hard problems being solved are breakthroughs and often have lead to commercial breakthroughs for the people that solve them. Just as likely is that someone else commercializes a breakthrough and the original persons who addressed the problem is left behind.

I think the upside case for Gitcoin Passport is that an ecosystem of sybil resistant dApps are built on top of Passport. I do not know how to quantify that. Real world identity is a very foundational part of the state based economy - There is a similar opportunity to become foundational important part of the web3 economy.

I think Gitcoin is well positioned to address the sybil resistance problem because it has so much more experience & so much more data to do it than any other web3 project.

Social Capital

Gitcoin has a lot of social capital. With A list personalities like Vitalik talking about Gitcoin comes a lot of legitimacy. With the funding of A list projects like Uniswap also comes a lot of legitimacy. Being a leading brand in the ReFi space brings a lot of legitimacy.

This social capital is probably Gitcoin’s biggest asset right now. It is hard to quantify this social capital. There is probably a way to protect, extend, and monetize this social capital - especially if Gitcoin continues to grow.

GTC

In my opinion, the bull case for GTC basically boils down to:

  1. Grants will be successful & have $billions/year in capital going through it.
  2. Passport will be the foundation of a new sybil resistant economy in web3.
  3. Governance rights to manage these systems will somehow become valuable.
  4. GitcoinDAO will survive to get to that point.

BEAR CASE

There is 1 bull case. I think there are several bear cases, which I will go through individually below. Each bear case I think is independent from each other, and the more bear cases Gitcoin can avoid the more likely I think the bull case is.

  1. Gitcoin needs to keep perpetually fundraising to fund it’s matching pool and no recurring source of funding has been found. This is an uphill battle, but one that Gitcoin has demonstrated competency at at small scales.

  2. Gitcoin Grants relies on sybil resistence, a hard problem that there is no solution for yet. As long as there is capital to be made by doing so, Gitcoin will keep getting attacked by sybil attackers. This is an uphill battle, but one that Gitcoin has demonstrated competency at at small scales.

  3. Gitcoin has a quite large team working for it. The team is illegible and opaque to outsiders, expensive, and slow to ship useful software. At times it can seem to me as an outsider that the team misses basic things in their product and go-to-market or seems the team almost tripping over itself. DAO Governance is hard but important, running a DAO is new territory, and it is not clear that Gitcoin has figured it out yet. Gitcoin has not explained its competitive positioning publicly or published its 2023 roadmap (like I said its illegible to outsiders) so I am operating with limited information here.

  4. Gitcoin Grants and Gitcoin Passport need to find protocol market fit. The old product hosted at gitcoin.co showed it can do $6.5 million / quarter in funding. When will the new protocols flippen the old products in market? When will they find protocol market fit? Can they reach the $2.5 billion in serviceable market yearly I identify above?

  5. The bear market will be long and so far has not been kind to GTC. GTC is required to keep the lights on at GitcoinDAO, and it is not clear where new buyers are going to come from. The token keeps going down. Finding a floor for GTC means creating a credible narrative of why GTC is valuable medium and long term and so far is not on track - at least to as outsider. There is presently no clear narrative or use case for GTC in sight, other than being used to dump on market and fund operations. This is also an uphill battle.

Of these bear cases, i think number 5 is the most pressing. Gitcoin’s continued operation depends on the reflexive belief that GTC has value. Reflexive = Directed back on itself. Ryan Selkis covers this in the 2023 Messari trends report, heres what he wrote:

“You might think DeFi protocols are financially set for life, but a deeper look into the com- position of each treasury suggests the opposite. The vast majority of the “value” in these token treasuries is coming from the reflexive belief that the market will always absorb the new supply. That may happen in bull markets, but things can unwind sharply when volumes subside. In fact, that’s exactly what happened during May’s market crash.”

If GTC goes to 50-75 cents, then Gitcoin might have a shorter runway than the bear market may last (2-3 years).

