A discussion of concerns voiced by @thekiloalpha on Twitter

Hello Foxes. FOX Holder and community member @thekiloalpha has voiced a variety of concerns on twitter: https://twitter.com/thekiloalpha/status/1613728988970778624.

I’m posting them here to ensure that the comments have more visibility, and to also address them in a more detailed fashion than could be done on twitter.

Thanks for taking the time to voice these concerns, Kilo. Critical perspectives and dissenting opinions are essential to preventing the DAO from devolving into groupthink. I’ll do my own part to address your questions/concerns here, as some of your thoughts pertain directly to the Tokenomics Workstream and the related proposal. I’ll also make some comments about your other thoughts, although I don’t profess to speak for any other Workstream here.

1.) @ShapeShift $FOX are 11 months away from running out of $. Recently i’ve observed several OG team wallets dumping millions of $FOX. Why?

By “OG team wallets,” I assume you mean longstanding wallets that might be accounts owned by formerly centralized ShapeShift employees who are receiving Sablier streams? Or maybe something else? In any case, it’s impossible to know the motivations of why someone would choose to sell their FOX right now. Perhaps they need the cash. Perhaps they want to move into another crypto asset. Everyone is free to do as they wish with their tokens.

Many active contributors to the DAO are taking precisely the opposite approach, instead electing to receive a portion (or all) of their salaries in time-locked FOX. (I don’t have the precise figures for January Boosted FOX in front of me, but can find those shortly; it constitutes a substantial chunk of the DAO’s monthly spend).

Choosing to receive Boosted FOX is a strong vote of confidence that the DAO will emerge from this bear market and find an endurable product/market fit. To put it another way, many of the people closest to this project are electing to have long-term exposure to the DAO, while forgoing the ability to benefit from it financially in the near-term.

2.) Just one stream has a monthly burn of $40k-$50k to operate in a bear market. What the actual fuk.

As a community member who’s supportive of the Marketing Workstream proposal, please let me voice some of the reasons for that support. (Again, this is my own opinion as just one member of the community).

a.) The Marketing team has shown incredible engagement, passion, and enthusiasm in the wake of some serious downsizing and restructuring that occurred last year. The current proposed spend of roughly $37,000 USDC per month represents a substantial reduction from the Workstream’s 2022 spend across two separate marketing-related Workstreams, which if memory serves was well over $100,000/month

b.) The DAO arguably still needs marketing in a bear market, keeping the ShapeShift name top of mind and engaging with the broader crypto community. The proposed incoming team has done a commendable job at this IMHO, whether it’s getting the word out on twitter, working with partners, planning IRL events, and helping to shape the DAO’s messaging. Meanwhile, nearly 25% of the overall monthly spend is being requested in time-locked FOX. This has the impact of reducing the hit on the runway while also creating more committed, long-term FOX holders.

c.) You talk about the monthly spend as if it’s “high.” Again, the impact on the runway is $37K/month. It’s perfectly fine to spend money, even in a bear market, as long as you have funds in the treasury. This is precisely the purpose of having a runway. Do you have any suggestions for where the Marketing Workstream might optimize its spend?

3.) Tokenomics workstream leader wants $14k a month (for what?) in a bear market + 20% bonus for taking $FOX.

This is correct; the proposal for Q1/Q2 stipulates that the Tokenomics Workstream Leader (that’s me) will receive $14,000 worth of FOX every month, plus a 20% FOX bonus for time-locking that FOX for one year.

Much like you, I share a deep desire to preserve and extend the stablecoin runway. This is exactly why I’ve elected to receive the entirety of my salary in time-locked FOX over the past six months, and why I’m requesting identical compensation for Q1/Q2. If the DAO fails, this will turn out to be an exceedingly bad decision. However, I’m more confident than ever that it will survive this bear market and emerge in a strong position.

