A Deep Dive into DAOs: Life Changing DAOs
In 2016, a few members of the Ethereum community came together to create a platform that would allow individuals to pitch project ideas. Community members would vote on these ideas using tokens they bought in exchange for sending Ether to a unique wallet address.
This was how the first DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization, was created. Since then the pace and development of the Web3 tool has exploded. Today, communities across the globe are using DAOs to help gather, organize, and distribute funds to causes that matter. On NEAR, there are dozens of DAOs working and collaborating in an open and transparent way.
This feature explores how DAOs are being used to change lives in different and radically new ways.
Unchain Fund – Raising Funds for Humanitarian Causes
“I couldn’t just stand still,” he says. “I wanted to create a fundraiser or volunteer or just do something.”
Miller immediately reached out to people and communities he knew in the crypto space to start some sort of initiative that could help Ukrainians impacted by the war. Miller joined forces with several others who also wanted to get involved.
“I don’t trust non-profits in general because a lot of them lack transparency,” he says. “I’ve been in the blockchain space for years so I was like, hey, what if we created this initiative within the intersection of Web3, where you can have your funds publicly shown and are operated and run by trusted people.”
Unchain Fund now has about 50 core members and hundreds of volunteers globally and across Ukraine. To date, the organization has raised $7 million, of which it has distributed $2 million to people on the ground.
Miller says the team is currently working on its distribution model to prevent scams. The DAO partnered with a Ukrainian bank to issue an online card that distributes funds directly to individuals. They can use the cards to buy food and pay for other services.
Unchain Fund is permissionless, meaning anyone can become a contributor. However, there are different layers of contribution. Volunteers, for instance, have limits on how much funding they can receive to help people on the ground. Additionally, individuals seeking help must fill out a detailed application that asks for contact information, proof of identification, an address where they can be reached, and more.
Miller says this was a necessary step to take because Unchain Fund receives 1,000 applications a day on average and that number is only rising. He also emphasizes that the DAO certainly has some centralized aspects.
“There are some things we just can’t wait a week to make a decision on through governance because people are dying. At the end of the day, there are some things that are unfortunately still based on human trust,” Miller says. “DAOs and Web3 are definitely the way to become resistant to events like these, but due to Web3 tooling, we are able to coordinate global power and resources for a public good that needs to be addressed here and now.”
Marma J Dao – Empowering Grassroot Communities
The DAO’s most recent initiative, #maksimourhero, raised funds for Maksim, a ten-year-old diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancer that begins in the brain or spinal cord. Marma J Foundation raised funds to help Maksim’s family with his relocation, lodging, and medical treatments. The DAO invited artists to create Valentine’s cards which would then be minted and sold through a simple sale.
The initiative was quite successful, according to Lewis. Dozens of NFTs were created and minted by Marma J DAO, with 90% of the proceeds going to Maksim, with the rest earmarked for the DAO.
“It was great to see so many people in the ecosystem learning how to use custom function calls on their DAO to mint NFTs,” Lewis says.
Marma J DAO has led many other initiatives focused on not only social good but also Web3 education, including teaching users how to leverage tools in the NEAR ecosystem and how to mint an NFT through a DAO. Marma J DAO generally funds initiatives to support members of the Marma J community using its treasury of native tokens.
Currently, the DAO is comprised of nine unique addresses that form its council, as well as 47 members. The DAO’s council members vote on proposals with the goal of “spreading love and positivity in the open web ecosystem,” according to its website.
The collective uses Marma J DAO to hold and distribute NEAR assets to and from Marma J community members. The Marma J Foundation uses DAO-launching platform Astro to manage the DAO—its membership, decision-making, and funding are coordinated publicly on the NEAR blockchain.
“We realized that if we had our foundational assets in a proof-of-stake network where we were supporting the NEAR ecosystem just from staking our NEAR tokens, which we could then use to convert into goods and services to spread to the community, that could be a more viable path moving forward,” Lewis said in a video breakdown of the Marma J Foundation.
