In this post, I will outline a hypothesis that I’ve been working on.
- It’s all Coordination.
- It always has been.
- For DAOs, Successful Coordination of Culture + Capital are trending indicators of vibrancy & healthy.
- For DAOs, Successful Launches are only obvious with the gift of 20/20 hindsight.
Coordination of Culture + Capital is the foundation of our ability to have an impact on the world and realize our mission.
Ergo, if we wish to scale our ability to have an impact on our core mission, we should be explicit in designing culture, coordination, capital that scales.
Increasingly I think these 3 things need to be designed TOGETHER in order to have a coherent impact.
Note: I use the words “Capital” and “Compensation” interchangably in this post; as the only difference is their vantage point, the former being capital-centric, and the latter being labour-centric.
Figuring out this foundation is GitcoinDAO META. I mean that in the following two ways:
- META = Most Effective Tactic Available. Tactically, we need to effectively coordinate our cultural capital and economic capital to achieve Gitcoin’s mission.
- META in a self-referential way. If we can coordinate ourselves, then (and only then) we can help other DAOs coordinate, and spread coordination fractally outwards towards the world.
Exhibit A: Quadratic Funding prototyped in the crypto space, and then spiraling outwards to traditional OSS via FundOSS and to the world via Downtown Stimulus.
I’d love to share my 002 wei on what is truly important. That being said, please know that these are just my opinions. I am one node in the Gitcoin DAO network.
This post is designed to share my sense-making, sharpen my own thinking, and to cross-pollinate ideas to/from others.
But I can only provide one vantage point; which is probably flawed/limited! Others should propose their own ideas . If you disagree with my thinking, you should fork & extend my thinking!
If you watched my ETHCC Talk, entitled “Its all Coordination”, then you know what I’m talking about here
A lot of Gitcoin’s outwards facing messaging is about building/funding public goods – goods that are excludable/non-rivalrous, which we all enjoy. This works well in Deep-Ethereum, a culture where we all kind of admire Vitalik and his love for public goods – but it doesnt scale beyond that. One problem I’ve had in explaining public goods funding failures to every day people is that its too deep in economics and not visceral at all! If I can corner you at a cocktail party + talk public goods w. you for 10 minutes, I can get you to think “Public Goods are Good”, but it shouldnt take 10 minutes to pull someone down the rabbithole.
Public goods funding failures are coordination failures, so it is in spirit of (and service to our) our mission to invert talk about public goods by talking about the inverse: coordination! Coordination is visceral, macroeconomic policy is not!
I truly believe that Ethereum’s impact on the world will be more, better coordination. That means better resource allocation. That means creating cultural capital. For the first time ever, we have a transparent, immutable, substrate upon which to build new institutions. Institutions that cannot be corrupted even if their founders become corrupted.
This is a big deal, it means that we can now invent new mechanisms that fundamentally change how culture, media, finance interoperate.
Quadratic Funding - the mechanism that Gitcoin has embraced to create millions of $$$ of rewards for Open Source Software developers, is just the tip of the spear. Many more mechanisms can/will be invented that will further this transformation.
This “civilization-scale stack of constraints” diagram illustrates this thought visually:
How will the roll out of these mechanisms occur? I’ve started to conceive of this in the following way:
As the number of DAOs d grows linearly,
and the number of creators doing work for DAOS grows linearly, the space for resource allocation/coordination tools for them will grow exponentially (creators^2)(daos^2)*.
It would seem that if these trends continue, and if DAOs begin to subsume companies and/or become important institutions of their own, that DAO Coordination could become a trillion $$$ market in 5 years. (not financial advice, do your own research, etc - remember, this is just a hypothesis!)
So we now entering a world in which in order to achieve their mission, DAOs are going to need to attract creators to their cause and to deeply engage them.
Note that DAOs don’t just want any creator to come to them. They want THE RIGHT creator to come to them. I think of DAO recruitment as a series of the following discrete steps:
- Source - Find creators
- Select - Find THE RIGHT creator
- Sell - Convince the creator to join your mission.
- Onboard - Negotiate capital & role, and position the creator to help with your mission.
- Retain - Keep them happy, healthy, engaged.
Laid out like a funnel, it looks like this:
What a happy accident that Gitcoin already has a suite of coordination products for engaging creators. We’ve been building them since 2017!
