ConstitutionDAO shows the future - is big tech doomed?

Three things to learn from ConstitutionDAO.

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It’s Thursday folks, and we all know what that means beyond ärtsoppa.

Today we’re talking DAOs. Before you jump into the piece, you might want to read What DAOs will mean for HR.

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This weekend I spent as much time as I possibly could on Discord. More specifically in a Discord with one purpose and one purpose only, buying one of the eleven (or thirteen, depending on who you trust) remaining copies of the US Constitution - ConstitutionDAO.

Please don't ask me how I ended up there, but I did.

My contribution has been small; I've been cheering, and supporting the core team from the sidelines. Friday, when I jumped into the Discord, there were shy of 2000 people in the channel; when writing this, there are over 17000 people in the Discord, and we've raised over $40 million. 

Yes, you read that right. A project that didn't exist a week ago has one week later raised over forty million dollars. We’re in it to win it.

All this has been done through a DAO (which once again, we have talked about in the past) and through co-operation online. 

ConstitutionDAO has no office. 

There have been zero talks about "How will we innovate when we're not in the same room?" 

Zero discussion around if "we should be remote or hybrid." 

Not Boring has (as always) an excellent rundown of what's happening and how it's been happening, which I strongly encourage you to read. 

Why? Because this fits into the famous quote from Chris Dixon:

What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years.

No, I'm not counting myself as one of the smartest persons out there, but I sure watched many smart people coming together this weekend, working on the ConstitutionDAO. 

And while I don't think we'll be buying the constitution again in ten years, I believe that DAOs and web 3.0 technologies will be the tech people are using and utilizing in ten years.

We don't even know if we will end up buying the constitution or not yet. I hope we do, but even if we don't, the project has still got me excited like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve.

It's contagious to see people crunching together and feel a sense of "we can do this." It's the same feeling I had in the early days of the social web, where it felt like the possibilities were endless. We all looked at the big tech companies and thought, "they are truly innovative, and I wish we were like them." But in recent years, I've been lacking that.

And I'm not alone.

While I don't believe the world is as black and white as this tweet, let's be honest, I think there is some truth to it.

In the web 3.0 piece, I elaborated a bit on this: we might start to see a push where the most forward-leaning people are leaving old tech companies. (And yeah, it still takes an effort from me to deem them old.) 

Don't get me wrong here, I still think that the good old tech companies are essential, create value and that they'll have the ability to attract highly skilled talent (at least for the next couple of years.)

And while you never should draw conclusions from single data points, it's hard not to extrapolate events from the ConstitutionDAO and try looking into the future. 

I'm relatively confident we will look back on these days and deem them as a critical, pivotal moment where web 3.0 and DAOs went from being a vague concept to something concrete. 

There's an armada of people who now have first-hand experience from spinning up a DAO, organizing the development of events such as the ConstitutionDAO, and practical implementation skills. 

On the other side, you have now people who prior to this had never heard of web 3.0 and never ever thought of dipping their toes in crypto who are currently going through the whole process of contributing ethereum to a (crazy) project.

This means that we've been getting more creators with hands on experience and we've been getting more supporters/consumers into the web 3.0 space. Take a look at this cart for example. The largest cohort of contributors have never done something similar before.

My bet is that this will further fuel the development of the whole space, broadly categorized as web 3.0. As the area is picking up even more momentum and the thresholds are lowered, more people will join in, which will, in turn, underpin the trend that the tweet above is pointing out - that more and more people will start working on web 3.0 projects.

So is everyone who's not building web 3.0 applications doomed? 

Will everyone resign from the good old tech companies? 

No. 

But you have to acknowledge that competition, even before all of this fierceness, is getting worse. And to compete, you'll need to double down on your ways of working, and there's some learning from the ConstitutionDAO when it comes to operating models that we all can learn from.

Clarity

Or vision, or whatever trendy corporate buzzword you would like to use for pointing out a clear direction. ConstitutionDAO is a marvelous example of this. One explicit goal - to buy one of the few remaining copies of the original printed version of the US constitution. The team worked backward from that goal, and so can your organization. Set your goal, work backward. If you do this well, you'll be able to offer more.

Autonomy

Aka freedom, flexibility, or whatever you want to call the ability to have power over how you structure your day. It's by no means a new trend. And I've talked about this in the past, both in my webinar and in previous articles. But it's worth mentioning again and again because it feels like people still haven't gotten a grasp of it. So let's repeat it, together, like we were on live aid - knowledge workers want flexibility and autonomy, and if you are not providing that, you'll have a hard time finding said knowledge workers.

Be part of something

We all want to belong. ConstitutionDAO formed its culture around memes. Why? From the beginning, the primary purpose was to expose more people to the cause, but at the same time, it also built a culture (a culture heavily revolving around Nicolas Cage). And I know this will come as a surprise and shock to many of us HR people, but there were no large workshops around what the organization's cultural values would be, just hundreds of memes. Most of them are funny, some of them not. But they all contributed to adding more people to the team and building the team stronger.

Very unique list, right? Not at all, but yet it's so hard for so many organizations. But if you want to be relevant now, and in the future - double down on this.

So has everything been impeccable in this DAO? Not at all. There were cries about more transparency, people were asking the same questions repeatedly, but the team has worked out those issues, one issue at a time. And it has been impressive. 

I do want to emphasize once again that I've been mostly standing on the sidelines, cheering on the core team. Still, it's been fun and meaningful to see how shit has been done, and I've learned more this past weekend about not only web 3.0 but organization and spinning up a truly global and remote teams than I have in a very long, long time.

It's been a blast, and I strongly encourage more HR people to dip their toes into this area. It might seem scary, but you might also learn something along the way.

I'd be happy to help and get you going.

But first, I'm gonna watch when we buy the god damn constitution!