The ImpactDAO/ProtocolDAO Sandwich 🥪

Hey frens,

I want to share some ‘founders-eye-view’ context.


As with every post I make, this is my opinion + I am one opinion in the network. If you see things differently, you should absolutely respond to the post + articulate that. Long term I see myself as the GitcoinCo founder becoming like the Queen of England - in sofar as I have no governance power but because of my historical role I have context/social context that can be useful.

Also note that this post is 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. Do your own research.

The ImpactDAO/ProtocolDAO Sandwich

With that out of the way…

I’ve started to perceive of Gitcoin’s place in the emerging DAO ecosystems as follows: We are a ProtocolDAO/ImpactDAO Sandwich. :sandwich:

A ProtocolDAO is a DAO that is centric around a crypto-economic protocol.
An ImpactDAO is a DAO that is oriented around the creation of positive externalities.

The primary protocol in the GitcoinDAO ecosystem is Decentralized Gitcoin Grants, but there are others that we are experimenting with in the Moonshot Collective Workstream.

A few notes on these definitions:

An Evolving Egregore

Of course, the Gitcoin Egregore is still evolving + GitcoinDAO is still a baby DAO. Its only 5-6 months young at this point.

The Egregore is still paying down it’s centralization debt. Hopefully by 2023 we’ll have completely paid off our centralization Debt + are primary operating as a DAO.

Note: this is a rough sketch of how we might decentralize Gitcoin over time, but the numbers are fluid and hard to quantify, so they may be off by 25% - 50% or more

The Final DAO

Long term, I visualize the DAO as follows.

1. ProtocolDAO

We’ve got a series of products (and as we decentralize, increasingly … protocols) that help build crypto ecosystems.

When viewed as a funnel.

  1. How many developers can we source new opportunities for?
  2. How many can we help select an opportunity that is a fit for them?
  3. How can we help funding opportunities sell themselves to developers? How can we help developers sell their work to funders?
  4. How can we onboard them into ecosystems to produce positive impact?
  5. Once they are earning in these ecosystems, how can we retain them?


We’ve got a suite of products that helps DAOs onboard talent into their DAO (via Hackathons/KERNEL) and retain talent in their ecosystem (via Gitcoin Grants)

This is how we create Impact. We build & fund digital public goods, and each of these DAOs have public goods within their ecosystem.

I’m super proud of the list of projects we’ve helped in the past. There are HUNDREDS of projects where we’ve created an impact, but some of my favorites:

  • Major DeFi projects like Uniswap, Yearn, 1Inch Exchange.
  • And also ETH2 clients like Nimbus, Prsymatic, Lighthouse.
  • Important anti-Sybil tech like Proof of Humanity, Idena, BrightID

This gets really interesting when you keep in mind that public goods in this ecosystem stack on top of each other.

So if you’ve got a project that creates public good for everyone in the Ethereum ecosystem, these concentric circles of ecosystems can stack upon each other. For example, a library like libp2p will be used up and down the stack by multiple DAOS and OSS projects.

Hopefully Gitcoin becomes a leverage point for the entire ecosystem by supporting each of these concentric circles individually + also in sum, all of them together.

This gets really interesting when you consider a “land and expand” strategy with these ecosystems. A hackathon relationship can turn into a KERNEL relationship can turn into a Grants relationship can turn into a governance token swap relationship. This can happen in any order, but the net result would be an interconnected ecosystem of Impact & shared incentives.

The whole thing combined = an ImpactDAO/ProtocolDAO Sandwich :sandwich:

When you combine these pieces together this is what it looks like:

The sum of this stack is greater than each of it’s parts.

  • The ProtocolDAO creates inroads into various DAOS by creating utility for the DAO and utility for the tokens within that ecosystem (more to come on this soon I hope).
  • The ImpactDAO creates impact for each of these DAOs, and also creates shared aligned governance incentives (more to come on this soon I hope).

This makes a ton of sense. So building off of this and merging your two definitions, perhaps a “Protocol Impact DAO” would be a DAO that builds protocol(s) that are specifically designed to create positive externalities.