Everything you need to know about DAOs and the different purpose they serve.
What Is a DAO?
As DAOs are built onto public blockchains, they are open source. Anyone can inspect their treasuries as all financial transactions are stored on the blockchain.
In a 2014 blog post, Vitalik Buterin described DAOs as follows:
“Instead of a hierarchical structure managed by a set of humans interacting in person and controlling property via the legal system, a decentralized organization involves a set of humans interacting with each other according to a protocol specified in code, and enforced on the blockchain.”
By giving every community member a say in how they function, DAOs democratize organizational decision making in a way that publicly traded companies like Amazon or Google simply can’t.
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How Do DAOs Work?
Conversely, centralized organizations like Amazon host board meetings where shareholders vote on crucial decisions and the direction of the company. The CEO then ensures the decisions are carried out.
But in a DAO, there are no CEOs, nor is there a rigid hierarchy.
Every DAO token holder can submit changes, hold votes and influence the DAOs direction merely by holding tokens. The more tokens you hold — the more votes, and therefore influence — you have over the DAO.
When a change to the code or a new feature is approved through a vote, the DAO changes immediately. This allows code to carry out routine operations like hiring and firing for which centralised organisations need people.
Why Do DAOs Deserve our Attention?
DAOs offer entrepreneurs and innovators numerous long and short-term benefits that a traditional corporate structure cannot.
By carrying out business operations autonomously through smart contracts, DAOs are trustless. They don’t require you to put your faith in an individual or a boardroom of directors. Should an important developer or manager leave, the DAO will keep going.
DAOs are also censorship-resistant. They cannot be forcibly shut down by anyone, including government or regulatory bodies. Even the DAO’s creators cannot shut it down without the community of governance token holders approving the shutdown through a vote. Nobody can impose their will onto a DAO regardless of their position or authority.
DAOs offer many long-term benefits, too. They allow anyone holding a governance token to partake in the success of the project by contributing to the DAOs mission in a wide range of ways. These could include developing new code or features, fixing bugs, or contributing capital to an investment pool, among many others.
Should DAO creators establish and maintain a strong community culture, rather than focus on creating profits at all costs, they could encourage social incentives and increase participation and contributions from their communities.
Now that you're all caught up in DAOs, we will explore the different verticals of DAOs in the current ecosystem, starting with DAOs in the DeFi space.
There are already hundreds of DeFi protocols built on Ethereum, many of which function as DAOs.
Given the widespread media coverage of the DeFi revolution, it was only a matter of time before DAOs started to garner widespread media attention as well.
Although DAOs are springing up in practically every business vertical, DeFi currently has the highest concentration of DAOs.
This section looks at four of the most popular DeFi DAOs: MakerDAO, Uniswap, AAVE and Compound.
What Makes MakerDAO Important?
To take out a loan through MakerDAO, you first open a Maker collateral vault and deposit some crypto as collateral, for which you’ll receive a corresponding amount of DAI. Your vault is a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain that holds your money collateral in escrow until you return the DAI.
To take out a loan on Maker, you must overcollateralize. This means you must put up more collateral than the value of DAI you want to receive. This might appear strange or even pointless, but the benefit here is that you can exchange a risky asset for a stable asset to protect your downside.
If your collateral’s value drops enough that it no longer covers the amount of DAI on loan, your collateral is automatically liquidated through an auction.
Should the auction fail to generate enough DAI to pay your debt, it becomes “protocol debt”, which is covered by a buffer pool containing the fees generated by the platform. If there isn’t enough Dai in the buffer, the protocol automatically mints new MKR tokens and sells them for DAI to repay the debt.
How Does MakerDAO’s Governance System Work?
Anyone with an Ethereum address can submit a proposal to change the protocol, but only MKR governance token holders can vote on new proposals. Holders can vote on a variety of platform changes, such as:
- Adding new assets for users to put up as collateral
- Changing the risk parameters of existing collateral loans
- Choosing emergency oracles.
Maker’s emergency oracles are hand-picked by MKR holders. They can trigger emergency shutdowns to protect the protocol from attacks.
What Makes Uniswap Important?