Conclusion

I was attracted to Gitcoin because it seemed different than many other projects and it seemed like a fun challenge to try and value it. I wrote this post to explain how I as a fan of Gitcoin view it in market. I am rooting for your success and I hope that these steel-mans of both the bull and bear case are helpful to others too. I wish you success in 2023 Gitcoin!

15 Likes

As a GTC holder, point number 3 really resonated with me.

I found GTC because of the posts on vitalik.ca and started following it because I thought it was a market leader.

But the market doesnt seem to be viewing GTC as a leader anymore.

Not just the $GTC markets, but also the DAO and DEFI markets. Only a handful of those projects use Gitcoin.

I will be closely following the alpha protocol rounds and the convos on GTC Utility to see if this is going to turn around.

Additionally, I hope that Gitcoin insiders start to publish their plans for 2023 and beyond.

3 Likes

This is good stuff. Thanks for writing this up! Some minor notes I had:

To my understanding (and I could be wrong), as Gitcoin shifts from cGrants to the Grants Protocol, it will no longer be Gitcoin’s responsibility to find funding for the matching pool, rather, those running grants programs on the protocol will bear that responsibility for themselves. Now, of course, if Gitcoin continues to run its own rounds on the protocol (which it seems is very likely), Gitcoin will have to figure out where that money is coming from (which may be what you are referring to here).

In addition to passports, Gitcoin has the FDD workstream that has experience in active sybil detection. I personally don’t know how they work, but from the reputation they have, it seems they are incredibly competent. Just want to point this out as a method Gitcoin uses to counter the sybil problem.

Within the same vein as this “bear” but not explicitly mentioned is that Gitcoin has yet to identify a reliable and sufficient stream of revenue, which will be critical to keeping the lights on even if Gitcoin finds some way to make token go up.

I’d also add one last challenge for Gitcoin. Within Gitcoin’s mission is to create massive value for the Ethereum ecosystem; however, the more we succeed in this goal, the more attractive it will be for attackers to try and manipulate/influence the DAO. Right now, under the current token voting model, we are incredibly vulnerable to centralized takeover by wealthy attackers. I do not believe that GTC token holdership is super diverse. As in, a large amount of GTC is held by a small group of benevolent actors. Would that be fair to say? @DisruptionJoe @shawn16400

4 Likes

GTC is already managed by a centralized group of actors. They are the insiders who work for the DAO workstreams.

At least 6 of these top 10 stewarts work for the DAO. Just look at how much power they have on tally.

Unfortunately this is the same group that makes me somewhat bearish because

  1. getting Gitcoin on the right course requires them
  2. they don’t really seem to view the project like a GTC holder does
  3. they don’t share much information about their plans until they are already in motion
  4. there is not much accountability for them outside of the confusing and time consuming quarterly budgeting process (which in practice just gets rubber stamped because TINA)

I wrote more about these concerns here

7 Likes

I’m bullish on your posts. For real, there’s nothing I disagree with here, and you’ve nailed the value props really concisely. Kudos.

On the bear case 3 - As someone on the inside, I’d love to make our work and our plans more legible to GTC holders. Fully open to suggestions, especially how the GPC can communicate progress on our protocols to the community better. Where do you look for updates currently? Or if there’s another project/DAO you think is a great example I’m happy to fork their approach and try that here at Gitcoin.

Regarding the 2023 roadmap - we have a few drafts that folks have put forward internally, and there’s an effort planned to pull those together when folks are back from the holiday.

Thanks again for posting, really looking forward to your continued engagement here on the forum.

9 Likes

Thanks

I follow the gov forum and twitter.com/gitcoin and sometimes the gitcoin blog.

I read the CSDO updates and the weekly digest.

I think there used to be a weekly Grants 2.0 update thread about 6 months ago. I used to skim those, it was a good sign that the protocols were close to ready.

Without updates on the tech progress on the gov forum, I have a dev collaborator I used to do diligence on Gitcoin and I asked him to explore Gitcoin Core · GitHub

I’m glad to hear a 2023 roadmap is in the works, but this leads me to another line of questioning.

