Frame: Flock Proposal for ANV-3

Frame is very excited to share our Flock proposal for ANV-3! Questions and feedback are very much appreciated.

Frame’s Flock Proposal


Following the advice of the Aragon Association, we’ve replaced our current Flock proposal with a smaller financing proposal. This gives us the ability to continue executing on the scope work we outlined while working with the community to figure out the best way we can contribute within the Flock program and hopefully join after ANV#4 in October.

Frame’s Finance Proposal


I’ve also recorded a quick demo of Aragon Smart Accounts for everyone to check it. This functionality will be released soon in Frame v0.2.

Aragon Smart Account Demo


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Jordan, thanks so much for this proposal - really great to see your continued commitment to the Aragon ecosystem!

I have a few comments on both the Flock path and the demo.

Flock:
I think that, strategically for Aragon, having a signing provider tightly integrated with the product, committed to the ecosystem, and in close touch with the rest of the developers is a massive value.

I do worry a bit about “competition” in the long term, meaning that there are tons of wallet providers that are raising substantial capital from VCs, and I worry that maintaining feature parity in the future against well-funded teams might be tricky - but for now, it doesn’t seem that anyone is really focused on providing OS-level and smart account infrastructure, as to make it a great field to play in.

That being said, this is a slightly different Flock application than all the other ones we have seen to date. Other teams have always focused on building key parts of the Aragon OS / product, and none have had a product that is “universal” like yours.
I make this consideration as a segway to talking about IP and the post-Flock (if any) path of a project like yours.
While I think it makes sense for Aragon to fund such efforts at this stage, I think there needs to be consideration to what could happen later down the road. If Frame stays a Flock team forever, then nothing to talk about. But if at some point the Network decides to stop funding for whatever reason OR if Frame decides to raise capital / charge for its product, there would be the question of who owns the IP generated and what issues that creates.
It’s clear that being OSS, anyone could pick up the development - but there might be other network effects or barriers to entry to keep in mind, and those are hard to imagine at this time.

Therefore I do think that if Aragon is the only funder of such efforts, it would make sense to have Frame even more tightly integrated in the Aragon family.
This could happen by branding Frame as a clear product offered by Aragon to the ecosystem (Aragon Frame or Frame by Aragon), implementing a bit more of Aragon-specific branding and having agreements for either the IP or repayment of capital / stake in the business if the grant funding and/or the association with Aragon is key to achieving that.

The reason for this is not to be greedy at the Aragon level, but rather align incentives and make sure that the Flock program is not seen as a risk-free, bootstrapping program by subsequent applicant teams.

Would love to get your, and the community’s, take on a tighter branding integration of Frame in case of a successful AGP.

UX:
It’s so awesome to see Agent and Smart Accounts in action! Thanks for putting time developing this!
One nitpick I have, and I know it’s early days, is that the flow is not particularly intuitive for a first time user (or even an experienced one).
Particularly the changing accounts from the Smart to the Hot ones feel like something that could be either automated or have clearer UI prompts.
Having a clear “Main Account” with Frame maybe, where then you can add signers and smart accounts, and have transactions be automatically routed to the correct one would make it an amazing experience.

Anyways, fun stuff to think about and work on.

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Hey Stefano! Thanks for taking the time to read our proposal and give us feedback.

This proposal is to fund 6 months of work that is highly relevant to Aragon and focused on pushing forward Aragon integrations and fulfilling the needs of the Aragon stack. A focus on Aragon will always be a part of Frame as we are morally aligned with the Aragon project and its goals. We hope to become part of the Aragon Flock and continue to proliferate the Aragon vision. As a Flock member we will always work to create more value for the ecosystem than we take.

In the next six months we can add immense value to the Aragon ecosystem that far outweighs the amount of this grant. The ability, through provider level integrations, for DAOs to seamlessly interact with the decentralized web that lives outside of AragonOS is very powerful. All the work we do on Frame during this time will be completely open source for anyone to use, fork and build on top of.

We think there’s exponentially more value potential, for both the Aragon ecosystem and the decentralized web as a whole, by keeping Frame open and agnostic. Aragon will not be solely responsible for funding Frame. There are many projects that we align with both morally and incentive-wise that we hope to create synergistic relationships with, like the relationship we have with Aragon. We believe in the end, the open nature of the platform will greatly benefit everyone involved and the adoption of decentralized services.