- Hackathons are a way of engaging 200-1000 creators at a time, combining source, select, sell, onboard into one 2 week hack!
- KERNEL is a mechanism for engaging the creme de la creme (200 creators per cohort max) for 8 weeks in creating lasting friendships, learning, and sometimes even successful crypto-economic projects!
- Grants are a way of compensating those who are already doing great work in your ecosystem, helping you to onboard & retain them in your ecosytem.
What I think is really exciting is using these tools to build Gitcoin itself. Dogfood, yum!
But ALSO the idea of helping the rest of the ecosystem coordinate! We could build onramps (and retainment mechanism) for the rest of of the DAOs in the ecosystem.
This isn’t just a theory, its happening.gif! Checkout our results to see what I mean!
Of course, Gitcoin’s existing product suite is not perfect. We’ve got some debt from our time just trying to survive the 2019-2020 bear market that we’re still paying down. Mostly that comes in the form of centralization debt and tech debt from the short-termism that drove our decision making during those years.
We can pay down that debt by building new products in such a way that they are
- simple (they do one thing well)
- antifragile (they dont depend on Kevin paying his AWS bill every month)
- modular (they interoperate with each other, so they can be composed into more advanced tools)
We are just starting to build software in this way in the moonshot collective, and after a months worth of work I’m proud to say that the following tools are nearly ready!
- Easy Tips - a way of sharing tokens with anyone who joins a zoom call with you.
- Sliding Rewards tool - a way of rewarding meme creators for how viral their work goes.
- Quadratic Diplomacy - a decentralized & effective way of distributing rewards to workstream contributors.
Putting together the following thoughts, it seems to follow to me that the future of GitcoinDAO’s product suite is Simple, AntiFragile, Interoperable tools to help coordinate, and Decentralized Versions of the current tools.
My grand hope is that this product suite is the most legitimate way to do Intra-DAO Resource Coordination, accomplishing our mission && creating a better world for millions of people.
So far we’ve been talking a lot about DAO/Creator Coordination. But there is another design space that is worth exploring. DAO on DAO Coordination!
In evaluating what this design space will look like I’m starting to think about it as follows:
What problems are solved by coordinating? => What positive Sum Game is enabled?
Here are some early thoughts about problem/solution combos that could be explored.
- Differing Types of Creators => Culture/Creator Swaps
- Differing Market Segments => Diversification of Treasury
- Differing Skills/Perspectives => Antifragile Governance
We’re still very early in seeing what DAO on DAO coordination looks like, and I’m excited to see what kind of multi-cellular organisms evolve. Each of these design spaces are likely worth their own post.
There are many Inter-DAO Coordination Opportunities and Intra-DAO Coordination Opportunities as the space expands exponentially!
A lot of the above information is very macro-focused, and so lets focus on some cultural micro for a bit.
This isn’t the Gig Economy, It’s the Internet of DAOs. By focusing on decentralization, on culture, and on creator empowerment, we will avoid commoditizing the creators of the world - a fate that has befallen the gig economy.
I gave a talk entitled “The Gig Economy is a Dangerous Monopoly that could be Decoupled by Decentralization” . Feel free to watch it, but the TLDR is “avoid the gig economy outcome at all costs”.
In order to avoid these outcomes, I think focusing on creator empowerment, decentralization of power, and on culture is pretty important.
Here are the leading indicators that show a project is doing it right.
- Quality people are talking about it
- Virtuous cycle where success begets more success
Some projects to keep an eye on that are doing it right: FWB, Forefront, Kernel
Perhaps one of the most important things to design for is a recognition of the deep & diverse humanity in each of us all. Each DAO creator is an unique 3 dimensional human with different background, skills, abilities, communication styles, experience, timezone, etc.
This topic is worth it’s own post, and I’m hardly the person to speak deeply on it so please forgive me if I gloss over an aspect of this that is important to you (or, as I said at the top - please fork this post and extend it!) but when designing for DAOs - please design for diversity first - not as an afterthought. It is a moral right for the worlds creators, especially those left behind by the old system, to be included. But it is also a strength for each DAO with a common mission to have a diverse and complimentary set of experiences, communication styles, abilities, and connections.