“The largest difference between DAOs and a company is that the DAO has no legally binding obligations, just smart contracts to control logic,” Lewis says.
Aurora DAO – Helping Protocols Give Control to their Communities
Imagine a board of directors making decisions in a company, except that instead of doing so behind closed doors and allocating all power to a select few, the board is fed information from the rest of the company and uses this data to make company-wide choices.
The Aurora DAO functions as this exact sort of decentralized board of directors, created as a way to govern the Aurora protocol, an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) smart contract platform that creates a bridge between Ethereum and NEAR. Holders of Aurora DAO are able to vote on high-level matters concerning the Aurora protocol, as well as other administrative and operational decisions.
Aurora DAO organizer Aliaksei Papou explained that Aurora’s EVM was developed to be entirely permissionless, and its governance through the DAO was devised with this goal in mind. Aurora DAO approved the creation of a “community treasury” with a significant portion of the Aurora token supply, which will be used to fund projects being built on Aurora.
“It makes perfect sense to offload the decision-making in this respect to the members of the community since they are the primary users of those projects, and are the ones who are most interested in a healthy ecosystem growth,” Papou says. “Meanwhile, more complex or technical matters, like protocol upgrades, will be the prerogative of the DAO Council, as the Council is represented by experts in such specific aspects.”
Papou says the DAO was formed by well-known representatives of the crypto space. To ensure wide representation, the council consists of principal Aurora investors who have more experience in investment matters, Aurora ecosystem partners who have more experience in technical projects, and members of Aurora Labs itself.
“With further decentralization of the governance, many important decisions will be delegated to the community,” Papou said. “So the DAO will perform the role of the board of directors, similarly to traditional companies, while they will be elected by the community as well.”
Aurora DAO uses the SputnikDAO framework for operations. The DAO currently has 13 councils, each of whom votes on different proposals including council management, DAO smart contract upgrades, contract calls, and payouts.
“Simply put, it’s decentralization,” Papou said. “Trusted people with various competencies, who do not necessarily know each other, make decisions about the protocol.”
Developer DAO – Helping People Learn Together
Developer DAO is a community of like-minded individuals committed to participating, learning, and contributing to the future of Web3. The DAO aims to accelerate the education and impact of new builders in the Web3 space.
To join, individuals must hold a D4R NFT that can now only be bought on the secondary market or won in contests and giveaways (the original NFT mint has ended). Developer DAO also offers a scholarship program for free entry that’s available to anyone who wants to join. The DAO today has nearly 6,000 individual NFT holders.
Developer DAO started as an experiment in September 2021 by Nader Dabit, who live-coded and launched the DAO on his YouTube channel. From there, the DAO grew organically. Individuals, who joined after seeing Dabit promote it on Twitter, began organizing the Discord and developing the DAO’s mission.
“I initially started it in the hope of having a community of developers to learn and build together with,” Dabit says. “After joining Friends With Benefits, I really loved the community but wanted to have more engineers to hang out with and talk to. We’re about seven months in and we’re still figuring things out, but we’ve accomplished a lot already and have a lot of exciting things that we’re working on right now.”
For core member Will Kempster, one of the best things about being a part of a DAO is how everything is community-driven.
“No one person is in control. You’re free to drop in and out when it suits you and people are generally free to do what they want so long as it is in line with our mission, values, and goals,” Kempster says. “The biggest issue is probably coordination, organizing about 6,000 people in a DAO via Discord that was created without any prior planning is an interesting challenge but we’re starting to get a good handle on things!”
For moderator Narbeh Shahnazarian, DAOs are similar to startups in that one can be wearing multiple hats and be leading multiple efforts simultaneously.
“The great thing about Developer DAO is you can literally go and get started in any which way you want and are empowered to come up with and lead new initiatives,” he says. “The DAO does have areas for improvement but things will most definitely improve over time as we learn from our experiences and apply those to future endeavors.”
