Proposal: Transfer the Aragon Project Funds to an Aragon DAO Governed by (Delegated) ANT

Having recently joined AA as Head of Comms, I am taking an integrated approach (i.e. bridging the AA Comms + AN DAO Growth Guild) to building the comms function from the ground up. I am personally committed to stewarding team(s) towards transparency, alignment and integration and this process has already begun (regardless of the transfer). I share your views on it and do think that comms is one of the first functions to decentralize and fully integrate into the DAO. This said, perhaps the progressive decentralization timeline can be assessed on a team-by-team basis (rather than budget) - based on feasibility. Some teams are ready to decentralize in short order, others may require more runway to adjust. I’m volunteering comms as one of the first to take the leap, building on the success and learnings from guilds such as dtech. Hopefully, we can build on each other’s experiences and progressively iterate without putting undue stress on teams that require more time and support.

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Hi there,

After reading the comments in this proposal, I feel there’s a significant margin for improvement in some critical topics. I also propose improvement opportunities in each of those topics, as I believe that the current situation while being highly complex, is indeed an opportunity to improve what doesn’t work well. We should not be ashamed of tackling this.

DISCLAIMER: this is my personal view and analysis, as someone who has had the opportunity to engage with multiple stakeholders in both AA and AL and as a member of the management team of AL. However, I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.

Regarding purpose and velocity

  • Velocity can’t be decoupled from the WHAT is being built, which is tightly related to the PURPOSE of any given group with shared goals.
  • The complexity, security assumptions, and constraints associated with building a highly specialized vertical Web3 frontend are significantly different from building at the protocol layer.
  • Velocity is also a function of the operational complexity of any given project. It’s not the same to be 2-person team with full autonomy and ownership, than to have to coordinate across N-parties, each of them having different views on what to do next.

Improvement opportunity:

  • We need clarity on the PURPOSE for ANDAO and we need to think about the possibility of different purposes cohexisting within the Aragon Project. The AN DAO can have a more generic purpose, whereas a given Guild or Sub-DAO may have a more narrow-scoped one. Providing clarity on that will help set the expectations right, and it will allow for greater diversity in velocity capacities (we may have a given guild working in a verticallized front-end with faster velocity, and other working on Zk-rollup infra, which has much lower velocities due to the extreme complexity of the work)

Regarding psychological safety

  • I believe Aragon is in the best position to make DAOs actually work. My belief is that we are still in the early definition phase (we’re so early), and we’re experiencing what in biological terms is refered to as “natural selection”.
  • Instead of DNA strains, we’re selecting for governance configurations that maximize organizational fitness. Those configurations who succeed in making communities achieve their goals will remain, those who fail will disappear from the “solution space”.
  • My hunch feeling is that DAOs will succeed if they are able to keep some of the good parts of traditional organizations, disrupting the bad ones.
  • Among “the good parts”, one of them is social protection and psychological safety.
  • Without those, DAOs will remain a Millenial / GenZ burning machine. A churning beast that consumes young idealists as raw materials, squeezes their mental and physical energy, to moves to the next wave of contributors. While this may be good at a DAO level (if we equal a DAO to an organism), it’s fatal for the individuals (it’s cells). But in the long term, if the cells die and are not renewed at the pace they’re destroyed, the whole organism dies.

Contributors live in a world where a certain degree of stability is required to be able to think long term. People can’t plan nor commit to anything in real life without a minimum degree of stability and psychological safety. We should create the systems that allow for that while keeping accountability mechanisms in place. Otherwise, we’ll make DAOs a dystopian ultra-exploitative reality in which contributors live quarter by quarter and are churned every year, effectively erasing 200y of social advances in labor rights.

