DAOstack in 2020

Introducing Collaborative Networks

Ezra Weller
Published in
9 min readJan 8, 2020

At DAOstack, we think that big, working DAOs can happen now and have a positive impact on the world. Building towards that vision in 2019 meant creating a platform where blockchain projects could launch DAOs to manage their ecosystem funds and applications. Over the past year, the platform was used for major DAO launches by projects like Gnosis (dxDAO) and DeversiFi (the upcoming necDAO), resulting in DAOs that have or will have significant budgets and memberships.

2019 also brought technological progress, including better blockchain user experiences, the stabilization of our first frontend application, and the DAOcreator for easy DAO deployment, as well as brand new bottom-up DAOs like the FestDAO, the organization behind the recent global series of DAOfests. These developments lead us to believe that DAOs are finally ready to serve more than just cryptocurrency insiders. As such, we are adding a new focus in 2020: collaborative networks.

Simply, collaborative networks are the combination of social networks and DAOs, and we believe they offer an immediate opportunity to create large, working DAOs. To be more precise, if today’s DAOs are somewhere between decentralized companies and open source projects, collaborative networks push them further towards social networks. The value proposition is simple: social networks are generally limited to conversation and content sharing, and DAOs can conveniently extend their reach with collective fundraising and budgeting. The market of online communities is big, the communities themselves are large, and their focuses are usually clear and concise: a good fit for today’s relatively simple DAOs.

The rest of this post will survey DAOstack’s 2019 progress and 2020 plans, covering both the DAOs and the software, and relating it all to the theme of collaborative networks.

🔙 The DAOs in 2019:

dxDAO, FestDAO, and dHack were born

These three organizations exemplify DAOstack’s success as a platform for DAO founders in 2019: each has shown significant proposing and voting activity, clear purposes and communities that care about them, and impact on real world events, from controlling an application to judging and distributing hackathon prizes to planning 15+ events over three months on three continents. These DAOs are great examples of what the space was capable of in 2019, and I’m personally looking forward to what they do in 2020.

Genesis DAO funded the work

The Genesis DAO is DAOstack’s public-goods engine, aiming to develop and expand the DAOstack ecosystem for the good of the entire DAO space. This year, the DAO continued to grow up to 250+ members, and funded a number of major proposals, including this recent list:

See our summary of earlier Genesis proposals for more.

New DAO founder resources were created

The DAO Canvas is a five-page worksheet for DAO founders looking to model their ideal decentralized organization, no technical blockchain or coding knowledge needed.

The Getting to DAO Guide is a more detailed walkthrough for launching a DAO powered by DAOstack, diving into technical governance parameters, DAO token mechanics, and Reputation distribution.

⏩ The DAOs in 2020:

necDAO will arrive

necDAO is the latest DAO launch in a trend of community funding and application governance DAOs, which includes Genesis, the dxDAO, and the PolkaDAO. The Ethfinex decentralized exchange is now DeversiFi, and necDAO is its “decentralized nerve-centre,” “empower[ing] the community to democratically drive development of the Nectar ecosystem whilst giving people the world-over a new way to pitch and be rewarded for their talents” (Nectar website).

The necDAO Reputation bootstrapping interface, announced here.

In December 2019, the necDAO began its governance bootstrap phase, in which participants gain Reputation in the DAO by locking NEC tokens, bidding GEN tokens, or taking part in the airdrop for NEC holders.

See necDAO’s intro on the DAOtalk forum for more details.

DAOstack will power ETHDenver

DAOstack will have a large presence at ETHDenver 2020, at the hacking and speaking portions of the event, as well as running the largest DAOfest yet in the lead up.

The ETHDenver DAOfest will be an all day event featuring 20+ presentations covering the gamut of DAOs and decentralized governance. Planned alongside the FestDAO, this DAOfest will be the largest since ETHBerlin. RSVP here or watch talks from previous DAOfests here.

The prizes for ETHDenver’s main hackathon track and bounty tracks will be distributed through a dHack this year. This will be by far the largest dHack experiment thus far, with hundreds of expected judges and participants.

ETHDenver itself plans to eventually transition to a DAO, and this dHack is a step on that path.

The DAOstack team
Our team will have a significant presence on the ground at ETHDenver, giving talks and providing support and bounties for hackers. Team members will be presenting collaborative networks, dHack, the software stack, and more: follow DAOstack for more details as they are finalized.

We’ll also have multiple members of the tech team there to help hackers incorporate DAOstack into their projects.

Applications for ETHDenver are open now.

🔙 The Software in 2019:

Alchemy’s first major release reached stability

The path to good user experience in the blockchain space is never smooth, but we’re proud to have reached a stable version of Earth, the first major release of DAOstack’s first user interface, Alchemy. The app currently features fast load times via a subgraph, multi-wallet support, and no major bugs.

(If you had trouble using Alchemy in the past, try it again! We’ve probably fixed the problem.)

The addition of ArcGraph and the stabilization of the entire stack was DAOstack’s major software achievement in 2019. In 2020, the ArcHives, a full version of the DAOcreator Dapp, and many new DAOs will launch, in addition to significant changes to Infra (the iteration of a new holographic consensus voting machine), Arc, and Alchemy.

