Do DAOs work?
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Do DAOs work?

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Good morning! This Wednesday, the downlow on DAOs, Tim Cook made a secret $275 billion deal with China, and an AWS outage took out much of the internet yesterday, including this publication. Sorry about that!

The Tao of DAO

Decentralized autonomous organizations are the way that much of the crypto industry is ostensibly organized today. But some critics are asking whether these groups offer a new world of crypto coordination, or just a more risky way to do things that already exist in traditional finance.

Put more simply: Do DAOs work as promised?

DAOs enable people to form organizations with no central leaders, run on top of a cryptocurrency, for some collective purpose.

  • They're often described as a way for people to avoid the hierarchical centralized systems in corporations or other large organizations.
  • They also offer transparency through the recording of transactions on a blockchain and are often run through rules enforced by a smart contract.
  • DAOs can be designed to be more loosely organized and easier to join than companies. (This makes it easier for people to drift in and out, too.)

Today, DAOs are being used across a range of purposes, such as social groups, collector groups, investor groups, talent agencies, research groups and media organizations.

  • There’s now an industry that provides services such as starting a DAO, providing tokens to DAO contributors, running DAO votes on proposals, handling disputes and managing DAO treasuries.

But can DAOs take the place of the trusty LLC? Can they fund startups or replace crowdfunding campaigns?

  • Advocates say that emerging tests of the model show it could bring more transparency and inclusiveness to businesses.
  • Critics say that DAOs are not really doing much new, are often not legal and often rely on an assumption of never-ending growth to fuel themselves.

Crowdfunding is a popular use of DAOs. People can spin up a DAO for virtually any financial goal, like trying to address climate change, buying the U.S Constitution or buying an NBA team: A newly formed DAO called Krause House describes itself as a “community of hoop fanatics that are just crazy enough to buy an NBA team.”

  • Some teams have started issuing tokens to give fans a vote on club decisions. And fan-owned professional teams are common in Europe and Latin America.
  • In North America, they’re rarer, though the Green Bay Packers has long operated as a publicly owned nonprofit.
  • But Krause House is the first to use blockchain-based organization as a path to ownership.
  • And it’s attracted some serious investors, like Michael Lewkowitz, a general partner at VC firm Possibilian Ventures, who bought some of the DAO’s NFTs for 22.2 eth, or roughly $93,000.

The biggest challenge for DAOs might be their legal status, which is still unclear. That could mean that for some time, the DAO won’t replace the LLC: Instead, it will ride on top of that structure’s established protections. Expect a growth industry in legal advice for starting your DAO LLC.

— Tomio Geron (email | twitter)

A version of this story first appeared on Protocol.com. Read it here.

Additional reporting by Ben Pimentel.

On the schedule

The year in enterprise tech

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Big Tech and gaming platform wars

Big Tech is more interested than ever before in trying to own and define the platforms of tomorrow, but game companies have their own unique visions for how we’ll play and socialize in virtual spaces in the future. Join Protocol's Nick Statt in conversation with Manticore Games CEO Frederic Descamps and Zynga CPO Scott Koenigsberg at 10 a.m. PT on Dec. 14.

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People are talking

Snap’s Bobby Murphy said eventually, everyone will make use of AR glasses:

  • “Almost everybody will get value out of wearing a pair of Spectacles or a wearable AR device some day, but that will still be a while.”

Will the real Satoshi Nakamoto please stand up? Craig Wright says he’s Nakamoto, the bitcoin creator, but crypto skeptics like Volt Equity’s Tad Park aren’t so sure:

  • “If [Wright] truly is Satoshi, he should prove it by moving a random amount of bitcoin from an ancient wallet, but so far it has not happened.”

People might be wary of working in the metaverse full time, but Pipo Saúde's CEO, Manoela Mitchell, said people eventually got used to it:

  • “We want people to have spontaneous conversations … and people love it.”

Elon Musk doesn’t care for EV subsidies in the new infrastructure bill:

  • "Do we need support for gas stations? No.”

Pascal Gauthier said Ledger is ahead of Block, but it’s still a big rival:

  • “It’s a $100 billion company. They're going to go aggressively after our market.”

Elizabeth Holmes didn’t correct the record when Fortune published a cover story on Theranos. But was she worried that it would cast her in a bad light?

  • “I was not.”

Making moves

Jessica Rosenworcel was confirmed to lead the FCC. Her nomination had support from both sides of the aisle.

Stan Chudnovsky will leave Meta next year. He oversaw the company’s messaging integration efforts and ran Messenger.

Halo Infinite’s campaign is here. It appears to be 343 Industries’ shot at bringing back some earlier Halo fans and making the series more relevant.

Vimeo made a few new hires: Adobe’s Eric Cox joined as chief revenue officer, and former Canva exec Crystal Boysen is the new chief people officer. Michael Schiff and Erick Cruz, both from Salesforce, joined as head of business ops and head of customer success, respectively.

Oren Teich is Foursquare’s new SVP of product. He most recently worked at Google as director of product development.

Judy Murphy joined Onyx Technology’s board. She’s the former chief nursing officer at IBM Global Healthcare.

In other news

Instagram introduced a slate of new tools for teens, just in time for Adam Mosseri’s testimony before Congress today. The platform is scaling back on recommendations for teen users and encouraging them to take breaks from the app.

There's also a big crypto hearing today. Execs from FTX, Coinbase, Stellar and others will testify to the House Financial Services Committee about how — and whether — they think crypto should be regulated.

Office re-openings are getting murky again. Meta and Lyft had both planned to re-open in the coming weeks, but both have now pushed the date back indefinitely. Expect more of this over the next few weeks.

Tim Cook made a secret deal with China, according to The Information. He supposedly signed a $275 billion agreement with the country years ago that promised to advance China’s technology and economy to avoid hostility from regulators.

AWS had an outage yesterday. Several websites were unavailable during the outage, including Protocol’s, and Amazon is still trying to figure out why.

Twitter bought Quill, a messaging service for businesses. Quill’s team will join Twitter Experience to help improve the platform’s DMs and other messaging tools.

Texas doesn't want its new social media law to be blocked. The state is looking to appeal a court ruling that temporarily stopped its new law preventing social media platforms from moderating content for hate speech.

Ubisoft wants in on NFTs with the introduction of Quartz, a platform forNFTs of in-game items like clothing and armor. This makes it the first major game publisher to launch a crypto project.

Bowser is paying Nintendo $10 million over piracy charges. No, not that Bowser. A hacker named Gary Bowser admitted to cyberattacking the company.

Airbnb’s Miniverse

It’s not necessarily the metaverse, and it has nothing to do with Meta. Airbnb launched the Miniverse, which Brian Chesky describes as a “miniature world of places you can book with Airbnb gift cards.”

Airbnb created a mini version of Iceland, but it’s unclear whether booking with a gift card will just get you into a Miniverse version of the home, or if booking through the Miniverse will get you a spot at the actual, real-world house. But seeing a digital 3D version of an Airbnb before booking it would be a super practical use of the virtual world!

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