Concerned about salary expectations and costs

Hey all -

I want to communicate a general concern I have, sorta a theme that applies to multiple workstream proposals that I’m watching unfold.

It “feels” that budgets for some of these workstreams are substantially too high. They are generally coming in as expensive or more expensive than formal departments currently cost at ShapeShift (sometimes with additional roles/salaries that ShapeShift doesn’t even have today). I understand why this is happening, but I’d like to influence us toward more conservative numbers.

On an optics level, I would recommend to workstream leaders that you undershoot costs in your early proposals, and overdeliver. Show your work at clearly good bargain prices. All of you as ShapeShift employees received large token grants paying out to you monthly. If you’re also adding a full time salary at your current level or higher, it is not a good look. I just need to express that.

On a more important level - you all are owners of this project now, and I want to encourage you to think and act like owners. Your best chance at financial success is the strength of the DAO. The higher the salaries for workstreams, the lower the success of the DAO. This tension is real and needs to be weighed carefully. It’s the tension that every entrepreneur feels, but most employees never understand.

You’re all entrepreneurs now. If you’re optimizing for short-term salary today, you are doing it wrong.

As a steward of this project into its decentralized form, I will be imposing financial discipline through my voting. I hope others join me in this. If a proposal feels rich, I’m going to vote against it.

Everyone involved in this project should be looking for ways to cut costs generally and be efficient with resources. These are YOUR resources, and the resources of the community around you. Let’s build a culture of thrift, because the payout of us succeeding long term with this is vastly more important than marginal comfort today.

For those proposing workstreams which can be considered expensive, please consider significant reductions in costs and consider proving your value to the community before asking for financial comfort. You all are entrepreneurs now, so figuring this out is your responsibility and burden.

Of course, I’m not the CEO of the DAO. I’m but one participant, and I’m always open to debate and differences of opinion. It feels weird airing these comments in a public forum, but that’s what this is now, and we’re all learning how to DAO well 1f609

Thank you for hearing me out fellow foxes.

Price discovery is an important part of any market.

I think we are all figuring out what is the value for working in a new, risky environment that is not as stable as the centralized ShapeShift or a “regular” job.

IMO I highly value those who are the first movers to work on this DAO and am willing to allocate more to make sure things are progressing quickly. If a workstream leader needs more resources than they had in centralized ShapeShift to execute their goals, I see that as them taking action to get things done more quickly than they could before.

As a newcomer to the DAO and as an entrepreneur I’m glad that I’m not the only one that’s felt this. brings up a very valid point as well, that first movers are paramount in the successful growth of an early stage DAO. I guess in the end price discovery will be dictated by how the DAO moves forward with its votes, and that in itself, is what is beautiful about a DAO 1f609

Can you point to specific budgets that seem inflated to you?

What I’ve seen is that the salary/budgets are zero for months that are covered by the Shapeshift corporation, and then assume a competitive salary as they move over to the DAO.

To me, it sounds dangerous to establish a culture of paying low, with the promise of maybe getting paid more later. It’s additionally dangerous to say, “You made a lot in your last job, so you should make less now.” I think we should hold the same value for work performed unilaterally. And frankly, the talent you attract and retain with cheap budgets doesn’t hold value to paying the worth of quality people that bring value.

Maybe you are specifically addressing former Shapeshift employees, but I believe we need to think of this as a short-term conundrum: that the DAO is pretty-much-mostly run by Shapeshift LLC. We can, as a group, set goals to integrate more community into leadership. I think was talking about a goal of 1/3 community, 2/3 Shapeshift as a mix to shoot for right now. If we start cutting budgets, I think we start endangering the exact thing we are trying to accomplish, which is to be inclusive to the community and get them into positions of leadership, too.


I do not have a salary basis to compare for these short-term workstream leader type positions.

Could you provide resources that you have available to you for what these positions would typically draw from like a type comparison for remote positions?

It had triggered my spidey senses to start when I saw some of the numbers.

I’ve been thinking about this post all weekend. I truly hope this does not discourage anyone from still putting their workstreams out there and getting feedback from the community.