Frame will be an unstoppable accounts platform for a diverse group of users and application stacks that all have different needs. We don’t believe that being tightly coupled to, or branding ourselves with a particular type of smart account or application stack is best for our users or for wider adoption of Frame by other applications and parts of the ecosystem. Parts of the ecosystem we would love to introduce to Aragon smart accounts and how powerful they can be.

We hope to keep our open and agnostic nature strong even when working within great and powerful projects. Our goal is to build valuable software for the Aragon ecosystem and decentralized web. We’ve proven in the Nest program that we’re very capable of doing this and we hope to continue to prove this as part of Flock.

Re: UX
Thanks very much for the UX feedback. It’s a special case but we agree that logging into your DAO with your DAO is a bit confusing :slight_smile: we’re working on solutions. We also think there’s a promising possibility for personal smart accounts built on AragonOS (e.g. personal DAO smart accounts) that we’d like to work on in the future and would bring more users into the ecosystem.

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Given that Frame is not directly related to Aragon infrastructure, I wonder if it make sense for Frame to grant equity to the association in exchange for funding. That way there is long term alignment between the projects?

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We believe the work this grant will be funding is directly related to Aragon infrastructure. We don’t agree our proposal should be treated differently than other Flock teams just because our project can be used by people outside of Aragon.

I actually don’t think this would be treating Frame differently, so far there has been an expectation that Flock teams are core contributors to the Aragon project and have deep alignment between their work on Aragon and have built their brand and identity around building infrastructure or businesses that directly require Aragon as a product to be successful. If you look at Aragon One, the core business model is to hold ANT and increase the value of it. Autark is specifically building aragon apps and even working on the core Aragon Client, as they become successful it generally reasonable to assume their will be ongoing contributions to Aragon. Aragon black has included Aragon in their branding and identity, and the fundraising app will provide a sink for ANT in the form of default templates. The flock program is more than just providing grants to independent projects even if the deliverables are valuable and strategic for the project to fund.

That isn’t the case with this proposal, and while I agree that the work is really important and valuable, and I would love to see Frame join the flock. I do think it is an important distinction. The idea of granting equity to the association is intended to create a stronger long-term alignment between Aragon and Frame, beyond just a 6 month set of deliverables, similar to the long-term alignment seen between Aragon and other Flock teams. This would align the projects while leaving Frame’s future strategy (in terms of direction and other sources of funding completely open ended).

I’m suggesting this because I tend to agree with your sentiment that it doesn’t necessarily make sense for a signing provider / smart wallet to branded as an Aragon Signer, that limitation in scope just doesn’t feel right. I also I think would limit the reach of Frame, and strategically I think frame would potentially be a great on-ramp for users to become familiar with Aragon so I would like for it to have as broad a reach as possible. However, I do think that it is really important for Flock teams be more than just larger nest grants.

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I agree it’s important for Flock teams to be more than larger Nest grants. I don’t agree that Frame is different from Autark or Aragon Black. We’re driven by the same mechanisms and our model is the same; return value to the Aragon ecosystem so we can make the Aragon vision a reality and can continue being funded by and working within Flock indefinitely.

If the value proposition of Flock is to sell ownership of your project to Aragon in return for investment our proposal would look very different. It would inherently weaken our alignment on contribution to the Aragon ecosystem in return for alignment on building equity value. We would now be incentivized to build value for ourselves and our equity to get better valuations in each round of Flock funding. The value of a program like Flock is that we aren’t forced to be driven by that and can instead focus on our contributions to Aragon and the value we return to the ecosystem, not ourselves or the value of our project’s equity.

Can you expand on this? What are some other sources of funding that you anticipate securing for frame in the future? Are you referring to other grant programs? VC investment?

If the intention is for Frame to raise funds from investors in exchange for equity, it seems that making the claim that granting the Aragon Association equity in exchange for funding would weaken alignment is a bit strange.

I would argue that you are already incentivized to do this. Issuing some amount of equity to the Aragon Association, doesn’t change the fact that equity in frame exists. I think there is a significant opportunity not only for smart accounts/wallets to be broadly adopted and gain traction but also something that could be successfully monetized in the future.

This seems to be where I think the proposal diverges significantly from other Flock teams, where the goals of the project in the future are not necessarily related to the goals of Aragon or serve to further adoption of Aragon’s infrastructure. Many of the items in the proposed roadmap are not really related to Aragon at all (hardware support, frame mobile, token support, gas controls) but rather general signer/wallet functionality, and many have also been included in previous nest grant roadmaps but not yet delivered (activity monitory, aragon smart accounts, persistent accounts, payload recognition, gas controls, run local services, ens/ipfs resolver are all in the current nest grant scope).

