PoolTogether

Scaling The DAO!

In the ~9 months since the POOL token launched great strides have been made in rewarding and expanding the group of people who are growing the protocol. A few specific things to highlight:

  • The creation of PoolGrants and ~$1 million allocated to grant funding
  • The usage of Coordinape rewarding contributors with POOL
  • The usage of the Tip bot rewarding with POOL
  • The implementation of blockchain specific operations teams

However, to achieve the growth we want to see. We need to continue expanding the group of people contributing to the protocol. There are a few things holding us back from expanding this group:

  • Lack of clarity around what help is needed
  • Lack of a clear onboarding process
  • Lack of structure on compensation

What help is needed

Broadly speaking, the help we need to grow the protocol falls into the following categories.

Each of these categories can be further sub-divided. For example, “growth” could be broken out into “Biz dev”, “Marketing”, and “integrations”. Help is needed in all these categories but right now there is a limited ability for new people to the protocol to identify what exactly is needed and how to start contributing. So our first priority is to develop specific “job descriptions” for contributors in each of these categories and make those publicly accessible so that DAO contributors can opt into joining those roles.

Action Item: Need clear delineation of what skills are needed in each category and category leads to begin building teams

Onboarding

People want to contribute in different ways and are onboarding process should reflect that. If people have ideas for specific projects they can apply for a grant, if they want to contribute part time informally they can be compensated via cordinape, if they want to contribute part time to a team, they can join one (defined above). Finally, core team members may need to hire more full time people, in this case job postings can be publicly posted and hired.

Action Item: Publish clear guidance for onboarding and make it easy for people to find.

Compensation & hiring:

Compensation should be generous! Our goal here is to build a thriving protocol with hundreds of contributors around the world and millions of users. We want to decentralize control of the protocol via the POOL token into the hands of people who care about the protocol!

Compensation will be different between full time and part time roles but ideally it should center around making sure it is fair and everyone has aligned incentives. For full time roles, I would suggest we model off of the Sushi Swap hiring process.

Grants and coordinape have their own existing methods of compensation. So compensation only needs to be decided for full time and part time roles.

For hiring full time and part time roles, we will not want to do a governance vote for each role. Instead, a larger budget should be approved and then hiring done out of that budget going forward managed by existing core team members.

Action Item: Set up clear compensation structure. Create high level budget for core team to scale

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I think this is great in principle as we need help to expand PoolTogether in many of the ways you have outlined above.

However, there is a risk of more centralization if the full-time and part-time roles are both hired and led by the core team. And with little say in the roles and performance of hires from the community apart from deciding on the budget it may not be a fully decentralized DAO.

Also without clear structure, the full-time and part-time employees might start to have more “power” in shaping the future of the protocol than the community of contributors we have been building.

Just something which needs to be thought about alongside the need to have more people dedicated full-time to growing and developing the protocol.

It would be interesting to learn which DAOs there are out there which we can learn from in terms of how to scale whilst balancing the points mentioned above.

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Excellent points, and i will respectfully agree/disagree on a few thoughts.

  • I want to see the core team play an active role in hiring for part-time and full-time roles. I don’t see this as a centralized risk at all. They have the best visibility into product vision/roadmap and also know current limitations. They can also best evaluate new contributors. A simple evaluation criterion could be as follows

    • Technical contributor: Showcase past github/code repository to demonstrate technical capabilities
    • Non-technical contributor: Engagement on PT discord/governance and active interest in contributing to protocol
  • You also bring up an excellent point on our community of contributors. As we all know we have 40-50 individuals voluntarily contributing on a variety of things. I love this structure and hate to disrupt this. But i also want to see some of these individuals take on long term positions and get compensated for their efforts. Ex: @TheRealTuna for tokenomics, or @rliriano for community marketing etc. These positions can all be 10-20 hr (per week) part time jobs for a 1 year period (assuming these individuals are interested). But this is worth a bigger discussion, because i hate to see our current 40-50 active engaged contributors be sidetracked by formal compensation discussions

P.S: I see myself as one of future contributors in above framework in either of these categories (Product, Growth or Community). But if there is value and interest, i can spend the next 3 months closely working with the core team and community on building this plan out and hiring our first 5-10 contributors.

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Having roles with more specific activities will undoubtedly allow each member of the community to focus on the one in which they best perform according to their knowledge or skills, I think it is the best way to obtain the best results in each of the areas that we want to develop.

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As PoolTogether grows and begins to expand to other chains and L2s, it’s a great time to start talking about community contributions to the DAO. There are a lot of models within DeFi, and I’ll try to highlight a few to give folks an idea of how other DAOs handle contributions at scale.

Index Coop

Index Coop has a very well developed funnel for talent. Each week, they hold an Orientation Call every week after interested members go through a defined process ahead of time. Folks can read about that in the COPPER OWL QUEST (New Joiners) section of the Index Coop docs.

Their community has also defined their guiding principles so everyone within the community can ensure interests are aligned within the DAO. When the TWG proposal was discussed in the last two community calls, @Brendan and other community members talked about ensuring that the TWG is aligned with PT Inc. Creating a Core Principles statement that is applicable to all contributors is a great way to do that.

Their Working Group structure is also well defined, and it’s a model other DAOs have used.

Yearn Governance 2.0

Yearn has a more complex structure that is novel for DeFi. They allow YFI holders to grant discretionary power to the various yTeams in order to give them the autonomy needed to be innovative and move quickly, while giving the community full discretion to dissolve yTeams, fire team members, redirect the direction of one of the yTeams groups, etc.

