Next steps towards the Aragon Network DAO

Hey Aragon community,

In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to write some thoughts about the Aragon Network DAO and its future.

I recently proposed a possible way forward for the ANT-ANJ merger, and there were different views by both other community members and Aragon’s co-founder Jorge. I think this is healthy, since decentralized governance cannot happen without public discourse, and I am happy that at least my proposal sparked debate and interest.

As a co-founder, I know my words carry a lot of weight, but I just want Aragon to be successful, so I’m not afraid of withdrawing my proposals if the community comes up with better ones. In fact, I wanted to write this for community members to write their views, even if they are different to mine.

One issue that arose in the ANT-ANJ merger proposal was the ability for the Community Multisig to mint more ANT. The idea was always to have the Community Multisig as the placeholder for the Aragon Network DAO. We have been talking about that DAO for a long time, and about giving ANT holders true control. There has always been a technical reason to postpone, whether it was implementing a new feature, refactoring the system, needing more legal research, etc. Being the leading DAO project, our DAO must of course be excellent. But on the other hand, Aragon looks incoherent spreading DAO usage while not dogfooding its own.

A proposal to get ANT into Aave was also published, but Aave’s co-founder Stani expressed his discomfort about the Community Multisig being able to mint more ANT. Not only Aragon looks incoherent, not having its own DAO, but it is also limiting ANT’s adoption. So I think it would be a good moment to introduce a minimum viable DAO for the Aragon Network.

I’d suggest following the model that some communities are taking to progressively decentralize. That would be deploying an Aragon DAO that would have control over minting more ANT, and then have a multisig (which could be a cryptoeconomics committee elected by ANT holders) that can veto minting events. Then ANT holders might choose to, for example, make ANT inflationary with a predictable supply schedule. Or they might choose to instead cap it and follow a buyback and make model. Either way, the cryptoeconomics committee could veto decisions, minimizing the risk of 51% attacks or a malicious takeover. Eventually, the DAO might decide to replace the committee and adopt Aragon Agreements.

While I do think that launching a “perfect” DAO showcasing Aragon Agreements, Aragon Protocol and Aragon Govern would be ideal, if we cannot achieve that in the next few weeks, I would propose just adopting Aragon v1. Then the DAO can always decide to transition minting abilities to a new Aragon v2 DAO once ready.

Again, this is not a fully fledged proposal and it doesn’t intend to be. It’s just a few thoughts to kickstart open discussions, hopefully resulting in proposals by community participants.

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Hey Luis!

I would try to take a lean approach and launch a minimum viable DAO for the Aragon Network instead of waiting for the “perfect”, “fully featured” final one. This will give the community a chance to start experimenting on what works and what doesn’t in a faster and more involving way.

Also, IMHO the cryptoeconomics committee elected by ANT holders should happen as a last-resource safety mechanism. The fact of its mere existence can already disincentivize potential attack vectors, and I believe that it’s also important that there’s some visible faces that can act as stewards of the project vision (who may be recalled or changed by the community if they don’t do a good job doing so!)

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Hey Luis,

I really appreciate this post. I strongly agree with the need for a minimum viable DAO and that this should happen sooner rather than later. we should not make the good the enemy of the perfect. A few thoughts

  1. Govern is not ready yet and is not likely to be so using Aragon 1 is totally reasonable, its battle tested and already secures hundreds of millions of dollars.

  2. Using a multisig for veto makes sense. if we was to take this approach for the MVP, the multisig should only have veto powers. furthermore, It should include community members as representatives from the biggest users of the platform as they have the most skin in the game

  3. There should be a clear path forward from a DAO that controls ANT, to the vision of the AN DAO. There are a bunch of hurdles to making this happen, technical and legal. I dont think either have been articulated well enough. while its understandable given the current situation. I think its something we need to address.

Finally

I agree, your words do indeed carry a lot of weight. however I feel its the responsibility of every member of this community to make their voices heard.

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Thanks @luis . DAO is a gradual road, also a road of exploration from 0 to 1. we need to weigh many interest relationships and balance between ideals and reality. I approve of any real actions for this end. So I support.

About this, I feel we need to consider how to become one of them and what are the rules? what’s the process? I think the goal is that these guys can truly represent those who work hard to promote the development of Aragon.

I am unclear why the Aragon DAO would alter the underlying economic considerations. It would seem beneficial to come to decision beforehand and launch with a clear monetary framework for the protocol.

What is the benefit of creating a system that has the potential prevent the ability to trust the model over the long term. I don’t think people want to be worried about something significant changing because of a small activist population at some random point in time.

Could someone point me to the rationale behind this aspect of features/functionality?

Can you clarify what you mean there?

