The need for better and smarter governance of ICO projects is clear. It’s more fundamental than improving features like fund custody. The nature of the relationship between token holder and token issuer–both what they currently are in operating projects and what they should be in terms of best practices–remains very unclear.
- Transparency: young startups don’t give their investors weekly development updates or even financial reports. At the same time, investors often have legal rights to such information if they request it. Should there be some kind of reporting obligation from token issuers to token buyers?
- Product and feature flexibility: startups rarely end up where they thought they would. As such, venture capitalists often base investment decisions off things like team strength and leadership capabilities, knowing that the equity will follow the team wherever they go, so VCs protect things like equity terms and the threat of dilution. A token however, will not jump products so easily, because token design is so interwoven into the proposed platform. Changing token parameters can have massive consequences on token utility–and by extension, token value. How beholden to an initial design should a token-based company be?
- Decision-making: company shareholders rarely exercise decision-making authority over companies except in extreme circumstances. Users are considered sources of feedback, not formal input. Open source software though flourishes when contributors can actually make decisions that matter. Should token holders (or token purchasers) have influence over project decisions and spending?
The fundamental tensions between token issuers and token holders will need to be reconciled. These tensions promise to become even more pronounced when companies mix equity and tokens; many traditional VCs see tokenization primarily as a way to finance their portfolio companies without surrendering equity. Big ugly battles between shareholders, entrepreneurs, and token holders wait on the horizon.
As such, we are constantly interested in experiments in governance of token economies. DoGood is one such experiment and it rewards further study into some of the tradeoffs new governance models will face. Dogood itself is a software-as-a-service platform, seeking to integrate a token into its mechanics. It proposes introducing an escrow service for raised funds and an optional framework for community engagement. It is very early stage in its token design model. This memo explains what DoGood is hoping to achieve and some of the challenges it must navigate along the way.
DoGood is working on a blockchain-based, idea- and project- management system. The objective of the doGood software is to facilitate design thinking and lean start-up practices in a decentralized manner through a suite of applications. It currently functions as a non-blockchain Saas product that can be used for collective problem solving for complex problems and distributed project management, including querying stakeholders for input. They are adding a blockchain-based escrow system, notarizing stakeholder votes on Ethereum, and adding a native token to their platform. They hope projects will use their platform to have their community make funding allocation decisions, turning doGood into a platform for stakeholder governance. Their initial target customers are projects issuing ICOs, and they will use doGood to manage their own token holder community.
What is the doGood platform?
The doGood platform is best described in three parts, all intended to align project management with lean methodologies around breaking problems into smaller ones, identifying and systematically testing assumptions, and revising project workplans accordingly. They are designed to help manage the relationships between funders and funded projects.
- A token-based incentive system to organize teams around ideas. A problem is defined and scoped using digital collaborative root cause diagrams. A community can break down big problems into smaller ones, and ultimately establish bounties for them. Teams apply to win the bounty by proposing and testing their solution.
- A voting system can be used to rate the content, to vote on the metrics used for testing the solution, as well as for electing the winner of the bounty. Votes will be majority-rule based with a quadratic voting system designed to suppress the impact of whales. Votes are notarized on the Ethereum blockchain.
- An escrow system, which releases portions of total funding based on milestones or objectives. The community can in theory track the team’s progress through updates on the doGood platform and provide structured input on the project. The project will periodically call for tokenholders to vote on whether the team should be given additional funding held in escrow. doGood argues this enables funders to track the progress of the funded teams and provide governance. At launch, this mechanism will involve a three-strike rule: if a team fails three votes for additional funding, escrowed funds are locked and then made redeemable to funders. This method of stakeholder involvement may also help alleviate pressure from regulators, the company claims. A first use case for this will be ICOs.
Ultimately, the value of this feature will depend on how closely the project team uses the software for updates and for escrow. A team can choose to parcel out funds across multiple milestones or just several. Presumably, a team will use doGood only if they see value in these features, and they will present their project—with a doGood-facilitated governance model—to their community.
Votes for Funders, not necessarily Token Holders
doGood is positioned as a platform for managing the relationship between a project and its funders. In the context of ICOs, they want to restrict voting to initial backers, not necessarily current token holders. ICO participants would register the ETH addresses they used to participate in the sale (and project teams would supply information for presale investors). When the community needed to vote, the project team would allow initial backers to cast votes, weighted according to their initial token holders. The voting mechanism would be a variation on quadratic voting: votes are counted as the square root of the voting weight, which greatly diminishes the influence of whales. They acknowledge that this mechanism can still be gamed (instead of buying 1000 tokens and effectively having 100 votes, an attacker could buy 1 token 1000 times and retain 1000 voting power—but neverthelss think the barrier it introduces should dampen the most malicious influences. In other words, it’s a lot of trouble to have influence over a project’s doGood community votes. A voting arbitration system, managed by the doGood team itself, will help projects protect themselves against such phantom whales.
