[S14 Proposal - Amended x2] KERNEL Budget Request of 49K GTC

Thanks for sharing this proposal, Vivek. On its own, this section seems to describe KERNEL’s existing relationship to Holdings more than it explains your desired relationship to the DAO as a structured workstream, which does come with certain accountabilities to the DAO as a whole. I would like to hear more of your intent here (i.e., plan to participate in cross-stream DAO governance and other opt-in workstream collaborations).

And echoing a desire to learn more about KERNEL’s roadmap and funding in place.


Hello! I added edits throughout to add to clarity here overall (starting with the first paragraph.

You can now find an explicit ‘phases’ section here. Please note that Phase 1, which is associated with the S14 request of 150K GTC, is most detailed (including a budget breakdown) given this is where we are focused short-term.

We look forward to updating on progress and prepping well for S15 and S16 with more clarity as it arises.

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Hi Jodi, it was good to see you on the call today.

Surely. We intend to be full participants as a workstream. I will lean on these two sections as a start.

Our governance and consensus briefs might be helpful introductions to the types of ideas we lean upon and the way KERNEL might engage.

As it relates to cross-DAO collaborations, KERNEL is excited to engage in CSDO as we best can. We feel quite well positioned to do so, mostly due to the KERNEL Fellows we know incredibly well and trust deeply that are sprinkled around other GitcoinDAO workstreams, alongside our history within Gitcoin Holdings. @sidcode has also been actively involved both in GitcoinDAO and as a KERNEL Steward, which provides us a healthy conduit as a beginning. We welcome finding the right balance here.

Will respond on funding in a separate message, and responded to @Pop on the roadmap one message above here. Thank you for taking the time to explore here.


Hey Vivek -

this really feels like a step backward for the progress Kernel has been trying to make in building its own brand and identity. I don’t think this is in the best interest of Gitcoin and I am surprised you feel this in the best interest of Kernel. I dont support the proposal, but I do very much want to see Kernel successful and part of the Gitcoin solar system.

Are there ways that we can continue to partner that dont come with a funding request?


I will try to respond to a few messages in tandem here, perhaps most importantly why I disagree with Kyle on both counts.

KERNEL, ultimately, hopes to be an educational institution that is a public good, creating positive externalities for web3, first and foremost, by having a positive impact on the lives of KERNEL Fellows and the communities they are responsible for. These communities are wide-ranging.

In order to do so, KERNEL must walk a narrow path. Namely, it must find funding sources that are least likely to introduce ulterior incentives and most likely to support an open environment for exploration, play, healthy experimentation, and deep care.

Our intention, therefore, is to raise funding in a completely web3-native way (directly from protocols, no venture funding). We took inspiration from Nomic Labs, who recently completely a similar fundraise for Hardhat with anchor support from the Ethereum Foundation and support from a variety of others, including Uniswap, Optimism, Aave, and others.

In our case, we would like GitcoinDAO to be our anchor partner. This is because public goods and reciprocal coordination are at the core of what we explore in KERNEL and GitcoinDAO has created the most important schelling point around these topics in web3. We think there is a real chance this gift could support us in a way no other protocol could as we build a premier educational institution on a multi-decade journey.

GitcoinDAO, if KERNEL was a workstream for 3 seasons, would range from 33% - 40% of the $5mm we aim to raise. Our plan was to start closest to come with GitcoinDAO and move from there. However, stewards or foundation members of 3 top protocols have expressed interest in championing a KERNEL proposal. These will become public in the coming weeks and months, we expect.

KERNEL’s success in finding it’s healthiest source of funding, of course, does also practically accrue benefit to GitcoinDAO, as is referenced by @owocki here.

The 24% of ‘team governance rights’ means that if KERNEL is successful, GitcoinDAO will have a large part to play in that story on an ongoing basis, shaping what a web3 public good institution might look like over a long time horizon.

Our hope in following the Nomic Labs model is to treat this workstream proposal as a regular grant / workstream, not a mutual grant. If, after 3 seasons, additional funding was required, we would understand the request for a sliding scale.