The DAO has ample FOX (over 160 million, currently). What matters is preserving the stablecoin treasury–and my decision (along with other contributors) to receive compensation in Boosted FOX is an effective way to do just that. I can think of no better way to create a perfect alignment between my own contributions and the DAO’s long-term success. I’m in it for the long run.

$14,000/month is in the same ballpark as other Workstream Leaders. As someone who devotes a great deal of time and energy to this project, I want to be compensated for my work. And by choosing time-locked FOX, I’m creating an excellent alignment with the DAO’s long-term success, and signaling my own deeply-held conviction that the project will survive the bear and thrive in the subsequent bull.

“For what?”

A great question–and asking this exemplifies one of the great strengths of DAO’s. Like any contributor, and especially any Workstream Leader, I need to justify my existence to the community–not placate a single CEO or small group of executives.

I believe my continued existence in this role is, first and foremost, justified by my consistent focus on the project’s runway. From the moment the Tokenomics Workstream was formed, I urged the community to take steps to diversify the treasury into stablecoins and avoid the trap of having our entire treasury denominated in FOX. This was in the tail-end of a bull market where financial prudence was not top of mind. I continued this focus in Q3/Q4; in fact this focus on encouraging the community to take steps towards runway preservation was the primary stated goal of the Workstream for that term.

In a bear market, a DAO’s biggest threat is running out of money. Avoiding that scenario, in my mind, is job number one for Tokenomics. (If your line of thinking is more along the lines of “why is Tokenomics receiving a salary when the price of FOX is down sharply, doesn’t that mean Tokenomics is fucking up royally?” please read my thoughts in this thread.)

So first and foremost, a vote for the current Tokenomics leadership is a vote for financial prudence and a conservative, non-degen approach. While I don’t have the ability to unilaterally determine what happens, I can certainly do my best to push the community in this direction. And despite a few missteps along the way (for example, taking out high-APY loans on Rari), the DAO is in a relatively strong position. 10-11 months of runway is not untypical for a startup, and it’s a sharp contrast to the many DAO’s or DeFi projects that have failed in this bear market, and to the many ICO-funded projects that failed during the prior bear market.

The second thing you’re getting with a vote for the current Tokenomics leadership is a continued focus on maximum financial transparency. I may be biased, but truly believe that there is no DAO with more open financials than ShapeShift. Upon starting this role, I made this a primary focus, and on this point I think we’ve wildly succeeded.

The runway projections spreadsheet is a great example; there is no ambiguity and there are no hidden details; it’s open for all to see and comment on. That runway, of course, can change over time based on spending decisions, but the stablecoin runway is something that can be counted on with reasonable certainty (smart contract or centralization risks notwithstanding). The inputs into the runway are based on our treasury, which is of course visible on etherscan but also broken down in a more granular fashion in our various DAOshboards:

Leveraging the open and immutable nature of on-chain data is something I consistently advocate for the DAO. A good example is holding a recent discussion with Bond Protocol, who took the time and effort to present metrics based on the DAO’s bond offerings.

The financial transparency extends to our discourse as well. The weekly Tokenomics calls every Tuesday are open to all. The same applies to the Treasury Management and Diversification Committee (which is not technically part of the Workstream, although I’m a member). Anyone is welcome to contribute.

On top of that, what else does the Tokenomics Workstream Leader role entail?

In Q3/Q4, a growing focus was on the research component. Not too many contributors at the DAO have a good sense for where the crypto ecosystem is heading from a scaling perspective. I’m in a good position to leveraging my prior R&D experience in order to help the community be better-informed about what these developments mean. The output is frequent presentations on Ethereum-based rollups, which I believe will garner the lion’s share of liquidity and transactional throughput in 2023 and beyond. This insight, in turn, can help the DAO prioritize the roadmap and position itself more effectively for the next bull market.

I’ve also outlined a heavy strategic focus for Q1/Q2, as outlined in the proposal. It’s crucial that we keep an eye on this bigger picture and maintain a high-level, 30,000-foot view (something we did a good job of doing at the DAO retreat), even while we delve down into the smaller details of implementing a detailed product roadmap.