Gitcoin seems to work different than other DAOs I follow. Instead of working out the roadmap in public on the governance forums, there is somewhere else that a core team does the core work & it happens without community input - then it is posted to the gov forum. Why are the drafts written behind closed doors? Don’t you want community input? [These 2 questions apply for the roadmap, but more broadly too!]

I will be following closely in the coming quarter to see where these four points trend.

2 Likes

Can you link that tally page?

And I agree that power is pretty concentrated currently, but we’re in a better spot in my opinion because those stewards are rather benevolent and open to outsider opinions. I also think that by my observations and by the things you have pointed out, GTC right now is closer to a worker coop that listens to community input, as opposed to a DAO governed by their community.

I’m curious about your second point.

What do you think the difference is between the way the internal contributors view Gitcoin and the way GTC holders (and perhaps other stakeholders) view Gitcoin?

1 Like

This situation also gives me pause. Recently, I was reading in another forum how a protocol suggested pulling a major decision away from contributors and move it to the tokenholders - declaring it a win for “decentralization”. In reality, it took what was a weighted vote of 30 contributors and put it in the hands of about five whales.

I am thinking about how to measure decentralization - not because I am making a value decision on if the current weighting or “power” is right, but because sometimes it is helpful to put your finger on a map and say “we are here”. Thank you @a33titude for the prompt.

3 Likes

Click here

From spending a lot of time researching on the forum, here are my observations:

Insiders seem to have a lot more context than GTC holders (eg there is a 2023 roadmap that has not been made public yet). In a DAO without these information asymmetries there would be no non-public context because all the contributors work in public.

Insiders have a lot more ability to navigate the DAO’s resources than outsiders. Theres a lot of info that isnt listed on the gitcoin.co navigation. For example , I only found docs.passport.gitcoin.co and showcase.passport.gitcoin.co bc I asked a dev friend to do some diligence on Gitcoin with me. How do I spin up a Grants instance? Where are the docs for it? Why aren’t these resources accessible in the main nav? :person_shrugging: :person_shrugging: :person_shrugging:

From this post series it seems there is friction between insiders who want higher compensation, whereas some GTC holders who want to be more frugal or want to see more progress for the GTC given before giving higher compensation.

There seems to be a higher sense of urgency to turn around the declining token price from outside GTC holders than from insiders.

There is generally a lot of visioning and thoughtleadering that goes on on the gov forums, but not a lot of execution visible. How is the DAO doing against it’s purpose and essential intents? Against it’s competitors? I have no idea, insiders don’t publish that information - so thats why I do here and here.

For insiders, GTC Holders are seen as dispensable whereas insiders are not. For GTC Holders, there is no alternative to just going along with insiders. There is no competition or market for DAO leadership.

  1. Want an alternative approach to software development? Too bad, you’re stuck with GPC and it’s leadership.
  2. Want an alternative approach to fraud defense? Too bad, you’re stuck with FDD and it’s leadership.
  3. Want an alternative approach to marketing? Too bad, you’re stuck with MMM and it’s leadership.
  4. Want an alternative approach to partnerships? Too bad, you’re stuck with PGF and it’s leadership.
  5. Want an alternative approach to DAO Operations? Too bad, you’re stuck with DAO-OPS and it’s leadership.
2 Likes

I very much appreciate you raising these two cases for Gitcoin and GTC. I’m not a GTC holder (yet) but I am a grateful beneficiary of grants via the Gitcoin and want to support the success of this community.

I am very curious to know why Gitcoin doesn’t just introduce fees for all grants distributed via the protocol?

It seems like the most logical thing to do from a business perspective. As a grant recipient (and a donor) I would be much happier if I knew Gitcoin had a sustainable business model and were capturing some of the value that they create.

Is there any public-facing discussion on this matter?

3 Likes

A small critique: Tally is really a formality within the gitcoin governance process. Voting really occurs on Snapshot and then Stewards move that vote on-chain (through Tally) according to the decision produced by Snapshot. So the voting weight in reality might be different (but maybe not). Either way, there are a few major delegates that have a lot of sway in voting, which is a problem. We’re in agreement on that.