I do empathize and understand the need for mutual grants, and using the venture capital paradigm, I understand why this might immediately look like a candidate for a mutual grant.

In looking for stories here, I come back to a story of Dale Carnegie giving a $2mm grant to technical universities in Pittsburgh, which was used to start a small endowment. This directly led to Carnegie Mellon University, whose endowment today sits at $3.1 billion, serving 14,000 students yearly. Who might a similar institute in web3 serve? How might we improve upon educational models for all? Is this a public good worth exploring alongside GitcoinDAO?

It is my sense that GitcoinDAO, and other web3 treasuries, have the ability to give in this way – not as wealthy philanthropists or as venture capitalists, but because public goods are good and web3 gives us the potential that value may accrue to those who support them. This lively gift economy may bring us to healthier, more holistic institutions which don’t fall into similar traps as previous technologies and paradigms.

We don’t worry as much about KERNEL’s brand being affected by this, but rather, have a sense that it as on-brand as we can get :wink: we welcome being intertwined with GitcoinDAO and finding ways to make public goods as good as they can be this century, starting with KERNEL and the wonderful fellows who spend time with us.

To that end, I’ll end with a passage from ‘The Gift’, an interesting brief in KERNEL Module 7, and welcome ways we may improve upon our thinking here.


While I echo @Jodi_GitcoinDAO’s comments about further defining KERNEL’s relationship to the DAO, personally I think this is an interesting proposal and strong next step for the relationship between KERNEL + Gitcoin rather than a step backwards.

In my view, KERNEL was in many ways a proto-workstream back in 2020, when the company was still the main way for Gitcoin to achieve its mission. Now that we’re a formal DAO, it seems natural that KERNEL might find ways to achieve its mission as part of that journey prior to becoming a side-DAO as in the impact DAO vision Owocki outlined here. I’d love to have the mutual grants committee help figure out what that eventual path looks like after several seasons.

Still, with that in mind, I do think the ask is quite high for a first season workstream, and I’d recommend potentially reducing the ask to around 90-100K GTC with perhaps half of that committed as a starting stipend for meta-governance (i.e. left unspent for say a 6 month window).


Thanks for sharing this proposal. First of all I’m a huge fan of KERNEL and ended up backing Sherlock which came out of it.

Given the 150k amount requested for 1 season is large and we have many other existing workstreams to fund at GitcoinDAO, I think my preference is for KERNEL to request a much smaller amount and prioritize other methods of fundraising as well so that GitcoinDAO does not comprise such a large % of the intended raise.


Six years ago I decided that I needed to commit my life to a purpose, to have something bigger than me that would always be my north star.

Previously, I had thought of finding purpose like “love at first sight”. I thought I was in some cosmic game that would randomly show me my purpose and I would be wise enough to recognize it.

When I decided that I was in control and could select my purpose, I thought to myself “What is the most noble goal possible”

After months of thinking and writing, I landed on EDUCATION.

But I am not a teacher. I’m something more like a systems engineer with a focus on adaptive processes. How could I affect education?

Education is THE fundamental public good.

Our neighbors having access to education makes our lives better.

Everyone should always have access to education.

In fact, the value that it creates could be accounted for using Ostrom’s SES Framework and then redistributed to others. Maybe there is a level of education where people are less prone to violence?

Anyway, all that is to say that the reason I am here is because from a system engineering viewpoint, I thought the best way I could possibly work towards my mission was to build and evangelize DAOs to eventually provide free education to everyone for life. In fact, if they can’t get paid to work, they should get paid to learn. That is my purpose.

I’m supporting this proposal WITHOUT a clause for return because I have ALREADY felt the benefits of the Kernel community in the world.

I went to Metacamp last month with 35 DAO leaders and we had a whole discussion on how Kernel isn’t only the best web 3 education available, but it is a leader in cultivating the VALUES we claim Web 3 will have.

It is the premier education for how the world shifts from a paradigm of competition, to a paradigm of collaboration.