There’s no registration required and no third party watching over the markets and individual transactions. As soon as you link your wallet to the platform, you’re ready to trade.
How Does Uniswap DAO's Governance System Work?
By holding UNI tokens, you can vote on proposed changes to the protocol. Token holders who don’t wish to submit proposals or vote on proposals submitted by others can delegate their tokens to other users.
Once a change is proposed, the community deliberates and vote on it for 3 days. If at least four million votes are cast, and a majority votes in favour of the change, the proposal is placed in a time lock for two days before being executed.
Some upgrades, like changes to the risk system, are subject to a longer 30-day delay as a failsafe feature.
What Makes Aave Important?
Like MakerDAO and Uniswap, AAVE requires you to put up collateral before you can borrow money, and you can only borrow up to the value of your collateral. This functionality gives you a way to gain exposure to certain assets without owning them.
You can also earn interest on your assets by committing them to a liquidity pool. When you deposit your assets, the AAVE protocol gives you a corresponding amount of aTokens which are pegged to the value of your assets.
Your aTokens will continuously earn interest for the time you hold onto them. You will also earn some of the fees generated from AAVE’s flash loans feature.
How Does Aave DAO's Governance System Work?
In other words, the more tokens you hold, the more sway you hold over the platform’s direction by either submitting new proposals or voting on proposals submitted by other users.
Unlike other protocols, you can delegate your proposal and voting powers separately to other AAVE holders — you don’t need to transfer both to a single user.
What Makes Compound DAO Important?
When you deposit crypto into one of Compound’s pools, you receive cTokens with a value corresponding to the amount of crypto you deposited. CTokens are the Compound protocol’s native token which acts as a contract between you (the lender) and someone wanting to borrow crypto from the protocol.
Each asset has its own cToken. For example, if you deposit ETH, you will receive cETH. You can redeem your deposited assets and any accrued interest by returning your cTokens.
Compound pays out interest to lenders in a slightly different way than other DeFi lending platforms. Instead of paying out interest to your wallet, the exchange rate of your cTokens to the crypto you deposited increases over time, allowing you to withdraw more crypto from the pool than you deposited.
Should you decide to borrow from Compound, you needn’t give over personal documents to secure the loan. Instead, you must overcollateralize, which, as explained above, means you need to put up assets worth more than the amount you want to borrow.
Should your collateral drop below a minimum amount, the protocol will automatically liquidate your assets to repay the loan. As soon as the loan and fees are repaid, you can withdraw your assets.
How Does Compound DAO's Governance System Work?
COMP tokens work similarly to the other DAO tokens described above, in that one token is equal to one vote, and you can delegate your votes to any other user.
DAO Operating Systems
DAOs are often tricky to use, and joining a DAO usually requires a working knowledge of the latest crypto lingo.
Building your own DAO and growing a loyal community is even harder, especially given that building a working tech stack requires significant experience, as well as plenty of trial and error.
Fortunately for budding DAO builders, there are DAOs that exist to serve that purpose — creating a DAO!
Upstream is a “next-generation networking platform,” which facilitates both live and virtual events where members can meet one another and collaborate.
Upstream’s collectives are similar to the DAOs you’re no doubt already familiar with, only they’re a bit easier to use and set up. The reason for the name change is to try to encourage crypto-wide move away from technical lingo, which can deter newer crypto users from signing up.
Each Upstream collective is an independent community sharing a single Ethereum wallet. Members of each Collective contribute funds to the shared community wallet, and each member can vote on or propose original changes to the DAO, as well as suggest projects for its community.
Upstream aims to give founders and creators a much easier time building their own DAOs by integrating the entire DAO tech stack into one place, rather than spreading all of the community’s resources out over multiple apps, DApps and platforms.
Unlike most other DAOs you’ve either heard of or even joined, Upstream doesn’t use on-chain voting.
Instead, Upstream’s Collectives designate representatives called signatories who execute proposals on the blockchain once a proposal has garnered enough votes to pass.
This novelty does mean that Collectives aren’t quite as decentralized as other DAOs — a trade-off which allows Upstream help non-tech folks build DAOs without as much hassle but might ruffle the feathers of a few crypto-natives.