The DAO should be incentivizing anyone who wants to work for it right now. This time is critical, if no one picks up these balls eventually ShapeShift dissolves.

The DAO should value current experienced ShapeShift employees. Their experience brings their value up higher than it was at centralized ShapeShift, sure the community could grow and exist without us. However, we can save a lot of time and money sharing what has worked in the past and what hasn’t.

The DAO should value workstream leaders with the highest regard. They are the leadership team, they are the decision makers, they have the highest responsibility to the DAO and they can be voted out by the community at any time.

All of the ShapeShift employees that have applied to be workstream leaders (sans Engineering) should be asking for more than their current salary as none of them are in a director or chief role. “If you’re also adding a full time salary at your current level or higher, it is not a good look.” <— this is short sighted and didn’t truly consider the current roles people have vs the roles they are applying for.

For example, for the operations workstream- I am the current head of Operations at centralized ShapeShift and I make $120,000 plus benefits. Should the new leader of Operations at the DAO not make at least that much? Should the new leader say I am taking on more responsibilities but I will keep their same Operations Coordinator salary? No.

“(sometimes with additional roles/salaries that ShapeShift doesn’t even have today)”

I believe we should be creating new roles in the DAO. We are no longer limited by as much red tape. We are not bound by the same legal responsibilities as formal employment. We should be fast to hire and should also move quickly if that role does not serve the DAO or that particular person is not providing that amount of value.

In terms of the centralized foxes Sablier streams, I see those as reward for the years of service we already put into ShapeShift. We don’t need to continue on with the DAO to get these benefits. I find it odd to make those who choose to continue on with the DAO consider that as a part of their compensation. We already contributed for that. Yes, we have an incentive to make the DAO more valuable, but it shouldn’t be held over our heads.

“please consider significant reductions in costs and consider proving your value to the community before asking for financial comfort.” Please if you are contributing to the DAO, do not overwork and underpay yourself. That is the quickest way to lead to burnout. You deserve to value your work and enjoy financial comfort.

In my opinion, I disagree with your comments Erik.

I believe that waving the flag of caution and frugality is important, but Of the workstream salaries that I’ve seen so far, I find them competitive and at a good range when calculating this new found risk-and experience.

I agree that as a team and community we should be taking more of a microscope to these proposals, doing salary research and providing insight on WHY we’ve selected salary ranges.

While I’m extremely happy w the work I was a NO vote for the Cmods early on because I felt like the pay was a bit high for the job. Thankfully I was proven wrong with the time and expertise I’ve seen w the teo Cmods so far. But new ones that come in the future, I would recommend a lower starting salary.

Regarding the FOX stream for Centralized SS employees, I agree w Danielle. An employee could walk away from the project today and collect their hard earned tokens (albiet an amazing stroke of responsibility to voting & good fortune is mixed in there as well). But that shouldn’t be calculated into current salaries.

The best part is these proposals have a short shelf life and the discovery process will be far easier than what it would look like bound by the restrictions of a centralized company. So I’m sure this will evolve its way to what the community deems appropriate, although I too will be seeking smart spending and more information on WHY costs are what they are in proposals when I vote. I hope everyone joins in that practice.

I’d like to weigh in on this too, and I hear your points, Beorn. However, I’m in agreement with some of the others here. This is new, unfamiliar territory for a lot of us. In order to succeed, I think these early days are extremely critical, and retaining and appealing to top talent is key (especially knowing that all of these individuals are likely getting hounded by recruiters with opportunities that come with some really great incentives). I agree with greymachine when he says “To me, it sounds dangerous to establish a culture of paying low, with the promise of maybe getting paid more later. It’s additionally dangerous to say, “You made a lot in your last job, so you should make less now.”

I think we should absolutely pay proper wages to those who are stepping up, taking the risk and trying to make this work, instead of just taking their tokens and walking away.

Hi Megan,

Would you be able to provide the comparison examples as to what you were comparing the salaries to that you find them in a good range and competitive?

I am just looking for basis to compare, I agree with the points of not undervaluing, the risks involved with this type of work, and such. I would just like to see a starting point for some of these positions in order to compare them to something vs just accepting that these are within range. (I had asked above for something similar from OP, but haven’t seen any follow up)

Thanks for anything you could provide!

