As some of you may already know, Max and Joey are no longer working at Zora Labs. It became apparent that spending significant amounts of time working on Public Assembly + related projects was not going to be compatible while working at Zora – so in order to continue pursuing all of these projects it was necessary to seek more control of our time and autonomy. This post is co-written between @salief , @0xTranqui , @jawn , and myself.
Over the past few months, it has become increasingly evident that the Nouns-style, daily auction mechanism is currently not a reliable financial system for Public Assembly. The original expectation was that daily auctions could provide a simple, yet effective framework for PA to grow its treasury organically. While the governance model as a whole has proved helpful in performing other dao functions, the challenge of driving consistent attention to the daily auctions + recent high gas costs on mainnet has made it difficult to see it as a sustainable revenue stream.
Despite this, PA has continued to develop a sense of solidarity cultivated by the conscious participation of many individuals. To continue PA’s path towards sustainability + autonomy, here are some thoughts that have been brewing over the past few months in regards to financial sustainability and “collective intent”. (shoutout @projectmehari)
A few months ago, Neesh and Max spoke with Seed Club about their new $25m round focused on providing funding opportunities for networks + DAOs that are often overlooked by traditional equity investment. This call brought up some important questions such as why PA would want to seek investment in the first place, and how venture capital could impact our mission and contributors.
While this idea needs further exploration, the VC discussions made us realize that the nouns model alone does not provide a framework for accurately assessing how external resources could be suitable financial opportunities for the DAO. In order for us to better understand where + how capital could contribute towards long-term improvements for the DAO, we feel that establishing a conceptual boundary/structure for PA may help us to better coordinate and define what it means to “create what’s missing”.
The concept of a “sanctuary” is one such structure that could fill some of the gaps in the current membership/organizational logic. This higher level framing could serve as both a financial + conceptual guideline, and help us take a more practical approach to “create what’s missing.” Which specific missions, priorities, and focus the “sanctuary” contains is a topic of its own, but generally speaking it feels necessary to support focuses like education, onboarding, and in-person events with as much long-term sustainability in mind.
Additionally, establishing the “sanctuary” model could be helpful to mitigate the internal social implications + risks that a large influx of capital could introduce. Without a conceptual boundary for what the treasury should or should not fund, how might a drastic change to our collective financial environment impact the dynamics of our community and governance? How would we ensure that the excessive competition, politics, and plutocracy common with a token-based governance isn’t replicated within PA?
Whether we adopt a new framing such as a sanctuary or not, it seems appropriate that the outcome of the next refinement/group consensus on PA’s “collective intent” can serve as the basis for a proposal to establish the legal entity for the DAO (such as an UNA declaration).
Although the DAO could potentially become a significant or even primary source of income for individuals, it is worth noting that reducing the pressure on PA to act as a financial resource for its members could help the DAO operate without a traditional “runway”. The fact that new people continue to find + participate in PA, despite the lack of a large treasury, indicates that our solidarity is motivated by more than just financial incentives.
Public Assembly is in a great position to continue seeking funding opportunities as a headless brand + public goods organization. With our first proof of success from DAO Drops in April, coordinating efforts around public goods funding from organizations like the Ethereum Foundation, Optimism and Gitcoin can help us to navigate + achieve financial autonomy without relying on venture capital or even the daily auctions. The benefits of Public Assembly being consistently recognized as a public goods organization will help us continue funding projects/groups (forum maintenance, PATH administration, etc) that need support to exist without the financial burden of a “return” or “revenue”.
We are starting to see the network effects of Public Assembly’s headlessness materialize into distinct brands—diversifying value, recognition, and opportunities for the DAO. For instance, the blog template developed as a part of the larger Blog Era initiative, was recently forked to become a playground for both MUTUAL and Entropy DAO. Furthermore, we’re seeing that smaller squads with increasingly specific goals + interests may desire or find it useful to seek additional funding pathways outside of direct compensation from the treasury. The outputs of these smaller, more independently operating groups can serve as an extension of Public Assembly’s diverse resource layer and open avenues for collaboration among the greater Public Assembly ecosystem.
Which leads us to…
We’re excited to announce the launch of a studio called Lifeworld. In a few weeks, we’ll begin work on our first project, River – a discovery platform for the blog era.
Here are a few reasons why we decided to start a studio:
- The complexity of channeling VC investment through Public Assembly to fund River carries risk + uncertainty that we don’t think there is an answer for right now.
- The idea of a “Mini-Corp”– not quite a company or a DAO, but more than a multi-sig or just a squad – has been an interesting pattern we’ve been noticing in some of the most prolific small product teams such as Midjourney.
- Our day to day livelihoods should not financially rely on Public Assembly for best DAO practices. Creating this separation, and operating transparently with both entities can bring benefits to both systems.
As one of our first initiatives as a studio, we are looking to bootstrap the initial funding of River through a development grant/partnership with Entropy DAO. Here is how we think we could most transparently + effectively execute this:
- In order to acknowledge the work that has coalesced to form “Blog Era”, we think it makes sense for the development of River to commence via a Public Assembly proposal. This proposal would outline the timeline, goals, and additional details of the project – which, if successful, would trigger a subsequent proposal to Entropy DAO detailing the aforementioned information.
- This resulting Entropy proposal would include a breakdown of the requested ETH. The majority of the funds would go to Lifeworld while a smaller fraction would be allotted to Public Assembly’s treasury (much like the Flexible DAO Interfaces proposal). We’re proposing that these funds would be used to develop the Public Assembly “open blog” in conjunction with River.
It’s important to note that the development of River will include further advancement of a variety of Public Assembly infrastructure including, but not limited to AssemblyPress, the upcoming indexer, frontend clients, as well as educational content + documentation. Hoping to share more details + thoughts on the studio soon!