Syndicate’s founders are Will Papper and Ian Lee, both of whom worked at IDEO prior to launching Syndicate.
Syndicate’s overarching vision is to help us to move away from outdated, traditional economic frameworks, and into a future where the majority of economic coordination and investing happens through DAOs.
What Makes Syndicate DAO Important?
To achieve this lofty goal, Syndicate is building the tools to make building DAOs, as well as finding and connecting into new DAOs, much easier for everyone. In time, Syndicate’s founders hope this will position Syndicate as a leading DAO social network for Web 3.0, as well as the go-to place for building DAOs.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Syndicate’s co-founder Ian Lee said:
“We have a strong hypothesis that the next frontier of decentralized finance and crypto is social networks… The only thing that can't be forked is the community, and we take that to the next level with the only thing that can't be forked," which is "the social network.”
The Syndicate team has attracted significant interest and funding from a mixture of community and venture capital, including $800,000 in June from a pool of 100 Syndicate community investors, $1 million in a seed round led by IDEO CoLab Ventures in March, and $20 million from a Series A funding round including notable investors like a16z, Ohanian and Snoop Dogg in August this year.
How Does Syndicate DAO's Governance System Work?
Syndicate allows for the creation of decentralized investment vehicles that run as DAOs, with the intention of democratizing how capital is raised and allocated. Users can register for beta access currently, and governance mechanism specifics are expected to firm up as the platform launches.
For teams looking to merge their digital plans with real-world use cases, Syndicate has made it easier to link your on-chain Syndicate DAO with a real-world company, like an LLC.
Syndicate’s existing DAO creation tools have enabled the development of DAOs such as:
- Audacity, which is a VC fund investing in black and African founders, as well as emerging and overlooked markets.
- Delphi InfiNFT, which plans to push the NFT ecosystem forward through shared investing.
If you’re looking for more information or updates from Syndicate, check out the official webpage here.
DAOstack is another platform looking to drive growth in the DAO space and contribute to reducing our collective reliance on centralized organizational structures.
What Makes DAOstack Important?
The toolkit also includes peer-to-peer decision making modules, enabling fully decentralized decision-making capabilities and more fluid governance.
Gigi Levy-Weiss, the famed Israeli entrepreneur and one of DAOstack’s investors, describes the platform as:
“The complete decentralized end-to-end tech layer for governance of large organizations. It can be a decentralized Wikipedia; it can also be a decentralized investment fund or decentralized insurance network.”
How Does DAOstack's Governance System Work?
DAOstack’s toolkit was designed for maximum scalability, which enables newly created DAOs to link in with existing DAOs. And as the network of DAOs grows, all its member organizations will benefit from an innovative and collaborative network.
It would be inaccurate to classify DAOstack as merely a framework for building DAOs. It’s actually closer to the foundation or bedrock on which an entirely new and scalable DAO ecosystem can grow and thrive.
As internet-native communities flourish in the crypto space, it is no surprise that DAOs are created to pool together capital and expertise, and invest in up-and-coming crypto projects in this innovative space. These DAOs are fashioned in a similar way to venture capital funds, working directly with founders and projects to ensure their success.
What Makes BitDAO Important?
Today, the BitDAO treasury’s value is approaching the $3 billion mark, and is mostly made up of ETH, Tether, USDC and BIT tokens.
So far, BitDAO has received support and funding from a number of leading investors, one of which is Peter Thiel, who famously co-founded PayPal and was the first outside investor in Facebook.
BitDAO also has a grants program, which go to teams researching or developing new products which could be of great public use for the crypto industry. Like the DAO’s investment proposals, new grants are proposed by and voted on by the BitDAO community.
How Does BitDAO’s Governance System Work?
BIT holders can also request funding from other community members in exchange for building new features for the DAO itself.
The BitDAO treasury keeps hold of 30% of all BitDAO tokens in circulation, which the DAO’s members can use to swap for the tokens of any new promising protocols they want to invest in.
What Makes Flamingo DAO Important?
The LAO community has been deeply entrenched in the NFT world since the early days, so building a new DAO focusing on NFTs was a logical next step.
NFT proponents have high hopes for this novel form of digital ownership.
Some members of Flamingo believe that NFTs could eventually move the internet to an entirely new kind of ownership model. One in which creators are adequately paid for their work and collaborate without pesky intermediaries.
As such, the Flamingo DAO community wants to position itself right at the heart of the new, decentralized creative economy.
How Does Flamingo DAO's Governance System Work?
- Commissioning digital artworks from prominent NFT artists
- Investing in up-and-coming NFT artists
- Collecting and archiving important pieces of NFT history.
- Building a digital gallery to showcase all of Flamingo’s collected works
- Eventually supporting and investing in additional community NFT infrastructure
- Fractionalising the DAO’s NFTs to use them with DeFi platforms, among other uses
The community’s name, “Komorebi,” is a Japanese expression used to describe the illumination of a forest’s mossy undergrowth as sunlight filters through the trees and leaves — a reference to the team’s focus on supporting unseen yet important creatives in the crypto startup space.
Komorebi was built with help from Syndicate, another DAO features in the “Operating Systems” section of this list.
What Makes Komorebi DAO Important?
This severe lack of diversity in the crypto and blockchain space is precisely what Komorebi aims to address. The community’s plan is to invest in crypto founders and entrepreneurs from demographics who are often snubbed or overlooked, namely women and people identifying as non-binary.
How Does Komorebi DAO's Governance System Work?
When the DAO’s members invest in a new project, they also provide them with the tools, resources and advice they need to grow and succeed. Each new investment is proposed and voted on by the members of the DAO.
The DAO’s name “Moloch” comes from the Canaanite god of child sacrifice, which is a joking reference to humanity’s futile efforts and abysmal track record of coordinating to solve large-scale problems.
What Makes Moloch DAO Important?
In other words, Moloch wants to coordinate funding for open-source infrastructure on the Ethereum blockchain which, without a DAO structure in place designed to address this problem, probably wouldn’t happen.
Moloch’s community is dead set on focusing on making the world a better place, rather than of profits. Point 3 of the DAO’s Manifesto even states “We can take a punch to the face and still remain optimistic that we can manifest this world to be better, much better.”
Moloch’s simplicity sets it apart from other DAOs, as it functions as a minimum-viable DAO. It’s structure centres around a simple smart contract functionality, which greatly reduces the chances of the platform being hacked.
How Does Moloch DAO's Governance System Work?
Every Moloch DAO member can propose grants for projects designed to build some kind of crypto-related public good or infrastructure, which the other members of Moloch’s community vote on.
If any member doesn’t support a proposal which passes by popular vote, they can withdraw their funds in what’s called a rage quit.
Soon after Moloch’s launch, Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Lubin both donated 1000 ETH apiece to get things off the ground.
Creative artists being underhandedly ripped off or unfairly rewarded for their work is a long-standing problem, but it’s one which Audius aims to solve.
What Makes Audius DAO Important?
Through decentralization and shared governance, Audius is able to fairly renumerate artists rather than record labels or corporations.
Musicians can create, share and monetize their music on the Audius platform without needing to sign a record deal. What’s more, the platform is entirely free for both artists and end users — there’s no limit to track uploads or listens, and there are no strings attached.
How Does Audius DAO's Governance System Work?
AUDIO token grants will also be given to users who:
- Win remix contests
- Host live streams showcasing Audius music
- Curate community playlists
- Hosting Audius music festivals
However, the team is working on a solution which will involve a network of third-party arbitrators and community members voting on the outcomes of moderation cases.
Audius has forged partnerships with some big names in the music industry, one of whom is Joel Zimmerman (deadmau5), who had this to say about Audius:
“As an artist, I spend much of my time seeing around the corner to the future of the industry, and Audius is clearly the way forward. I’m thrilled to join this team.”
What Makes Sevens Foundation DAO Important?
A grant from Seven covers the costs of publishing artworks in a show, which gives fledgling artists an easier way to network with other artists and art curators.
Seven’s exhibitions are designed to closely mimic the experience of viewing physical artworks in a traditional gallery, only digitally.
The first grant program supported 317 artists from 60 countries, many of whom were disadvantaged by circumstances outside of their control.
Kang said he was inspired to offer the grants to combat the high gas fees required to mint NFTs, which still remain a financial barrier to entry for disadvantaged young artists.
As the NFT space grows and more artists look to blockchain-based platforms and DAOs to monetize their work, Sevens hopes to scale along with it.
How Does Seven Foundation DAO's Governance System Work?
The platform connects both sides of the art world — curators that want to view submissions from emerging and undiscovered talent can provide grants, while up-and-coming artists can access resources to help kickstart their career.
The Foundation uses an OpenSea API, so the process of bidding and listing NFT artworks is the same as on OpenSea.
However, Sevens doesn’t provide price data on each artwork, which the DAO’s members believe creates a bias toward pieces with higher historic prices.
What Makes Whale DAO Important?
Whale was launched by the infamous NFT collector — WhaleShark, who launched Whale DAO to build a community of like-minded people who could invest in NFTs together.
WhaleShark was initially responsible for curating the community’s NFT collection, but the community eventually migrated to a DAO structure to enable faster growth.
How Does Whale DAO's Governance System Work?
Conceptually, backing a token with NFTs is somewhat similar to the gold standard, in which a paper currency like the dollar is backed by a store of physical gold, only with more volatility.
What Makes PleasrDAO Important?
Although PleasrDAO originally comprised just 23 Ethereum addresses, they successfully collaborated and won the auction for 310 ETH, worth roughly $525,000 at the time, all of which went to charity.
But after the sale, PleasrDAO had $250,000 left over in its treasury. The DAO members decided to continue collecting digital artworks which represent important movements and causes.
How Does PleasrDAO's Governance System Work?
Like other NFT collecting DAOs, Pleasr is experimenting with fractional asset ownership, which will allow it to blend DeFi with community ownership and digital art.
PleasrDAO’s headline-grabbing purchase occurred in October this year, when the community nabbed the first copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s new album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
Friends With Benefits DAO
The FWB community launched as a token-gated Discord server, but it’s now home to thousands of renowned Web 3.0 creative leaders and personalities.
What Makes Friends With Benefits DAO Important?
FWB is a community of “creators, rebels, artists, thinkers, and doers” who, through the FWB platform and eventual implementation of Web 3.0, aim to shape the future.
How Does Friends With Benefits DAO Governance System Work?
To join FWB, you have to own a minimum quantity of FWB tokens, which gives you an ownership stake in the DAO.
Each new member has to go through an application process, all of which are reviewed and voted on by the community.
There’s a finite supply of 1 million tokens, and each member needs at least 75 to join the community, meaning there’s a member ceiling of around 13,333 members.
Once through the application, you get access to the full FWB ecosystem, including:
- Learning and Education
- Lifestyle and Culture
- NFT and Trading
Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC)
But seemingly overnight, BAYC transformed into a global community with a pretty exclusive (and famous) membership.
What Makes BAYC DAO Important?
During the initial launch, all apes cost 0.08 ETH, but have since risen dramatically in price.
How Does BAYC DAO Governance System Work?
To join BAYC, you have to own one of only 10,000 Bored Ape NFTs, each of which is unique and has varying attributes, expressions and attire.
Loads of exciting events and new features are planned for BAYC members, including collaborations with big brands, a festival in NYC, and a BAYC-themed blockchain game.
Right now, the community’s focus seems to be on promoting the Yacht Club through merchandise like Bored Ape skateboards, basketballs and t-shirts.
Bright Moments DAO
What Makes Bright Moments DAO Important?
Bright Moments revolves around its Crypto Citizens NFTs, all of which are unique and created by the DAO’s community.
The DAO has released three distinct NFT collections so far:
- Crypto Galacticans
- Crypto Venetians
- Crypto NewYorkers
How Does the Bright Moments DAO Governance System Work?
By owning a Crypto Citizen, you gain membership to the Bright Moments DAO, which lets you take part in the platform’s governance and take part in live minting events.
Every Crypto Citizen NFT is minted at a live event, and like CryptoPunks and Bored Apes, each NFT has unique attributes and clothing making some rarer and more valuable.