Initially doGood.io plans to use a hybrid system for its protocol, which consists of a centralized client server architecture for the app and uses the Ethereum blockchain for voting and the escrow system.
What is the Token Being Sold?
The primary token used on the platform is called the Good token. Users can earn points for their interactions on the platform, which then can be exchanged into Good tokens. Points can be earned for gaining new users, contribute to scoping a problem or solution, and reviewing and rating solutions.
Good tokens can then be spent for creating or funding bounties, for team applications to claiming bounties, and for purchasing ad space on doGood.
The team acknowledged that the token model itself is under development and will likely undergo some iteration and testing.
doGood plans to keep 3 percent inflation rate per year.
During the token sale 100 million of the 1 billion GOOD token will be sold. From the rest of the tokens, 70% will be used to acquire and incentivize content contributors and curators, 5% will go to the advisors, another 5% would be given to non-profits and 10% will be given to doGood team members. The company itself plans to institute a voting system on the allocation for the doGood team based on doGood stakeholder management and implement a fund freeze for the first year after the ICO.
What is the Project Status?
The dogood platform is operating today as a Saas product for any company or team to track their progress using lean startup principles.
To date, the company has set up a beta of its platform and a marketplace, where users can earn (off-chain) points by participating in surveys, contributing to projects, and recruiting friends. It plans to integrate blockchain technology in Q1 2018.
What is the Market?
doGood estimates the knowledge management software market to grow from $16.7 to $29.4 billion and the innovation management software category to grow from $422 million to $1.5 billion by 2022. This market represents plausible customers for their platform, regardless of tokenization.
doGood itself names Spigit, BrightIdea, Qmarkets, Crowdicity, Atlassian as competing knowledge management and innovation management software, none of which uses Blockchain. The technology company Pupa Clic announced in June 2017 its Blockchain-powered Project Management System and CRM Paradox. However, Paradox does not seem to include a token-based incentive system.
Who is the team Behind the Project?
doGood’s CEO Adam Harriss’ background includes experience in business development in different companies as well as product management for HP. He indicates to have worked as well in venture capital. Ralp Morales, CRO of doGood, currently works as director of innovation and incubations at HP. Nick Geoca is listed as doGood’s blockchain developer. He has a background in system engineering he holds a BS of Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M. At time of writing, he lists himself as a blockchain consultant, not necessarily affiliated with dogood.
Prospects and Challenges for ICO Governance
DoGood should be a bold and risky experiment in governance mechanisms for token economies. The quality of insights the community can glean will largely depend on its adoption. In many ways, its vision matches Vitalik’s Buterin’s recent thoughts on a DAICO as a governance model for ICO projects, as long as the voting mechanisms for fund release remain sufficiently distributed.
While there are a number of intriguing aspects of the doGood platform and the intentions behind it, there are also a range of challenges that the project will face.
A central one will simply be the question of adoption. Why teams proposing ICOs would opt for this model, particularly in the instance of disbursement of funds being subject to the voting of outsiders, is difficult to imagine in a world where there seems to be virtually no pressure upon teams to implement such measures. This model will likely need to imposed from the outside (for example, as a requirement for listing on a funding platform) or the market of investors will need to get much more tight-fisted, compelling projects to integrate binding governance in order to attract attention.
On the level of governance, awarding governance authority to ICO contributors rather than current token holders can introduce confusion and conflict. In the current market, token holders think of themselves as having the influence, and if an ICO contributor exits their position, they are likely uninterested in following the project anymore.
DoGood will also face pressure to develop clear demand for its GOOD token. The use of the token to reward participants for platform activity makes sense, but as they refine their model, they will need to ensure there are sufficient sources of demand for the token itself. This will be doubly important because DoGood is a relatively centralized model: a Saas platform run by a traditional business that derives its revenue from platform fees. The token is DoGood’s, and its fate will be both a function of both the success of DoGood the company and DoGood’s design decisions.
|Incorporation status||doGood LLC|
|Team openness||Website profile|
|Blockchain Developer||Amit Thakkar (Web Development) and Nick Geoca (Blockchain Developer)|
|Technical White Paper||Non-Technical White Paper|
|Available Project Code||Yes|
|Role of token||To incentivize contribution to the platform, to fund bounties|
|Token supply||1 billion GOOD|
|Distributed in ICO||100 million GOOD|
|Emission rate||No further token issuance is planned|
|Consensus method||Proof of Work|