Bootstrapping Decentralized Governance: The HOPR Genesis DAO

Dr. Sebastian Bürgel
Published in
8 min readFeb 9, 2021


We’ve been hinting at big things surrounding our mainnet launch for the past month, and now that our Titlis testnet is ended, we can finally reveal what we’ve been planning!

Introducing: The HOPR Genesis DAO, a major governance experiment that will launch the HOPR token!

The Genesis DAO will be responsible for the first public distribution of the HOPR token, a massive 85 million tokens. Most importantly, participation in the DAO will be restricted to you, our wonderful HOPR community, as a reward for all your hard work.

In the spirit of Swiss referendums, the DAO will collect proposals for how best to distribute these tokens for the good of the project and then everyone will vote for the best one.

The HOPR Genesis DAO

HOPR is committed to decentralized, community-enabling governance, and where better to start showing that commitment than with the launch of our token?

The HOPR Genesis DAO will have complete responsibility over the HOPR tokens in our Public Launch Allocation. This is 8.5% of the total supply, or 85 million tokens.

If you’ve participated in one of our incentivized testnets and submitted an Ethereum address, you’ll automatically* be signed up to participate in the DAO in exchange for your hard work. Participants in the Genesis DAO can submit a proposal for how the 85m tokens should best be distributed to support the long-term health of the HOPR project, and vote on which proposal will eventually be adopted.

This is a true community decision, so the HOPR Association is trying to be as hands-off as possible, beyond setting up the tools to make this possible. However, there are a few caveats:

First, and most importantly. This is NOT a sale. The HOPR Association is not selling any tokens, and will not directly benefit from the token distribution. These tokens have been transferred to the DAO as compensation for the work performed by DAO participants during our various incentivized testnets.

Second, this is NOT an airdrop. Community members who participated in our incentivized testnets will determine the mechanism for distributing the tokens in the Public Launch Allocation. 2020 saw a lot of experimentation in DeFi with projects showering tokens on users of their network. Despite the huge wave of excitement this generated, it hasn’t translated into engagement or stability gains. We can do better.

Third, the proposals must be legal, and must abide by the HOPR Association’s Articles of Association and code of conduct.

Beyond those small restrictions, the world is your oyster. We trust the DAO to do what’s right for the long-term health of the project. This is one of the main reasons why we’ve restricted participation to community members who joined our previous incentivized testnets: Säntis, both versions of Basòdino, and Titlis. These users have shown their commitment to HOPR by testing the protocol. We hope this will avoid the pitfalls encountered by other projects, where short-term economic interest has trumped far-sighted investment.

(*If you would like to opt out, please contact one of our ambassadors in Telegram or HOPR. Opting out of the HOPR Genesis DAO won’t affect your other testnet rewards.)

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who has contributed by participating in a previous HOPR incentivized testnet and submitted a valid Ethereum address will automatically be able to participate in the HOPR Genesis DAO. You will use this address to cryptographically sign proposal submissions and votes. You can make multiple proposals, but participation is restricted to one address per person.

What Happens Next?

The process will be as follows:

The HOPR Genesis DAO is online now, hosted on xDAI Chain. Proposals should be submitted to the HOPR Genesis DAO Snapshot page, where other community members can register their approval.

However, instead of jumping right in, we encourage community members to first discuss and refine ideas for proposals. Like a real-life Swiss referendum, it’s important to gather support for the proposal you support. We’ll be setting up a board on our forums for this purpose.

We’re trying to have as few constraints as possible, but proposals should meet a few criteria:

  1. The proposal should fully comply with HOPR Association’s Articles of Association and all applicable laws.
  2. Proposals should directly or indirectly support the growth of the HOPR project and its ecosystem.
  3. At this stage, the proposal must contain exactly two choices: “Support” and “Reject”. This is used for other DAO participants to sign your proposal.
Example of a valid token distribution proposal on — the proposal details the process, contains a link for discussions to the HOPR forum and contains the two choices “Support” and “Reject”.

You can support a submitted proposal by visiting the Snapshot page. You’ll need to connect the wallet associated with your registered Ethereum address, but the process is free. (You’re just signing messages, not making on-chain transactions.)

This is a signature gathering exercise to see which proposals should proceed to the next round. It’s not a vote on the proposals themselves. If you don’t support a particular proposal at this stage, just ignore it. You can support multiple proposals.

