Money & Banking

Crypto crowdfunding goes mainstream with ConstitutionDAO bid

Bloomberg November 23 | Updated on November 22, 2021

Ethereum-based campaign was to buy a rare copy of the US Constitution; bid attempt raised $46.3 million from thousands of donors

A loosely-organised group of investors made casual and even some long-time observers of the crypto world wonder what’s a DAO, or decentralised autonomous organisation, after they mounted a crowdfunding-like campaign to buy a rare copy of the US Constitution.

While the bid from the project known as ConstitutionDAO fell short at a Sotheby’s auction on Thursday, the effort showed the power of the DAO, and how the idea has the potential to change the way people buy things, build companies, share resources and run non-profits. The Ethereum-based project ended up raising $46.3 million from thousands of donors, one of the largest amounts ever through the process.

Crypto investing: Beware of traps laid by cybercriminals, warn experts

Here’s how the community-owned blockchain projects work and some of the questions being raised.

In a traditional company, a CEO and management typically make all decisions. In a DAO, thousands or even millions of people can be involved in deciding on product features, strategy and fees. Their votes are counted, and they impact what the project’s funds go toward.

Developers, investors and users first often have to put some money or work into a project to get special digital tokens, with which they can vote, and which are often available for sale on crypto exchanges. A share of the tokens issued is also usually put into the project’s treasury. That treasury is governed by a smart contract — a piece of software that sits on a blockchain, a digital ledger similar to that underpinning Bitcoin. The smart contract only allocates funds to efforts approved by the token holders. No one can access the treasury without the approval of the group.

Barcelona, Manchester City drop club crypto sponsors amid concerns

The smart contract can also let participants make operational decisions. In the case of ConstitutionDAO, contributors were promised a governance token with which they could have voted on where the constitution would be displayed.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that users are more loyal to projects that reward them with governance tokens. The tokens often have various additional incentives baked in. Holders of tokens of decentralised exchange dYdX, for example, get discounts on trades. Users can also make the project more agile.

Centralised or traditional organisations “can be slow to change and have difficulty scaling and resolving multiple goals,” said Aaron Brown, a crypto investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion. “Decentralised organisations can be much more flexible and innovative, self-interested people have more difficulty co-opting them.”

More expensive

Over the years, DAOs have been created to run venture funds, distribute money to non-profits, and lend and borrow digital coins while earning interest via decentralised-finance, or DeFi apps. In one of the best-known examples, PleasrDAO paid $4 million in July for a copy of a single-issue Wu-Tang Clan album once owned by Martin Shkreli.

To be sure, investing in a DAO can end up being more expensive than it initially seems. A median donation to ConstitutionDAO was $206.26. To process the donation, many investors likely paid a substantial amount in so-called gas fees to complete the transaction. With the bid lost, ConstitutionDAO will need to send the funds back, minus gas fees needed to process the reimbursement. As a result, many small investors could end up losing half or more of the funds contributed. That’s why many DAOs are now being set up on newer networks such as Solana, in part because the transaction fees are so high on Ethereum.

No matter the ownership structure, DAO projects have to abide by existing laws and regulations — and, in many cases, may need to register with authorities.

Published on November 22, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

You May Also Like