Moloch—2019 Year in Review

Prepared by Cooper Turley

Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money!

This past year has marked the rise of decentralized autonomous organizations, largely due to the deployment of the Moloch framework and the leadership of the Moloch members. With 20+ grants dispensed to the tune of over $285,000 we’re excited to share a recap of all the progress made since our summoning.

Since the launch of Moloch DAO, we’ve seen over $1M (7,000+ ETH) in contributions from some of Ethereum’s largest companies and community members and 8 funded Moloch forks. The collaboration among these entities to fund Ethereum public goods infrastructure has demonstrated the value of using DAOs to facilitate positive social coordination.

Moloch now consists of over 75 unique members from over 20 countries who have voted on 100+ proposals. As we continue to get closer to Phase 0 of ETH 2.0, Moloch continues to serve as a foundational building block for the advancement of Ethereum scalability. We will also continue to support the Ethereum ecosystem as a whole.

In this article, we’ll be diving into:

  • Key Highlights from 2019
  • Review of 2019 Grants
  • Member Testimonials
  • Goals for 2020

We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get right into it!

Key Highlights

We didn’t set out to build a DAO company, we built a DAO to do what we wanted.” — Ameen Soleimani, Summoner

Moloch DAO was started as a grassroots side project focused on creating a Minimum Viable DAO. For those of us who were around during the rise and fall of The DAO, it was easy to see how complexity ended up becoming the Achilles heel of what was at the time a truly novel development.

With Moloch, we aimed to remove that complexity while maintaining shareholder sovereignty through the introduction of post-vote grace periods and the ragequit — a mechanism to allow members to remove funds from the DAO before their funds are spent on any passing proposals.

Moloch went on to achieve a great degree of memetic success, inspiring many to read Meditations on Moloch and understand the nature of the coordination problems that Moloch was designed to help us overcome.

Here’s a recap on some of our biggest highlights from the past year:

2019 in 4 Tweets

We’re only just getting started, so with these updates in mind let’s take a look at what Moloch actually funded in 2019.

Moloch Grant Summary

Moloch issued roughly $285k worth of grants that were largely split between different forms of Ethereum development, Moloch improvements and a couple miscellaneous proposals. Here’s a look at how it stacked up:

Let’s get more granular.

ETH 2 Development

Total: ~$144,000 (50% of total grants)

Ecosystem Development

Total: ~$93,700 (32% of total grants)

Moloch DAO

Total: ~$40,275 (14% of total grants)

Miscellaneous

Total: $11,000 (4% of total grants)

As you can tell, Moloch was pretty active across a number of initiatives within the Ethereum ecosystem. While the size of grants tended to range, it was clear that our mission to fund Ethereum development was a success.

Member Testimonials

Now that you’ve got an understanding of the big picture, we thought you’d enjoy a couple testimonials from some of our larger grant recipients and members about what the Moloch process was like for them.

Matthew Slipper — Kyokan (Grant Recipient)

It was fascinating to watch Moloch itself go from an idea, to a smart contract, to a real grant-giving autonomous organization with meaningful money. Upon receiving our grant(s), we had to learn — and in many cases, invent — the social norms around being a good DAO shareholder.

Getting Vitalik and Joe Lubin on board was huge. DAOs have always been marketed as “experiments” so having them on board was a tremendous vote of confidence and gave credence to the idea that Moloch could have a meaningful impact on the space. I don’t think the other Moloch forks would have happened were it not for this vote of confidence, so major kudos to Ameen for putting in the legwork to make it happen.

Roman Storm — Tornado Cash (Grant Recipient)

Our grant process was a bit different from most. When we first applied, we actually got rejected. My team and I took this as a challenge and went ahead to ship Tornado Cash anyways. In Moloch, there’s a really strong community watching you. Once you say you’re going to do something, it feels like your reputation is on the line to get it done.

After we shipped, I went back and applied for a retroactive grant which was much easier to pass since members could see what we had actually delivered. The grant process itself was quite easy and the DAO was very lax in the progress we had made.

Basically, when you know that high profile people like Vitalik are watching what happens with Moloch grants, it’s super motivating to deliver something of value.

Medhi Zerouali — Sigma Prime (Grant Recipient)

When we applied for the grant, Lighthouse was already a well-established project, leading the ETH2 development charge. External audits are extremely important so the question became — where do we get the funding to cover this?

We first had a chat with Ameen at ETHBerlin where we explained the current state of the project and our intention of submitting a proposal. Ameen was very supportive and helpful in explaining the process. A few weeks later, I posted a formal proposal in the Moloch Discord and 10 days later, Mariano Conti reached out to champion it.

The idea of MolochDAO returning to its roots by supporting ETH2 efforts was quite exciting to him. We had a lovely chat where I answered a few questions on Lighthouse and Sigma Prime. A few days later, the proposal was up and passed with 568 Yes votes and 0 No votes!

The conversations in Moloch’s Discord were also quite useful for staying informed with the latest developments in the space. I haven’t been participating much, but the discussions have always been interesting to read.