4.) Active governance > tragedy of the commons. The treasury has been completely plundered and DAO members just vote away for any proposal without thought.

I fully agree that active governance is better than a tragedy of the commons, which perhaps would be exemplified by apathy and a lack of involvement in the governance process. This would be antithetical to everything the DAO stands for. I respectfully strongly disagree with your assertion that DAO members mindlessly vote for any proposal. This perhaps was more true in early-2022, when the bull market mentality was prevalent and token holders were more likely to rubber-stamp any proposal.

Things have been very different since mid-2022. To provide just a few examples:

a.) In the wake of budget austerity measures, there were several months of deep and contentious discussions about the scope of Workstream Leaders’ responsibilities. This led to a (similarly contentious) proposal clarifying those leadership roles.

b.) Currently there’s a spirited discussion about whether the DAO should add fees to its Thorchain integration.

c.) Recent proposals around the Operations and Marketing Workstreams have also been widely discussed and debated. For more on that, see the recent threads in this forum.

The treasury has been completely plundered.

I’m not sure what you mean by this. “Plundering” would entail FOX holders voting to distribute more tokens to themselves, then proceeding to dump the token.

Instead, the DAO has diversified a portion of its treasury into stablecoins in order to create a predictable runway, while also implementing austerity measures (decided upon by individual Workstream Leaders). In 2022, monthly DAO spending frequently exceeded $500,000. In January total spend was less than half that. Meanwhile, the DAO also created a program (Boosted FOX) designed specifically to reduce the near-term impact on the treasury while also creating an ever-growing cohort of longer-term FOX holders.

These three actions are the opposite of plundering; they have a preserving, extending impact, and reflect a focus on ensuring long-term viability over short-term gain. Do some early FOX holders sometimes sell their holdings? For sure. Others sit on their holders or even accumulate more. Meanwhile, the actions of the contributors closest to the DAO (and the DAO in general) reflect a commitment to keeping this project viable and ensuring its survival through the bear market, confident that the DAO will find a viable and sustainable business model.

5.) This ShapeShift stream has no budget, no spreadsheet to support the DAO proposal. "trust me bro”

(this comment is referring to the following statement from the new Tokenomics Proposal:

“The DAO currently has 11 months of runway, through November 2023. This figure is slightly more than the 10-11 months of runway that existed when the prior Tokenomics proposal was written in June 2022.”

The whole point of maximum financial transparency is that there should never be a need to trust anyone. This is the case with the runway spreadsheet, which uses the DAO’s openly-visible, on chain assets as its primary input. There’s certainly a bit of forward-looking projecting involved with expected Workstream spend, but this is based on governance-approved budgets, so it’s typically very close to the expected results. If you want to be more granular with your expense analysis, you can also track Workstream and individual-contributor expenses via the DAO’s Colony implementation.

The runway directly supports my assertions about the runway; as does the historical data in our various DAOshboards. You do raise an interesting area for improvement, though; it would be nice to track runway over time easily in the spreadsheet. I can, for example, look at prior versions of that spreadsheet to see where we were at a given point in time, but I don’t believe this is possible for someone viewing that document.

In terms of the overall Workstream budget, this is a Workstream of one; just myself. Hence it’s as straightforward as what’s in the proposal: the monthly salary of time-locked FOX plus a one-time transfer of around 18,000 USDC for operating expenses.

“I have no conclusions here and nothing else to say other than seems like the ball has been dropped bigtime @ShapeShift with no oversight or top level management ensuring the vision of SS / $FOX is safeguarded.”

What changes would you recommend the DAO make? It’s important that the community takes all opinions into consideration. With respect to oversight, I would argue that the open financials of the DAO make it possible for anyone to provide oversight; the data’s all there.

If bera lasts another 24-48mo hard to say what will happen. Seems like the team are taking the piss and extracting as much value out of the DAO as possible. No doubt will exit stage left and dump $FOX like some of the old team (who recently dumped @ $0.025).