While I 100% agree with @luis that the AA/AL team should be proactive in bringing forward a proposal in order to specify how to work as part of the AN DAO, it’s important to mention that we expected to do this by 2023. The consensus was to have at least 1-2y of hyperfocus to advance in the different initiatives that are being pushed forward by the different teams, as I consider that it’s not possible to aim to do it all at once (we can’t focus on building while also paying attention to all the forum posts regarding governance proposals)

The sudden change of $20M allocation to no allocation at all and a 6 months deadline, and the lack of direct communication between AA Committee and the Core team, has caused:

  • A direct hit to the psychological safety across all AA/AL contributors, as it was perceived as the AA Committee doesn’t trust at all in what the team is doing.
  • Important hires have been stopped due to the uncertainty (we can’t ask top talent to quit current incentive packages in other projects to come to work for an organization that has a 6-month runaway. Wouldn’t be ethical).
  • Day-to-day operations significantly disrupted, therefore affecting our capacity to focus on the important initiatives.

BTW, I do believe that this psychological safety needs to span across all AN DAO contributors who devote their professional -and many times personal- lives to the project.

Improvement opportunity:

  • Review the strategic roadmap for Aragon Project together with AA Committee and the ANDAO community, to validate support from the different relevant stakeholders. To this aim, a new proposal will be put forward in the first half of June outlining the strategic guidelines that the AA/AL teams are proposing for Aragon Project to start that conversation.
  • Once that is done, provide budgetary stability so that the different teams currently working in AA/AL can focus on executing in the short-mid term. An ammendment proposal will be made in the next hours in that regards by a representative of the AA/AL teams, speaking on behalf of them so we can proactively signal our opinion.
  • In parallel, set a working group of AA/AL team members to define how that future relationship should be (becoming a fully fledged Guilds, create a Sub-DAO within AN DAO, etc). That working group needs to fully focus on this task, can’t multi-task across multiple initiatives.

Regarding attention
This last point connects to a problem that we clearly have experienced. This problem arises from the premise that:

  • People’s attention is a finite capacity asset and has a max “flowrate” (topics you can focus per amount of time)
  • If the amount of topics to look at increases linearly (or even exponentially) over time fast enough, capacity is soon maxed out.
  • Every new topic that is “important” or that you “need to be aware of” compounds the complexity of the rest. It’s not the same to focus on 2 topics with no interdependencies between themselves, than 15 with non-linear relations between them. The number of possible configurations exponentially grows.

The consequences of this are:

  • Productivity is greatly reduced: great results come people can focus. If they can’t, it’s very hard to reach deadlines or focus on what actually makes the project advance (apart from governance talks)
  • Anxiety levels go to the roof: when someone who has been fully focused in executing reads a Discord thread about “an important” topic that may deeply affect his future, and knows absolutely nothing about how that was a topic in the first place and how this may impact him/her, anxiety levels simply skyrocket. It’s a contant FOMO, but a bad one.

Improvement opportunity

  • TBH at this point I’m struggling to see concrete solutions for this, but I’m sure we could find a tradeoff that aligns both the path towards working on decentralizing Aragon and the ability of the AA/AL team to focus and ship. Would gladly welcome suggestions.

Regarding communication
One of the biggest frictions in this process has been to handle communications properly. The huge load and operational complexity haven’t helped (it’s been super challenging to proceed with the merge conversations between AA/AL teams while participating in this proposal). Without proper communication, the high degree of uncertainty and complexity leaves space for huge amounts of speculation. IMO the significant change in the allocated funding to Core Team and the deadline should have been better contextualized, and even better, direct communication between the AA Committee and the different stakeholders should have taken place beforehand.

For the part that I’m responsible for, I apologize for not communicating more and better. As I mentioned in my previous thread comment, I’ve found it very challenging to be able to focus on so many topics at once, with so many simultaneous moving pieces.

Improvement opportunity:

  • Increase direct communication across AA Committee, AA General Assembly, Core Team Leadership, and AN DAO representatives, with at least one monthly call where all the stakeholders can discuss strategic alignment, potential frictions and unblock blockers.

Lastly, I’d like to say that I am sure that we’re not the only ones facing challenges and complexity in the space. It’s how we deal with them that will either make us succeed or fail. We need to embrace those challenges without fear of having the hard conversations when needed, in a proactive and constructive way. I think that the proposal on the Strategic Roadmap for Aragon can be a great chance to engage in those conversations.

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Hello,

My personal view: I firmly believe that we need a 1 year runway for the core team to create stability and focus, to allow for better hiring practises to fill the holes required to ship this product (which is a noted blocker), and to allow for a properly defined transition. I believe the November 30, 2022 date should be completely removed as an option and a 1 year date added.