For the rest of what you said here, I definitely agree. I think the internal contributors are realizing what you are describing and trying harder, but in my opinion, it is ridiculously hard to get context within the GitcoinDAO, which does not bode well for a community-governed project. I think part of the conflict as well is that it is unclear what the decision-making jurisdiction is of the core contributors (CSDO and the Workstreams), and what is under the jurisdiction of the community (Steward Council, Stewards, Token holders, non-holding community members).

If you (or anyone else) are interested, I think creating a guide on where to find this context (if it is known, or getting it from internal contributors if it isn’t) would be a worthy project that I’d want to help out with. Feel free to send a message to me on here or on discord if you want to talk about this.

1 Like

Information flows are some of the hardest things to get right at scale ( especially in a distributed working environment). This is not just a problem for Gitcoin but for pretty much all DAOs in general. I’ve yet to see anything close to a perfect knowledge management system deployed in Web3 but I think this is an area where GitcoinDAO could experiment and lead. Getting greater community awareness around a single, well-maintained KMS could go a long way to helping people easily self-serve on getting up to speed on all things Gitcoin.

4 Likes

You’re totally right. This work is not happening here in the forum. A lot is happening in CSDO, or collaboration channels in Discord. The Discord roles for these channels appear to be set to DAO-Core (about 90 folks), so again, confirmation that this is the DAO in-group that’s workshopping much of this material that is then presented on the forum mostly for ratification.

Given you’re across the current attempts that are being made to broadcast the in-group work as it happens (CSDO Notes, etc.) and you’re still feeling like Gitcoin is operating like a black box, I think you’re finding the best way to get involved and inject debate into this process with your posts here.

This feels somewhat unsatisfying, and I’d like to see us do better to source input from GTC holders like yourself.

I can see 2 options:

  1. Find ways to bring folks like yourself into the more real-time work that CSDO and the DAO-Core team are doing. These could be via the existing Community Calls or special open sessions with the CSDO.
  2. Bring some of the CSDO work into the forums (this is more normal for DAOs after all) via a more standard GIP-### style proposal system.
1 Like

I am transparency / decentralize maxi and I have come to see both as a journey - which I am not sure any DAO has gotten quite right just yet. But hey, DAOs all still a new experiment so I tend to dial back my natural impatience and nudge every chance I get.

Recall that we do spend quite some time developing our Gitcoin Steward network where the stewards are given monthly updates, do deep dive critiques on draft budgets, and ask questions direct to workstream leaders. Also a feature of that meeting is open air time where a steward can ask any pending questions they like. We also turn to those same stewards to vote on proposals and help determine the future of Gitcoin.

Becoming a steward is open to every(single)person and we welcome anyone with (or without) GTC. We strive to make that venue as helpful as possible to all stewards - but as said, we are on a journey and we still have lots to learn.

Become a steward here!

4 Likes

This is a wonderfully robust discussion.
So many erudite and nuanced perspectives.
This discussion makes me think of a podcast I heard recently - the TL;DR being that DAOs should be seen as startups, benefiting from a lean structure, that can then mature into decentralization.

Bottomline - Gitcoin is one of the most, if not the most, successful org Web3 has. So… fascinating to learn about the innerworkings. Thank you for this thread.

Peace, Happiness & Prosperity to All You/ Us Public Gooders in 2023 & beyond!!

podcast

4 Likes

Following back to update my bull case after reading this post.

The bull case for GTC basically boils down to:

ONE OF THESE THREE:

  1. Grants will be successful & have $billions/year in capital going through it.
    OR
  2. Passport will be the foundation of a new sybil resistant economy in web3.
    OR
  3. Mutual Grants allow Gitcoin to get upside in the next Uniswap. (new)

AND BOTH OF THESE TWO:

  1. Governance rights to manage these systems will somehow become valuable.
    AND
  2. GitcoinDAO will survive to get to that point.

It definately has potential. But I think that DAOs like ENS and Uniswap and Maker are more mature & successful.

I think this is important to clarify.

