Toward an Open-Access Service DAO

At PubDAO, an early-stage media service DAO, we’ve been working to develop what could be called an open-access business model. Instead of devising practices, methods and techniques behind closed doors and keeping them there, we are engineering them to not only survive in public, but actually benefit from such accessibility.

Of course, it is worth emphasizing that we - and the service DAO space at large - are still getting a footing, in terms of squaring the ethos of DAOs with the imperatives of viable business models. The best practices have not yet been determined, and thus it is yet to be seen whether such practices abide by the values characteristic of web3, such as transparency and distributed power.

This publication, itself being a pilot of the sort of serial content we’d like PubDAO to incubate, will highlight some of the experimental and decentralized business practices being explored by service DAOs. This issue in particular will focus on an example of such an approach to business development.

At this stage, we are building PubDAO one piece at a time. In order to attract the demand (clients seeking content) and supply (freelance content creators) necessary to impose service fees to fund the eventual DAO treasury, we are initially imposing minimal friction within such a delicate market. That is, we are building out a free, basic “layer” to our business model in which no service fees are imposed, but we are also engineering this layer with an eventual premium layer in mind.

In this free layer, we onboard clients onto the PubDAO Dework base, we give them managerial access to a “space” within our base, and we enable them to post written content tasks for PubDAO writers to claim.

Our approach to this decentralized “content-as-a-service” model has undergone multiple reorientations. Over the course of a few weeks, we’ve found that this approach successfully results in clients being able to source content from writers.

Now, as a business developer, I meet with prospective clients, and I communicate to them that we are at an experimental stage, and that as a result PubDAO will not impose service fees, but will freely facilitate between client and creator. But if PubDAO is to be as decentralized as we’d like it to be, not only does a business developer in my position need to figure out how to get content into the hands of clients, but also how to systematize this practice in such a way that other PubDAO business developers can follow suit.

Ideally, we can devise a sustainable business model, identify the key functions which need to be fulfilled to maintain this model, systematize roles for people to fulfill these functions, and publish guides to help onboard people into these roles. Such, in my mind, would amount to an open-access business model. In the example of onboarding business developers, we could have newcomers “shadow” those with more experience, by attending client calls and standing meetings, until they have enough of an intuition to independently go about facilitating interactions between clients and content creators.

Even with a solid onboarding process, these client/creator mediators - whom we are calling “operators” at the moment - need some remuneration for such a decentralized business model to scale. Right now, as we are developing the basic service layer, and as we are in our pre-DAO phase, content creators get paid directly from clients, and clients do not pay any service fees to PubDAO. Thus, there is not yet an established revenue stream to direct to operators.

Once we have worked out a reliable rhythm for sourcing content for clients in a decentralized self-service manner, then we can start leveraging this content market-making capability to attract clients to a premium service, where PubDAO would be imposing service fees. One such eventual distinction between the basic service and the premium service, would be that the former is primarily a self-service model, while the latter has operators helping clients source quality content. At this point, launching the DAO itself becomes a more tenable prospect, seeing as we’d have service fees to start funding the PubDAO treasury.

Hopefully, PubDAO’s business development journey so far, as described above, helps to convey some of the challenges and opportunities faced by service DAOs. In our case, not only have we passed through our share of nomenclature and neologisms, but the actual processes themselves have been in flux. In this sense, PubDAO has been a truly grassroots experiment in business development, and this series of entries seeks to provide an outlet for us to comment on the lessons we learn, as we learn them.

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