Anyways I don’t really want to push too hard on this, as I had originally just tossed it out as a suggestion because it seemed like an easy way to resolve the issues that @stefanobernardi identified in his post about IP and concerns about future alignment with Aragon… but I don’t think it is unreasonable for ANT holders and/or the Association to get some sort of equity stake in frame for funding the project if frame decides to go in the direction of a for profit start up as opposed to a grant funded open source project.

Instead of relying on centralized gateways, users can now create their own connections through a simple interface in Frame.

What centralized gateways are you referring to here? (Possibly related to my next question)

This infrastructure could replace the need for Aragon Desktop as we make more of these services easy and available.

Could you expand on this? I see Aragon Desktop as a way to free users from the reliance on app.aragon.org’s inherent centralization due to DNS, aragonPM, and IPFS gateways. How will Frame resolve these issues?

As we continue to deepen the integration with Aragon, users will be able to launch Aragon and create DAOs easily from Frame.

Is this basically proposing like a shortcut button to open the Aragon client somehow from within Frame?

Requirements: Blog access to publish Frame updates

Given your stated desire to remain brand-independent, will you continue to publish Frame updates via the Frame blog? If so, what will you publish on the Aragon blog?

(Happy to provide guest access for Frame + Aragon feature posts, just wondering exactly what you had in mind here.)

Currently an LLC, alternatives under consideration.

I don’t personally have a problem with a Flock team being a for-profit entity. But as Luke and Stefano point out above, the reason current Flock teams pass with this structure is that they are working full time on Aragon-specific infrastructure. Frame on the other hand, while certainly benefiting Aragon in some important ways, also has many items in its deliverables that are equally useful to other projects in the ecosystem, and is also building a product that can be monetized independent of Aragon.

So I see a few paths that could keep interests aligned going forward and could assuage concerns about who is funding and who is benefiting from the work of Frame. These paths are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and indeed may require some combination for the relationship to be sustainable.

  • Frame continues as a Nest team receiving smaller grants focused on Aragon-specific features, and seeks additional funding to fulfill its larger goals from other sources in the ecosystem e.g. MolochDAO or investor funding.

  • Frame changes its legal structure from a for-profit to a non-profit; another option is a hybrid setup like Mozilla where the non-profit 100% owns the for-profit, making it possible to both monetize while adhering to the non-profit mission. (I’m not sure if you even have plans to monetize outside of grants, but just putting this option here in case that is a consideration for the LLC vs non-profit entity.)

  • Frame sells some shares to the Aragon Association so that the AA can capture some of the value produced from funding features that are useful to many other projects in the Ethereum ecosystem and could be monetized independent of Aragon.

Frame is an awesome tool and I want to see it successfully funded as a piece of common infrastructure for the Aragon and Ethereum ecosystem (and beyond, potentially). How that happens just needs to be equitable for all involved.

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@lkngtn:

I was referring to funding from other grant programs and project integrations. Our current goal is to form partnerships and work closely with our partners on their needs to solve real infrastructure hurdles they’re facing in the ecosystem. We think we’ll be able to do this within other projects and it was one of the reasons Flock was attractive to us. We’re open to exploring the idea of issuing equity, something we haven’t done at Frame, but acquiring investment is not our intended direction with this proposal and I don’t see how it would work with the small scope and scale of this proposal. Perhaps an AGP for Aragon to invest in Frame would be needed to supplement this Flock proposal?

We created our proposal because we thought we could return lots of value to the Aragon ecosystem in a short timespan by prioritizing the needs of the Aragon stack. We felt that value would far outweigh the amount we needed from this grant and was thus a great effort for us to take on. All of our work would be completely open source for anyone to use and we thought we aligned with the Flock ethos. But maybe this approach doesn’t fit within the current Flock structure? I do think that if Flock is only welcoming to teams who have no other initiatives outside of Aragon, it will miss the opportunity to include very innovative teams in working towards the Aragon vision.

We’ve been very effective with our limited resources so far. Building an infrastructure tool that works across different OS platforms, browsers, signing hardware, EIPs, dapps, versions of web3, etc, etc, etc is a big challenge. The landscape is always moving and changing underneath you. We’ve successfully been able to do this and release mainnet ready software. As you mentioned, we’re in the middle of working on a Nest grant. As a Nest participant we’ve always been focused on the priorities of Aragon and it has informed many of the roadmap items you outlined having issues with. We believe Aragon benefits from this functionality existing at the OS-level and just because an item could be seen as a general ecosystem need doesn’t mean it isn’t a result of valuing Aragon’s priorities. As you know having used the 0.2 branch of Frame, most of these items are ahead of schedule and are currently undergoing a security audit. That being said, an initial implementation of these features and checking them off the list of requirements is not the goal here. To make these solutions really work we need the resources to support these features, the users using them and the ability to continue iterating on them.

