The ADAO Whitepaper

Sean Blagsvedt
Published in
8 min readOct 5, 2017


The ADAO is a cryptocurrency-based philanthropy fund that supports creatives who leverage technology to advance the SDGs. The ADAO is an acronym for The Altruistic Democratic Autonomous Organization. It will issue its own currency — adacoins — with social values built into it.

The ADAO is a cryptocurrency, philanthropy fund & equity fabric for cultural and social revolutionaries

How does it work?

A significant share of the currency will form an endowment to support SDG focused artists and social organizations worldwide, with governance and decisions over who gets funded controlled by the community of adacoin holders via Ethereum smart contracts.

To raise funds, we will accept donations in other crypto-currencies directly such as ETH and Bitcoin. The ADAO organization will help aid recipients navigate local jurisdiction issues such that they can legally and efficiently convert crypto-donations into local currencies. We will also encourage everyone, but especially artists, developers and social organizations to accept payments in ada coins and to provide services and artifacts that can be bought in ada coins. In doing so, we will fund the greatest democratically governed social/art endowment fund in the world and ultimately monetarily encourage acts of social value.


We are all people with stories and hence, here’s the portion of ours that explains why we believe The ADAO is so important.

“If only we didn’t have to worry about paying the rent.”

Archana Prasad and Freeman Murray created in 2008 as a community space for techies and artists to come together in an easily accessible, open space. Jaaga was an amazing, crazy space built on an empty lot with industrial shelving material and hosting hundreds of events of performance and visual arts, random hacks of kindness and startup kids. One day in 2010, folks got in touch from the BitFilm festival and said they wanted to host a festival at our space. They encouraged us to be paid our Rs 30,000 / $500 fee in bitcoin but given it was banned in India at the time and we had real expenses to pay, we asked for our fee in cash. We were also uncomfortable being a part of a currency whose most prominent users appeared to drug and arms dealers operating on the Silk Road. Given BitCoin was trading at $10 at the time and and it now trades around $2000, we would have had $100,000 had we simply kept the fee in bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies may get HUGE

In June 2017, we spoke to the Head of Innovation at one of the largest retailers in America. His quote, “The only thing that all of us at Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc have ever agreed on is we need to move to ethereum-backed crypto-currency to avoid the banks’ vig when paying converting between the yuan and dollar.”

A Digital Tulip Market

Since January of 2017, the value of BitCoin, the most popular crypto-currency has risen 10 times, while ethereum, the second most popular currency has risen 30 times.

Why do we need The ADAO?

The Problems Worth Solving

The artists and do-gooders never control the money. We need to re-capture the upside in money from the speculators and the banks. It’s high time that artists and social entrepreneurs controlled some of the money.

International transfers suck. There’s no reason we need to pay 1–3% to the banks to switch money among currencies when transferring it overseas. Hence, crypto-currencies are useful to lots of people and organizations given how easily they can be used to transfer money. Hence, now that people have a choice of which currency to use, we believe an important unanswered question is — which currency one aligns best with your values?

There’s no opposite of a Blood Diamond, yet. Money does not compel our positive normative social values and yet, we know there are forms of currency and value that continue terrible practices. There’s no form of currency that represents the best of us, yet.

Who gets funded in the arts and social space is not democratic or collaborative. Projects with artistic and/or social merit are almost by definition not determine efficiently by the market and hence, it’s usually governments, donors or patrons that decide who gets funded. Normal people rarely get a seat at the table regarding what art or social projects get funded, even though their tax dollars are usually paying for it.

Crypto-currencies missed a massive opportunity. Ethereum and BitCoin are now worth roughly $40 bn each. At the time of their creation, their founders could have set 1–5% of tokens for social-related work (beyond the foundations dedicated to continuing their technical missions). If they had, they would have created some of richest philanthropic funds in the world.

Our Vision

What do we want to accomplish?

  • To Take Back Crypto-currency and money itself for
  • Creativity = Wealth

Currency is a Choice of:

  • Ethics
  • Models
  • Value Alignment
  • A sustainable future
  • Politics

We are the opposite of Blood Diamonds

SDGs are the key and Creatives need to take them forward and should be incentivized to do so.

Art and Socially Beneficially works are Powerful and Important

It’s vital that the mechanisms of how these activities — which are notoriously under-funded by pure market dynamics — are funded have democratic decision making processes.

How we’ll run The ADAO

How do we take in money?

  • ICO for Initial Endowment
  • Organizations make donations to us in the form of later equity buys.
  • Encourage ICOs and Cryto-rich individuals to earmark a percentage of their crypto assets to The ADAO to support cultural projects.

How will we pick projects to fund?

Voting shareholders get to choose what we fund.

We will force ourselves to give away a portion (likely ~1%) of our fund every quarter.