Furthermore:

  1. I agree with Joan that we need better/direct communication across AA Committee, AA General Assembly, Core Team Leadership, and AN DAO representatives. It is evident that this is a pain-point and has caused severe stress for the core team.
  2. We need to create an environment to hire top talent, this environment doesn’t exist currently, and has been proven to be a blocker. An outside consultancy provided feedback that AA/AL pay “way below” industry standard and is one reason we cannot attract the talent required for certain holes. I just spoke with an ex-Tesla employee who fits one of our needs, she asked me how things are going there, do I tell her she has 6 months before a proposal is created to see if she will continue working at Aragon?
  3. I completely disagree that any blame for the lack of shipment of this product should be placed on the current team, many of whom have joined within the last year. AA’s 2 leading engineers & CTO left due to the reasons above and are being replaced by an entire team from the merge of AL (which is set to be complete in the next 2 weeks) and thus this team has had no real opportunity to succeed as 1 entity.

I firmly believe that we should DAOify but it should be done in a way to empower and support the people currently giving every minute of their day towards this project. The core team are unbelievably invested and talented, and as mentioned above, doing it without the proper support. Can we please remember these are people.

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In the context of the current proposal, I think it’s important to separate two things:

(1) Transferring the Treasury and control of the ANT token contract to the AN DAO and implementing the delegative ANT voting system (the core objective of the proposal);

(2) Setting aside funds for AA/AL to continue operations during the transition period, which is separate from any allocations that may be decided through the delegative ANT voting system once it’s been implemented.

In the case of (1), the proposal suggests voting on three options as soft implementation deadlines (to be reviewed during the planning/implementation phase): Nov 30, Feb 28, Abstain (“neither”).

In the case of (2), I’ve been following the AA’s lead while keeping all communication/suggestion channels completely open. Again, assuming that the delegative ANT voting system gets implemented, it can certainly be used to allocate funding after Nov 30 to ensure a smooth transition beyond what’s described in (1). However, if folks feel strongly about preemptively extending the Nov 30 funding period, my suggestion would be to simply include it in the vote, for example through the following options: set aside funds for AA/AL to continue existing operations until Nov 30, Feb 28, May 31 (6-12 months). Again, this does not mean that work won’t continue beyond that date; it merely syncs funding with the new governance system as the DAO begins to organize more of its work through the sub-DAO/guild structure.

I hope this helps. Alignment is needed not only in terms of the core objective but also the best way of achieving it. Let’s make sure both are adequately represented in the vote text. I believe @AlexClay will be posting the draft for community review/feedback later today.

Keep your thoughts coming, everyone! It’s great seeing so much engagement - this is exactly how DAOs establish shared norms and practices in working through complicated situations.

3 Likes

Definitely, the scaling issues won’t go away by having a DAO, and there are tons of work to be done in order to make the DAO ship meaningful products/services. But I fear that if we don’t focus on that now, we will become meaningless in no time. There has never been a better moment to be a DAO than now.

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Hey all,

Have posted a draft of what the vote may look like for comments, should help some get up to speed and focus conversations as well.

Thanks,

Alex

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  • We need clarity on the PURPOSE for ANDAO and we need to think about the possibility of different purposes cohexisting within the Aragon Project. The AN DAO can have a more generic purpose, whereas a given Guild or Sub-DAO may have a more narrow-scoped one. Providing clarity on that will help set the expectations right, and it will allow for greater diversity in velocity capacities (we may have a given guild working in a verticallized front-end with faster velocity, and other working on Zk-rollup infra, which has much lower velocities due to the extreme complexity of the work)
  • Without those, DAOs will remain a Millenial / GenZ burning machine. A churning beast that consumes young idealists as raw materials, squeezes their mental and physical energy, to moves to the next wave of contributors. While this may be good at a DAO level (if we equal a DAO to an organism), it’s fatal for the individuals (it’s cells). But in the long term, if the cells die and are not renewed at the pace they’re destroyed, the whole organism dies .

Really great points here.