Again, I’d argue that the actions of the DAO and its contributors are consistent with long-term value accrual, rather than extraction. Has FOX gone down substantially in this bear market. Certainly–as have many other long-term crypto assets. Is it possible that some individual FOX holders don’t see the long-term value of FOX, and would instead rather sell at current levels? For sure.

“I’d participate more however was shot down immediately.”

Can you please share how you were shot down? This is serious fucking stuff. It’s important that all perspectives are taken into account. Respectful, civil discourse and healthy debate is the lifeblood of a thriving DAO. We need to find ways to ensure that minority viewpoints are always considered alongside opinions that are more widely shared. Similarly, ideas should be weighted based on their merit, rather than based on who is voicing them.

Thanks again, Kilo, for these questions and comments. Please always feel welcome to voice your thoughts here in the forum, or in Discord. We need more of this critical thought if the DAO is to succeed over the coming months and years.

Thank you for writing up a comprehensive response @seven7hwave to this! I want to voice my support for all of the justifications you made above.

I am honored that the marketing budget spreadsheet was looked at for this example (I honestly spent WAY too much time trying to make it balanced + easy to read for our community, so I am happy it was able to be a shining example of transparency here). I would like to point out that this first-month screenshot is taken a bit out of context as the $7500 payment for DappBack is a one-time cost. The average monthly spend for the duration of the 6-month term from marketing is $39,445 (USDC $28,810 FOX $10,635). This is a 4.1% decrease from last terms reduced budget.

I want to continue to encourage the spirit of transparency and accountability for all workstreams re: budgets + deliverables and think these are healthy conversations to be having–especially in a bear market with limited runway. If you have any specific comments regarding the optimization of spending, resources, or how any proposed workstream could operate more effectively + efficiently–I welcome all constructive feedback as that is how we get better. Here is a link to my Ideation proposal: https://forum.shapeshift.com/thread/ideation-scp-123-2023-marketing-workstream-renewal-february-august-41942


Some quick answers before I need to get back to work…

Transparency > Were the spreadsheets above included in SCP124? Regardless i’m glad they exist and will review over the weekend. I don’t remember seeing anything like @Hpayne had in SCP123 (and yes thanks for the spreadsheet was very helpful as an outsider, especially since some of these proposals are unnecessarily wordy/verbose)

Austerity > Simply cutting something 50% doesn’t mean you get a pat on the back. Is $250k/mo burn appropriate? You use startups/runway as a similitude; but i’d argue a startup would have only absolutely necessary roles with appropriate remuneration. As mentioned in the other threads, previous top 50 project had caps at $10k/pm. I’d be pulling the workstreams together and saying guys… let’s take 20% off here, let’s keep this runway as long as possible. If we can get 12mo, 15mo, 18mo. Let’s give us some breathing room.

I fully appreciate marketing is required in all market cycles, but the causal loop / death spiral of spend less > lose revenue > less $$ for marketing > lose even more revenue doesn’t apply here (imo). Having said the above, will review the spreadsheets before commenting further because now i’m talking from a place of ignorance. I need (to review) the data.

Bera 24/48 > I don’t care about downside as an investor but as a DAO yeh. I do care about what team/ex team etc dumping signals to the wider market. Optics matter. I understand you have no influence over this, but i’m also not hearing any mention of engagement with previously key stakeholders/team members to inform their decisions. (btw I have bought the very lows and am prepared to buy lower)

Shot down comment > Yes was shot down in discord and your $11k/mo moderator accused concerns on tokenomics/airdrop etc of simply being pump & dump. Which is ridiculous considering my concerns were much more than that. But that’s behind me I care less and will not participate in real time conversations in discord.

Suggestions > What i want to see is output/outcome tied to some workstreams that accomplish specific strategic objectives to achieve the vision shapeshift has. My primary concern is burn & runway; and ensuring the workstreams add value and have that sense of urgency, commitment to ensuring the work undertaken is best bang for buck and directly tied to outcomes that will move the needle. I can certainly be more specific but the concern was primarily runway. You just won’t like my answers (cut your salary).

