I’m trying to stave off a cortisol spike that my body simply does not need. I’ve got a talk coming up for Consensus in June and I owe an editorial with my main thesis along with any visuals I may need for the talk due next week.
I know the area I plan to speak about quite well. It is titled the InDAOstrial Revolution and I plan to cover some far future possibilities for what the new organizational structure can bring. And I do mean far as I’ll talk about some radical ideas like data collectives for rare diseases and networked nation states. I’m really excited as I think decentralized autonomous organizations offer us a new path for how we can pool different kinds of resources. I think DAOs give humans a chance to build better bigger weirder things on totally radical timelines just like the advent of the corporation did before in the industrial revolution.
I’ve been watching Gilded Age as I’m a sucker for set pieces but also because I love stories of wealth and power and cultural mores being pushed. I think DAOs have the chance to do that for society and the family in a way that is just as unsettling and ultimately wealth creating as anything we saw in the Gilded Age. And the changes we see to cultural norms will be every bit as revolutionary as the ones we see with inventions or investments. When times change, we push all of the ideas we have about how to properly organize individuals and citizens with it.
What I’m saying is I’m obviously passionate about the topic and even when I’m home with the flu I’m thinking about ways to knit together different worlds and metaphors. I might not be the best expert on DAOs nor am I remotely close to being one of the earlier people to get into them, but I’m absolutely an informed and enthusiastic professional with the training to think about this holistically. So I’d listen to me if I had the chance.
Nevertheless I’m worried I’ll botch the talk. My mind wants to worry I’ve run out of time to do a good job (I obviously haven’t) and that even if I put in a lot of hours it could have been more. I could have started sooner.
But honestly I’ve got to let that self defeating talk go. What I bring will be enough. And a deadline looming even with a sickness is no reason to worry when you know and love a topic well. So I’ll trust myself to bring you something good.
My early twenties were heavily influenced by streetwear and sneakerhead culture. I lived in the Lower East side and hung out with all the kids who would go on to dominate what is now a multi-billion dollar industry.
It feels weird listing out my bonafides as it’s pretty name drop-y but at the time it was like yeah my friends at Alife or High Snobiety or even god forbid Supreme meant basically nothing. I was in the absolute epicenter of hypebeast mania.
So I’ve got a gut sense of what a genuine upswell of obsession looks like. The kind of irrational social capital driven cool mania of the sneakerhead world has a specific vibe to it. Almost illegible to anyone outside. But to the in group? It’s powerful chaos magic binding geas shit.
That’s what EthDenver felt like today. A kind of disorganized overflow of true believers converging into a space about a quarter of the size required. It’s like if TechCrunch disrupt accidentally got overrun by the entire readership of HypeBeast. Honestly it kinda sucks.
You’ve got a number of accomplished teams and founders and investors all trying to figure out how to navigate long lines and complete chaos with no clear programming goal or event schedule. And then you’ve got thousands and thousands of NFT weirdos just shilling and excited and ebullient about stuff they freely admit they don’t technically understand. It’s going to be a wild ride for crypto.
I’m attending Ethereum Denver through the weekend. If you aren’t familiar it’s a fairly substantial crypto conference with wide appeal and good credibility across the entire ecosystem. I don’t have any special hookups nor do I have a careful plan of attack. It’s my first time attending a large industry event as an investor.
Truthfully I’m incredibly nervous. I’ve never been on this side of the table before. I’ve always attended events as a founder. Which is an entirely different mix of status and social positioning from a venture capitalist. Founders are the cool ones. The top of the social hierarchy. It’s the hardest job in the business and in exchange we revere them as a kind of messianic class. We all place our belief in the people who start building from nothing. Even if you haven’t yet had a big success it’s the act of beginning that has the potency. Anyone who has the guts and steel to try to make something new is part of that rarified class.
So while I ostensibly have more power than I’ve ever had in my entire career, I also feel a slight sense of social anxiety. This is the first time I’ve not been in the anointed. So in a very real sense I’m walking in without any of the power that I’ve had before. And I’m a little scared.
Will people think I’m cool? Will I get invited to go to the right parties? Will the right people want to talk to me? Will I look good enough? Will I be able to hold my own such that I can capture the attention of other peers?
I’m used to needing to network hard to find the money. I’d roll into events with my team squashed into one room and we’d plan out every single minute to maximize our budget. Now I’m the one teams will be searching for pitch.