I will definitely follow up asap (moving day! So my hands are tied the rest of the next 48 hours)

I’ve been at companies/startups previously (not ShapeShift) where I was paid below market wage with promises/agreements that I would get paid more later and/or a bonus, which never appeared, even after inquiring about it. This is a personal experience, but it taught me a lot and it is a position I won’t put myself in in the future. I think that would dissuade really passionate people from joining a workstream, at least I know it would dissuade me.

I also agree that in order to attract top talent, we need to have pay that matches the experience and skills we are looking for and I don’t think what is being requested is out of the norm. Without this, I think the ShapeShift DAO will really suffer if not worse.

While there are some new positions that are being added to the DAO, there are also other positions that are not being added (at least in their current form). We currently do not have workstreams for finance, hr/people, and a few other positions that are in centralized ShapeShift and some of them we likely won’t ever have. In general, I think one of the values of a DAO allows for more flexibility with workstreams and positions, and DAOs function quite differently than traditional companies so I think comparing the ‘old to the new’ is a bit like comparing ‘apples to oranges’.

I definitely want to support and echo the concerns and statements presented by and

I do not agree with the viewpoint that a centralized fox should have to take a discount for their work in a competitive market because of payment for previously done work. Asking for proper salary for specialized work is not a bad look to me.

I feel the burden and responsibility for offering fair and competitive wages is on the DAO far before it is on the former ShapeShift employees to take a pay cut for hopeful success of the DAO’s future. ShapeShift and the DAO are a highly specialized ecosystem with experimental and non-traditional compensation, a brand new codebase that is still being written, a young and growing governance system still discovering itself, and a less than clear future/roadmap.

These circumstances have already pushed a lot of centralized foxes in making their decisions to answer the calls to make better/equal pay elsewhere for ‘financial comfort’ plus their Sablier stream after they have been fired.

If the DAO does want to keep some amount of the current foxes in the future, I hope the game plan isn’t pay cuts and free work to ‘prove yourself’ to the community. This incentive structure doesn’t align with retention of current talent and in my opinion threatens the stability of the value proposition for ShapeShift becoming a DAO in the first place. Epic tragedy of the commons. To add to that, transitioning to the DAO from the centralized entity increased the balance sheet more so than our deepest couch cushions ever did, shouldn’t we be leaning into the value we are able to make out of our DAO while it exists to start the velocity, growth and success?

Some of this financially conservative ideology does work extremely well in growing community members into DAO contributors and keeping the treasury more full of FOX. I do not think these incentives are the same for the framework and structure of workstreams and the transitions of successful protocols and practices developed at centralized ShapeShift to continue on into the DAO.

If we are forced to reinvent the wheel with every new practice, workstream, and process now that we are a DAO, I feel we will be less like a company that transitioned to a DAO from a centralized entity, and more like a company that put all of it’s burdens into a smart contract and walked away while the price was still high.

If ShapeShift, the foundation, the DAO, and the community care about success in the future, incentivizing working at ShapeShift will have to get better than it was as a centralized entity. In my opinion the DAO should be valuing and encouraging work and be one of the most enticing new places to be at, engage with, and work in the crypto ecosystem; not a fear based conservative incentive structure that places it’s success on the backs of the kindness and free time of hodlers/contributors who are already ‘Financially Comfortable.’

In my opinion, if the DAO is only for hobbyists, we will inherit a new set of struggles and circumstances beyond the current ones we are navigating that will prove far more difficult to prevail successfully through.

Just want to pop in here and say I am glad to see the engagement from so many on this important topic.

It’s healthy for everyone in the community to be thinking through these issues around compensation and discussing openly their concerns.

I think the passion expressed in this thread (on all sides of this discussion) is a positive byproduct of so many community members and current employee foxes who deeply care about ShapeShift, The DAO, and where this is all headed. Just some of us come to different conclusions about how to get there and what should be optimized for at this stage (and this will inevitably be the case and such is so important why we have public discussion like this).