@light:

In Frame v0.2 (that you can run today and is currently undergoing a security audit) users now have the ability to run both Ethereum light clients and IPFS clients locally with a simple toggle. On top of this we’re making it easy for users to resolve APM/ENS/IPFS content via Frame and our companion browser extensions. This gives developers the same benefits of building a fully decentralized desktop client without the need to maintain a separate codebase by hosting your existing web client bundle on IPFS and using Frame to resolve it.

We were planning an integration that gives users the ability to easily create Aragon smart accounts without an existing DAO and the ability to launch the Aragon client from these accounts via this decentralized infrastructure. We’re really excited about this and think it is an infrastructure improvement for Aragon. It also removes the effort needed for Aragon to maintain a desktop client. That being said, the same way it benefits Aragon it would also enable other projects to be truly decentralized and unstoppable. We think this is valuable work that pushes the vision of Aragon forward and would be a great addition and powerful component of Flock.

As far as blog access, we were thinking guest posts as you mentioned for Frame + Aragon updates, announcements, demos and guides. We’re easy to work with, we wouldn’t need any level of control or access, we just want to try to contribute helpful content there.


We thought this proposal was rather straightforward and clearly returned value by prioritizing the infrastructure needs of the Aragon ecosystem. That being said, if the way Flock is currently structured doesn’t support contributions from a project like Frame we’re not going to try to force it to work. We’re happy to remove our proposal and figure out other ways to continue working with Aragon to make our shared vision of the decentralized web a reality.

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Thanks for the explanations! Excited to learn more about your light client solution.

Operationally speaking, I want to point out in case you didn’t know that Flock proposals are supposed to pass a review by the Aragon Association in the Flock repo before they go through the AGP process:

Additionally it is expected that Flock proposals be submitted at least one month before the AGP vote to ensure adequate time for Aragon Association and community to review. Given the short notice for this proposal and its presentation outside of the Flock process it is unlikely it will make it to the ballot for ANV-3. You may want to discuss directly with the AA what the potential next steps from here are, if you haven’t started that discussion already.

Hey there,

Frame has been a long time collaborator of Aragon through its Nest grants. The potential value that can arise from a long lasting and productive relationship between Frame and Aragon is generally perceived by community members and Flock teams as high.

This being said, AGPs are due in a bit more than 24 hours and discussions around this Flock proposal are still at an early stage. This can be explained in part by the fact that the Flock submission buffer hasn’t been applied here (see @light’s comment above).

From what has been said in this discussion, buying some more time to discuss further about a sustainable agreement between Aragon and Frame sounds valuable to both parties. These discussions would also be an opportunity to clarify the appetite of the Flock program when it comes to teams like Frame.

Therefore, acknowledging that it may short notice for Frame to be considered by ANT holders for the Flock program in ANV#3, we suggest to start exploring ways to preserve the Aragon-Frame relationship until discussions include more perspectives and reach a more solid agreement.

Potential ways forward proposed by @lkngtn above sound on point, I will add/rephrase them:

  • Frame submits a Finance Track AGP asking for DAI and ANT in exchange for some Frame Shares
  • Frame submits a Finance Track AGP designed like a Nest proposal, but probably more sizeable, where Frame is funded to deliver a few agreed upon integrations and features, and receives an ANT reward upon success
  • Frame submits a 3rd Nest proposal to keep working as it does now. If this is the case, the ideal scenario is one where the Nest DAO is in charge of accepting/rejecting the proposal.

All of these would be temporary solutions, and clarifying the relationship with Frame in Q3 and before ANV#4 should be a priority. As soon as a better solution is found, a Flock application or Finance AGP can be proposed to update the terms of the relationship accordingly.

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Note: I need to check with the lawyers, but I don’t this the AA can hold shares, nor do we yet know if we want to. It would be very hard to then decentralize their ownership once we transition everything to the network.

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Following the advice of the Aragon Association, we’ve replaced our current Flock proposal with a smaller financing proposal. This gives us the ability to continue executing on the scope work we outlined while working with the community to figure out the best way we can contribute within the Flock program and hopefully join after ANV#4 in October.

Frame’s Finance Proposal

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