Relearning to DAO craft

James Waugh
Oct 15 · 5 min read

After three years and a few billion dollars raised, we’re finally starting to level up our DAO crafting abilities.

The DAO was initiated over 3 years ago, with grand visions of fundraising, building DAO infrastructure and returning revenue to token holders. One of the reasons The DAO had such support from the Ethereum community was because of how aligned the concept of a permissionless DAO was with the concept of Ethereum.

Early proposals from both Slock.it and Andreas Antonopoulos proposed revenue share & services to be provided to The DAO. We’re only now starting to see these same DAO service providers & revenue share models come to fruition, with many more unique properties already being tested.

One of the reasons The DAO collected more than 10% of the total ETH and such huge community support was because the concept of The DAO aligned so heavily with the Ethereum ecosystem, The DAO then proceeded to melt, and with many of those same ideas melting with it.

As the industry has grown we’ve managed to reignite this DAO concept, and interestingly it’s being reignited by the same philosophy but by different people — Thinking about the group of people that are contributing to these Moloch DAOs, I wonder what percentage of these people contributed in mindshare or capital to The DAO in 2016. My guess is many of the people contributing today didn’t find inspiration from The DAO, they found inspiration from the ideas & community of the space.


Moloch as a building block

Moloch itself was summoned at ETHDenver at the start of 2019. Moloch had clear goals of building a ‘Minimum Viable DAO’ in order to fund ETH 2.0 research, purposefully limited in both features & scope in order to provide the most impact.
Moloch brought with it, one of the best and easiest ways to easily spin up a DAO.

It seems important to take pause here, although it has been possible to produce DAOs on platforms like Aragon, DAOstack & Colony, all of these platforms carry with them two differences:
1. There are significantly more lines of code in all of these structures, and as we know, more lines of code = exponentially more smart contract risk.
2. All three of those mentioned projects have either an internal token or a need for a business model, adding more complexity to an already complex space.

Although Moloch DAO itself was limited in scope, the Moloch DAO structure has no limits, thus it was forked, only months after being summoned, hence MetaCartel was born.

MetaCartel took the Moloch model and instead of focusing on ETH 2.0, focused its attention at funding application layer products — A significantly wider scope. MetaCartel is one of the best places to start when examining Moloch structures & the community that forms around them. Importantly, MetaCartel is also currently where a large majority of this DAO ideation & development is taking place.

What MetaCartel did was prove a model, a model of DAO iteration. It’s incredibly hard to iterate before you have anything to iterate on, so this matters……a lot.

Since then, there’s been an astounding amount of iteration on the Moloch model, most recently OrochiDAO which was summoned to host The Year of The DAOs event and Orochi Whisky tasting party at Devcon5.

OrochiDAO whiskey tasting event 🥃

OrochiDAO, explained here, set a couple of new precedents, being the first DAO to be funded by a Moloch style DAO and the first of it’s kind to decentralize event sponsorship into a DAO.

The core of Orochi was focused around the idea that DAO members would contribute sponsorship, then have governance weight over proposals — these proposals were about two things: Firstly about other sponsors joining the DAO, meaning the DAO could self-select who could/couldn’t join, curating a fantastic group. Secondly how the funds inside of the Orochi bank should be spent (organising/sponsoring events).

The DAO tried and failed, it took us three years to get Moloch — now Orochi is only one of many new Moloch structures to come into existence in recent times and already, the structure itself is iterating 🍴

Now, this Moloch structure is evolving again into Moloch 2.0: from grant giving to sustainability.

This DAO will be focused on “frictionless product collaborations, and a revenue generating commons.” Something The DAO was clearly aiming for, yet three years later we’re only just starting to touch the surface. Again, once these new DAO structures are launched, iteration is possible, and from there we’ll see the same level of adaptation & adoption that Moloch has seen.

For a quick lightning round of the other Moloch fork DAOs that have been spun up in recent history:

YangDAO, a DAO in support of presidential candidate Andrew Yang and the ideas he underpins, think Freedom Dividend! Read more about YangDAO here.

TrojanDAO, a DAO looking to connect communities involved in cultural production to collectively direct resources and energies as well as reducing bureaucracy & adding new cultural dimensions to the work being done around Ethereum. Read more about TrojanDAO here.

JamesDAO, a meme created by those of us in the space who go by the name James. Membership is open to anyone called James, anyone who knows someone called James, or anyone who has read this article. Learn more about JamesDAO here.


Moloch has been born, Moloch signifies the start of a family tree, and this family tree is growing faster than we could have dreamed

Within weeks not months we’ve seen these DAOs progress at outstanding rates, with more DAOs being built & used in recent history than the three years since we first talked about this experiment. Now we have started down this path of iteration & innovation there’s no turning back, to me this feels like the start of another large inflection point within the distributed governance space.


Axia Labs has been working with innovators, enterprise & token projects since the company’s inception in 2017. Now, all of our research efforts have become focused around these iterative DAOs, the ideas, and the freedoms that they represent. What we’re witnessing is the vision we were sold on three years ago, just a few forks later than anticipated.

AxiaLabs

Axia Labs help leaders and innovators connect in a meaningful way with blockchain technology & tokenisation. Axia Labs has worked with a wide range of international clients, zeroing in on cryptoeconomics, governance, decentralized architecture and industry best practices.

James Waugh

Written by

Founder of Axia Labs — Axialabs.org

AxiaLabs

AxiaLabs

Axia Labs help leaders and innovators connect in a meaningful way with blockchain technology & tokenisation. Axia Labs has worked with a wide range of international clients, zeroing in on cryptoeconomics, governance, decentralized architecture and industry best practices.

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