NEAR Ecosystem Treasury DAO

TLDR: Proposal to establish an Ecosystem Treasury DAO. Proposal includes member selection, funding this treasury with up to 200M $NEAR from NEAR Foundation and potential types of allocations. The next step is for the NEAR community to give feedback on this proposal and, if no major concerns are surfaced within the next 2 weeks, to launch the vote for initial members of this DAO.

Preface

The NEAR Ecosystem is growing at an exponential rate and there is not single organization that can efficiently manage this. This is why decentralization is important not only on the technology and community side but on the strategy and funding side as well. To achieve this, a DAO of DAOs approach is taken: lots of small DAOs each with specific purpose around supporting a Guild, a project or a type of fund allocation.

At the root of DAO of DAOs is Treasury DAO - the one that allocates to the first level of sub DAOs and decides on the high level which directions to invest in the ecosystem. Transitioning this role from solely NEAR Foundation to a decentralized organization is Foundation’s long term goal and has the benefit of increasing transparency, involving more people in the process and being more flexible around some decisions.

Proposal

Establish a DAO as the NEAR Ecosystem Treasury to grow the Ecosystem. DAO members will be identified via delegation of staked $NEAR to pseudonymous and known actors (see Tech Details).

To scale the fund allocation, the Treasury DAO is not expected to allocate funds directly into projects / initiatives. Instead, the Treasury DAO will allocate funds into other DAOs. Members of the Treasury DAO will focus on defining the strategy for allocating the funds and due diligence/reviewing of DAOs to fund into.

Members will need to select the “Chair” who will be responsible for driving members to come up with the high level strategy, collecting information about proposals, and enforcing the timeliness of the DAO’s decisions.

The work of the Chair will be compensated from Treasury DAO, as this is expected to become a full time job and may require a team and funding other DAOs / projects to do research. The rest of the members initially are not expected to be compensated, as they are already holders of $NEAR, but Treasury DAO could potentially establish a compensation plan as well. The Chair is also responsible for providing transparency into allocations back to the community by participating in Town Halls and presenting progress of allocation and subsequent results.

Funding Allocation

NEAR Foundation will allocate funds via public grant to the initial members of the Treasury, who have known identities in the ecosystem. The initial size of the grant is proposed as 30M $NEAR.

The Treasury DAO grant can be renewed to cover the rest of the Ecosystem’s funding from token distribution (up to 200M $NEAR total) if the Treasury DAO has not had any issues and has earned the support of the community.

Tech Details

Due to technical limitations of staking and lockup contracts, there is a problem with enabling continuous delegation. The process also is more predictable if there is a specific voting period requirement rather than rolling or continuous voting.

There will be a delegation smart contract DELEGATION. On every first day of the quarter, the checkpoint of current delegations will be taken and committed to the DELEGATION contract. Anyone can register as a candidate for delegation, provided they have 10k $NEAR staked and include some information about their role in the ecosystem and identity: role in the ecosystem (validator, developer, investor, etc), twitter handle, description of how they see their position in Treasury DAO and anything else they want to share.

Each account that has staked or delegation then can call delegate(account_id, amount_pct) function on DELEGATION contract to allocate a percentage of their stake to one of the candidates. Every quarter when the stake is updated, the votes for a given account get rescaled to the amount they have staked in the snapshot (e.g. if a user had staked 100k $NEAR on June 1 but only has 50k $NEAR on July 1, their delegation weight will reduce by half).

At the end of the quarter, the votes go into effect, reweighting and potentially changing current DAO members. To facilitate communication and information sharing, members should use the NEAR ecosystem forum at https://gov.near.org (though we expect that there will also be a dedicated Telegram or other messaging group and bi-weekly meetings to be managed by the Chair).

To prevent the “tragedy of the commons” pitfall of too large a group where participants become inactive, the DAO membership is limited to the top 21 delegates.

The DAO will make decisions via voting of the members with a quorum achieved by 11 of delegates.

The Chair is appointed by the DAO members via vote and will be active until explicitly changed by the current members. The Chair does not need to be a standing member of the Treasury DAO.