It’s this strange blend of gaining new status but missing the old place and position in a culture that has me a little nervous. So if you find me at the conference know that if you are scared to strike up a conversation you are not alone. We are all looking to find each other and connect.
It’s ok if someone hates me. It’s ok if someone thinks I’m bitchy, stupid, obnoxious and self serving. Hell I’m ok if people think I’m a lesser human being. Which judging by Twitter could be a multitude of reasons ranging from “I’m a woman” to “I’ve got bad taste in tv.”
I am alright with you not being alright with me. My existence is not threatened by your philosophy or personal preferences. My existence is only threatened if you literally threaten me. Call me evil if you like. I’m not offended. Until you take an action against me it’s alright that we disagree. Even if the disagreements are existential.
It’s quite possible this is wrong. I’m open to debate on what constitutes harm. In fact, my entire philosophy centers on that debate being fine. I can take it. I actually pay someone to cuss me out for being stupid and then I pay again to spend time in a group where we regularly tell each other how much the group members anger us. It’s called therapy.
So take that as context when I say I wasn’t particularly personally hurt by Brantly Milligan, aka Brantly.eth aka one of the ENS Foundation cofounders, suggesting women who use contraception are perverts. I’d probably be a lot more hurt if I was a gay trans woman who had an abortion though. But I figure that demo might be used to being called evil by Catholics at this point. Like maybe it’s more of an annoyance than existential threat if you are wealthy and privileged enough to be working in crypto. We aren’t really a population that is hurting
The Ethereum community is experiencing this speech with a lot of pain, hurt and anger. Brantley was voted out of his contract with True Names Limited the foundation that manages ENS Domains. But he remains one of the largest holders of tokens and will obviously have plenty of influence over the future of the platform. The debate has become one of cancel culture versus DAO governance working as intended. But the split on that is not clean and it’s not always clear where people will fall. An informal poll on my timeline is pretty evenly split.
I’m tempted to assign him my tokens as a delegate to be honest. Though I won’t because I think he’s unprofessional. But I want to because I don’t love how any of it played out. Brantly doubled down on telling folks to fuck off compounding the feeling of being hurt. That’s unprofessional and not the kind of behavior I’d expect out of my management team. But I also don’t know that simply holding unpleasant or intolerant beliefs is enough. And it shouldn’t be in a decentralized system. I respect that the right voting and governance may have happened here but I’d argue we all want more control spread out over more people for exactly these scenarios.
I think Brantly basically Shrekli’d himself by doubling down on asshole antisocial shit and the DAO equivalent of the Feds coming for you happened. You can’t attract negative attention and be shocked when bad shit happens to you. But I don’t think being a retrograde weirdo is enough on it’s own to get you booted from an ecosystem.
The entire reason I’m walking you through this sensitive topic today is that I am committing my year to self love. And you might think how does self love and DAO governance overlap. But I really do feel empathy to everyone involved in ENS and the ethereum ecosystem right now. The pain of feeling like you are not seen and loved for who you are is primal shit. This is core human nature “do I belong” to my tribe stuff.
If you don’t love yourself than you are going to have a reactive stance to something that questions your morality and worth. And I’m guessing a lot of people are reactive judging by the uproar. But the thing about self love is that you just won’t be as hurt by assholes being assholes. Because you’ve taken care of yourself first. So whatever the right and just outcome of this ENS governance issue, I think it’s important we all check in on ourselves and why we reacted in the first place. Only then can we get on with the business of design the future and it’s technology.
A few days ago I wondered what project or cultural artifact was going to grab our mutual cultural attention during the Christmas vacation week? Something always does. One year it was fucking Quora if you can believe it. This year I’m ready to call it for $SOS at least if you are into Web3 and crypto economics.
On fucking Christmas Day these degenerates drop a contract to let anyone claim tokens who has ever purchased an NFT on the OpenSea marketplace. And people went ape shit. Suddenly someone had taken all the visible contributions from OpenSea and manifested them in a token and said this is ours. Fuck corporate dominance of profit your users hold the real value. I’ve never seen anything so ballsy. Last year when Wall Street Bets decided to taken on hedge funds I felt like we had entered a new era of community behavior.
An emergent community has swum up from the sea and eaten the lunch of a supposedly greedy centralized platform. Web3 just attacked what we didn’t even realize was Web2. A crypto darling turned parable for centralization in the space of a few years. $SOS seemed to say community owned this value all along. The airdrop showed us the balance of power in a web3 community if we all work together. I’m so impressed by the sheer cultural force of the statement. It could all go horribly awry but god damn if it isn’t utopian.