Looks like you took yourself up on your own offer! :blush:

I avoided signing up as a steward because I was not sure I would have time. But I’m not at least a couple dozen hours into evaluating Gitcoin. So maybe I should dive in and sign up.

Other GTC holders might not have the time to do the research I did. So I hope that every time these questions get asked and answered it gets a little easier to understand GTC on lesser time :hourglass_flowing_sand:

Maybe a good place to start would be to update TLDR - What is Gitcoin? 🤖 [Aug 2022] [It seems about 6 months old!]

As a GTC holder, I would like to see things like the 2023 roadmap debated out in the open! I dont know about the rest of CSDO business though.

2 Likes

There is no requirement of time to be a Steward. Some really dig in and are recognized via a nomination to join the Steward Council as a web3 leader and advisor for Gitcoin, others casually join the update calls once per month to ask questions to get the early updates on things like branding, strategic plans, budget and protocol updates. Others are recognized for their thoughtful input and are awarded greater influence via delegated GTC from holders who do not have time to participate in the governance process, but who still want to put their GTC to work.

We do strive to get better at transparency - for an example this subject was discussed yesterday (01.03) in the CSDO meeting here - CSDO Ops 01/03 but one of the existing ways we disseminate information, help people connect and build context while we strive for decentralization is via our Stewards and our monthly Steward Circle meetings. We have a big tent, and interested parties are all invited to join.

1 Like

I think the biggest thing that we are missing in a mutual grants focus is that we have workstreams currently thinking about how to create revenue, but no plan on how to invest in their unique knowledge.

Workstreams which have been efficient and properly managed their treasury would be great candidates for building for profit businesses on top of the protocol.

The current expectation is that revenue from a workstream should go to the DAO treasury, but a less considered option is that it could be kept by the workstream and contractually seen as a SAFE/SAFT type investment allowing the workstream to spin out a subDAO or corp that is profitable AND dependent on grants/project/passport protocols.

Why is this better? At the end of the day, for-profit businesses using the protocol will have incentive to pay for the sustainability of the protocol. Giving the DAO more runway doesn’t have the same effect.

Imagine we are building a city. We want people to move in, but there are no grocery stores or gas stations. We could subsidize the businesses to startup when they will be at a loss, but hoping more people will move in when the necessary services are there. My suggestion is that we encourage our workstreams to spin out for profit businesses.

If we can create a model to successfully spin out for profit businesses, we will:

  1. Extend runway by having less contributor salaries in the DAO. Workstreams are incentivized to get their own revenue and become sustainable.
  2. Use SAFE/SAFT investment to keep stake in ventures (We could sell this if it discourages competition in the future)
  3. Shift GitcoinDAO internal public goods funding to be fully governed by GTC holders. As workstreams spin out they create an aqueduct to partially fund the main program and partially fund GitcoinDAO specific needs.

Protocol fees could go back to the DAO treasury or to an aqueduct which drives continuous GTC token holders decisions on the program and which protocol public goods to fund. It doesn’t have to be that no revenue goes back to DAO treasury, just that workstream generated revenue could be used as investment rather than extended runway. Think about it, if we need the extended runway cause there aren’t for-profit businesses using it already, we probably already lost…

Most importantly, we need to reset our essential intents ASAP. They weren’t designed for staying forever. They should be updated every 6 months or so. This conversation has a little more of my thoughts on the essential intents. November CSDO Digest - #13 by DisruptionJoe

1 Like

This feels a lot like a Mutual Grant, which I just learned has been shelved. It sounds like some parts of Gitcoin have their foot on the gas + some have it on the brake :confused:

In this scenario, what happens to the $2.4 million* that Gitcoin has already put into a workstream like FDD? Is that part of the SAFE/SAFT?

*estimating this amount $400k/quarter for 6 quarters. $400k * 6 = $2.4 million [but the actual amount may be different as the budgets have fluctuated a lot]

Has the DAO done a detailed analysis of GTC Utility and financial sustainability they can share? This thread is all over the place.

I don’t see anyone in the DAO advocating for this except you. Is there broad consensus around this in the DAO and if so when is it happening?

2 Likes