Potential allocations

The community has already proposed several DAOs which could potentially get funding from Treasury DAO in its first voting period. These include:

  • Liquidity DAO: a DAO focused on funding liquidity incentives and other DeFi needs in the ecosystem.
  • Marketing DAO: a DAO to fund operations of Guilds focused on awareness and marketing for ecosystem projects. NEAR already has a number of guilds like this and they are important to grow awareness and spread information across the ecosystem in a more emergent, decentralized way. It’s already clear that the NEAR Foundation is not an efficient way to do this for the whole ecosystem.
  • Grants DAO: DAO that allocates grants to builders in the ecosystem. This is to augment the existing NEAR Foundation Grants Program and provide a more scalable and transparent approach going forward.
  • Guilds DAO: a DAO that would allocate funds to all the Guilds in the ecosystem.

Collecting the list of potential funding recipients and ensuring timely decisions by the delegates will be the job of the Chair initially. The Chair will be facilitating KPI collection from the funded DAOs and report back to the ecosystem on the result at the end of each quarter.

A comparable example is a VC that invests into independent companies and collects information about their investment for their LPs, which in this case are all NEAR holders. Using this information to learn and improve how to best do these decisions will also be big factor.

Next Steps

This Treasury DAO proposal is active for discussion until June 30, 2021. Incorporating feedback from the community will be a major part of this process. After that is done, and if the proposed plan is mostly intact after the discussion, the technical implementation will kick in.

NEAR Foundation will allocate the grant if the amount of voted tokens is above 66% from the total staked (excluding Foundation’s delegations) indicating that a critical part of the network is participating in the selection process. If 66% are not achieved within 30 days from the start, NEAR Foundation will be responsible to collect information about why a large percentage of stake didn’t participate, provide a report with community feedback, and suggest another iteration of this process.

The goal for the selection process would be to guarantee a set of initial members who represent different stakeholders in the ecosystem: validators, projects, DAO operators, strategic investors and thinkers. NEAR Foundation should help to promote candidates from various stakeholder types, balancing out the initial membership in the DAO.

PS. For more on how I believe DAOs are changing the way people are working together read and how Sputnik can provide tooling for that: Sputnik DAO: Empowering Communities | by Illia Polosukhin | SputnikDAO | Jun, 2021 | Medium

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in the first 2 years, A temporary committee composed of NF, core team, and community representatives will be OK.

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I see this as a requirement. “Expected to” leaves wiggle room for the chair to not track KPI. Maybe just a semantic detail. More robust documentation of Chair role & responsibilities will be good to establish as part of this process.

Super exciting direction/initiative!

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From first sight 21 voting members seems to be a bit high from practical point of view. It would also makes sense to have it prime number - 13 or 17 are a perfect candidates.

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I think the set of top level DAO members should be strictly removed from decision making at the sub-DAO capital allocation level.

The analogy would be CIA providing funds to Afghan proxies to fight Soviets, where biases in perception of political alignment deviated funding from equal weighting. Proxies which were worse funded could compensate by using better tactics and being more resourceful.

A similar approach makes sense here to enable better capital allocation decisions at the sub-DAO level to compensate for any correlated biases in capital allocation at treasury DAO level i.e. prevent micro-management and meddling.

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I tend to agree that 21 is too much. I got some feedback that it would make sense to start small and extend over time vs starting with a big group that doesn’t know each other.

I think optimal start point is 5 members, as it’s small enough for people to get familiar with each other quickly, vote in the Chair and start initial process. And then for next quarter can extend it to 7 and further based on vote distribution.

That is exact idea of DAO of DAOs approach: sub-DAOs decision making is not affected by the Treasury. Think of them as separate companies. Otherwise it’s also a big conflict of interest.

The goal for Treasury DAO is to define strategy of investment, make sure the DAOs it is funding are legit and also request reporting from these DAOs on quarterly basis to report back to the community on how Treasury DAO doing. This is similar how VC would report to LPs on their investments - collecting stats of the companies that they have invested in but not taking executive control in any way, just some advisory help if asked.

I would also expect that Treasury DAO will be investing into mulitple sub-DAOs of the same sort. For example in 10 different Grants DAOs with different focus: infra grants, grants in India, grants in Latam, grants for students, grants for startups and etc. Each of these Grants DAOs can be run by a small group of people as well, making them efficient at sourcing projects and quickly getting them to funding decision.

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I agree that it will be more effective to start with a smaller number of members, and it is also easier to gauge participation and responsiveness in a smaller group. Starting with 5 or 7 seems to be a nice fit.