Regardless of whether you think i’m simply poking the bear, trolling or whatever; if you can forget for a moment about what has been saved in % terms (50%?) and take my fresh perspective that’s great. You might reconsider your salaries, you might work harder/smarter (and so you should for that $$) to find some savings, you might simply confirm/affirm that your approach is correct and the team is lean enough. Fine. At least you’ve been challenged.

Yeah, the runway spreadsheet was linked in the SCP124 forum discussions - however, I didn’t copy that link into SnapShot (which can be funky with formatting). In the future I’ll make it a point to manually copy/paste that in. Adding the DAOshboards would be a good idea as well.

Again, for Tokenomics the budget is very straightforward: $14K/month in 1-year time-locked FOX (which per SS governance provides an extra 20%) for the WS Leader salary, and a little under 18K for operating expenses (which in the past have included audits, code bounties, DAO team meals, and so on).

Completely concur that everything doesn’t magically get better because a budget has been cut by a certain percentage. The more meaningful metric here is runway. I agree that getting 15-18 months would be a very good goal; as I outlined in Tuesday’s presentation, the last bear market lasted 30 months before prices started to trend reliably higher. We’re 14 months into the current bear. Thus, another 16 months feels like a reasonable target (although of course past performance is no guarantor of future results).

The crux here–the central question–is by what means should the DAO lengthen that runway. You’ve clearly articulated an argument for making further budget reductions and finding other opportunities for savings. Another sentiment is that in the wake of those prior cuts, we’re lean and mean, and further cuts could be detrimental to our capability to survive.

If not further austerity, then what? Another approach is to further extend the runway via ongoing bond offerings. These have been highly effective, both in allowing the DAO to pay down its pernicious Rari debt, and in preserving the runway. As I outlined on Tuesday, an allocation strategy targeting $50,000/month of stablecoins (versus the prior target of $50,000/week) would lengthen the runway by more than three months.

(Note that the runway was revised slightly lower this week, versus the estimates contained in the proposal, due to the addition of new engineering/OPEX costs. We’re now 10 months versus 10-11 months. I’ll be clarifying this in the actual vote proposal for SCP-124 now that it’s passed Ideation).

In any case, the point remains, and we’re in agreement on this: the DAO needs more runway if it’s going to survive a bear market that’s similar in length to the last one.

I just did some quick napkin math in a new tab of the Runway Projections Spreadsheet, analyzing the impact of a 20% budget reduction starting next month. Were that to happen, the DAO would have an extra two months of runway. A notable difference, for sure, but does that justify slashing expenses by a fifth?

Alternatively, the DAO could extend its runway via the bond strategy outlined above (assuming ongoing sufficient demand). Longer-term offerings like Arbor could also a path forward too. Of course this is not mutually exclusive with further budget austerity; the latter all depends on what individual WS leaders (voting FOX hodlers) support.

You have great thoughts with respect to specific objectives. One of the outcomes from the DAO retreat was for various Workstreams to set SMART goals. I think these will start to find their way into governance proposals in the coming months. We need to be clear about what we want to accomplish–and how to get there, and how to tell if we’re not reaching those goals.

I don’t want to consume any more time and detract from work being done. Giving yourself a pay rise is a bad look in a bear market. I suggest workstreams consider the project’s longevity when it comes to remuneration which is already generous.

Glad there’s a focus on $$, it could be better. #onwards

Happy for this thread to be archived so that people can focus on more important things. Twitter post removed.

To clarify, the Tokenomics proposal does not entail a pay rise; the amount requested is identical to the prior Q3/Q4 term (which was also identical to the Q2 term, except that Q2 was paid in USDC rather than 100% time-locked FOX.) Or perhaps you meant that suggestion for the DAO in general.

Thank you for the constructive discussion today @hornyfox