To get hold of a crypto citizen, you’ll either need to buy one on the secondary market on OpenSea, or purchase a “Golden Token,” which guarantees you a minting reservation in New York up until the end of 2021.
The next NFT collection on the roadmap is Crypto Berliners, which will include 1000 new Berlin-themed NFTs, bringing to DAOs total up to 4000 Crypto Citizens.
Another of LAO’s secondary DAOs — Flamingo — is described in the “Investment DAOs” section of this guide.
What Makes Neptune DAO Important?
Neptune members pool their capital and vote on which DeFi protocols to supply liquidity to. The community is full of members who have been involved with Ethereum and DeFi since the early days.
This liquidity is provided by the DAO as a both a service to the DeFi space and an investment for the DAOs members.
How Does the Neptune DAO Governance System Work?
All proposals are debated on and discussed through the Neptune DApp, and any member can propose a new liquidity pool or investment strategy to the community.
The DAO’s community benefits from membership through shared gas costs and a wider knowledge pool of emerging DeFi opportunities.
So far, only 70 members can join, but a further 29 members will be able to join eventually. Each member must deposit a minimum of 60 ETH, and the maximum contribution is 540 ETH. Every DAO member has the rights to any profits proportional to their share of the DAO’s total pool.
The DAO describes its principal service as “translating crypto and DeFi for the world.”
What Makes YAP DAO Important?
The platform was built to address the shortage of communications experts, savvy marketers and killer content creators in DeFi, blockchain and crypto.
The DAO’s members have so far focused on offering PR and communications services to protocols in the DeFi space, but their seven core services include:
- Media Relations
- Strategic Communications
- Brand Positioning
- Investor Relations
- Crisis Communications
- Media Training
- Events Management
How Does the YAP DAO Governance System Work?
To join YAP DAO, you’ll need to pledge 500 DAI (which represents your ownership share of the DAO), and you’ll need experience in public relations or communications. Also, having a working knowledge of DAOs and crypto will certainly help your application.
What Makes DAOhaus Important?
You can use the DAOhaus platform to discover and join new and interesting DAOs related to your particular interests or career.
How Does the DAOhaus Governance System Work?
Just like in other DAOs, DAOhaus members can submit proposals or initiatives, as well as rage-quit to receive their remaining contribution should DAOhaus move in a direction they don’t like.
DAOhaus also enables you to build your own DAO using the Moloch framework.
By launching through DAOhaus, you can market your DAO to existing DAOhaus members, which gives you a faster and easier route to growing your DAO’s community.
Although only Moloch DAOs are available right now, the community is looking to explore DAOstack integrations and a number of different DAO configurations to further expand its ecosystem.
What Makes PubDAO Important?
PubDAO members discuss story and content ideas in the community Discord channel, but this is only the beginning.
The community’s long-term plans involve creating new guilds to support all manner of crypto creatives, including writers, editors, photographers and illustrators.
How Does the PubDAO Governance System Work?
So far, PubDAO’s community consists of crypto bloggers, as well as crypto news reporters and editors. The DAO is currently invite-only, but they are accepting suggestions for member invites.
Bankless has since evolved into a global anti-centralized finance movement, supported by an online content studio with thousands of subscribers and a private Discord chat with more than 1,500 members.
What Makes BanklessDAO Important?
The DAO’s name refers to its community’s mission: to make it easier for people to gain financial freedom by ending their reliance on centralized banking systems.
“Drive adoption and awareness of Bankless money systems through the creation and propagation of Bankless media, culture, and education.”
How Does the BanklessDAO Governance System Work?
Additionally, Bankless wants to help steer humanity toward a future in which “anyone with an internet connection has access to the financial tools needed to achieve financial independence.”
Forefront is a community DAO focused on creating and curating resources for the social token community.
What Makes ForefrontDAO Important?
The DAO wants to solidify its position as the go-to platform for information and insight for content and news related to social tokens.
The educational wing of the DAO is already up and running and includes loads of helpful resources for learning about how social tokens work, as well as useful social projects and tools.
How Does the ForefrontDAO Governance System Work?
The content topics Forefront accepts include education and insight pieces related to the social token space, as well as thought leadership pieces.