I’ve got not fucking clue if this is a legitimate contract or not. I’m not going to FUD. But from a first principles, we are building a new internet where the incentives of the users align with the technology statement, then this is quite a shot across the bow. Also I’m pretty sure this makes it harder for OpenSea to IPO if their user base is in open rebellion against who gets rewarded.
The thing is I believe Devin to be a well meaning and genuinely forward thinking guy. He’s a terrific communicator that set out with the utopian intentions that we all do. But we are moving so fast with breaking cultural norms and acceptable societal level rewards for contributions to an economy that I think we might have just spiraled up to some kind of cultural singularity. Crypto might just be moving that fast. Whatever happens this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a startup. Score one for the anonymous degens.
Imagine you’ve got a disease with a clear biomarker. I’ve got an autoimmune condition called ankylosing spondylitis. One of the ways to spot it on a blood test is to look for an elevated CRP or sed rate.
Maybe I want to find a way to connect with other patients. I provide proof of biomarker to join an autoimmune discord just like you provide proof of ownership of an NFT like they do in the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Maybe I want to join a group of other patients who are pooling their medical data so they can stop being in an N of 1 and have a chance to participate in new research for my own disease. I could join AutoimmuneDAO and contribute to funding, meme-ing, and researching my condition. If we discover a treatment protocol or drug through our DAO we’d have ownership in it. Imagine a token for your own patient DAO. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. VitaDAO is doing this for longevity research. This is the future that web3 can bring to healthcare.
The value is in the algorithm. But without me and without my data it wouldn’t be worth anything. They have a product and an algorithm because of my biometrics. And yet we’ve found no way to meaningfully integrate ownership and interoperability in healthcare yet.
Let me give an an example. There are multiple companies that make their money by recruiting clinical trial candidates. Why? Because you need aggregate data to run a study. Those companies have the same basic data analytic team as a marketing team at a direct to consumer product company. They know how much a patient (or customer) is worth and the cost to acquire them. You are worth a lot because you represent a demographic that has value in its totality. And yet most clinical trials fail to recruit people because patients just don’t see a benefit to participating. You’ve got no ownership or upside and the costs are significant. So science suffers.
But what if instead of being valuable to marketing and recruiters you could own a portion of the aggregate? Being a token holding biomarker “proof of disease” validated member of a patient research DAO flips the incentives. A breakthrough on a disease that treats you and you’d also own some of the proceeds of it’s intellectual property. Whoever brings web3 to healthcare is going to be doing a significant good for humanity. Web3 can improve diseases, move forward science and get us all paid.
I was so excited for today. For the first day in weeks I didn’t have a single appointment on my calendar. I had finally run the gauntlet of bullshit obligations that has been chopping up my focus and my days.
I went to bed last night sure that’s I’d finally send out all the emails to folks I wanted as limited partners in my fund, follow up with a bunch of founders, and organize all the various materials and research just waiting to be published. I was going to make progress! I was going to pull the future forward with my own willpower.
But what did I do instead today? I sat in on DAO governance calls in Discord. I accepted an invite to a new working group for a stateless crypto project that is being rebooted for its second round. I listened to token and ecosystem rooms on Twitter for projects I’m invested in. I watched some bitcoin maxis fight against some side chain projects. And I read a bunch of newsletters and financial papers. Which all sounds productive but is basically me just fucking off.
The future arrives whether I pull it in on my force or will or not. Distraction probably has no meaning. But I did finally find a house in Colorado that I could see myself buying. So the only appointment on the calendar tomorrow is visiting the property. So perhaps that’s as much progress as was necessary.
Today’s post is about about how families might adapt to a more chaoticworld and who might capitalize on the future of adaptable families. Millenials aren’t having children. Maybe because they know our current systems aren’t set up to support working parents and their children they decided it wasn’t feasible. We need to fix this if we want to have a future.
Practically though the only way we solve for a better future for families is by giving individuals the flexibility they need across all facets of their life so we can adapt families to the future.
We need to support families where they live, where they educate themselves & their children, where they source & prepare food, where they need medicine & healthcare, and even where they find partners. There is a lot more private industry and startups can to support families profitably. The more flexibility we can grant people in building their ideal family unit the better. If one variable changes then every variable changes. That’s where startups excel generally. Software can expand the set of services available to people.