Santiago Siri — Democracy Earth (Contributing Member)

Two great virtues of the MolochDAO project are its legitimacy and simplicity. It was genuinely born out of the need to address conflicting interests in the Ethereum community and quickly hacked at one of the many hackathons held by the ecosystem — a legacy corporation or a foundation could never achieve a trustworthy creation of something like this. Built with just 400 lines of Solidity code and being pushed to Github with an uppercase “STEAL THIS CODE” first-liner that invited the community take it and run with it, Moloch’s approach in itself illustrates the power Ethereum has for creating borderless digital organizations.

Mariano Conti—MakerDAO (Contributing Member)

When I heard about MolochDAO I knew I had to join. A group of individuals pooling resources towards the common good of Ethereum? Yes please! Overcoming the tragedy of the commons with smart contracts? Sign me up!

In the end MolochDAO turned out to be so much more. A movement that spawned new DAOs, a conversation starter for who should give back and how much, and yes, a chance to discuss bribery and corruption in new systems.

My wish for 2020 is to involve myself more with MolochDAO, to bring new members and to find projects worth funding.

Points to Consider

With Moloch’s framework, we aimed to streamline grants in order to get value-adding developments funded faster. We quickly saw that a great deal of the value of Moloch was in the community itself, beyond the actual funding.

Moloch became a place for anyone serious about Ethereum ecosystem development to turn to for feedback and encouragement. The discussions in Discord prompted brainstorming around Ethereum’s most pressing needs (like a privacy mixer or ETH2 validator interface) and our collective network allowed us to find the best people to get the job done.

Looking Ahead

Towards the end of the year, we conducted a membership survey to see how Moloch was doing. Questions ranged from reflections on where Moloch could be improved to temperate questions on the DAO’s funding focus along with governance and what can be done to improve general procedures.

The majority of Moloch members trust that other members will make decisions aligned with the DAO. This is where ragequit has proven to work as a social coordination mechanism. There’s always a fear that others will ragequit, so members won’t propose and pass grants that are too contentious.

In terms of funding focus, ETH 2.0 was Moloch’s initial mandate and continues to be a focus. Take a look at the Appendix to see more granular results about future funding areas.

With this is mind, it’s obvious that Ethereum development will remain the core focus for Moloch grants in 2020. If anything, it’s refreshing to hear that our members are open to funding a wider range of proposals in the future, signaling that Moloch’s impact on the space is only just getting started. Areas we’re interested in supporting include privacy, scalability, dApp development, economic and security audits, and social coordination efforts. Overall, Moloch is here to help solve the most immediate problems.

In tandem with our year-end survey, some of the larger items discussed on a reflection call focused on what Moloch has done well (Moloch as a Meme, Driving ETH 2.0, Funding, Membership & Coordination and Restarting DAOs in Ethereum) along with what we can improve on (encouraging higher voter turnout).

Moving forward, our goals for 2020 include:

  • Continuing to fund Ethereum ecosystem development
  • Growing the number of Moloch shareholders and Guild Bank value
  • Enhanced communication with all notable Ethereum parties
  • Optimizing tooling for onboarding and participation
  • General DAO ecosystem support

Moloch v2

Through a collaborative effort between MetaCartel, ConsenSys’s The LAO, and Moloch, the Moloch v2 contract standard was designed in order to support legally compliant for-profit instantiations, as well as fixing some of the rough edges in Moloch v1 when used for grants.

The few new features are covered in depth in the Moloch v2 Changelog, but the most important are multi-token support and guild kick. Multi-token support allows the DAO to acquire and spend (or invest in) an unlimited portfolio of assets. Guild kick allows members to vote to remove members which is especially important if a member presents a risk to the DAO’s legal compliance.

Two weeks ago and to much fanfare, MetaCartel announced the Venture DAO and published their Whitepaper. Venture DAO is expected to be the first deployment of Moloch v2 and blaze the trail for other for-profit DAOs to follow.

Moloch Wants YOU!

We’re constantly seeking new members to aide in the advancement of Ethereum and would love to have you make a case for what should be funded next. If one thing is for sure, 2020 is shaping up to be Ethereum’s most important year to date, and we couldn’t be more excited to help it grow with critical grants to the industry’s most talented and hard-working individuals.

We thank you all for your sacrifices. If you or anyone you know are interested in learning more about Moloch, please follow us on Twitter.

Last but not least, we’d like to thank our contributing members, Vitalik Buterin, Joseph Lubin, the Ethereum Foundation, and ConsenSys, for their support in making this all possible.

Appendix

Community Resources:

https://concourseopen.com/blog/moloch-dao-explained/

https://medium.com/@simondlr/the-moloch-dao-collapsing-the-firm-2a800b3aa2e7

https://medium.com/graph-commons/accountability-in-decentralized-networks-the-molochdao-case-c28a0b3dd942

https://blockonomi.com/molochdao-rising-role-ethereum/

https://medium.com/odyssy/moloch-primer-for-humans-9e6a4f258f78

Moloch Survey Results — Funding Focus

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