Designing Culture is a multi-dimensional effort, but one thing I think is important for any DAO is defining what their organizing principle is.
DAOs that can be successful in meme-ing (which means scaling) their central organizing principle will be more successful in recruiting new members, in retaining members, and keeping members engaged, as it will always be clear to everyone why the project exists.
For Gitcoin, it’s Gitcoin’s mission - to build and fund digital public goods; to support Open Source and Open Economies. To create more Coordination in the World
I think the Greatest LARP is the fight against Moloch - the God of Coordination Failure. Moloch is the reason why coordination failures like open source funding, climate change, fake news, and 100s of other systemic problems exists
GitcoinDAO has recently had a couple rough experiences with DAO culture, with dozens of contributors dropping to our discord to (sometimes rudely, sometimes not) ask for airdrops. Then disappearing if they didnt like the answer. This led me to propose adding the following section to the Gitcoin Code of Conduct.
Airdrops may come, but you are not entitled to an Airdrop.
Over the course of time, Gitcoin Grants has become a significant pillar of the ecosystem - in which more & more projects are reliant for support. Because Gitcoin Grants has had 1mm+ lifetime crowdfund contributions, it has become a source of data about which projects the community values, and who in the ecosystem is supporting these projects.
Any Airdrops that come to Gitcoin contributors have been on a “don’t expect it, but be thankful if it comes” social norm.
We expect that community contributors are informed about, and participating in, the process through which governance passes proposals. We expect that community members are graceful in accepting airdrops, but are not acting entitled to them unless a governance proposal passes that specifically entitles them to an airdrop at a specific time. Any disrespectful, harassing, entitled, or trolling behaviour related to airdrops is against the code of conduct.
Of course, these members of the GitcoinDAO community were the minority, but in channels like #general and #grants they were starting to drown out many other more types of conversation that would pass the “vibe-check”. Interestingly, the community started to develop anti-bodies to this type of behaviour - specifically the DAO memes workstream started producing content that painted low-effort-airdrop seeking in a negative light:
Of course, there is amazing culture in the GitcoinDAO deeper (I love <3 interacting with the public-lbirary, moonshot collective, mmm, stewards, governance, anti-fraud, decentralize Gitcoin channels). But you need to know where they are. Work is ongoing to fix some of the onboarding in GitcoinDAO such that prospective new DAO members can find a place to productively vibe and contribute with the rest of the DAO.
For more on building DAO Culture, I recommend this excellent post by GitcoinDAO Steward and MetaCartel OG Peter Pan How to Grow Decentralized Communities.
There is a lot of features that have been shimmed on to work in the western world over the last century. Health Insurance, Compliance, Taxation, Retirement Planning, Insurance are just a few of them.
It is beyond the scope of this post to outline how capital in an internet of DAOs is going to solve these problems, though I will say our friends at Opolis are doing excellent and often thankless work building a bridge to a DAO world here.
The opportunity to create for for DAOs full time is perhaps within striking distance for a generation of workers, but I do not think it is advisable until the ecosystem has figured out how to migrate these Industrial-Age features to the DAO-Age. Until then, we should be mindful about when we are planning to augment Industrial-Age capital (eg doing a hackathon so you can meet people + perhaps network to a full time job) vs when we should be replacing Information Age Capital (eg making so much $$$ from a NFT sale + running your benefits through an Opolis PEO).
It is still early in GitcoinDAO, but I’ve been intrigued to see token allocation in GitcoinDAO evolve around the workstreams that have sprung up:
Here are some example token allocation proposals that we’ve seen.
- Anti Fraud Workstream
- GR10 Matching Pool - Gitcoin Building Gitcoin
- Public Goods Funding Workstream
- Moonshot Collective Workstream
- Decentralize Gitcoin Workstream
- mmm Workstream
TLDR - Culture, Coordination, and Capital are the foundation of our ability to have an impact on our mission.
As I said above, this post is designed to share my sense-making, sharpen my own thinking, and to cross-pollinate ideas to/from others. I am one node in the Gitcoin DAO network, others should propose their own most important thing . If you disagree with my thinking, you should fork & extend my thinking!
Not financial or tax advice. This post is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.
Here are some fun “Its all coordination memes” for you courtesey of the Gitcoin Memes/Merch/Marketing Workstream