Our governance philosophy:

  • We explicit believe that balanced systems of distributed power are important. We are not ideological about curation — Great ideas come from the crowd but sometimes really stupid ones become popular too and the hackers can hack them. Hence, we take inspiration from stable governments worldwide that balance pure democratic representation with constraining institutions. E.g. England is run by a democratically elected parliament but chooses a PM that must have tea with the head of the monarchy every week by law.
  • We believe culture should be deliberative and at times slow — especially when it comes to money; we never want a situation when a hostile take-over can occur in hours and hence, will institute easy-to-activate and likely non-democratic veto powers to fast depletion.

What Services Will We Provide?

  • Looking to our own experience with Jaaga, most social organizations have very little knowledge of crypto currencies.
  • Cultural, social orgs and NGOs always have immediate needs — aka cash that needs to be paid yesterday in a local currency and are subject to a highly unequal relationship with the state, who can legislate them out of existence at any point (e.g. Greenpeace in India).
  • Hence, we will provide guidance and help to local organizations regarding how to accept crypto-currency donations, turn those donations in real cash on the ground while remaining legally compliant in their local jurisdictions. This is an expensive proposition requiring local lawyers for each country of operation and the lack of such prevents social orgs from accepting crypto-currency based donations.
  • This practical advice around how to easily cash-in and cash-out while remaining legally compliant will be provided as an information service on the web, with experiences drawn from the organizations we fund.

Who is our target donor market?

Billions in Ether have been created, much of it held by the creators of crypto-currencies and startup founders in ICOs. Many want to donate a portion of the riches they have earned, but cannot or are not willing to to convert their holdings into traditional currencies. Hence, we fill a market need for people who are crypto-currency rich to transfer their wealth to social causes.

What can you do to help and why should you?

By joining The ADAO (aka buying an ada coin), you will:

  • Join a community of people who believe that money should have normative meaning and technology and decentralization can be used to make a better world
  • Positively Impact the Future
  • Fund Creatives, Artists and Social Organizations that will positively change the Future.
  • Get Funded. Only token holders of The ADAO may submit projects to be funded by the ADAO.
  • Nominate your friends, organizations and artists for funding.


Our Team

Sean Blagsvedt

Sean is the Founder of Babajob, acquired by Quikr in 2017. Previously, Sean was the 3rd founding member of Microsoft Research India and worked as a White House intern with President Clinton’s Internet Policy Czar, Ira Magaziner. Sean is a TED Fellow, GES 2016 Entrepreneur, Unreasonable Goals Entrepreneur and recipient of the Namma Bengaluru award for Best Foreign Resident. He holds degrees in Computer Science and Public Policy from Brown University.

Archana Prasad

Archana is Founder Director of, a Chevening Fellow of the UK’s Clore Leadership Program and an Art Think South Asia Fellow. The Times of India selected her as a future cultural leader of Bangalore and Time Out featured her as a prime contributor to the city’s cultural landscape. She holds a dual Masters in Art History from CKP, Bangalore and Design from NID, Ahmedabad. She previously worked as a Design Researcher at Microsoft Research India.

Tej Pochiraju

Tej is CEO of Jaaga Sustain, Director of Jaaga Startup and brings experience of new product development, R&D and a curiosity for new technologies to The ADAO. Building upon experience of working with over 100 companies in 20+ countries across the globe he now runs a lean wireless research and design studio, micrograce, from Jaaga.

Freeman Murray

Founder Director of Jaaga Study. President of Code for India. Freeman has worked with technology startups for the past 15 years in India and the USA as an engineer, entrepreneur, angel and mentor. In the US, he worked with the first internet music startup while still in college, worked in the original Java group at Sun Microsystems, founded his own technology company and sold it two years later to Excite at Home. In India, Freeman has managed offshore development efforts and ran an incubation program at IIM Ahmedabad before moving over to Bangalore in 2009 to set up Jaaga.

The ADAO Token and Economics

Coming Soon


The Influencing DAO

The ADAO is a new way to imagine a philanthropic organization and it is directly inspired by The DAO, a new way to think about running an organization autonomously, proposed in 2013 by Slock.It.

Sadly, TheDAO got hacked but it had a number of great ideas that we are directly stealing.

The idea of the democratic fund is a good one — shareholders have the right — embedded in their currency — to vote on which projects they want to fund.

Shareholders can get back their unspent token at any time. E.g. Un-allocated currency can be redeemed back into ETH at any time, protecting donors.


A long time ago, in the early 1800’s a young girl named Ada with a brilliant but wayward father Lord Byron, studied mathematics and dreamed of a steam-powered flying horse. She sadly become very ill — losing her sight for a time and was unable to walk for 3 years — but her mother, a mathematician studied with her constantly. As she blossomed out of adolescence and into health once again, she befriended Babbage and created the world’s first programming language inspired by a system using punch-cards developed to input patterns in power looms by Jacquard. We are indebted to the incredible vision she foretold.



Sean Blagsvedt

CEO, Founder of Previously Marco Polo and MSFT. Dad. Believer in Tech for Good.