To prevent the “tragedy of the commons” pitfall of too large a group where participants become inactive, the DAO membership is limited to the top 21 delegates.

While I see how a smaller group would prevent “the tragedy of the commons” (I believe the expression is being misused here but I will go with it), I don’t see the reasoning on why it is wise to restrict membership to the top 21/17/13/7/5. This only helps the big getting bigger…

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There should also set constraints minimum capital allocation per sub-DAO segment. Top level DAO committee may have view on temporal sequencing of sub-DAO segments in terms of product market fit, but these can be hard to time and can be wrong.

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Great idea overall - DAO model is the only way forward to ensure the further development of the NEAR Ecosystem.
Unlike other comments - I don’t think 21 representatives are too high of a number.
The idea behind the DAO is distribution of power and control versus centralization in a few hands. We want to avoid centralization and possible corruption at all costs.
Another important consideration for selection of DAO delegates is making sure you have a balanced selection of not just technical operators but also stakeholders and community members working in other areas: marketing, education, etc.
It’s easier said than done actually.

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These are top by delegation, not by stake. Most of the big stakeholders will be delegating to designated individuals that would represent their position. Though if you have suggestion of selection criteria to use instead, I’m all ears (see below couple alternative suggestion that I have).

I agree, but I don’t think it’s practically possible in the selection process. To represent their needs and positions delegates are needed.


One of the options that we have discussed before, addressing both of these questions, is having a X seats that each will be filled in by a sub-DAO. E.g. if there are 5 sub-DAOs like “Stake DAO”, “Guild DAO”, “Validator DAO”, “Developer DAO”, “User DAO”. Each of these DAO would need to select one delegate that then will be active participant of the Ecosystem DAO. This model would allow to actually have equal representation by various types of stakeholders.

I think over time this might become a good way to select members, but currently I don’t see that much participation from many of the types of stakeholders. Hence it’s unclear that at this moment they will self organize enough to select a reasonable candidate for participation.


Another alternative is to use quadratic voting in delegation. This way the broader community will have more relative weight than large holders. This is especially true given most of the large holders are still in lockups and are not even able to split their funds into multiple accounts.

The problem is really in that when there are too many people - each individual has way less responsibility and motivation to speak up / protest or promote their idea. At the end DAO is still a group of people that are working together.

In practice, even a meeting with 10+ people already end up not very efficient due to this.

The various stake holders and community members can and should come in as parts of sub-DAOs, taking on specific challenges, getting funded, doing the work and reporting back to community on the work done.

The job of Treasury Council at the end will be to make funding decisions. So in really it will end up being a mix of an investment and politics: represent the delegates, negotiate with sub-DAOs, allocate funding and keep sub-DAOs accountable.

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so the snapshot updates by month? should by quarter, right?

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I still don’t understand about, what is the source of those maximum 200M $NEAR? Thanks a lot!

We currently have the CommunitySquadDAO and CreativesDAO funding initiatives and projects from the Community. How to best reconcile with the Ecosystem TreasuryDAO, more specifically Marketing and Guild DAOs?

One way of increasing value for our community is establishing a threshold amount where there is a min/max value for proposals reviewed by the Ecosystem Treasury. This way, below the threshold proposals can continue to be submitted and reviewed by the Community Fund DAOs. I will post more details on this on the forum.

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Correct, the snapshot time should match the re-election time.

The funds are coming from the “Community” and “Early Ecosystem” buckets in the initial token allocation. See details of these buckets here.

Ecosystem Treasury DAO should indeed only focus on funding things like Marketing DAO, Guild DAO and CommunitySquadDAO itself. We can define the size / timeline of funding (e.g. it will be larger check for longer period of time).

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This is a great initiative - NEAR will ultimately need a Treasury to oversee the allocation and use of funds.

Making such a Treasury representative of the entire community mainly via delegation seems sensible.

Although I can understand the concern voiced by eluzgin about a Treasury DAO being too small a group of people ultimately we need a group of people which is elected by the stakeholders and which can work well and decisively together. Large numbers militate against this .

Finally…the BIG question. Why focus on establishing the Treasury without due consideration of the strategic direction? Surely this is the most fundamental thing to get right first - a Treasury is just part of the enablement process.

