Moloch—2019 Year in Review
Prepared by Cooper Turley
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money!
This past year has marked the rise of decentralized autonomous organizations, largely due to the deployment of the Moloch framework and the leadership of the Moloch members. With 20+ grants dispensed to the tune of over $285,000 we’re excited to share a recap of all the progress made since our summoning.
Since the launch of Moloch DAO, we’ve seen over $1M (7,000+ ETH) in contributions from some of Ethereum’s largest companies and community members and 8 funded Moloch forks. The collaboration among these entities to fund Ethereum public goods infrastructure has demonstrated the value of using DAOs to facilitate positive social coordination.
Moloch now consists of over 75 unique members from over 20 countries who have voted on 100+ proposals. As we continue to get closer to Phase 0 of ETH 2.0, Moloch continues to serve as a foundational building block for the advancement of Ethereum scalability. We will also continue to support the Ethereum ecosystem as a whole.
In this article, we’ll be diving into:
- Key Highlights from 2019
- Review of 2019 Grants
- Member Testimonials
- Goals for 2020
We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get right into it!
“We didn’t set out to build a DAO company, we built a DAO to do what we wanted.” — Ameen Soleimani, Summoner
Moloch DAO was started as a grassroots side project focused on creating a Minimum Viable DAO. For those of us who were around during the rise and fall of The DAO, it was easy to see how complexity ended up becoming the Achilles heel of what was at the time a truly novel development.
With Moloch, we aimed to remove that complexity while maintaining shareholder sovereignty through the introduction of post-vote grace periods and the ragequit — a mechanism to allow members to remove funds from the DAO before their funds are spent on any passing proposals.
Moloch went on to achieve a great degree of memetic success, inspiring many to read Meditations on Moloch and understand the nature of the coordination problems that Moloch was designed to help us overcome.
Here’s a recap on some of our biggest highlights from the past year:
- Moloch DAO was officially launched on Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th) at ETHDenver 2019
- The launch was preceded the publication of our official whitepaper and our audit report
- Within the first two weeks, we received 2,100 ETH as tributes
- On Feb 26th, we issued our first proposal for Kyokan’s The State of ETH 2.0 Report
- In early March, the official Moloch website was launched
- On March 19th, Ameen discussed MolochDAO: Could This Decentralized Autonomous Organization Help Ethereum Scale Faster? on the Unchained Podcast
- In late March, we opened summons to the public and funded our first grant
- On April 1st, we received tributes from some of the industry’s most notable VC funds — bringing the Guild Bank to over $300k in value
- In early May, MetaCartel marked the first fork of Moloch
- In mid May, Vitalik Buterin, Joe Lubin, the Ethereum Foundation and Consensys posted 1,000 ETH tributes — bringing the Guild Bank to over $1M in value
- In August, the grant for YangDAO passed — marking the completion of one of our more contentious votes
- In August, OrochiDAO forked Moloch to fund DevCon events
- In August, Moloch integrated 3Box for identity and The Graph for efficient data querying
- In August, Daohaus launched — allowing anyone to quickly deploy a Moloch fork in under 5 minutes!
- In September at ETHBerlin, Mariano Conti built SelloutDAO and Santiago Siri transparently bribed his way into Moloch
- In September, we launched a public discourse for discussions on all things Moloch!
- In October, we hosted a *Year of the DAOs* meetup at DevCon in Osaka
- In November, Marketing DAO forks Moloch to fund Ethereum marketing efforts
- In November Democracy Earth announces a new client for MolochDAOs plus a Quadratic Voting fork
- In December, MetaCartel published the Venture DAO Whitepaper which uses the new Moloch v2 contracts to operate a for-profit DAO
2019 in 4 Tweets
We’re only just getting started, so with these updates in mind let’s take a look at what Moloch actually funded in 2019.
Moloch Grant Summary
Moloch issued roughly $285k worth of grants that were largely split between different forms of Ethereum development, Moloch improvements and a couple miscellaneous proposals. Here’s a look at how it stacked up:
Let’s get more granular.