Because we’ve got a social structure problem with capitalism right now. Families aren’t affordable. Maybe we see alternative housing and family structures become increasingly appealing as the nuclear family structure cannot not afford a family. We may see living arrangements that let multiple families come together to provide childcare, food, education communal support. Whatever solutions come up we need to consider them.
Or we find ways to let families come back together. Increasing rural broadband and support for remote work could allow kids to move back to their hometowns to be near parents and grandparent to give us a chance to knit back together communities and combat urban isolation. The more we can improve opportunities in rural towns where existing family lives the more opportunities we create. That means we will need to provide all the services we expect in a city but remotely. Software businesses to the rescue! Here is an incomplete and in no particular order list of startups I would consider funding.
Request for Startups.
School contract swaps for private schools to allow easy mid year transitions or voucher searches for public schools
Teacher & childcare marketplaces, swaps or even parent run DAOs (bounty for 7th grade science teacher for homesteadDAO anyone?)
Home care shares & swaps or marketplaces (elder & children)
Remote healthcare providers & their tech stack particular support for specialties, pharmacy & data products
Fractional housing, co housing & house shares or other communal living for families
HomesteadDAO, KibbutzDAO, TownDAOs, Mobile & Van Life DAOs
Rural broadband services
Direct to consumer farm access to enable food supply outside of supermarkets & hubs
Any & all remote work & collaboration SaaS products & training to move more jobs out of urban hubs.
Fertility or birthing DAOs and co-parenting legal constructs for multiple parents
I’ll be talking about all the areas we invest I’m sure but today’s post is about about how we might adapt to a more chaoticlabor market and what kinds of companies we’d like to see in the space to capitalize on the chaos of the future of work.
The pandemic has accelerated a lot in the labor markets. Hiring in developed economies has been getting harder. The great resignation has a large chunk of the skilled workforce in movement. But student debt is making it less appealing to pursue traditional credentials like a four year college degree. Skilled workers have at once never been more competitive in the labor market but it’s also never been more expensive to pursue those skills. Where there is tension there is opportunity.
So how do we get more people skilled and let those with existing skills deploy their labor more effectively? I think that web3, or if you prefer the decentralized web, presents a unique opportunity to decouple skills & compensation from identity and corporations. Flexibility drives innovation. Web3 let’s us step clear of concepts like one full time job per person.
Workers are seeking replacements for the centralized stores of skills & proof, socializing, and networking we’ve used in the past. The hodge podge of self reported credentials and certificates we put up on LinkedIn or a personal website is a mess and only allows us one centralized identity. That sucks for privacy and also for people with a diverse set of skills. Recruiters see what we present but that’s never the whole picture.
Some would argue that political polarization will require we either prove identity and in-group or lead us to pseudonyms (identity on/off switch) that let us be judged by work product and proof of skills rather than in group approvals and social validation. Regardless, regulatory capture and special interest groups are now being viewed negatively as younger workers see them as expensive obstacles to career progression. If Kim Kardashian can take the bar without ever going to law school why should you go to law school?
One reason that chaotic is particularly interested in is stores of identity, proof of skills and proof of work capacity is that Web3 and decentralization will pick up the slack in labor markets for younger people.
We won’t want to polish our entire lives in order to get one job with a single employer when we know corporations shows us little loyalty. We’d rather find ways to optimize for our preferred compensation package. That could be flexible contracts and hours, remote first work arrangements, healthcare subsidies, or maximum pay; whatever we chose there should be a recruiter that can find us a job and a workplace that will leverage our skills. If you want inspiration on how this might work I’ve got a list of crypto science fiction to read.
In order to avoid falling into low level service jobs we will need to pick up proof of work and proof of skill jobs. Automation is less of a threat than low level service jobs and dead end work for most young people. Finding ways to get get paid for learning is going to make the jump from play to earn video games to play to learn universities one day.
Portable and “fractional” identities will be required in a future where one person with one job isn’t the norm. So how do we build different identities that keep us safe from context collapse while still giving flexibility and portability on our achievements and documented skills?
All of the above is food for thought. If these problems interest you hit me up. I’ve got a request for startups below. If you want to talk about any of them find me on @AlmostMedia on Twitter.
Request for Startups
Skills repository Github for provable disciplines beyond coding
Web3 LinkedIn where we can turn on and off elements of our credentials
So this is sort of cheating, but I did write the press release, so I am going to count it as my writing for the day. Today one of my favorite investments of the year Squads announced its seed round. Their vision is simple. Make starting a DAO as easy as making a new group chat.