We might be best to think of this a retroactive public goods funding, but it really doesn’t matter to me. The Kernel program deserves support of the Gitcoin community.


Hello all, with thanks for comments, feedback, and suggestions by all, KERNEL has revised its proposal to 96K GTC, as specifically suggested by @ceresstation and @linda.

The amendment is reflected in the topline message, with a new TL;DR, emphasis on the plan for a KERNEL Treasury, and a new S14 budget.

This was a significant slimming exercise but it is one we feel confident can still work (with less room for external open source contributors).

We appreciate all of the thoughts throughout and hope that this proposal better describes the reciprocal ways we hope KERNEL and GitcoinDAO may operate for years to come.


Well said Joe. Wow I had no idea about these layers to you. I wonder how many other members of the GC fam had similar experiences. I sure did. Thanks for opening up Sir and allowing us to know you deeper.

At EthDenver I heard more positive remarks about Kernel than any other aspect of GC. Congrats on the creation Vivek and team. Also, thank you for the detailed answers to the questions above. I am determined to eventually participate in a Kernel Block. Though small, you have my support. I trust the core members of GPG to ensure any token/gov sharing agreement between Kernel and Gitcoin Dao is fair.


Pretty surprised by this proposal as I thought KERNEL was separating from Gitcoin but I def support the program being in the DAO. The thoughtfulness and intention that the KERNEL team brings to their work is so valuable and is what I think really makes them a crowd favorite. I may be a little bias as a past participant tho. :sweat_smile: Totally agree with @DisruptionJoe here too that education makes our lives better & is a fundamental public good. :seedling:


Jumping in to provide my two cents as I go through all the proposals.

I’ll start by saying that, like @DisruptionJoe, I feel a deep affinity with & love for KERNEL. I, too, believe education is THE fundamental public good - and I’ve seen & experienced firsthand the learning, the connection, the beauty, and the safe space that KERNEL brings to the Web3 ecosystem at large.

I would love for the DAO and KERNEL to explore means of mutual collaboration, and would even be open to exploring the idea of the DAO Treasury generously providing some funding to KERNEL.

That said, I really don’t think a DAO workstream is the right structure for a relationship between the DAO and KERNEL.

Why’s that?

  1. KERNEL is already becoming its own entity
    With KERNEL becoming an established entity having its own completely separate governance structure, I don’t think it makes sense for it to also be a DAO workstream. This, too, is why I am voting ‘no’ to the mintkudos.xyz proposal. As I mentioned there, all current GitcoinDAO workstreams are teams that are dedicated to the DAO at-large - rather than having the DAO as just one of many affiliations. KERNEL or mintkudos.xyz becoming their own workstreams would bring about a set of new considerations/challenges that I don’t think we are prepared to prioritize facing right now.

  2. I do not see it serving the Protocol DAO mission
    While KERNEL is consistent with the ‘learn’ mandate within Gitcoin’s previous earn/learn/connect/fund framing, as we move intentionally towards being a Protocol DAO, I do not see a strategic fit in the context of the workstreams we are standing up in service of that mission.

(As an aside, a thought for CSDO & DAO governance consideration, generally speaking - together, this proposal and the mintkudos.xyz proposal make me question whether we might create other avenues for such requests that are not workstream formations.)

Although I plan to vote ‘no’ on this proposal for KERNEL to become a workstream, I want to reiterate my love for & support of the program. I do earnestly hope we can establish another flavour of relationship that can support KERNEL in its worthy ambitions.


One major challenge is balancing preparing for the future and growing public goods from a broader perspective vs addressing the immediate needs of the present.

As of now, GitcoinDAO generally needs to streamline our workstreams in the coming months.

I would like to suggest that Kernel focus on its core priorities for now, namely having funding for KB6, KB7 and building a KERNEL treasury. I think GitcoinDAO would make an excellent anchor partner as Kernel transitions to an endowment funded model.

