The State of DAOs & Governance

On our latest session of the DAO Governance Collective, we had Scott Moore co-founder of gitcoin, for an engaging discussion on the state of  DAOs and Governance. 

Scott begins the session by defining DAOs in his own words as a fund and creating Internet-native communities which allow communities to fund open-source software and other initiatives that benefit their community while also benefiting the broader Web3 ecosystem. DAOs are designed to be grassroots, open, and transparent, ideally operating globally.

Noting that DAOs are still a relatively new concept, with no fundamental governance model for them. While early conversations around DAOs emphasized autonomy or the idea that smart contracts would run and operate everything for the community, it has become clear that this is not necessarily the case. Rather, DAOs require decentralization and agency for individuals within the community to work on things that matter to them while still having control and agency over themselves.

There are a number of different models for DAOs, including those proposed in blog posts by individuals such as Vitalik Buterin and Chris Burniske. However, Scott emphasizes that these models are still theoretical, and the true nature of DAOs will likely continue to evolve as the concept gains more widespread adoption.

Despite the challenges of creating and operating DAOs, Scott believes that they have the potential to revolutionize the way that communities fund and coordinate initiatives. With the ability to operate globally and harness decentralized decision-making power, DAOs could reshape how we organize ourselves and create value in the digital age.

Scott suggests three parts to defining a DAO: identifying the common objective, allocating resources, and considering the internet-native part of the organization. He believes this last part is particularly important as it involves using tools and processes that are unique to the internet and can fundamentally improve organizations.

Scott also discusses the problems with the current democratic system in the US, such as the first-past-the-post system leading to only two parties and the bureaucratic state having unelected authority. He believes that the Web 3.0 fork exit model makes fixing problems faster and creating new systems easier, but notes that the space moves very quickly, making it difficult to slow down and coordinate.

He suggests that creating standards around coordination technology would be useful, pointing to the example of Arbs from Zero Drop and how many people have repeatedly built on Governor Alpha. He also mentions the Meta folks' project on Dow Star, which is trying to build a grant standard. He discusses the different ways to distribute funds, whether participatory, by committee, or directly with one person in control. He concludes that while there has been a lot of momentum in the space, there is still much work to be done to make smart contracts do more of the heavy lifting.

Group Discussion 

Feems brings up an important point about defining DAOs to allow newer DAOs to refer to similar governance designs. Scott agrees that defining a DAO is important but also notes that there can be many different definitions of a DAO. He argues that there are different ways of thinking about organizations and different structures that can be used to fulfill different objectives. For example, cooperatives focus on social stewardship, while companies have a rich history of corporate governance that can be leveraged for best practices and structures.

Overall, the discussion between Feems and Scott highlights the need for clear definitions of DAOs and the potential benefits of incorporating internet-native tools and processes into governance systems. By building upon existing structures and considering new possibilities, DAOs can create more effective and innovative organizations.

Scott Moore emphasizes the need to map different decision-making models to practical implementation details in the conversation. He suggests using a rank choice voting or quadratic voting system for broader population distribution and a private committee model for specific expert opinions. However, he acknowledges that getting people to agree on when and how to implement these models can be challenging.

Where DAO Governance Collective can help

The DAO Governance Collective studies various DAO governance models and shares its insights with the broader ecosystem. They aim to create a comprehensive database of different governance models, their strengths and weaknesses, and their applications in various decentralized organizations. By doing so, they aim to help other DAOs make more informed decisions regarding their governance models. DAO Governance Collective is run by a group of experts in the field who have experience in developing and managing DAOs. They organize events, webinars, and workshops to educate and engage the community and share their knowledge and insights. Their mission is to foster a more transparent and inclusive DAO ecosystem that empowers individuals to participate in decentralized decision-making.

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