“I like to refer to the current iteration of Developer DAO as ‘beautiful chaos,” he adds.
Komorebi Collective – Elevating New Voices in Crypto Community
Komorebi Collective is a DAO formed by women in the blockchain space to support crypto companies founded by female and non-binary individuals. The DAO was formed by Manasi Vora, Medha Kothari, and Kinjal Shah, and currently has 35 members, some of whom are from crypto organizations Women in Blockchain and she256 (founded by Vora and Kothari respectively).
Komorebi is a Japanese expression that describes sunlight filtering through trees. These rays of light, according to Vora, illuminate the forest undergrowth that is otherwise difficult to see.
“Komorebi Collective aims to illuminate and elevate a group of otherwise underestimated visionary founders building in crypto,” Vora says.
Komorebi invests in teams and products created by female and non-binary founders, which the DAO wants to see flourish in the Web3 space.
“DAOs have a lot of potential to bring communities together and channel capital towards identified missions, but they require a good amount of coordination across members and need processes in place for it to be efficient,” Vora says. “It might not be the best tool for everything crypto. It’s like the early days of blockchain where you need to ask: does this need a DAO?”
Komorebi Collective is almost 70% deployed and has invested in several companies so far, including Apricot Finance and FormFunction. The collective is slated to raise its second round of funding in the next few weeks.
SailGP DAO – Reimagining Team Sport Management on NEAR
A ground-breaking multi-year partnership between NEAR and SailGP, one of the world’s fastest-growing sailing events, will explore the sale of a new team to a DAO launched on the NEAR Protocol. This will make the SailGP DAO a first-of-its-kind community engagement and activation platform for professional sports.
The SailGP team DAO will be a community project—a major break from traditional sports team ownership structures. DAO members will, through proposals, have a say athlete selection, team management, commercialization options, as well as overall team strategy and operations.
“Our mission is to enable community-driven innovation to benefit people around the world, and this partnership is a fantastic example of exactly that,” said Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation, the non-for profit entity that oversees the NEAR blockchain’s development.
SailGP and the NEAR community will collaborate on several new projects—each designed to inspire Web3 developers on the NEAR protocol. As partners, SailGP and NEAR will also work on integrated technology and research and development projects for offerings like events ticketing, NFT and gaming, and mobile app integration.
On-site experiences and activations at global SailGP events will help traditional industries transition to Web3 through NEAR’s simple, secure, and scalable blockchain platform. NEAR will also leverage SailGP’s global technology platform to build real-world intellectual property and Web3 applications that will cover fan engagement, data delivery and management, league management, and more.
This new DAO team could join the SailGP starting line-up for Season 4 in 2023.
“We welcome NEAR to the SailGP family and we are looking forward to them participating in the most exciting racing on-water, featuring the world’s best sailors,” SailGP Founder Larry Ellison said.
“This deal presents an exciting opportunity to change how fans can directly influence and participate in the sports they love,” added Mark Shapiro, President of Endeavor, part of IMG and a strategic investor in SailGP. “We are proud to have brokered this ground-breaking partnership which is the culmination of what happens when sport, technology and entertainment collide.”
The DAO revolution
DAOs are transforming the way individuals join forces to work towards a common goal, whether it is social, cultural, technological, or financial. Unchain Fund, Aurora DAO, Marma J DAO, Developer DAO, and Komorebi Collective are just a few examples of DAOs using transparency and decentralized collaboration to work towards changing society as we know it.
These are still early days for DAOs on NEAR and other blockchains—much remains to be done to optimize the DAO ecosystem for mass Web3 adoption. Launchpads like Sputnik, AstroDAO, NearPad, and other services being built by developers will all be critical in unleashing the next wave of DAO innovation.
To fully tap the power of DAOs, things like tooling, standards, and management will also need to be refined and built up, so that other autonomous organizations and Web3 services can efficiently interact with DAOs, creating more integrations with the physical world.
Join the community: