We are pleased to intro Des Femmes community member Chase Chapman
, one of the crypto industry’s leading DAO strategists, to share a few thoughts about what it means for a project to “exit to community” through gradual decentralization.
When people say “Web3,” they’re often imagining a more democratic internet – one where platforms and products are owned by those who build and use them. But what does that actually mean?
The playbook for most web3 projects goes ~something~ like this:
Projects are built by a small, centralized team. Once they’ve built a product, have users, and are ready to begin progressive decentralization, a token is often retroactively distributed to team members, users of the project, investors, and other partners who helped make the project successful. This token typically gives holders special rights to governance or other useful functions, like attending IRL events. In the traditional startup world, this would look something like an IPO.
What counts as an “exit” in Web3 is still a bit blurry. Before we get into why, let’s take a step back and investigate what traditionally happens during startup exit. Exits for startups typically entail one of two things: Going public or getting acquired by a bigger company.
In both cases, exits change who owns (or has the opportunity to own) a company. When a startup has an exit, there are almost always downstream effects because changes in ownership change company dynamics. Whether that be governance, business goals, leadership, etc. ‒ who owns something has massive impacts on how that thing operates.
Sometimes change in ownership means a company succeeds and returns value to shareholders. Other times, it means the startup is acquired by a larger company and products are slowly put to rest. In any case, what’s clear is that ownership is a massive responsibility.
In the crypto space, we’re exploring a fundamental shift in how we think about the distribution of that responsibility. Rather than limiting the opportunity to acquire ownership to founders and investors – Web3 projects often redefine who the owners should be. All this is happening in a world where we spend more and more time online. As we find ourselves frequenting digital spaces (increasingly over physical ones), it’s more important than ever that we have a say in what those spaces are like, what values they’re built upon, and how they’re governed.
Platforms and protocols are no longer “features” of our lives – they’re the cities we inhabit. When we say “exiting to community” we mean giving us, as citizens of these platforms, the right to vote, to have our voice heard, and to effect meaningful change. “Exiting to community” isn’t just about decentralizing or distributing tokens. It’s about acknowledging that digital spaces should be owned and controlled by those that inhabit them.