The Ren ecosystem is currently made up of the Ren community, the Ren Core team that develops RenVM, the Ren Labs organization that is exploring development of applications on top of RenVM, our ecosystem partners and applications, and of course RenVM itself, that is made up of the Greycore and the Darknodes.
As we continue making progress in RenVM development, getting closer to the Mainnet Zero and subsequently the Mainnet One stage (RenVM Mainnet Release Plan. An overview of the path to Mainnet | by Loong | Ren Project | Medium), we are also getting closer to the point where having an organized DAO governing and managing the core parts of the Ren ecosystem is crucial for continued growth and success.
Currently, the Ren community is in a pre-DAO state, where it has a functional governance process where community members can discuss and propose, and vote on new proposals (Ren Governance Process), but it doesn’t have full control to for instance manage the Greycore members yet. What the community in the current Mainnet SubZero stage has, is control over setting the RenVM fees, as well as the ability to develop the governance process itself. Additionally, the power to whitelist H2H assets is now also part of community governance (Token listing proposals - Ren Forum).
As we move forward to the next stages, core activities like managing the Greycore and protocol updates (soft and hard forks) will need to be coordinated through governance, between the Ren community, Ren Core, and our ecosystem partners. These are very important activities from a security standpoint, that require proper structures and processes in place to check, verify and generally make sure any updates or upgrades are managed as safely as possible to not introduce exploits or bugs unintentionally. All while also being true to decentralization. Coordinating RenVM changes is more similar to Bitcoin or Ethereum upgrade forks than for instance a smart-contract update for a DeFi application that can be managed through an on-chain vote.
This comes with an expectation that the community can govern those features in an organized, fair, and safe way. While protocol changes will need to be carefully coordinated with Ren Core as well as any other technical contributor, it is crucial for proper decentralization that the DAO itself is independent and capable on executing these tasks.
A DAO also promises more things than just governing protocol level changes. A DAO can have the power to directly lead the growth of the ecosystem in the way the members of that DAO wishes, and have the resources and organization to make it so.
The most important thing needed to bootstrap a DAO is a treasury able to sustain a DAO. The launch of the Community Ecosystem Fund (RIP-000-005: Launch a Community Ecosystem Fund - #44) was the first step to make this possible. The CEF as structured now allows us to organize Community Funding Rounds similar to Gitcoin rounds, where proposals can be submitted and Darknode operators get to vote on the proposals they want to back, and where the results dictate how much and where capital is deployed from the CEF.
The CEF is likely not the most appropriate vehicle to bootstrap a DAO though. Instead, a proper DAO treasury would be a more flexible structure, where the community can organize and deploy capital much faster and towards things needed to maintain and grow the DAO, not just used for investing in the Ren ecosystem on a quarterly schedule.
Most importantly for bootstrapping a DAO, is a treasury that the community can utilize to incentivize the buildup of the DAO itself. Money is the most powerful tool for coordination.
Below is a suggested list of actions to bootstrap the Ren DAO:
- Establish a DAO treasury
a. Develop the ability to withdraw from CEF [technical part done by Ren Core and currently in review]
b. Build governance procedures to manage treasury [treasury working group in development]
c. Deploy initial treasury growth strategies [in development]
- Launch the first Community Funding Round to test and legitimize the CEF and its structure
- Form working groups with specific mandates
- Treasury [in progress]
There are likely many other activities that can be done to help bootstrap the DAO, and it is encouraged to bring those forth for discussion. The list is only a possible starting point.
The Ren Core team is fully committed to developing RenVM. Further, with the launch of the Ren Labs organization, additional development teams are and will be set up to build out interesting applications on top of RenVM, with the first application being Catalog.
It’s important to note that Ren Core will always have a focus on core protocol, which is its strength. Governance, community, and marketing, are some of the areas where a Ren DAO would thrive.
Finally, the Ren Labs organization will always provide full support to the community and the future DAO. At the same time it is expected of the future Ren DAO that it takes responsibility and agency over the roles needed to manage and grow a decentralized protocol and its ecosystem. Close coordination and cooperation is what will ensure the continued success of the Ren ecosystem.