One year ago today, ShapeShift announced that it would be the first company to fully decentralize all corporate structure while at the same time issuing the largest airdrop in history to help empower our new DAO. ShapeShift promised to start open sourcing all of its code over the following months. At the time, much of the path to decentralization was in progress but still theoretical. Checking in on how the DAO is doing one year later now, we can see that there has been an incredible amount of progress on this front. The community has been self-structuring and becoming more productive than we ever saw at previous forms of ShapeShift.

Some of the highlights include: 

In our announcement, we stated we would fully decentralize over time, as quickly as we were able. We have made significant milestones toward that goal:

  • ShapeShift launched its new version: in the beginning of 2022, a product completely open source and created by the DAO.
  • The ShapeShift DAO Treasury utilizes the Zodiac Reality module to enable SnapShot proposals to trigger transactions without any centralized intervention.
  • Our workstreams make use of Colony for budgeting and payment, and any contributor with reputation can submit a motion to make a payment from a workstream. 
  • Our primary product, the ShapeShift Platform, is hosted on IPFS.
  • The ShapeShift DAO exists completely independently. More than half of new contributions are coming from contributors who had no association with ShapeShift’s previous centralized form, and the structure of the DAO will continue to evolve over time.
  • FOXChain is one of the next major steps for decentralized node infrastructure and being developed by members of the DAO.

So much has been accomplished in such a short time on the path toward the full decentralization of ShapeShift DAO. In fact, I would assert the ShapeShift DAO is already one of the more decentralized organizations in all of crypto—the power is in the hands of the community and token holders across governance decision making, and anyone can join at any time to get involved and let their voice be heard in the DAO’s Discord or Forum. It has been inspiring to watch the community form and take up the ShapeShift DAO mission, each in their own way.

One of the amazing things to watch is just how fast the DAO has been evolving as an organization. In traditional centralized orgs, especially as they grow to any significant size, bureaucratic inertia develops, challenging organizational evolution. This is why changes tend to be slow and plodding in most traditional orgs; by contrast, the ShapeShift DAO has transformed organically and rapidly over the course of a single year. This includes experiments around how work gets done, either via the core workstreams the DAO funds, bounties of various types, and all sorts of community contributions across the board. The evolution of the DAO also includes innovating on new products and services, like FOXy and FOXChain, as well as assigning leadership (and subsequent changes to that leadership) across the DAO’s workstreams as needed. The debate around what the DAO’s purpose and goals should be is ever evolving with the community and as market opportunities shift. 

ShapeShift as an organization has always ShapeShifted, and the birth of the DAO has further accelerated that evolutionary process. As in many crypto organizations and enterprises in the larger macro economy, the market downturn has forced a number of difficult conversations across the DAO. While this has been tough and the reality of the DAO needing to extend its runway and be more frugal during a bear market has set a more difficult tone, it has been inspiring to watch so many devoted members of the DAO step up to have these conversations with each other for the long term of what is being built.

One of my larger concerns when the DAO was launched was that the human tendency toward consensus among contributors would be too much of a force to allow for difficult conversations and decisions on the DAO level when necessary (such as when a bear market sets in). While there was some of this initially when the markets were still in a better place, the reality of the bear market has seen a number of leaders step up within the community to push forward on difficult topics that are necessary for the organization's survival through thick and thin. Ultimately, I have seen far more of a sense of ownership within the DAO model across its contributors than I ever saw with employees in any of the traditional organizations I have been a part of. 

DAOs can be a bit messier than other types of orgs due to their public and transparent nature, but I also think it's ultimately more productive for the community. There is no executive team or singular authority that the DAO can pass this responsibility off to; instead it's up to the members of the DAO itself to figure out these issues head on, and I am confident that the DAO will only grow stronger from the difficult times as we are seeing in the market today. Many projects have not made it out of prior crypto bear markets, but ShapeShift always has—and I expect the ShapeShift DAO to be no different in that respect as it is now more resilient than it ever was before.

Ultimately I couldn’t be more proud of how far the ShapeShift DAO has come in only a year. Is it perfect? No, of course not. There is plenty of mess and things being figured out as we go. That comes with the territory of building anything sufficiently new on the frontier. Yet the amount that has been produced, the community that has formed, the evolution of the organization itself has far surpassed what I expected was possible within a year. While the bear market may be here with us a while, I optimistically look forward to the bright future ShapeShift DAO and other decentralized projects are forging. DAOs will likely look dramatically different over the next few years as they keep evolving rapidly—but that is a good thing, and it makes me confident that they are here to stay. 

For ShapeShift DAO: We are coming closer and closer to our ultimate vision of offering our users a single, free, decentralized, and community-owned app for all things DeFi. The community needs it, and our community is building it. It’s been an intriguing one year journey, and the fruits of our labors are proving out in a product crypto enthusiasts can use every day. That is our reward.