A Simple Breakdown of DAOs
If DeFi is about programmable money, then DAOs are about programmable power. While they often intertwine, the design of DAOs has taken a life of its own. In this rapidly evolving landscape, let’s take a look at 3 archetypes, and where they break down.
1. Project DAOs
Purpose: Decentralize governance and ownership, tap into a wider contributor group for collective value creation, scaling, and resilience.
This is currently the most common model especially among DeFi projects, where a value-creating entity (or a set of smart contracts) incentivizes DAO token holders to contribute to ideas for improvement, vote on governance, and become ambassadors of the project. In return, token holders are often rewarded with value accrual: access to new opportunities, or dividends/ buyback mechanisms.
Pushing the limits: Arguably, Binance’s BNB, which comes with perks and is periodically burnt based on revenue, incentivizes similar goals of ambassadorship too. So Binance sits in the grey area between a centralized entity and a project DAO.
2. Venture DAOs
Purpose: Coordinate capital around financial goals, tap into a relatively focused group with complementary expertise and networks
Venture DAOs, on the other hand, represent people or entities who pool together and manage capital/ assets. With skin in the game, everyone contributes to sourcing, evaluation, and agrees on a rough consensus before execution. A few examples:
- VC DAOs : MolochDAO, Metacartel Ventures, The LAO, and The DAO itself
- Liquidity DAOs: NeptuneDAO, AladdinDAO
- NFT DAOs: PleasrDAO, FlamingoDAO
These groups often curate membership, requiring minimum amounts of capital or nomination, and have a clear mandate to generate returns in some way.
Pushing the limits: However, a venture-like DAO could give away significant ownership even for those who do not contribute capital. A prime example is Yield Guild Games, a play-to-earn gaming guild which invests into productive NFT gaming assets, but plans to give away 45% of its tokens to active community gamers. So Yield Guild operates in the grey area between a project DAO and a venture DAO.
3. Social DAOs.
Purpose: Gather like-minded people for strategic or passion-related activities
Sometimes a shared interest is all we need to come together. So how do you prove that you’re “one of us”?
- Token-based DAOs: Bankless DAO, Friends with Benefits, Uniwhales
- NFT-based DAOs: Bored Apes, Stoner Cats
These circles often use token-gated access to curate membership on platforms like Discord/ Telegram, events, and even content like Stoner Cats’s animation.
And concentrated energy often spawns new life. Bankless DAO created the BED index. Bored Apes spun up a Kennel Club, and Apes are now on craft beer, “skateboreds”, and even an animation series Yawn of the Apes. Speaking of which, the creators of Stoner Cats — Big Head and Orchard Farms, even committed to “co-developing a DAO with TOKEn Holders that exists to develop at least one new animation project a year for the next three years.”
Pushing the limits: And then there are those which simply refuse to be put into a box. One such case is BitDAO. Branded as a “DAO-directed treasury”, it incorporates all of the elements above.
- Firstly, its funding comes from Bybit’s pledged contribution of 2.5bps of its futures contracts trading volume, so like a project DAO, members are aligned towards Bybit’s success.
- At the same time, like a venture DAO, BitDAO can allocate funds into various DeFi strategies or provide liquidity for partner projects, which can generate returns.
- Finally, there is an overarching mission to support the growth of DeFi. To this end, BitDAO curates a community via token swaps with leading and emerging projects, and plans to give out grants to projects, education programs, or other blockchain public goods. Like other social DAOs, new ventures may spring from its R&D too, specifically around governance and treasury management.
It is no wonder that BitDAO’s fundraise was backed by well-known individuals and entities like Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Pantera, Dragonfly, Spartan, and many more. At LongHash Ventures, we are always on the lookout for Web3 native innovation, and we are excited to be among the supporters and early partners of BitDAO. On this journey of collective innovation, we look forward to welcoming your contribution.
About LongHash Ventures
LongHash Ventures is a Web 3 investment fund and accelerator actively collaborating with founders to build their Web 3 model and navigate the Asian crypto landscape. In January 2021, we launched a DeFi-focused fund and invested in projects such as Balancer, Acala Network, Instadapp, and Zapper. We collaborated with their founders to develop their tokenomics, governance, and communities through Asia DeFi Network.
With our LongHashX Accelerator, we have partnered with Polkadot and Filecoin to build more than 40 global Web 3 projects which have raised more than $100m in the past 3 years. Through such investments and active collaboration, we are committed to realising our vision where anyone can access a more transparent, secure, and decentralised Web.