This comes back to their philosophy of Constrained Delegation, and the concluding paragraph of the summary of this philosophy reads:

Through rough consensus, YFI holders govern de facto rather than de jure and use that socially constructed governance influence to actively monitor and, to the extent desired, modulate the behavior of contributors. When it comes to governing yTeams, this governance may often look very similar to YFI holders ‘doing nothing,’ because YFI holders have already endorsed the Multisig and yTeams and they are presumed to act on a selfish but incentive-aligned basis consistent with the expectations of the community. However, when the contributors stray too far, or fail to communicate adequately, YFI holders should always be waiting in the wings to intervene in the situation, revoke their endorsement and restore a positive-sum equilibrium for the yearn community.

Yearn’s Governance 2.0 is somewhere between anarchy and Republican Democracy, with the ultimate authority held by token holders. It’s unlikely that PoolTogether needs an organisational approach as multi-faceted as Yearn’s but their structure has many great processes and an overall design that can inform the creation of the checks and balances PoolTogether can use to both empower working groups while having guardrails on community contributors.

Nexus Hubs Working Group Model

In the event folks within PoolTogether don’t already know, I’m heavily involved within Nexus Mutual, and I serve as the Marketing Lead for the community. Earlier this year, I designed the Hub model, which is a dynamic working group structure that allows for community members to contribute where they can provide the most value. I’ll include a couple links to posts regarding the development of this idea below:
Nexus Hub: Community-Driven Teams: This was the initial idea, which wasn’t very good, tbh. After really drilling down and reviewing other business models and DAO structures, I can created a new post.
Nexus Hub: Proposal, Structure, Next Steps: In this post, I outlined the idea the Nexus Mutant community adopted and uses today. I used a little bit from the Index Coop WG model, some of the philosophy and guardrails that Yearn uses, and I was primarily inspired by an IRL business model championed by Zingerman’s of Ann Arbor, MI. Here’s an excerpt:

This model begins with our belief in the power of Visioning and includes a commitment to Open Book Management and opportunities for employee ownership. Our first long-term vision (Zingerman’s 2009) painted a picture of a radically different growth model—a community of businesses: each unique, each contributing to the success of the others and each with managing partners who have an equity stake and run the day-to-day operations.

Ideal Models for PoolTogether

As @Leighton pointed out, SushiSwap’s approach is ideal for core team members, but I believe interdependent working groups with leads is an ideal solution for DAOs. Decentralised organisations need to empower contributors to work for the DAO, while maintaining some kind of order. The Zingerman’s model has worked well for Nexus Mutual so far, and I believe something similar could work well for PoolTogether.

Case Study: Mutant Marketing

The first Nexus Hub working group established was Mutant Marketing, which I lead. To establish the Hub, I created a WG Charter, a Marketing Strategy, and an initial budget. The Charter is our lodestar, and the Marketing Strategy will evolved over time. After this was approved through community governance, we got started.

After every operational quarter concludes, we publish a report and share it with the community. In the last week, I posted the report for Mutant Marketing, which folks can review here.

With a relatively small group, we’ve seen growth and profitability within the first quarter. Because we focus on what we do best, we can deliver the greatest amount of value to our community members.

PoolTogether Talent

One possible approach is a short-term working group that researches possible structures, salary/rate of pay for various positions, job posting platforms, etc. Having a WG to focus on this would accomplish several things:

  1. You can test out a working group on a small scale to see how successful it is;
  2. You can allow members of PT Inc. to focus on what they do best. A Talent WG would, of course, coordinate/communicate with the team, but they can provide options to the community, while giving the protocol insight into what a competitive wage for a Marketing Lead vs. a Business Development lead would be;
  3. After the Talent WG presents this information, the community can decide on the outcome for the DAO structure. The Talent WG would then review applicants, schedule interviews, create PoolTogether profiles for the community to review for final candidate, and define the talent funnel for the DAO. This will create an efficient process to hire leads.

After PoolTogether Talent hires the initial team members, then this WG could dissolve and let the WGs handle the hiring process within the framework the Talent WG has already defined.

Final Points

I’m just drinking coffee and working on a few things this morning, and I thought I’d share my existing knowledge of process design with the community. There are so many areas we can focus on and hire talent from within the community. Since I’ve become more active within PoolTogether, I’ve been gobsmacked at the brilliant folks within the community. With the right structure and guardrails in place for POOL holders, the community can scale the DAO and bring the POOL party to every corner of the DeFi ecosystem.

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Thanks @BraveNewDeFi for an excellent summary of the various models in play :slight_smile: Very helpful…

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This is a great conversation so far. Thanks for all those valuable insights @Leighton & @BraveNewDeFi. I see this process as an important step in going forward.
Having full-time positions as well as different ways to contribute part time, project oriented or on an ad-hoc basis seems to be a good solution. I like the approach of having working groups, maybe bringing back the old term of swim team to fit the pool vibe.

This could mean having a community swim team, content swim team, product swim team, …

We have loads of contributors and talent accross different skillsets so it can only be positive to find ways to encourage collaboration.

I keep thinking on how we could improve the docs/notion/accessibility of information for individuals across all levels of expertise and interest. PoolTogether attracts normies exploring DeFi or DAO contribution for the first time, as well as OGs that wanna get to work as fast possible.

How do we make sure everybody finds their way? How do we unlock decision making? How do we make sure we don’t create closed circles? How can we ensure that contributions also match the needs and values of the protocol and product?

I’m building kind of a Notion OS for DAOs with wgmi.community at the moment. I could port it to PoolTogether’s needs and merge it with the existing Knowledge Base if that’s something we want. This way we could use the Notion fully DAO related and keep the docs about being a user guide for the protocol.

Adding some links I found useful:
Quick deep dive into the state of on-boarding in DAOs!
Request for DAOs: Providing Token Context and a Pulse to Communities
How to DAO 401: DAO Community Leadership

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