While I 100% agree with @luis that the AA/AL team should be proactive in bringing forward a proposal in order to specify how to work as part of the AN DAO, it’s important to mention that we expected to do this by 2023. The consensus was to have at least 1-2y of hyperfocus to advance in the different initiatives that are being pushed forward by the different teams, as I consider that it’s not possible to aim to do it all at once (we can’t focus on building while also paying attention to all the forum posts regarding governance proposals)

Hyperfocus means:

  • Iterating and launching products in weeks, not years
  • Having a “two pizza” team if you don’t have a product to scale up yet

I’d be in support of that, but what I have seen from inside the AA so far is quite different.

  • A direct hit to the psychological safety across all AA/AL contributors, as it was perceived as the AA Committee doesn’t trust at all in what the team is doing.
  • Important hires have been stopped due to the uncertainty (we can’t ask top talent to quit current incentive packages in other projects to come to work for an organization that has a 6-month runaway. Wouldn’t be ethical).
  • Day-to-day operations significantly disrupted, therefore affecting our capacity to focus on the important initiatives.

I honestly don’t quite understand the rationale here. Placeholder put forward a proposal to decentralize the treasury, and instead of viewing it as an opportunity, it’s being viewed as a threat by some team members. I get the whole point about stability, but if you want to achieve stability under this new hypothetical scenario, wouldn’t it be the best course of action to:

  • Start working on governance proposals for the DAO to fund the initiatives you want to make happen
  • Talk to the relevant actors (ANT holders) that might support such proposal, pitch it to them and get them onboard

In terms of hiring, I know personally that this has impacted some very high leverage hires, but I also know that excessive bureaucracy was impacting them even before. I have lived this very intensely as someone close to me (which is extremely top-notch talent with hacker attitude and successful founding background) was basically pushed away by extremely long reply times, unnecessary bureaucracy and a messy process. And this was probably the most important hire the project could have made right now.

Increase direct communication across AA Committee, AA General Assembly, Core Team Leadership, and AN DAO representatives, with at least one monthly call where all the stakeholders can discuss strategic alignment, potential frictions and unblock blockers.

This would make sense.

I also would like to apologize for not dedicating more time to Aragon. I mean, in general the committee isn’t doing a great job because of having very low involvement. I have encouraged the other committee members to comment on this proposal, because I’m the only one commenting here and I don’t really represent everyone’s opinion. I also gotta say that I have been an extremely supportive voice of the AA/AL teams in the committee (and generally speaking my attitude has been of absolute trust towards the team), but lately it has become very hard for me to defend things when I open the Zaragoza frontend (built over a year+?) and I find something I could code in a hackathon.

3 Likes

I firmly believe that we need a 1 year runway for the core team to create stability and focus

We need to create an environment to hire top talent, this environment doesn’t exist currently, and has been proven to be a blocker. An outside consultancy provided feedback that AA/AL pay “way below” industry standard and is one reason we cannot attract the talent required for certain holes.

+1. There’s a bigger issue at play here, and that’s the ANT that the Association has. It’s not a lot, as compared to other projects that have retained a massive portion of the supply. And I don’t think we’ll be able to attract top-notch talent without the AA/AN DAO (depending on this vote) having at least 2-3x the amount of ANT it has now. A big ANT buyback could help make this happen, but that would require a separate governance proposal.

I completely disagree that any blame for the lack of shipment of this product should be placed on the current team, many of whom have joined within the last year. AA’s 2 leading engineers & CTO left due to the reasons above and are being replaced by an entire team from the merge of AL (which is set to be complete in the next 2 weeks) and thus this team has had no real opportunity to succeed as 1 entity.

I agree but also respectfully disagree on this front. I have always taken ownership very seriously. For me, the CEO is always to cherish when things go well (although a good CEO cherishes their team and not themselves) but also to blame when things go sour. Joe knows this, and he knows that part of it might be that we need someone stronger in the product side of things. BUT it’s not only the CEO. It’s every person inside an organization. Because every person has a choice: to see things go slow and not do anything, or to roll up your sleeves and get to it.

The team must have seen the current state of Zaragoza, right? Hell, even if I wasn’t a programmer but I saw that frontend, I would just learn how to code to make it happen.

Now, ownership must be properly rewarded, and I agree that it’s hard to attract top-notch talent with such a low portion of the ANT supply.

PS: I always remember that team members are people, I have met most of you and you are all super nice (and most of you great professionals too) and I’m trying to highlight the issues that might make this team (even as a DAO) work better.

2 Likes

Welcome! And looking forward to chatting more, comms has always been a core pillar for Aragon.

perhaps the progressive decentralization timeline can be assessed on a team-by-team basis

I actually disagree here: progressive decentralization is a framework to decentralize a protocol with clear PMF and create a community to govern it. The key part is a protocol with clear PMF. Progressively decentralizing a team doesn’t provide any value per se, doesn’t correlate with ANT utility or with the Aragon Client having more usage, for example.

1 Like

Here is clear how the communication between team and committee is broken.

  • The frontend is just one of the parts that are being built, but of course, you know that.
  • Lots of work is being done on smart contracts, sdks, design system, guides, go to market, and user research
  • It has not been over a year, it has been over the last 6 months
  • The teams working on this have been under constant changes (people, priorities, processes and most important, strategy)

I agree that the work that has been delivered so far may not spark joy, but I also think that the lack of communication is leading the committee to undervalue the work that is happening behind the scenes.

And the worst of it all (my personal opinion) is that blame is being put onto people that are working their asses off, while it is clear that top leadership failed to guide them, even when asked (many times) to do it.

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  • The frontend is just one of the parts that are being built, but of course, you know that.

Of course I know that, but the whole idea for Zaragoza (that I bought because everyone in the team seemed excited by it) was to do human-centered DAOs. Which is literally, well, DAOs humans can use, which is literally, well, UX.

  • Lots of work is being done on smart contracts, sdks, design system, guides, go to market, and user research

Show me something I can use. Ship something usable, even though little and maybe toy-looking, every week.

  • The teams working on this have been under constant changes (people, priorities, processes and most important, strategy)

Then get out of the team, create your own guild and apply for funding to the DAO! I’d at least like the idea of people caring enough to go through the hassle.

And the worst of it all (my personal opinion) is that blame is being put onto people that are working their asses off, while it is clear that top leadership failed to guide them, even when asked (many times) to do it.

I don’t enjoy blaming people, in fact, I was just mentioning the committee how of an irony it is that I’m the only one commenting here and highlighting the flaws, when in the committee I’ve been the one defending this team the most (apart from Joe obviously). To say it bluntly, I had to eat a lot of shit for your guys to be able to build without bad vibes permeating everywhere.

while it is clear that top leadership failed to guide them, even when asked (many times) to do it.

Do you mean the committee, the CEO, both, or neither?


Again, I’m torn apart by the negative reactions here.
Instead of thinking of the future and how to improve our current structure by being a DAO, we are stuck in trying to keep the status quo.

Some ideas of how to leverage this opportunity:

  • Form more focused guilds towards specific problems DAOs face today (and build products to solve them) and present governance proposals for funding
  • Work on an ANT buyback proposal, so if this proposal goes through, the AN DAO can do a massive buyback to have more tokens to reward core contributors and attract top-notch talent
  • Think about how an ideal DAO would be if created from scratch. If we truly have the best talent in the DAO space, then this DAO should literally be the best DAO in the space. And in being so, it would attract even more funding, talent and opportunities
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On another note:

For a team building tools for DAOs, finally being able to transition to a DAO model should be the happiest day ever. It’s the day you can finally apply all your knowledge into building what motivates you the most, which in this case is DAOs.

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Starting this.

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Also as I stated before, the committee isn’t doing its job properly, and that was one of the motives behind this proposal: a well structured AN DAO can do a better job at high-level decisions than the AA committee is currently doing.

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To first contextualize my reply. I do think that going the DAO route makes a lot of sense for this project. At the same time, I’ve worked in enough places to know that what really matters in the end is the people doing the work, and if we don’t care about them, most certainly no good outcomes will come from a team, regardless of their organizational arrangement.

And we are glad for that. But again highlights how poor communication has been since the team is not aware of that.

The concept behind this is super cool, and I fully support it happening, given that we give enough time for people to prepare for a huge change in their lives. Changing the rules of the game is part of life, but there are always good and bad ways to do it. I personally think we are not doing this one properly.

It is a team’s work. Committee, CEO, myself, and at least a few other leaders failed to build the right strategy and provide guidance for teams to deliver.

You are torn apart because you have not been involved in the day-to-day of these people in the last year. Mixed messages and lack of clarity were dominant, and then, from one day to the other, they realize (without proper communication) that their professional expectations must change significantly.

@luis to be 100% clear here - I don’t think the core idea behind this is bad, or that you don’t want the best for Aragon, I simply think that we are ignoring a big part of the internal stories over the last year, and are failing to properly manage people’s expectations and truly recognize the effort they have been putting into this project despite the problems they faced.

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Thanks for the clarifications. Would you say more transitionary time would fix the issue? I’d say there are two ways of looking at it:

  • More time
  • Faster pace

More time at a slower pace = less time at a faster pace

Given the urgency (DAOs blooming without Aragon having a tangible product), I’d say we should reorient the conversation around how to increase the pace and reduce the time for such a transition.

That entails:

  • Having clear funding proposals for each guild
  • Having clear KPIs to measure their success
  • Creating a transition plan for each team member to become a core contributor
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The proposed vote text includes the option of transferring the treasury in 6 to 9 months (plus Abstain, which can be interpreted as “a third option is needed”), and of extending the runway from 6 to 9 to 12 months before syncing funding with the delegative voting system, should it get implemented. I encourage everyone to publicly provide their arguments for why a particular timeline is good/bad so that everyone participating in the vote can make a maximally informed assessment.

With regard to the process of “changing the rules of the game”, what would you say is a better way of doing it at this point in time than having an open, collaborative proposal process and then voting on it? I’ve really tried to make the whole process as public and inclusive as possible but if folks have suggestions/learnings, please make them known, to be taken into account in the upcoming planning/implementation phase, whatever the end goal ends up being.

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Mario, I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. I have an external point of view and truly think this path of full decentralization all at once is the best option. And from my understanding, you’ve been fed with information to support your view (which may not have been the most accurate information).

If this proposal didn’t include cutting off funding for a team that has been promised stability and a clear strategy (doesn’t matter if this is right or wrong, what matters is what was promised to them) I BET that the large majority of the team would be supporting it.

In my view, the right way to do this would have been pushing for a total transfer, putting aside a 2 years runaway (or even a one year one) to allow people to decide what they want to do with their careers since a major change in what they have been told happened. This doesn’t mean giving away money that wouldn’t result in value being created (just like MANY of the grants in DAOs in the space), just means we are valuing the work done so far and we allow them to choose their path wisely, while, of course, generating proper value while they are here.

A one-year runaway with the current costs would be around 5% of the whole treasury (which from my low understanding is also way less than what we might pay in taxes to do this transfer) and would signal the team that a transition is happening, and they should prepare for next year.

But. then again, who am I to judge anything… Just trying to represent the voices of people I personally care about and who are going through a lot with the current scenario.

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I’d say the ethos of the proposal is not about “cutting off funding” but rather to sync resource allocation with the core of the proposal which is to create an on-chain DAO governed through a delegative voting system. The upcoming vote allows extending the runway to 12 months, and even if Nov 30 ends up the winning option, funding through the on-chain Treasury would still be available. A lot also depends on the implementation plan created after the vote. In other words, I think the DAO has all the tools/resources needed to make this a reasonably smooth transition, should the proposal pass. Thank you for sharing, it’s important!

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I will reinforce @mlphresearch’s point, but do you realize that this proposal doesn’t mean cutting off funding to the current team by itself? It only means so if the current team fails to convince ANT holders that they are creating anything of value. So, the question is: do you believe you are creating value? If the answer is yes, you should rest assured and trust in capitalism, which works well and should reward you for value creation. If the answer is no, then your worry is more than justified.

That’s all of course under the assumption that the current team would want to keep being one team and not multiple guilds, which is another possibility that team members could explore at their own will.

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