Can I refer you to NEAR Governance - moving toward more community involvement - answering the questions posed here should help get strategy and direction right.

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I agree with limiting the number of initial members. I like the idea of 7 or 10 those are both numbers of completion and give more weight to voting initially. We can also easily find from the community or sub-DAO’s enough folks to fill these seats.

I’m glad to hear that these members will vote in the Chair as I wondered what the selection process would entail.

I also agree that there should be a representative or proxy from each of the sub-DAO’s to ensure their needs are being met.

The cap of 200M initially seems as though it could be distributed very quickly with sub-DAO’s in mind. I would recommend raising this to 500M. How will additional funding be added from the Foundation or is there a thought that there will be other contributors?

In terms of voting, I agree that it should be done by delegation of stake this is the voting mechanism at the core of NEAR and should be utilized. However, it would be nice to be able to delegate voting rights without unstaking. I know we are looking at things like this with MetaPool (stNEAR). Additionally, a voting system should be built similar to SnapShot on ETH to facilitate voting throughout the ecosystem.

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According the initial token allocation , there are 503,000,000 NEAR under the control of NF:

  • operations grants,11.4%=114,000,000
  • foundation endowment 10.0%=100,000,000
  • early ecosystem 11.7%=117,000,000
  • community grants,program… 17.2%=172,000,000

how many #NEAR left of “Community” and “Early Ecosystem” buckets by now?

Love this!

Considering 200M NEAR is quite a large amount, perhaps we should experiment with a variety of Ecosystem Treasury DAOs, in order to understand the different models and collectively decide what works best. I’d say that is already happening on the Sputnik DAO platform ~ so far, about 131K NEAR has been distributed as a result of 891 successful proposals going through 58 DAOs (23 councils have approved more than 5 payouts). Details: https://stats.sputnik.fund

Also, we have multiple DAO frameworks in our ecosystem, including Sputnik, Catalyst (akin to Moloch on Ethereum), and potentially others. How might we choose an optimal design for this Ecosystem Treasury DAO? Ultimately, who will decide what our validators must decide?

Of course, I understand the need to keep it simple and focus on this root DAO of DAOs. Establishing a legitimate process for transparent decision making at the highest level would facilitate progress toward responsibly decentralizing the NEAR Community Fund.

Eventually, might be worth pluralizing each categorical “sub DAO” that receives allocations. For example, we could have many interconnected Marketing DAOs with unique names, goals, members, configurations, and projects. These would probably emerge from the official Marketing DAO, similar to how Creative DAOs like NxM operate as beneficiaries of the Creatives DAO. Smaller amounts requested by these particular DAOs would mean less risk and more granular accountability for the overall Ecosystem Treasury DAO(s).

As we move forward in exploring the possibilities, I’m hoping to use a v1 Sputnik DAO for gauging opinions / feelings about off-chain proposal discussions and technical implementations. For that purpose, there is a new DAO here:

https://www.sputnik.fund/#/dao/join.sputnikdao.near

Everyone is welcome to submit a “New Member” proposal to join the council and vote in polls. Anyone may submit a reasonable “Payout” proposal in order to see what people think. Below is a guide for participation ~ help us experiment with governance of DAOs, by DAOs, for DAOs!

:sparkles: :sparkles: :sparkles:

Click To View Guide

Join Sputnik DAO

Step 1: Navigate to Join.SputnikDAO.near

Step 2: Click “Create New Proposal”

Screen Shot 2021-06-25 at 4.01.30 PM

Step 3: Select “NewCouncil” Proposal Type

Step 4: Input Account ID and Proposal Description

Screen Shot 2021-06-25 at 3.57.41 PM

Step 5: Link To Your Forum Post

Screen Shot 2021-06-25 at 3.59.54 PM

Step 6: Allow Transfer of 0.1 NEAR

This bond (deposit) will be returned if your proposal is approved.

Step 7: Notify Council Members

Telegram: Contact @sputnik_DAO

Submit a Proposal

Follow the steps above to create a poll. However, instead of a “NewCouncil” proposal type, choose “Payout” in step 3, like this:

Feel free to request a bit of NEAR for your time and effort. However, keep in mind, council members are less likely to vote if you ask for more than 1 NEAR.

