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Why am I obsessed with DAOs?
some thoughts after spending 10 years in the crypto space.
I started learning BASIC programming when I was 12 years old, and my childhood idol was Bill Gates. After graduating from college, I worked in online gaming and software companies for over a decade. I'm not good at socializing, and I spend most of my spare time reading novels, playing games, and surfing the internet. In short, I am a typical nerd.
Being a nerd isn't all bad, though. It brings new things to me from time to time. I came across Bitcoin in 2013 and initially thought it was a fun concept that might make me some money. I bought some at a price close to $1,000. Just a week later, the price of Bitcoin collapsed, and my first crypto bear market arrived. Luckily, I had only bought a small amount and didn't rush to sell and cut my losses, holding on until the price of Bitcoin far exceeded $1,000. My initial experience with crypto was not pleasant, but it gave me a good understanding of the speculative nature of the crypto market.
At the end of 2015, The Economist published an article called "The Trust Machine." In 2016, the high-tech and financial industries began to show interest in the concept of blockchain. I realized this could be a big deal. At that time, I was in charge of a solution-focused business unit in a software company and i invested resources into blockchain development and eventually collaborated with Microsoft and a L1 team to create an experimental blockchain application for a bank. We all believed that blockchain technology was on the verge of massive adoption in many scenarios.
I was wrong.
Seeing potential in crypto's future, I joined a wallet team as partner and COO in 2017, and spent three years with the team, expanding our user base from a very small number to several million, securing two rounds of fundraising, and achieving profitability. These are impressive achievements in the crypto space, as there are still very few crypto products with millions of users. But one of the most memorable moment in my wallet journey was when a partner, a successful Web2 online gaming company, asked us how many users we had. I proudly said several million, only for them to be surprised and say, "That's it?” “Our least successful game has over ten million users."
It's clear that we are still far from mass adoption, whether in enterprise scenarios or consumer contexts. And that's not the only problem.
In my previous years in the crypto space, one of my daily jobs was to talk to people. I talked to thousands of users - traders, hodlers, believers, and I talk to hundreds of Crypto teams - L1s, L2s, DeFis, CeFis, DApps, you name it. By doing this, I met great innovators and dreamers, which is one reason I have great confidence in crypto. However, I must admit that these people are not the majority. Most people I've met in the crypto space are either investors, speculators, or scammers. The fact that the majority of users in the crypto space are only interested in making money from it, rather than truly believing in or needing it, is the most disheartening reality for me.
Fortunately, I soon discovered DAOs.
In the early years of my internet life, I spent every day curiously exploring, meeting many new friends, and passionately discussing society, technology, and the future after mass internet adoption.
Back then, there weren't many business models, and neither companies nor individuals had started making money online. But those were the best times in my 25 years of internet history. When I delved into DAOs, it felt like I was transported back to those days.
I met many new friends again, and we passionately discussed society, technology, and the future after the widespread web3 adoption. We've just moved from IRC and BBS to Discord. These are communities filled with a sense of belonging.
But this time, there's a significant difference. 25 years ago, we mostly chatted and imagined. Now, every community is taking action. By taking advantage of the enhanced coordination capabilities and more equitable distribution of ownership offered by cryptocurrencies, strangers have emerged as a collective to embark on adventures on the Internet. And the magic of DAO space is much more than that. There is also a lot of meaningful thinking, great innovation, new cultures, and great organizations that belong to the future.
The short-term monetary rewards of participating in a DAO are poor, and the immediate financial rewards are usually only a small number of illiquid tokens. But in another dimension, what one gains in a DAO is friendship, reputation, social capital, exciting experiences, and ownership of a great cause. The world will reward the people who help shape its next version.
I know that we're still in the early stages and many DAOs might not make it. But you know what? Sometimes, the journey of co-creating together is even more important than the final outcome. But some DAOs will survive, they will overcome numerous challenges to achieve their goals and, in doing so, make the world a better place.