DAOs are Consumer Products

DAOs are Consumer Products

DAOs may be a framework for consumerizing everything.

Written by Josh Cornelius, editing from Jess Sloss and Steph Alinsug

There are varying opinions on the right lens to look at DAOs through, but over the past few years of building Seed Club and supporting 100+ other DAOs we’ve gained conviction on this: DAOs should be viewed as consumer products.

Since inception, crypto’s consumer and cultural use-cases and narratives of crypto have been constantly expanding. Bitcoin kicked it off with the idea of self-sovereign currencies; Ethereum and ICOs introduced the ability for consumer speculation and ownership at the application layer; DeFi gave consumers an alternative banking system; NFTs built on all of this, and exploded the meme-space with art, collectibles, gaming assets, membership, identity, access, and much more.

Unsurprisingly, DAOs have been on a similar path. The original DAO was a decentralized venture fund. They then gained popularity as means for governing DeFi protocols, and recently we’ve seen their explosion into countless consumer and cultural verticals.

This trend towards consumer dominance in crypto is showing no signs of slowing down. Tokens are proving to be incredible carriers of cultural meaning, and ownership and its associated net new experiences are promising to be deeply compelling.

A common opposition to this perspective is that DAOs are the future of work, but the vast majority of people aren’t joining them in search of another job. And we’ve seen a clear disinterest in participating in governance or anything that feels like one. People want to be entertained, find a sense of belonging and shared purpose, socialize, or status signal. They want consumer experiences.

To take it a step further, DAOs may be a framework for consumerizing everything. What used to be highly exclusive or strictly “professional” experiences can now – on the backs of the increased coordination and distributed ownership enabled by tokens – be offered to the masses. You can own a global brand, buy an NBA team, curate a museum, build a network state, produce a film, and manage a music star. And critically, when designed well, you can do this without feeling like you’re doing any work at all.

Instead of just making things people want, we’re moving into an era of making things people want to be a part of (and own). This is going to reshape the internet.

While we’re still wildly early in exploring the experience design space that ownership unlocks, and how it improves our ability to solve consumer problems and desires, we’re already seeing fires burning in each of the categories mentioned above.

The next inflection point will likely come from collectively moving off of Discord and building native ownership experiences. We’re ultimately competing with web2 platforms for attention, and although the ability to offer ownership is a huge advantage, we need to have on par consumer experiences for that to be realized.

Nouns and FWB are providing early hints at this. The Nouns product suite (nouns.wtf, house of nouns, agora, prop house) and the FWB app are giving their members easy and branded access to their core community activities and ownership experiences. It’s hard to understate how much of an improvement these are from Discord. Significant growth in members and network value is waiting for projects that follow their lead.

We think the tech is more than ready for us to move past our insular focus and go after the defining consumer experiences that prove the inevitability of DAOs and crypto. And we’re throwing all of our energy behind it.