The Boston DAO’s logo font is reminiscent of Dunkin ‘branding (I’m told it’s under legal review), so people often accompany the “gm” message with a photo of their iced coffee. This morning’s ritual is one of the ways the region’s thriving cryptocurrency community is becoming a true business group.
The Boston DAO sees itself as a “decentralized autonomous organization,” a group governed by its members rather than a central authority.
The best way to understand Boston DAO is to think of it as a glorified group chat. When it started, it was really all there was: a place where people can talk about cryptocurrencies.
Jake Lynch, 27, a major contributor to the group since it started earlier this year, said Boston DAO has grown exponentially in recent months. He has around 350 members – including CEOs, venture capitalists and college students – and recently published a 1,000-word manifesto focusing on politics, philanthropy, events and communities.
“Most of the progress is in deciding how the organization will operate and what its goals will be,” Lynch said. “Without guardrails, it’s a bit hazy and no one really knows what’s going on.”
So what’s going on?
Similar to how there are commercial organizations representing the interests of the state-owned food, beer, or biotech industries, the Boston DAO hopes to promote the local cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, commonly referred to as “web3”. The DAO is working with state lawmakers to help create a state blockchain commission as well as a workforce development program.
Unlike most business organizations, it doesn’t have a leader; Right now, the group has about 25 key contributors, who spend two to five hours per week on DAO-related matters.
It’s early, but the Boston DAO wants to play an important role in solidifying Boston as a global hub for crypto and blockchain technology. Although the group doesn’t have any funding yet, Lynch said it could potentially do an NFT sale to raise money for a treasury. And his manifesto suggests that eventually he could be an investor and incubator for Boston-area web3 companies.
The group’s community norms might seem strange to anyone looking from the outside.
It is common to see venture capitalists and CEOs using NFTs or avatars as their profile photos, instead of professional photos. Meetups are organized through Partiful, rather than Eventbrite or Google Calendar. Messages are sometimes full of cryptographic jargon.
Of course, these aspects help build a community within the local web3 world. But as Dave Balter, CEO of Flipside Crypto pointed out, it can also make it difficult for Boston’s broader tech community to discover – and understand – what’s going on.
“The action is kind of in these silent Telegram [groups]Balter said. “A lot of really smart people are building things that no one sees.”
Today, the Boston DAO may still seem (to most people) like a group chat. But Lynch rejects this notion. “A group chat wouldn’t necessarily have the long-term intention of changing Boston’s landscape for innovation and the web3,” she said.