This would make the budget just

Item GTC Amount
Kernel Blocks 6+7 39k GTC ($330k USD)
Infinite Game 10k GTC ($60k USD)

This would be just 1/3 of the original ask.

I think right now, Kernel needs GitcoinDAO’s support more than ever and I implore that fellow stewards (@krrisis @kyle @Pop @ceresstation @seedphrase ) consider giving Kernel the breathing space for the year ahead. Kernel adds a lot of value in terms of the folks that we bring to GitcoinDAO + bringing in potential funders of public goods. I’d also like to suggest that projects grown within Kernel sign a giving pledge to public goods which can help to justify value accrual to the protocol.


Thanks Vivek for the thoughts and details. I too have a strong affinity for Kernel, but I am still just stuck on “why a workstream” and “why more funding from Gitcoin.” This was a project that Gitcoin nurtured and funded for almost 2 years already. Seeking more from Gitcoin doesn’t feel appropriate. I am of the opinion Kernel really needs to stand on its own (and that was the goal with the seed funding as part of the spin out from Holdings).

I will likely vote no on the proposal for Kernel to be a workstream and to have it funded further by Gitcoin. There has been interest from others in the past to also be an anchor funder and I wonder if we can start there?

Thank you for taking the time to amend and restructure the proposal in line with the accountability flow. I feelI have a broader context on the good Kernel brings into this ecosystem, having witnessed it in action (perhaps more than other newer stewards) for the past two years.

I tend to echo some of the comments in this thread around the size of the request and perhaps the timing. As this DAO has been evolving, maturing and working hard to sharpen its focus, the reduced ask suggestions for running KB7/8 make a lot of sense and I am hoping we can ensure the continuation of Kernel with a lesser amount without diminishing/affecting its value.

I feel this specifically is a great way to ensure value is flowing back into Gitcoin DAO as a result of funding Kernel and something we have been discussing has been missing from a lot of other workstreams’ focus. If we can ensure this dynamic is sustainable, it would provide a great medium/long term flow of value for both Gitcoin and Kernel.


Hello friends, explorers, stewards, thank you for your comments on the KERNEL proposal (& thank you to @seedphrase @David_Dyor @annika for your kind words on KERNEL itself).

We reach the end of the road a bit wearied, but nonetheless excited for the future of GitcoinDAO & KERNEL well beyond today’s shifting tides.

To be brief, we have made a final and substantial amendment to the KERNEL Proposal, reducing our ask to 49K GTC for our first quarter as a workstream within GitcoinDAO. This suggestion was originally made by @Fishbiscuit and has been enacted in the main proposal here.

I’d like to address a few thoughts beyond simply reducing the proposal amount, although I do hope this is a substantial gesture in our understanding that:

(a) GitcoinDAO is in a precarious position and must show wisdom as we enter a new cycle (h/t @linda for this resource), and
(b) while we feel strongly KERNEL is worth funding, solidifying our unique exploration as a smaller workstream may be healthier at this time.

One of the reasons is for (b) is posed by Annika here, in that KERNEL doesn’t quite fit the mold for a GitcoinDAO workstream or a “mutual grant” today, given it’s unique history within Gitcoin Holdings. We are starting our own entity, we have a complimentary mission (focused on a specific set of public goods, seeded around education), and are not explicitly focused on the ProtocolDAO.

While these points are true, and Annika later alludes to a gap to be filled, I think this misses the following:

KERNEL serves as a unique, important hedge to workstreams directly focused directly on a ProtocolDAO: a high-potential, independent entity experimenting with a clear, extremely high potential, win-win relationship with the DAO. This is an exercise in coordination which might serve as a model for other workstreams, mutual grants, or [insert new category] to consider as the future of GitcoinDAO & public goods funding unfolds.

While we are entering a bear market, I think it serves GitcoinDAO well to ensure experiments like KERNEL are given a real chance to succeed as public goods and that attempts to coordinate in this way are not halted completely. If not here, then where?

In closing, I am reminded of a specific, quieter part of the KERNEL syllabus on a spanish concept called Duende, which includes a poetic phrase or two.