Just want to recap a few thoughts from the above discussion that I think are good takeaways.

On a fundamental level I think is imploring the whole community to think like owners - this is healthy and something everyone could serve to get better at, knowing when to sacrifice short term gain for long term gain is a hard one but is important that token holders have that perspective to create value for all.

At the same time many in this thread ( ) bring up great points around competitive compensation, price discovery during this early period, attracting top talent, the risks of engaging in something so new and more.

I think there are ways to balance these viewpoints and for the DAO to be much stronger as we all get comfortable having open discussions like these around sensitive topics like compensation.

We should all think like owners who want to see the long term success of the DAO, including making highly efficient use of DAO resources wherever possible and not overextending things too early, while also realizing the importance of competitive compensation and attracting/keeping great talent to move the ShapeShift ecosystem forward. These will be muscles we all need to develop in this world, and I think with open conversations like this we are asking the right questions in order to move forward successfully as a community.

Put another way, I see all sides of this discussion and align with parts of all of it, my current plan is to vote forward most of the current workstreams on their initial terms and budgets, but I will expect them to add considerable value to the community with those resources and will weigh if that value has been delivered/resources used efficiently when it comes time to renew a workstreams’ budget and Workstream leader.

I appreciate so many willing to step into this new world and take the risks to help get things going, and I do think the DAO should create an environment that is fun and well compensated to attract further community and talent. I also hope to see more of the community fully understanding the importance of thinking like an owner and realizing these are our shared resources we want to make the best use of, I think we can have both!

The most important thing I would ask of everyone engaging in these early workstreams is to take note and learn as we move forward, many things in this world will be different and it’s important we adapt as we go. A lot of our assumptions may prove wrong and will need adjusting, make sure to be transparent and open about that when time comes to renew a workstream, grow it further, or even shut it down/overhaul it if it isn’t delivering the value the community expects.

I wanted to add something, but after ’s comment I have nothing to add, just a big +1. I think every comment above added to the discussion too, and am inspired to see everyone’s shared passion for both conserving the treasury and investing it strategically. Conversations like this give me confidence we are DAOing it right.

If a workstream proposal was unjustifiably expensive, I would vote it down as well (after first providing feedback in the forum and ideation of course 1f609), but so far the budgets I’ve seen have been justified. When it comes time to renew budgets, the community will consider whether a workstream’s funds have been used efficiently.

I also appreciate voicing this, as I know it’s not an easy opinion to express, but an important one that comes from experience. I think the DAO will be most successful if we can both attract and retain top talent AND embody a culture of thriftiness, not one in which talent is underpaid, but one in which workstreams strive to minimize their budget rather than max it out knowing it will lead to double the marshmallows for all.

Alright fam…

Y’all are getting caught up in whether the DAO should pay a “proper salary” and my read of the room is that the majority of you oppose the conservative theme in my OP. “My token grant is for my prior work, and shouldn’t be considered part of my salary.” Well okay, you’re welcome to that opinion and I can understand where it comes from.

But let me try to be a little more explicit here…

Caveat: the below applies to “large token holders”, so here we mean former employees of ShapeShift or whales, not necessarily a new person joining the DAO without a large token grant. Let’s refer to this large token holder as “Alice.”

The decision Alice should make when figuring out the “appropriate” compensation from the DAO is, “what maximizes my expected value that I get for my contributions?” We are all self-interested humans, and this is the question every person asks themselves, whether explicit or implicit.

Here’s an axiom everyone needs to ponder deeply in DAO land: value extracted from the DAO has TWO costs:

Cost A) The $ value of the token leaving the Treasury.

Cost B) The aggregate decline in token market cap due to the sale of A.

All of you recognize Cost A. It seems few of you are considering Cost B.

If the DAO pays out $100k in FOX tokens, and you see that and think, “the cost of that payment was $100k” then you are doing it wrong.

When that $100k (Cost A) is paid out, some or all of it is being sold for fiat. That downward pressure reduces the FOX value of all tokens holders by some incremental amount (Cost B)

And this effect can be profound! If someone sold $100k of FOX today, it’d probably drop the price by $0.01-0.10. Let’s call it $0.03. This means the market cap of FOX would fall by THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS.