New governance plugins were added

  • Scheme Registrar: Self-upgradability for DAOs. With this plugin, DAOs can add, remove, and “edit” other plugins via vote, even adding custom plugins they’ve written themselves.
  • Token locking for Reputation: Various plugins that allow tokens to be “locked up” in exchange for Reputation, helping DAOs improve stakeholder representation. Versions of this mechanic were used in the dxDAO staking period, the current necDAO launch, and will be used in Genesis 1.0.
  • Generic DAO actions: a simple scheme that lets DAOs run arbitrary solidity code via passing proposals. This scheme requires smart contract code expertise, but what it lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in flexibility, allowing DAOs to interact with the Ethereum blockchain just as an end user might. necDAO is using generic actions to manage ENS addresses, for example.

The DAOcreator came online

dOrg finished a preliminary version of the first open DAO launcher for the platform, DAOcreator. Anyone can now launch a mainnet DAO powered by DAOstack. A significant upgrade is planned, which will include a brand new user interface and heightened user experience. The full version of the DAOcreator will enable DAOs to be directly listed in the Alchemy application through the use of a curated ArcHives registry, which we discuss below.

⏩ The Software in 2020:

Alchemy Mars will be released

“Alchemy Mars will support the basic collaboration needs of large communities that wish to collaborate on simple and well defined agendas. These needs include creating a community, defining its mission statement, growing it, bottom-up fundraising, making decisions together & facilitating discussion.”

– Alex Zak, DAOstack Product Director

Mars will be the next major release for our governance interface Alchemy following the last additions to the Earth release, such as 3Box profiles and feeds. It represents a big evolution of product goals to match the collaborative networks concept. Mars is still in its planning stages, but as of today, Mars will:

  • Be a mobile-first app, with a browser version to follow
  • Target large communities with simple, well-defined goals (collaborative networks)
  • Broaden the target audience for Alchemy from the crypto-savvy to the crypto-aware through simpler account creation and easier crypto-onramping. We want users to be able to send money to the DAO with a credit card or log-in using Google accounts, for example.
  • Feature new plugins that let communities raise funds from the “bottom up,” without wealthy backers. Think subscriptions or crowdfunding.
  • Support custom plugins in Alchemy’s UI natively by standardizing the way new contributions to the smart contracts display.

This is all subject to change, and more details will come as we finalize Mars’ specification over the next few months.

The backend will be upgraded and simplified

We’re working on upgrading our governance smart contracts to what we’re tentatively calling “Stack 2.0.” Similar to a hard fork, this planned upgrade includes a group of significant changes to our smart contracts, likely to be released simultaneously sometime in 2020:

  • Many Arc contracts will gain improved security and ease of use, as proxy architecture replaces our current universal contract architecture. This change will likely make DAO Controller contracts unnecessary, letting us move their functionality over to the Avatar contract.
  • The Genesis governance protocol will go under a major upgrade, including resolving all currently known attack vectors (such as the “censorship attack”), as well as significant efficiency and resiliency improvements. The latter means more scale and more resilience for lower governance costs.
  • The ArcHives, the DAOstack platform’s registries of DAOs, schemes, and voting machines, will be released and decentralized, to be governed by the Genesis DAO. For instance, users that create a new DAO through the DAOcreator app will be able to submit a proposal to the Genesis DAO to get their DAO registered and displayed within Alchemy.
  • Smart contracts will be deployable with some standard UI information renderable by Alchemy (as noted above)

Note: while DAOs created before Stack 2.0 will not break after this release, they may not be supported by future DAOstack UIs, and plugins between the two versions will likely not be compatible.

DAOstack was created around the principle of innovation at the edges: it’s important for us to make it as easy as possible for other people to contribute to the code base, and we hope these changes will enable more independent contributions in 2020.

More governance plugins will be added

As more DAO use cases emerge on the platform, we expect to see more and more plugins being created as specific needs arise. Here are two examples:

Competition scheme: a contest plugin where the DAO can select and reward the best submissions for a given context. Although it is being custom built for the ETHDenver dHack to use in selecting hackathon winners, we see this plugin being a useful way for many other DAOs. Every DAO will be able to have logo contests, decentralized hackathons, marketing contests, and more.

The competition scheme

DAO-chosen headers: a scheme that lets DAOs customize their own appearance — images, name, headline, mission statements — via proposal. This plugin was funded by proposal by the Genesis DAO. Read the proposal here.

Forging Ahead

Adam presents Collaborative Networks

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2019, but we aim to do more in 2020. We’re creating the tools for collaborative networks to grow with Alchemy Mars and various stack improvements. We hope to see global movements begin to emerge using DAOstack: imagine a DAO that solely onboards new developers to Web3, or the exponential growth of the FestDAO as it activates decentralized communities from the bottom-up all over the globe.

We can all see that the world’s institutions are struggling to meet today’s challenges. Our governments don’t represent us and are stuck in gridlock; our companies neglect their negative externalities and work against the greater good; our non-profits lack accountability and funding. DAOs are one of the most promising opportunities to address these institutional inadequacies. Though still experimental, they offer the chance for better stakeholder representation at scale, bureaucracy reduction, easy participation, and more: we are limited only by the code we can write and the communities we can build. Our vision is about solving these problems, not about tokens or blockchains.

If these challenges resonate with you, please consider participating in the DAO space. Join the Genesis DAO’s community chat, plan a DAOfest in the FestDAO, sign up for a dHack, or found your own DAO.

See you in the new year. 🎆🗓️🎆

Follow DAOstack




Ezra Weller

co-founder of Groupmuse, communicator at DAOstack, M0ZRAT sometimes