Here is the heart of the struggle then: what we want is a miracle; what we have is a network of messy human beings. Do we have the creativity to see how these two are not any different?

It is good to know that glasses
are to drink from;
the bad thing
is to not know what thirst is for.

In moving forward, I hope that we may find ways for KERNEL to participate as a healthy member of GitcoinDAO (as a workstream today, and perhaps, in other ways in the future) dedicated to honesty, trust, excellence, heightened awareness, and the ways in which messy humans might come together to do things that otherwise may seem impossible, starting with the simplest: caring for one another. We understand we would be joining GitcoinDAO in a period of struggle, and are dedicated and intertwined with the efforts of moving through it as well as we can, together.

I close with a favorite passage from a dearest friend, the one and only @cryptowanderer:

Let’s be honest then; what we’re working for is a miracle. Many of us harbour the desire that a critical mass of people will wake up and realise that the ways we transact with one another and the ways that we organise our relationships and work surrender both power and value to a system consciously designed to extract the maximum profit it can. Moreover, that this realisation will also entail the creative and insightful use of the tools we already have, in the service of imagining new personal and political possibilities. This is the definition of a poetic hope, and it highlights the depths of the struggle which we must each face if we are to realise such a world.


Since people have been reaching out about my vote on this proposal (and actually, my vote on the twice amended proposal based on all the feedback received here and during the stewards call this month), I will share my rationale.

I opted not to create a voter guide since I feel they are currently imperfect (I do want to look at blending the different elements from each that could form the basis of a standard matrix for evaluating proposals as we evolve this process) and they reflect a singular individual perspective vs an objective guide to a decision making process.

My vote for YES on the twice amended proposal reflects my desire to see Kernel continue its great work in onboarding, incubating and bringing value into the web3 ecosystem. Having witnessed the talent being pulled in [EXAMPLE REDACTED] and mentored some of the projects in Kernel in the past two years, the value to the open source ecosystem (and a means of funding this through education, mentorship and networking) cannot be denied. The continued work in looking at promoting mutual value exchange was highlighted here in the original proposal.

As a result and because of Gitcoin’s 24% in governance rights, the value will also flow back into Gitcoin. I believe @vivek also highlighted that here:

Understanding that without this reduced funding the project may encounter tough times rending them unable to run further blocks, I choose to vote YES for this season. This by no means constitutes a FOREVER choice and any progress or lack thereof will be evaluated and a different vote may happen in the future.

I believe in balance in all things and I shared my thoughts here on a post by @owocki from March - it is important to make rational decisions that can enable the flow of value and this is my decision based on the context I have, based on the reduced amount requested and the reasons listed above which are true at this point in time when my decision is being recorded.


After numerous discussions, I have decided I am against this proposal.

Here’s why: (I have spoken to Vivek on the phone + articulated most of this to him already.)

KERNELs impact in the market is undeniable, and I value Vivek and Andy’s friendship, but there are major problems with this proposal (and KERNELs longevity) that need to be taken seriously.

I wrote this post because the dao has responsibilities (1) to manage gitcoins own treasury outflows (2) press for some hard but necessary growth in KERNEL.

Here are some reasons I decided I was against this proposal:

