Gitcoin's Continued Path to Decentralized - Executive Director Elections


  • Gitcoin’s structure is about reinforcing the legitimacy of its governance through the GTC token
  • Gitcoin’s structure has changed a bit since the launch of the DAO in 2021, but not by much (diagram of the current structure below)
  • Starting in Jan 2025, Gitcoin will begin electing its Executive Director on its path to decentralization


With the recent announcement of a passing of the torch for the Executive Director role at the Gitcoin Foundation, I wanted to take a moment to create some clarity on what I’m seeing as an emerging structure at the DAO.

This post is intended to be a follow up to @owocki’s Consent of the Governed post that was released soon after the formation of the DAO. While much of what is the post still stands, there are a few key clarifications that I think are worth flagging for the purpose of building context for Citizens and Stewards.

Elements of this post will also be integrated into a follow-up post to our Gov3 post/a newly developed Gitcoin Working Constitution.


Gitcoin as a DAO was formed in mid-2021. In order to create the DAO, Gitcoin had to appoint an Executive Director for the Gitcoin Foundation. At that time, @kyle was given that role and has owned that responsibility until recently.

Soon after the launch of the DAO, @owocki created the aforementioned post that starts by defining the idea of the Consent of the Governed:

It then goes on to list differences between how an organization like Meta structures itself vs. how a DAO like Gitcoin structures itself to create legitimacy by empowering users and contributors to create bottoms-up buy-in.

At the core of the post is a principle that still stands true at Gitcoin:

In order to minimize confusion, I will not repost any diagrams from the initial post—readers can take a look at themselves to get a sense of what the initial vision for governing the DAO was at inception.

Shifting Structure

Though initial vision might have been a bit ambitious, the structure we’ve landed on is not too far off from the ideal set in Jan 2022.

Here is a shot at visualizing how (I am seeing) legitimacy currently flowing at Gitcoin:

Users are airdropped tokens. This happened when the DAO launched and continues to happen through our Citizen Grants Program and payment to full-time and part-time DAO contributors.

Those tokens are then delegated to Stewards, who vote on a variety of proposals (currently under discussion in this thread - please go and comment!).

Why does this matter?

This diagram attempts to demonstrate two levers that Stewards can pull to have major sway over decision making at the DAO:

1. Passing/rejecting of token requests through a Token proposal

Stewards have the power to approve and withhold on DAO spending. This is one of the highest leverage points where Stewards have a say on how the DAO is operating and spending.

Should Stewards be dissatisfied with the performance of a unit, they can vote against a budget proposal either until the proposal is amended to their satisfaction or until the unit winds down from a lack of funding.

2. Election/removal of the Executive Director through a Legal Proposal

Stewards also have the power to elect and remove the Executive Director of the Gitcoin Foundation. The intention of this mechanism is to create accountability for the Executive Director to properly guide the organization and ensure that all the right people are in the right seats.

This is essentially a hierarchical structure with the ED at the top and all DAO contributors arranged below. This is a common structure in coops and is a structure (at this point in time) being used at Gitcoin to ensure that goals are being hit and that the DAO is successfully pursuing its mission while achieving financial sustainability.

What’s Next

In the past, Executive Directors have been appointed but have not been elected. This has essentially taken away one of the Stewards’ levers for affecting change at the DAO.

With the most recent passing of the torch, Gitcoin is taking a large step on its path to decentralization.

Stewards can expect that starting in January 2025, the Gitcoin Governance Team will kick off an election process and officially begin giving power to the Stewards to decide on who will lead the Gitcoin Foundation, creating more accountability, legitimacy in governance and, ultimately, a more sustainable Gitcoin in the long-term.


Thanks for this post!

Given that @kyle has announced he is passing the torch in May 2024, I’d be interested in having ED elections sooner rather than later. Otherwise we go 8+ months without an ED.

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