“It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
― Angela Y. Davis
A comparative analysis of the platforms for decentralized autonomous organizations in the Ethereum blockchain
Blockchain technology has enabled a new kind of distributed systems. Beyond its early applications in Finance, it has also allowed the emergence of novel new ways of governance and coordination. The most relevant of these are the so-called Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). DAOs typically implement decision-making systems to make it possible for their online community to reach agreements. As a result of these agreements, the DAO operates automatically by executing the appropriate portion of code on the blockchain network (e.g., hire people, delivers payments, invests in financial products, etc). In the last few years, several platforms such as Aragon, DAOstack and DAOhaus, have emerged to facilitate the creation of DAOs. As a result, hundreds of these new organizations have appeared, with their communities interacting mediated by blockchain. However, the literature has yet to appropriately explore empirically this phenomena. In this paper, we aim to shed light on the current state of the DAO ecosystem. We review the three main platforms nowadays (Aragon, DAOstack, DAOhaus) which facilitate the creation and management of DAOs. Thus, we introduce their main differences, and compare them using quantitative metrics. For such comparison, we retrieve data from both the main Ethereum network (mainnet) and a parallel Ethereum network (xDai). We analyze data from 72,320 users and 2,353 DAO communities in order to study the three ecosystems across four dimensions: growth, activity, voting system and funds. Our results show that there are notable differences among the DAO platforms in terms of growth and activity, and also in terms of voting results. Still, we consider that our work is only a first step and that further research is needed to better understand these communities, and evaluate their level of accomplishment in reaching decentralized governance.