Tech Partnerships — from single-purpose Constructs to composable Polypartnership-DAO’s

Fritz Milosevic
3 min readMay 30, 2022
Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash

Are partnerships strategically important for tech companies? Do they add tangible value? These and similar questions have been answered with a resounding yes. Companies of all shapes and sizes are now in partnership mode for all the right reasons.

Not all partnerships though are designed and executed well and efficiently. That usually comes back to bite most parties involved. And the future of partnerships? Exciting! Using new Web3 paradigms and tech will make today’s partnerships look like a C64 compared to a modern laptop.

Drawing on a decade of working in different ecosystem & partnership-roles in the tech sector I am sharing a summary of my observations of the past and present, as well as my outlook for the future.

My outlook for tomorrow is my expectation as an ecosystem-practitioner. We can jointly revisit this post in 5 years’ time to see if I am any good as an oracle 😊

I look at the tech sector in a very broad sense here, encompassing telco, software, IT, fintech, web2&3, hardware, and everything else in between.

Yesterday

Vertical, traditional supplier-client or vendor-reseller relationships.

Focused on closing value-chain and capability gaps.

1+1 = 2, often Single-Purpose, with limited complexity and limited potential.

First large ecosystems emerged, often orchestrated by big tech, so it’s clear who is boss and reaps the financial rewards (which of course happened to be the ones who invested in building these ecosystems in the first place).

Today

Ecosystems and partnerships have become an integral part of everyone's strategy & GTM in tech.

Partnerships are more strategic in nature and aimed at long-term joint value creation.

Deliberate risk- and reward sharing to unlock market-level opportunities.

Foundational “ecosystem infrastructure” is being built in many organisations — for partnership governance & management, alignment of financial & client objectives, sharing of IP & fast scaling of successful solutions.

Big with small, fast with slow, high- with low-tech, IP-owners with Sales organisations — a happy Polypartnership-world has emerged where for instance small digital studios can partner with multinational large tech/ telco players on an equal footing. And they know it.

Many partnerships and ecosystems still battle with the negative effects of dishonesty (with oneself/ with partner(s)) — not every challenge can be solved and not every opportunity space can be opened up via partnerships and ecosystems, too often “strategic partnerships” are abused as mere sales channels, too often the homework was not done upfront to eliminate conflicting objectives & agendas.

Still disconnected from the web2 world, where most of the tech sector resides in, the web3 DAO space is advancing and maturing at a frightening speed, laying the foundations for tomorrow. Investment and Grant DAO’s give us a good indication of what is possible.

Tomorrow

Partnerships will be programmatic and as such an integral feature of defined ecosystems.

Popularity of Polypartnership*-DAO’s as best way to organise and incentivise participants in partnerships/ overlapping ecosystems.

Efficiency and standardisation will rule thanks to sophisticated DAO tooling.

Limited scope for clunky and bespoke arrangements since they cannot scale and lack transparency.

Strategic & economic alignment, elimination of conflicts, will be hard-wired into the relevant DAO platforms (meaning entities cannot participate without accepting the terms and rules to achieve such).

Thanks to DAO tooling and thinking finding its way into the tech ecosystem space, partnerships become composable and can be project driven. Long-term partnerships and commitments do not conflict anymore with shorter, conditional engagements with a different set of participants, commercial goals, or governance rules within the same ecosystem or partnership program.

Ecosystem-as-a-Service providers will offer an easy entry-point into the new world of Polypartnerships, allowing companies to quickly spin-up new ecosystems, partnerships and JV’s, already containing the necessary commercial and contractual bridges into future investment and M&A activities.

Ultimately some partnerships and ecosystems will outgrow their founding members/ orchestrators and become new organisations in their own right, fully controlling value propositions and resources.

*In case you wonder why I am not calling them just ecosystems — I consider ecosystems to be larger, more complex systems. Polypartnerships reside inside ecosystems (but don’t have to). They can straddle various ecosystems at the same time and are a concept that is closer to the nuts and bolts of partnering, such as contracting, client engagement, opportunity qualification, joint budget planning, etc.

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Fritz Milosevic

I am a creative strategist, digital native, business & innovation crafter, venture builder and Web3 change agent. Managing Partner at dotadvisors.consulting