First impressions of a DAO: from the perspective of a Web2 founder

This week I became a contributor to my first DAO.

As a founder and an accountant, I’m interested in governance mechanisms and how people are incentivized.

Rather than reading about DAOs, I decided I would learn the fastest by diving in and contributing to one.

I am attracted to the ability of DAOs to provide more equitable ownership and governance rights. But on the other hand …

I have been scarred by university group assignments where one person does 90% of the work and everyone shares in the grade.

Will a DAO be similar to those university assignments or can the flat structure enable contributors to be equitably rewarded for working on their areas of interest?

Here are my impressions so far.

Your role in the DAO is based on your results, not your resume

In the Web2 world you secure a full-time role by going through a rigorous recruitment process.

Sometimes people who are great at selling themselves win roles over people who are more competent.

There are no interviews in a DAO.

Instead, you start out by joining, observing, and then contributing. As you prove yourself, you can take on roles with more responsibility and leadership.

This encourages you to deliver results rather than focus on selling yourself in an interview.

An open question: how do DAO talent scouts know who to develop and what areas they might be interested in without seeing someone’s full work background?

DAOs have more internal meetings than a remote Web2 business

I’ve run a remote Web2 business for almost 7 years. We have team members based in 6 different countries which makes it difficult to hold meetings at a time that suits everyone.

We mostly avoid meetings and use async communication tools like slack and loom videos.

From what I’ve seen so far, it would be common for an active DAO member to have DAO meetings multiple days per week. As an Australian, I also found that most DAO meetings are between 2-6am my time.

When I was CEO of a Web2 business I would actively try to move meetings to email, slack or loom videos. If they were absolutely unavoidable then I’d try and limit them to 30 minutes with a clear agenda.

Open question: How can US-centric DAOs have more inclusive timezones for Asia / Pacific and could the number of meetings be reduced?

Guilds are collaborative and transparent

I’m not a full member in either of the DAOs that I’ve joined, but my guest pass gives me access to see a ton of information.

This includes projects that are being voted on, allocation of roles, and amounts that people are getting paid.

This morning I joined my first meeting for the EPA (part of the Writer’s Guild). There wasn’t a clear hierarchy and it seemed very friendly and collaborative.

An open question: does the collaborative nature of DAOs result in a slower speed of execution?

Going full-time DAO

I’ve heard of people going ‘full-time DAO’ and this is something I want to dig into.

So far all I have is a list of questions I want to seek answers to:

  • What is the average income of a full-time DAOer?
  • Are they earning an equivalent income to their previous full-time Web2 job?
  • Is anyone full-time DAO and supporting a family in a high-cost of living country (eg Australia / US)
  • What other career options were they considering when deciding to go full-time DAO?
  • Is it mostly employees making the transition to flexible work or are entrepreneurs switching to work in DAOs?

I’m also interested in understanding why people join DAOs.

Here are my thoughts so far:

  • To belong to a community of like-minded people
  • To earn an income
  • To improve a skill
  • To build a reputation
  • To learn about Web3

Do DAOs need a business model and if so what is it?

I took a peek at the DAO's most recent financial statements and ‘Payments to Contributors’ are a significant line item on the profit and loss.

DAOs need to have a mechanism to earn income so they can pay their contributors.

It seems like the main DAO business model is a ‘media business’. Where the DAO creates content in the form of articles, newsletters and podcasts and then sells advertising space.

Bankless DAO also has a consulting arm and an education arm.

Open questions:

  • how do incentives work for the revenue-generating parts of the DAO? Eg are there sales commissions for people selling the advertising space?
  • how does ownership of the revenue-generating sections work? Does the whole DAO have an ownership or only the people contributing to that area?

My first week in a DAO has created more questions than answers, but I’m excited to dive in, contribute and learn more about DAOs.

The Bankless DAO seems like a friendly, open and collaborative community of motivated people who are interested in developing new skills.

Over the coming weeks, I will be writing follow-up articles to answer some of the open questions I raised.