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VC-backed DAO Startups Racing to Define What DAOs Actually Are

TechCrunch | Lucas Matney | Feb 1, 2022

DAOs - VC-backed DAO Startups Racing to Define What DAOs Actually Are

Amid the growth in web3, NFTs, DeFi and tokens, institutional investors are also looking at how they can leverage another crypto structure called DAOs to build a new model for community action on the internet.

DAOs — or decentralized autonomous organizations — are at a very weird place in 2022.

The crypto collectives theoretically are designed around allowing groups to make decisions and operate in a structured capacity governed by smart contracts and blockchain transparency, but DAOs that are popping up recently seem to be indistinguishable from each other, with varying commitments to both decentralization and autonomy. While some camps have focused on how DAOs can be used as autonomous governance mechanisms for technologies like DeFi protocols, others are using them to make collective decisions for NFT project roadmaps, while some see the structure simply as a new way to add a crypto treasury to their Discord or Telegram group chat.

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The reality is that few people have a tight definition for what DAOs are, leaving room for new organizations to help the crypto-curious make sense of them and help would-be DAO founders make the most of the structure. Founders in the space say that the difficulty in pinning down a catch-all definition for what a “standard” DAO should look like only highlights how broad the opportunities are.

“At the end of the day, DAOs are a collective technology as opposed to an individual one,” Syndicate co-founder Will Papper told TechCrunch last week. “DAOs are kind of the next evolution of the corporation because encode both voice and exit into their foundations.”

DeepDAO, a dedicated DAO analytics firm, is currently following more than 4,100 DAOs. The groups have evolved considerably since the first-ever DAO, called The DAO, was founded back in 2016.

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a16z GP Ali Yahya told TechCrunch in an interview accompanying the firm’s investment in PleasrDAO:

“The fact that a DAO is just software that can can be spun up with the click of a button… but can catalyze thousands or tens of thousands of people — eventually we expect millions of people or larger numbers — that all put together capital and put together ideas to work together for some common goal… we see that as almost the purest vision of what web3 and crypto are all about.”

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