The proposal description should be a YES / NO question for the council. Please try to phrase it carefully, so there is minimal confusion.

v2 Sputnik DAOs have a better polling feature, and this might be a very temporary experiment. However, I hope it can be a fun way to learn about contributing to NEAR governance.

Thanks for your attention! I’d appreciate any feedback :satellite:

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Will express my support for this as well - think it’s an excellent initiative that I am certain will accelerate growth across the ecosystem - unlocking existing talent and passion while also attracting more. I like visualization, so offer this up as my understanding of what is being described:

Initial Thoughts

On my first read through, it struck me as being a very hierarchical structure with a centralized decision making body, but I think it’s absolutely necessary to have that central council setting/directing strategic priorities - the importance of which would be represented through size of funding provided to the sub-DAOs (represented in the pic above: liquidity, grants, marketing, guilds).

Very much in agreement that setting up the ecosystem funding along functional lines makes sense. Give the sub-DAOs adequate resources and let them go off and do great things - each of them basically nurturing and growing communities within their functional domain.

Evolution

After visualizing what it might look like, was comforted by the fact that although it seems very centralized in terms of funding flow at the start (ecosystem treasury to sub-DAO to individuals/projects), there is nothing stopping the structure from evolving into a more decentralized entity creating links outside of the initial functional lines, interconnecting with DAOs and indivs/projects that may be operating in other functional areas as long as DAO interoperability is a foundational component.

For example, a project DAO funded by a grants DAO can submit proposals to a graphics design DAO funded by the marketing DAO. Get pretty excited thinking about all the different ways these various individuals/communities could start interacting.

To that end, I like what James mentions here (maybe because he mentions Catalyst :slight_smile: ) - but I think it’s a valid point that should be embraced:

DAO Platforms and Interoperability

By virtue of NEAR’s account model, pretty sure DAO platforms built on NEAR will at least have a basic level of interoperability in that DAO members on any platform should be able to submit proposals and receive payouts to a DAO account on a platform of their choosing. I think, from an accountability and transparency standpoint, it’s important that happens vice sending funding direct to a non-DAO (personal) account.

Accountability and Transparency

Would also recommend/emphasize that one really think through the accountability piece. Obviously transferring a lot of control/trust over to the sub-DAOs to achieve the strategic objectives in their functional domains. Ensuring that formalized/regular reporting on progress towards those strategic targets should be emphasized to keep things moving along with some thought on what happens when things don’t go as planned (unintentional negligence or worse).

That said, how sub-DAOs implement their own accountability systems should be up to them, but I’d suggest some kind of basic framework would be useful to get things started and facilitate mutual understanding.

Questions

Couple questions:

  1. Curious about the delegation piece. In Catalyst we’re building in ability to delegate or take back delegated shares (voting power) at any time. I guess I’m not clear on what the issue is with continuous delegation. The way we envision it - members of the DAO have submitted their contributions to the community fund - and once we figure out who to do it/build it, we want to put the fund into a staking position until it is needed - at which point funds will be unstaked and distributed. In doing so, we track how many shares each person has separate from that, thus the voting power can move around.

  2. Do you see the sub-DAOs essentially submitting business plans that provide a breakdown/justification of funding being asked for to conduct planned activities in their domain? Or is an initial allocation just sent to each sub-DAO to manage and they decide what to do based on what they are given?

  3. In my opinion, quorums are annoying :slight_smile: It is frustrating when a proposal goes through the entire voting period (which could be a substantial length of time) and doesn’t achieve quorum. Then the whole process needs to start over/delay everything simply because someone decided not to show up and vote. Maybe consider not baking a quorum requirement into the contract and take the view that those who are motivated/care about it are going to show up and vote. i.e., let it pass or fail based on who decides to participate and let the delegation take care of whether uninterested people remain part of the community (could also be something more formal like a member removal proposal).

Summary

Again, love the direction this is going. I think it will definitely bring some more apparent/transparent structure to better enable achievement towards operational/strategic priorities while improving understanding of how to seek/get support to build/contribute/participate in the ecosystem. And the best part, in my mind, is that we are looking at relying on and pushing the development of DAOs and open web tools to fully realize that.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my opinions/ask questions based on my meager understanding (hopefully they are somewhat useful). Keep up the great work all - I feel super fortunate/excited to see these types of initiatives take off.

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