It seems natural that the DAO could start off as just a mechanism for people to coordinate and create stronger economic frameworks for the protocol. DAOs that have focused on community since day 1, instead of focusing on getting something perfect and launching later, have been way more successful. E.g. if you think about the income streams that Yearn had when it launched vs. the ones they have now, they look nothing alike.

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The work the DAO might do is different than the underlying monetary framework. I think Yearn is a good example. They are currently debating the change from a capped supply to minting more. If there is something to be learned it is which economic framework is more applicable for the purposes and operation of Aragon. Their monetary change has nothing to do with their applications and business. It is more a retroactive move from my understanding which has had a short term negative effect on the valuation. Long term, the new incentives may lead to better products. But the controversy and loss of trust could have been averted.

Things like a buyback program for example dont alter the fundamental monetary structure. Even a buyback and burn is a solution on top of some set cap or inflation schedule.

To be clear, i am not disagreeing with the ability to mint more, but depending on the levers, it is highly likely for an activist group to push for changes based on their interests or for a large apathetic community to stall significant monetary changes that are necessary.

Thus I am saying, further cementing the monetary policy framework provides a better story and mitigates the perceived risk (prior to launching). The more uncertainty about structures the higher the risk perception. The strength of Bitcoin is the clarity of its monetary supply. The strength of ethereum is it’s constrained monetary supply and applications that are accruing value.

If I understand you correctly you are focusing on having some predictable supply schedule, and I think that makes sense. It helps participants value the cryptoasset, as an unreliable supply schedule creates uncertainty.

I’d be in for incorporating some inflation, ideally going slightly down over the years as the value of the minted ANT increases in value. I’d love to see proposals around that as well.

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I agree with launching a minimum viable DAO for the reasons mentioned by @luis and @Joan_Arus . It looks bad that Aragon is the leading DAO infrastructure project, championing the benefits of decentralisation, autonomy and transparency but itself operates as a combination of multisig + legal entities. Not having a DAO will also slow adoption of $ANT since “infinite mint attacks” are one of the primary attack vectors of credit protocols like Aave and multisig controlled vesting obviously increases the risk of this.

I appreciate the points made by @jomarip but respectfully disagree. As a firm specialising in token economics, we feel it’s too early to begin designing Aragon’s token economic model, supply schedule and distribution. In our view, in order to design a token you first need to clearly understand who the stakeholders are, where value is created as well as where value is captured, as only then can you figure out who needs to be incentivized, how much and when. For this to happen, we need to have a live product with paying users.

We feel the primary focus right now should be on assembling a team and launching Aragon Govern, Agreements and Aragon Protocol. We’re extremely excited about the potential of these products and both our research and our hands-on experience working with clients tell us its a sorely needed governance primitive. Once this is live, we can collectively begin to understand how customers interact with it and figure out the right pricing model, token economics and supply/emission schedule.

In the meanwhile, it makes sense to launch a minimum viable Aragon DAO with minting capabilities, to be upgraded to Govern leveraging Agreements and Aragon Protocol once those are live. As the product evolves, the community will have the opportunity to follow its development and determine the token economic model and supply schedule that makes most sense to facilitate its growth. We would of course love to be a part of this conversation.

Lastly, while the Yearn minting debate was painful, I believe that: a) it’s exactly what decentralised governance is about and b) it yielded the right decision in the end. It’s worth remembering neither Yearn nor Aragon are trying to be Bitcoin. They aren’t money but rather early stage tech and their value derives from building products users want. While the capped supply meme and token burns are nice, there’s a reason startups don’t pay dividends and reinvest all their cashflows back into growth. Crypto projects will not be able to succeed without dilution early on to incentivise the right stakeholders with sufficient skin in the game. It’s very hard to determine this a priori and I think the YFI discussion shows the real mistake here is trying to set this in stone too early (i.e. burning the minting keys). I think we should instead put this in power in the community’s hands and trust ourselves to make the right decisions later on.

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Amen!

As someone who also specializes in token economics and public policy, I find the idea slightly distressing of not knowing who the stakeholders are. I completely agree that if you do not know these things you can not develop proper incentives. I did not know that the knowledge of the market Aragon is striving to serve was still largely unknown. I have never started a business without some initial strong hypothesis that I refine as the product continues.
I am not disagreeing with the ability to have minting abilities, but to have a framework for which it lies. But if we have not learned sufficiently in this time about the direction, then I understand. I would be more than happy to schedule some time to work with you @jose_delphi and @luis and whoever else to work through stakeholder mapping. I personally use a combination of VPIC (Visioning, Plan, Implementation and Close) and Customer Profiles from the Business Canvas for iterating through the question of stakeholders.