ETH 2 Development
- $40k to Sigma Prime for an external ETH 2 Lighthouse security audit
- $30k to Team Lodestar for essential ETH 2 tooling in Typescript and AssemblyScript
- $30k to NodeFactory for a desktop ETH 2 Validator Client GUI
- $27k issued to Kyokan for ETH 2 development and the State of ETH 2.0 reports
- $15k to Antoine Toulme for the creation of an ETH 2 Runner
Total: ~$144,000 (50% of total grants)
- $40k to the Tornado Cash team for prior and future work deploying their Ethereum Mixer
- $20k to BlockX to develop a web interface for the Hopper Mixer
- $19k to Arjun Bhuptani for a Connext/Magmo State Channels Audit
- $4.2k to Noah Marconi for an Open Grants Standard (code)
- $3k to Kevin Owocki for the creation of Ethereum Community Career Fairs — Application Alliance
- $3k to the Ethereum Cat Herders for Ethereum development note taking
- $2.5k to Trent Van Epps for the State of Mixers Report
- $2k to Koh Wei Jie for the coordination of the Hopper Mixer work
Total: ~$93,700 (32% of total grants)
- $15k to Ven Gist for Moloch v1 & v2 UI development
- $6.125k to BlockRocket for Moloch v2 Unit Testing
- $5k to Marshal Web of The Secured Path for a MolochDAO.com site audit
- $4k to Nomic Labs for auditing Moloch smart contracts
- $4k to Rahul Sethuram for MolochDAO.com development
- $2.4k to Eva Beylin for Moloch operations
- $2.4k to Peter Pan for Moloch operations
- $1.35k to OrochiDAO for Year of The DAO: Moloch Rises DevCon event
Total: ~$40,275 (14% of total grants)
- $7.5k to Dr. Damien Zufferey for financial aid towards 5 VMCAI students
- $3.5k for the launch, leadership, development, project management and design of YangDAO
Total: $11,000 (4% of total grants)
As you can tell, Moloch was pretty active across a number of initiatives within the Ethereum ecosystem. While the size of grants tended to range, it was clear that our mission to fund Ethereum development was a success.
Now that you’ve got an understanding of the big picture, we thought you’d enjoy a couple testimonials from some of our larger grant recipients and members about what the Moloch process was like for them.
Matthew Slipper — Kyokan (Grant Recipient)
It was fascinating to watch Moloch itself go from an idea, to a smart contract, to a real grant-giving autonomous organization with meaningful money. Upon receiving our grant(s), we had to learn — and in many cases, invent — the social norms around being a good DAO shareholder.
Getting Vitalik and Joe Lubin on board was huge. DAOs have always been marketed as “experiments” so having them on board was a tremendous vote of confidence and gave credence to the idea that Moloch could have a meaningful impact on the space. I don’t think the other Moloch forks would have happened were it not for this vote of confidence, so major kudos to Ameen for putting in the legwork to make it happen.
Roman Storm — Tornado Cash (Grant Recipient)
Our grant process was a bit different from most. When we first applied, we actually got rejected. My team and I took this as a challenge and went ahead to ship Tornado Cash anyways. In Moloch, there’s a really strong community watching you. Once you say you’re going to do something, it feels like your reputation is on the line to get it done.
After we shipped, I went back and applied for a retroactive grant which was much easier to pass since members could see what we had actually delivered. The grant process itself was quite easy and the DAO was very lax in the progress we had made.
Basically, when you know that high profile people like Vitalik are watching what happens with Moloch grants, it’s super motivating to deliver something of value.
Medhi Zerouali — Sigma Prime (Grant Recipient)
When we applied for the grant, Lighthouse was already a well-established project, leading the ETH2 development charge. External audits are extremely important so the question became — where do we get the funding to cover this?
We first had a chat with Ameen at ETHBerlin where we explained the current state of the project and our intention of submitting a proposal. Ameen was very supportive and helpful in explaining the process. A few weeks later, I posted a formal proposal in the Moloch Discord and 10 days later, Mariano Conti reached out to champion it.
The idea of MolochDAO returning to its roots by supporting ETH2 efforts was quite exciting to him. We had a lovely chat where I answered a few questions on Lighthouse and Sigma Prime. A few days later, the proposal was up and passed with 568 Yes votes and 0 No votes!
The conversations in Moloch’s Discord were also quite useful for staying informed with the latest developments in the space. I haven’t been participating much, but the discussions have always been interesting to read.
