Beyond the Blockchain: Full DAO Value Discovery by DeepDAO

Introduction

There is no doubt that DAOs have proven their usefulness in the marketplace. Their phenomenal rise in popularity is shown by a rapid growth in newly established DAOs, increasing DAO membership, and rising cryptoasset holdings over the last year. In fact, the total amount of simple cryptoassets under management that our DeepDAO analytics engine tracks has recently reached over USD 500M, up from a fraction of that amount earlier this year.

As DAOs continue to provide governance for novel purposes such as community goods and decentralized finance systems, the scope of their assets is moving outside of what you see directly in their Ethereum contract and traditional crypto oriented products. DAO holdings have become significantly varied and complex to the point that tracking assets on the blockchain no longer suffices to provide the full picture. Because of this, there is an emergent need to create tracking methods that can account for the various real-world holdings that DAOs maintain in order to fully and comparatively value them.

From the perspective of tracking asset changes over time, understanding the past, current, and aspirational holdings of any given DAO is paramount to capturing present value and forecasting the range of potential future valuation. As an investor, a DAO member, or a researcher into DAOs, making these valuation insights visible and enumerated continues the important transparency role that the blockchain has wholly stewarded in the past.

Problem

As the DAO ecosystem has rapidly developed, it is currently unclear how difficult discovery, tracking, and accurate valuation of both off-chain and “indirect asset” tracking actually is. We believe developing consistent methods for both defining assets and valuing them is a much needed service for interested parties to have transparent insight that helps the DAO ecosystem flourish.

** “Indirect assets” refers in this document to assets that a DAO has some governance rights or outright product ownership, either independently or over within another DAO or organization, but that is not simply represented by a fungible, market-valued token. This represents an “implied” or “potential” (soft) monetary value versus a specific market defined monetary value.)

Grant Purpose

The purpose of this grant is to fund research efforts into modeling and intelligently valuing the various types of off-chain and indirect assets. Additionally we will research automated or other methods for continuously tracking and updating DAO assets in order to improve their transparency. In order to accomplish this task, we will employ our own in-house research expertise and subject knowledge as well as engaging the services of several types of professionals as-needed, including those proficient in accounting and economics.

In short: As the industry matures it is becoming important to have quantifiably accurate evaluation of DAO assets beyond what’s visible on-chain on a DAO’s “wallet”.

Deliverable

The focus of this research is on creating methods to model off-chain and indirect assets held by DAOs in order to obtain more accurate and complete DAO valuations. Specifically, we will center on the DXdao as initial subject to determine their real total value, with others to follow. We will publish a report on the valuations as well as our methods, caveats, and confidence in accuracy of values. We believe this work to be essential to improving public understanding of the DAO ecosystem and its many facets, particularly as it matures and experiences a myriad of new applications for decentralized autonomous governance.

About DeepDAO

The DeepDAO (https://deepdao.io) team is a collective of DAO enthusiasts (who initially met in a DAO, of course!) who have created a discovery engine centered on analytics and information gathering regarding DAOs and their adjacent ecosystems. Our current products include set of comprehensive dashboards, quantitative reasearching indexes and proprietary data that allows us to provide various services, APIs (still in development) enumerates and ranks DAOs on several key metrics such as membership and assets under management (AUM). We are constantly expanding both coverage of DAOs and the metrics that describe them. We currently report both financial and governance data on 70+ Top DAOs across the five major platforms - Aragon, Moloch, DAOstack, OpenLaw and Colony. Our Data is being used by major research firms (Delphi Digital, Messari), journalists, VCs, and DAOists across the ecosystem.

DeepDAO: Look Broad, Go Deep.

Grant Principals:

Eyal Eithcowich; Founder of DeepDAO

Entrepreneur with background in software and product creation, writing and filmmaking. Worked at Apple Computer, other Fortune 500 companies and startups.

Ivan Sucharski, PhD.; Head of Research for DeepDAO

Ivan has published several peer-reviewed research papers, performed grant research for the National Park Service, and has advised on data collection methodologies for analytics products for over 15 years.

Funds requested: equivalent of $9000, half in ETH and half in DXD.

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This an interesting topic! I have a few questions regarding the grant proposal:

  1. Could you be more specific about which “indirect assets” pertain to the DXdao?

  2. Is there an estimated timeline?

  3. Does this funding request of $9000 cover all three phases?

  4. Will the report or related results be included on the DeepDAO website? Specifically wondering if AUM data on the site might include these results somehow?

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Thanks @JohnKelleher. Yeah, I think this is a really interesting research. To your questions:

  1. (below)

  2. The delivery timeline for the report is 3 months.

  3. Yes, 9000 for all three phases. The actual work needed for this project is much larger, and we’re working to get support for it from various sources.

  4. It would definitely be on our site. We’re not sure yet in which form, i.e. if it’s going to be a new table of DAOs for which we have Full Value, or another column in our main dashboard, and certainly the written text. We’ll figure it out as we move forward with the work.

Back to the list of assets that would be on the report. DXdao is a really interesting example for the need to do this evaluation, because the DAO owns products, with value that is not captured by direct AUM. We will work together with you guys to compile a full list of these assets and understand how to approach each one of them.

Products is not the whole story though. DXdao has a highly developed governance system which has value not captured by AUM. I was recently asked by someone on a call what’s my opinion on DXdao and I specifically commented on the governance because I have a personal experience being in politics (activist movement successfully running to the Tel Aviv city council) and I know how hard it is to do good off chain governance.

Giving a speech, going to a demo or leafletting is easy. The hard part is sitting in endless meetings, listening to everyone and forming together a strategy, and action items we can all stand behind and push forward together. From what I see in your calls you guys are doing it and this has real value.

It would be hard to put a number on this value this early in our exploration, but it would be noted on the report, and maybe we find together a way to start quantifying it.

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To add to what Eyal has written (yes, I am the Ivan in the proposal… sacre bleu! My nom de plume is kaput!)… the research project is muti-faceted because we “don’t know what we don’t know” - meaning our intention is to dissect a few DAOs (including dxDAO) into areas of value. This includes tangible and intangible assets, “forward earnings” types of assets, volatile and stable assets etc. in an attempt to derive an intelligent valuation. It may be a simple number, it may be a range, or it may be a set of descriptive values (estimated value, confidence, volatility score) it really depends on what we learn and how the experts we consult help us to conceptualize it. The purpose is to try and get real, concrete values for DAOs as they begin managing all manner of assets (tokens including NFTs, property, products, recurring revenue sources, human capital) and represent that in a way that someone can either glance at a score and say “cool” or “not cool” or dig in a little and feel good about their investment (of money or time or property of some kind).

The way we represent it in DeepDAO is TBD based on what we learn. It may manifest in several ways - as a $ value in one area and as a deeper set of metrics in another, but we need to build the house before we pick out the curtains. There may also be natural classes to divide out the AUM (tangible, intangible, liquid, illiquid… ) such that a whole series of metrics would make sense to define to help people find what they need to answer their data questions. Lastly, there may be things that we simply can not properly value (due to wicked volatility, lack of access to information, etc.) that we still want to mention but not assign a number to.

Our core approach and primary “question to answer” is: we want to value DAOs, but we aren’t sure exactly how. To solve that we expect to roll up our sleeves and figure it out, methodically, and with expert help.

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