  1. It is a signal of weakness in the funding market for KERNEL to come back to Gitcoin for funding after we’ve already incubated & spun it out. KERNEL would be in a stronger position if they had an outside lead for their funding round.
  2. In the past, I’ve made deals with KERNEL leadership where they don’t follow through on their end of the bargain. The pattern I’ve seen is that they want something, they make some promises to get it, and when they get what they want, they forget the promises and dont follow through on them. For this reason, I don’t take them at their word that they’ll be present in CSDO or any other GitcoinDAO oriented activities (& these are conditions of having a GitcoinDAO workstream).
  3. I still have brain damage from the damage Vivek caused to Gitcoin by being negligent as COO during mid/late 2020. Vivek focused on KERNEL without prudently transferring his responsibilities over the rest of the Gitcoin portfolio. In a counterfactual world in which he had been doing the job he had agreed upon - managing the product/teams teams performance, coaching them up, turning the team, shipping the stuff on our roadmap, and not just ignoring all of these responsibilities and letting the team culture rot - we wouldnt have had such a hard reset for kyle/lindsey/kevin olsen on the product side in 2021 (debt we are STILL paying down). The damage here is easily 5x-15x the financial cost of incubating KERNEL itself. (maybe even larger if you consider how our market position has deteriorated without a functional product team). Until I figured out what was going on, KERNEL was like a tapeworm consuming resources its host sorely needed. Setting its host back 6-9 months in time, and creating endemic cultural rot that would take years to unwind. I was over this when I thought there was going to be a clean deal to spinout KERNEL, but now that we’re going to consider ongoing workstream relationship with them I think this history (and the damage it has done to my ability to trust Vivek) needs to be articulated.
  4. We set up the KERNEL spinout from holdings deal to give KERNEL runway. That deal’s terms made no mention of further funding from GitcoinDAO. KERNEL is essentially double dipping here by playing the dao and the holdco off each other (telling both that it needs it to fund the next 3-6 months of runway). The amount the holdings company gave KERNEL is enough runway for a team of 1 or 2 for a year, or a team of six for the next couple blocks.
  5. This proposal offers nothing back to GitcoinDAO. It’s essential a “something for nothing” proposal. I believe that the proposal should be mutually beneficial.
  6. This proposal sets a precedent that Gitcoin will continue to fund KERNEL ad infinitum.
  7. KERNEL is not one of Gitcoin’s Essential Intents. In a bear market, the DAO should be especially scrutinizing what it funds.

Here is what I think should happen:

Given the option, KERNEL chose independent governance. Now they need to meet the moment and actually follow through to be independent from Gitcoin. They need to stop returning the the DAO treasury (especially during scarcity times).

That means:

  1. Learn to fundraise outside of Gitcoin/GitcoinDAO.
  2. If KERNEL is going to fundraise from GitcoinDAO stop asking for ridiculous terms ($200k for no mutual benefit). And show GitcoinDAO you will follow through on what you say you’re going to do.
  3. Make the hard choices about how much burn KERNEL can handle. KERNEL has a staff of 6, which is huge for a project that doesnt want to raise VC and is pre-revenue and pre-financial sustainability.

I understand that this comment may seem harsh. I value KERNEL, but I think it needs to do some growing up now that its “left the house”. I hope that these hard conversations lead to the eventual thriving of a more mature KERNEL.

With tough love,

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Thank you for sharing these certainly unknown dynamics regarding the relationship between these teams or specifically, yourself and Vivek. I’d specifically want to understand this better (perhaps also from @vivek’s side) as this sounds like an erosion of trust happened at least two years ago and has never been mended. I am keen to get a balanced view so would always want to hear both sides.

Keen to also hear and review the thoughts of the Kernel team on this so we may move forward together:

Piecing together context and background a lot of us are unaware of is of great importance to due diligence as is ensuring we have all perspectives recorded.

I’m sorry to hear that this separation went so badly.

I personally do not think we need even more details on public fora but hope that more conversations can be held in the future if tensions need to be resolved and traumas healed.

Because I also deeply value vivek & andy as human beings and respect the entire team building Kernel with a lot of soul/spirit, heart and also very focused energy. To me Kernel really embodies so much of the solarpunk vibe this world (web3 and beyond) needs, and a lot comes from how vivek hosts and creates a home for people coming in combined with andy’s writing and… I could go on. Tl;dr: it matters.

Apart from the pain I read above I also read a solid objective argumentation why I feel I need to change my vote to a no at this time.

edit: Would still vote yes on a mutual grant proposal with deeply discussed terms.

I hope further dialogue will happen (in the right context and timeframe, whatever it requires), so that the initial agreement between Gitcoin Holdings and Kernel will come to fruition.
If I can support this in any way, very open.

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