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Mod. 12 - Analysis of a DAO

Choose a DAO to research. Write an analysis of this enterprise:

How does this organization apply principles and practices that we’ve explored in the course? Do these approaches seem to enable more agility?

Do you imagine that the DAOs model will influence and accelerate more traditional enterprises to decentralize? Why/why not?


DAOs are relatively new in the arts sector. The example I chose to research and analyze is called "Friends With Benefits" (FWB) DAO which is a social token-based membership community founded in 2020 by a group of artists, writers, and developers. Their purpose is to create a new funding model and community for artists and creators using blockchain technology. Members purchase FWB tokens, which can be used in different ways across the community including participation in community governance and decision-making. They have 9 community focus areas as outlined in the image below: Cities, Convenings, Distribution, Editorial, Grants, Gallery, Products, Social & Software, and Studio.

FWB uses co-investment and ownership as a funding model for its members who are artists and creators. By pooling their token resources, DAO members are able to participate in a high-value art auction they would otherwise not be able to afford and therefore are able to benefit from the increased value of limited edition items such as NFTs. Since limited quantity drives up the value, a limited set of NFTs with high auction value co-owned by the members derives greater value for all owners. The FWB DAO has also had other artistic pursuits like supporting an art collective based in Venezuela and collaborating with a music label to release a compilation album all of which aims to demonstrate the potential of how DAOs can create new models for community-driven projects, funding and support for the arts and other creative endeavors.

Their model appears to model many of the decentralized systems and frameworks we’ve explored in the course through community and member driven decision making that reflects practices like consent decision making and also by publicly outlining their shared values such as “Collective Effort”, “Culture over Crypto” and “Give Before You Get.” This philosophy is driven by the belief that decentralization aligns with the core ethos of cryptocurrency which believes that community-driven governance is key to any business’s long-term success. Whether or not artist and creator driven platforms like FWB increase agility is too early to say. As communities like these begin to grow in prominence, it is likely that new models will emerge who learn from the mistakes of previous efforts and capitalize on them by getting their competitor’s members and users to join.

In general I’m pretty skeptical and borderline cynical about any new initiative. Since all of history repeats itself, just in different forms, I am inclined to believe that DAOs have a lot of very good intentions, but will either fade away or end up becoming hierarchical over time. The companies who promote themselves as decentralized institutions for me appear to be trying to separate themselves from the general public’s growing awareness that as users of social media, they are actually the product, not the client. As more consumers become suspicious about how big tech is using their data, as privacy becomes an increasingly large topic in both the public and private spheres, DAOs offer an alternative model by providing opportunities for users to leverage the value they generate and provide to the platform to earn income and represent large swaths of other users perspectives to help shape the company’s direction, goals and ongoing values. Whether these systems of organizing actually succeed long term in their goals to decentralize important business areas like decision making, culture shaping, and how to invest and use money, I will be very interested to follow over the coming months and years. Interestingly enough, I just attended TED’s annual conference in Vancouver and there was not a single speaker who addressed the topic of Web3 or DAOs. The largest focus of the conference was on AI and seemed to send a message that Web3, NFTs, and DAO’s are no longer the new model, but instead, AI will be what guides the future of innovation, progress, and work.

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