In keeping with our Swiss roots, we’re loosely following the process adopted in Swiss referendums, translated to code. At least 3% of all voting participants in the DAO must support a proposal for it to be confirmed. Once three proposals cross this 3% threshold (or after 48 hours, whichever occurs first) proposal submission will be closed.

Given the level of engagement in our community, we’re expecting this threshold to be reached quickly.

DAO participants will then be asked to choose between the three selected proposals in a proposal that will be posted by HOPR Association from address 0x8f7a2AbbC8741572427e3426538cD516A41102f3. At this stage you should vote for which specific proposal(s) you support to be enacted. The proposal with the greatest net support after a 24hr voting period will be enacted.

Is the Genesis DAO Running on Ethereum?

No. As you may have noticed, gas prices are currently enormous! So the Genesis DAO has been set up on xDAI Chain, which community members may remember from our first incentivized testnet, Säntis. You don’t need xDAI to participate, and your address will be the same. You can check whether you qualified to participate here.

Does the Genesis DAO Use HOPR Tokens?

No. The Genesis DAO does technically have a token, gHOP, but it’s just used to make the DAO work. Every participant has already received exactly 1 gHOP token, which has zero value, cannot be transferred, and is just used as a way to whitelist participants. Since the Genesis DAO is responsible for deciding the mechanism for the first public distribution of HOPR tokens, it wouldn’t make sense for the DAO itself to run on HOPR tokens.

You can see the gHOP token smart contract on the xDAI blockchain at address 0x67E9540b33f8d8c07169bccA3F1b8f5e6cF6f9F3. You can check if you are in the HOPR Genesis DAO by entering your Ethereum address on

If you can’t see your gHOP token, remember you will need to switch your wallet to xDAI to see it. Instructions (for Metamask) can be found here.

You can also check whether you have a token by plugging your address into the widget found here.

Will I Still Get HOPR Tokens for Participating in Testnets?

Of course! This is completely separate from the tokens everyone has been earning during our incentivized testnets. Once the mainnet launches, these tokens will be distributed by the HOPR Association.

When Will Mainnet and the Token Launch?

This will depend on the decision made by the Genesis DAO, and the timeline the DAO sets. Our smart contracts have been audited and are ready to go, so we’re ready to launch whenever the DAO decides.

I hope now it’s clear why we’ve had to be so evasive in our answers to questions like “Wen token?” and “Wen mainnet?” It’s not that we’re keeping information back — we genuinely don’t know! The specifics of how and when the token will be released will be decided by the Genesis DAO, and mainnet will launch at a time which works best with this decision.

So Whatever the Genesis DAO Proposes, You’ll Do?

Yes! One small downside of Snapshot is that the process can’t be automated, so you will have to trust that the winning proposal will be implemented. This is a small weakness; however, it will be trivial to check whether this happened or not, and the reputational damage of NOT following through on what the DAO proposes would be very high. We feel this more than outweighs the downsides of choosing an automated system, which in the current market could very well cost each DAO participant hundreds of dollars in gas fees. Snapshot is gasless for voting and making a proposal, so the process will be free.

I Missed The Testnets. Can I Still Join the DAO? I’ll Pay!

Sorry, no. This would probably be illegal, as the tokens in the Public Launch Allocation have been given in exchange for work done during the incentivized testnets.

Even if it was legal, we still wouldn’t allow it. One of the biggest issues faced by DeFi and crypto in general is people just buying their way into positions of control. That’s why we deliberately kept this launch event a secret and restricted participation to people who had shown an interest in the HOPR protocol, rather than just the token.

I Thought the HOPR DAO was Open to all HOPR Token Holders?

It will be. The HOPR Genesis DAO is NOT the final HOPR DAO described in the Book of HOPR. It’s a one-function DAO tasked with distributing the 85 million HOPR tokens in the Public Launch Allocation, and nothing else. The true HOPR DAO will come later in 2021, will be implemented in stages, and will indeed be open to all HOPR token holders. The HOPR DAO will have mechanisms in place to mitigate the “whale” issue and ensure power is distributed optimally.

Isn’t This A Major Risk?

Perhaps, but it’s important for us to show that our commitment to decentralization is real, and not just empty words. I can’t tell you how excited we are about this experiment. It’s a major responsibility, but I’m sure our wonderful community is up to the challenge.

If you want to learn more or have any further questions, I’ll be hosting a live event discussing the HOPR Genesis DAO at 16:30 CET on Wednesday February 10th, on airmeet. Use this link to participate, and follow the HOPR Telegram channel for more details.

Sebastian Bürgel,
HOPR Founder



Dr. Sebastian Bürgel

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