Squads, a DAO creation & management application that makes setting up a Decentralized Autonomous Organization as easy as starting a group chat, announces seed round with Collab+Currency
Squads, an application for Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAOs) creation and management built on the Solana blockchain, is pleased to announce a $1.5m seed round led by Collab+Currency with participation from Reciprocal Ventures, Volt Capital, Chaotic Capital, 6thman Ventures, Republic Capital, 8186 Capital, Solana Capital, as well as angel investors Ryan Selkis, Ryon Nixon, Chris Hermidaand Julia Lipton.
DAOs have already profoundly changed social coordination and put pressure on traditional corporate vehicles by expanding within the wider DeFi and NFT ecosystems. However, existing solutions in the market are costly to deploy, have cumbersome management features, and are focused only on web 3.0 power users.
Squads is here to simplify the DAO framework and make it accessible to the majority of users who either already firmly exist in web 3.0 or are just discovering it.
“Squads wants to make starting a DAO as easy as starting a group chat,” said Stepan Simkin, Squads CEO & Co-Founder.
Squads combines all key DAO legos such as deployment, treasury / vault management, on-chain voting, and chat in one simple interface so anyone, anywhere can create and run a DAO. By combining these primitives under one platform and building it on a fast and scalable layer 1 blockchain like Solana, Squads will become a social hub for web 3.0 coordination.
Squads founding team consisting of Stepan Simkin (CEO), Deni Ershtukaev (COO) and Sean Ganser (technical lead) comes from diverse backgrounds of software development, law and finance.
While one of the biggest value propositions DAOs can offer is an experience of spinning up a “company” from a command line without any friction or intermediaries, the Squads team firmly believes that “complicated user interface implementations and high fees have made setting up and running a DAO prohibitive for the majority of even sophisticated crypto users. Squads is here to take DAOs to everyone by bringing accessibility to DAO set up and management.”
“Smart contracts are a significant evolution in human organization on par with the invention of the corporation. The recognition by the state of corporations as a single entity composed of multiple actors drove significant economic growth. DAOs are poised to initiate progress as important as the corporation once did,” said Julie Fredrickson, Managing Partner at Chaotic Capital.
“The fiction which we have called the corporation has relied on legal & judicial layers to enforce distribution of resources. With a DAO, the management and allocation of resources is enforced by code, not lawyers or judges. This frees individuals to put their trust in an entity regardless of its geographic jurisdiction. DAOs allow individuals to collectively form complex contracting relationships and operationalize the movement of resources between individuals and organizations for any number of collective pursuits. As Brian Armstrong the CEO of Coinbase noted “the new jurisdiction is online’” said Stepan Simkin, Squads CEO & Co-Founder. “As human collaboration moves online, so too will our organization and tools.”
While DAOs have shown their utility in early use cases in DeFi & emergent NFTs communities, Squads wants regular people to enjoy their benefits. Colloquially known as web 3.0, mainstreaming access to the benefits of blockchains or decentralized networks of many peer to peer nodes, has been slow as few apps provide simplicity and utility.
“Squads envisions a web3 for regular users. A group of freelancers can band together for contract work. A homeowners association can use a DAO to manage and disburse funds. Investment clubs can pool resources. A gaming guild can coordinate accounts. A group of creators can protect their earnings and intellectual property. A sports league can manage equipment and budgets. According to the Squads team vision: “A DAO should be an easy vehicle for groups of different sizes and budgets to easily organize to achieve common goals.”
Squad’s is at the forefront of web 3.0’s next iteration: social coordination. Squads is also positioned as the first mover of DAO tooling within the Solana ecosystem, giving Squads considerable growth potential. “Squads is the team to bridge the huge gap in the Solana DAO tooling ecosystem by building this critical infrastructure and we are delighted to support them” said Soona Amhaz, General Partner at Volt Capital.
“We’re excited to back the incredible vision of Squad’s founders,” said Stephen McKeon, Partner at Collab+Currency. “Squads sees a future where DAOs become a commonplace structure for organizing economic activity. We believe that rather than working for a corporation or nonprofit, many people will work for a protocol someday. So does the Squads team.”
The funding will be used for the beta release of the core product with a mainnet release to follow. Users can look forward to a Squads v2 release with advanced treasury functionality as well as a mobile application for both iOS and Android. Users of other layer 1s can look forward to multichain expansion in the future. The team will be hiring mobile developers, product managers, a network administrator and a designer.