Santiago Siri — Democracy Earth (Contributing Member)
Two great virtues of the MolochDAO project are its legitimacy and simplicity. It was genuinely born out of the need to address conflicting interests in the Ethereum community and quickly hacked at one of the many hackathons held by the ecosystem — a legacy corporation or a foundation could never achieve a trustworthy creation of something like this. Built with just 400 lines of Solidity code and being pushed to Github with an uppercase “STEAL THIS CODE” first-liner that invited the community take it and run with it, Moloch’s approach in itself illustrates the power Ethereum has for creating borderless digital organizations.
Mariano Conti—MakerDAO (Contributing Member)
When I heard about MolochDAO I knew I had to join. A group of individuals pooling resources towards the common good of Ethereum? Yes please! Overcoming the tragedy of the commons with smart contracts? Sign me up!
In the end MolochDAO turned out to be so much more. A movement that spawned new DAOs, a conversation starter for who should give back and how much, and yes, a chance to discuss bribery and corruption in new systems.
My wish for 2020 is to involve myself more with MolochDAO, to bring new members and to find projects worth funding.
Points to Consider
With Moloch’s framework, we aimed to streamline grants in order to get value-adding developments funded faster. We quickly saw that a great deal of the value of Moloch was in the community itself, beyond the actual funding.
Moloch became a place for anyone serious about Ethereum ecosystem development to turn to for feedback and encouragement. The discussions in Discord prompted brainstorming around Ethereum’s most pressing needs (like a privacy mixer or ETH2 validator interface) and our collective network allowed us to find the best people to get the job done.
Towards the end of the year, we conducted a membership survey to see how Moloch was doing. Questions ranged from reflections on where Moloch could be improved to temperate questions on the DAO’s funding focus along with governance and what can be done to improve general procedures.
The majority of Moloch members trust that other members will make decisions aligned with the DAO. This is where ragequit has proven to work as a social coordination mechanism. There’s always a fear that others will ragequit, so members won’t propose and pass grants that are too contentious.
In terms of funding focus, ETH 2.0 was Moloch’s initial mandate and continues to be a focus. Take a look at the Appendix to see more granular results about future funding areas.
With this is mind, it’s obvious that Ethereum development will remain the core focus for Moloch grants in 2020. If anything, it’s refreshing to hear that our members are open to funding a wider range of proposals in the future, signaling that Moloch’s impact on the space is only just getting started. Areas we’re interested in supporting include privacy, scalability, dApp development, economic and security audits, and social coordination efforts. Overall, Moloch is here to help solve the most immediate problems.
In tandem with our year-end survey, some of the larger items discussed on a reflection call focused on what Moloch has done well (Moloch as a Meme, Driving ETH 2.0, Funding, Membership & Coordination and Restarting DAOs in Ethereum) along with what we can improve on (encouraging higher voter turnout).
Moving forward, our goals for 2020 include:
- Continuing to fund Ethereum ecosystem development
- Growing the number of Moloch shareholders and Guild Bank value
- Enhanced communication with all notable Ethereum parties
- Optimizing tooling for onboarding and participation
- General DAO ecosystem support
Through a collaborative effort between MetaCartel, ConsenSys’s The LAO, and Moloch, the Moloch v2 contract standard was designed in order to support legally compliant for-profit instantiations, as well as fixing some of the rough edges in Moloch v1 when used for grants.
The few new features are covered in depth in the Moloch v2 Changelog, but the most important are multi-token support and guild kick. Multi-token support allows the DAO to acquire and spend (or invest in) an unlimited portfolio of assets. Guild kick allows members to vote to remove members which is especially important if a member presents a risk to the DAO’s legal compliance.
Two weeks ago and to much fanfare, MetaCartel announced the Venture DAO and published their Whitepaper. Venture DAO is expected to be the first deployment of Moloch v2 and blaze the trail for other for-profit DAOs to follow.
Moloch Wants YOU!
We’re constantly seeking new members to aide in the advancement of Ethereum and would love to have you make a case for what should be funded next. If one thing is for sure, 2020 is shaping up to be Ethereum’s most important year to date, and we couldn’t be more excited to help it grow with critical grants to the industry’s most talented and hard-working individuals.
We thank you all for your sacrifices. If you or anyone you know are interested in learning more about Moloch, please follow us on Twitter.
Last but not least, we’d like to thank our contributing members, Vitalik Buterin, Joseph Lubin, the Ethereum Foundation, and ConsenSys, for their support in making this all possible.
Moloch Survey Results — Funding Focus