So what was the cost of that $100k payment? Was it $100k or was it $30m?

We can debate the specific numbers and the degrees here, but you must accept and internalize this principle. And the opposite is similarly true, $100k bought doesn’t bring $100k to the DAO, but brings arguably $30m!

This effect is really fucking powerful and if you’re going to be part of a DAO you must start thinking about it deeply.

When Alice argues for a higher salary—a “proper salary” as some of you call it— she is getting a certain marginal short-term gain, but by withdrawing that marginal value she is sacrificing massive token value (both for the DAO but also herself specifically). Was that in her interest?

If Alice is such a dedicated contributor to the DAO, did she get compensated “properly” or did she just shoot herself in the foot?

Let’s do some napkin math…

  • In this example we have three scenarios. Alice is a large token holder with one million tokens.

    In Scenario 1, Alice gets her “proper salary”and the token price stays level at $0.50.

  • In Scenario 2, Alice gets a $50k lower salary and token price moved up to $0.75 (moderate outcome).
  • In Scenario 3, Alice gets same salary as 2, but token went to $2 (success outcome).

Why is the token price higher in Scenario 2 and 3? Because of the phenomenon described above. Fewer people taking less FOX out of treasury today and selling it. Less consumption of the seed corn, to use a farming reference.

What’s the net result? Alice got $50k in additional salary, but lost $250k in token value. In the Success scenario, Alice actually lost $1.5m in token value.

The difference between “conservative” and “proper” salary is measured in tens of thousands of dollars. Difference between moderate and good outcome in token price is hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

“But Beorn, nobody knows what the token price will be!” Correct. There is no guarantee of anything. But this is on each person involved in this DAO to decide whether they want to seek short-term certain marginal gain and work for a salary your whole life, or seek long-term uncertain-but-substantial gains and achieve financial freedom (with higher risk).

One path is not necessarily right or wrong. But you do need to make the choice for yourself, and you need to understand the economics of the system in which you operate. All of us operate within the economics of a DAO now.

This is what I mean when I implore you to think like an owner, and if you’re offended because I advocate conservative spending and you think it’s because I don’t value you, please check your premises.

[edit made to slightly reduce my sassiness]

So - I’ve made some points on this topic of “how conservative we should be with spending.” I’m very glad people feel comfortable disagreeing with me, and for the good discussion.

I also know that speed is very important (indeed time is a cost!). I still recommend restraint in some of this spending, but the current proposals in the pipeline I will not vote against even if they go to vote as-as. In other words, I may abstain from voting but I won’t vote them down.

Each proposal author and workstream leader is in charge of their domain, and can lead these things in the directions they see fit.

Let’s keep moving things forward team, we got a world-changing product to build together.

I can see this as a sensitive topic for both the transitioning ShapeShift employees and the new community members looking to participate and gain the trust of other DAO members. This is just my take on this from the outside looking in, please understand this isn’t directed at or intended to re-buff any comments that have been previously stated.

As I see it, the Role that the transitioning members now play and going forward is as stewards, mentors, and consultants to the DAO, providing and sharing the insights gained over the years of direct involvement. During this assimilation into the community this should be seen as part of the best interest and intent, once fully a part of the community they behave as any other responsible member. I don’t see leveraging that as a leadership role or dictating that the ability of decision makers makes good for the health of a DAO. The DAO is the decision maker placing individuals above others ostentatiously or because of proximity to the previous incarnation of ShapeShift can provide them vs us mindsets (not saying that this is happening).

I do not feel that anyone should or has a higher responsibility to the DAO, everyone is responsible. I do understand the desire and need to have competent individuals assisting the DAO but assisting is a very important distinction vs leading or running.

Yes contributors should be rewarded for their contributions to the DAO not because I am here because I can be and should be. Yes incentives matter, but what are you incentivising also matters Being in a director or chief role doesn’t apply to what this DAO is working to be, yes responsibility or work load is an attributing factor, but outsourcing or leveraging the community is a means to help navigate difficulty.

In a consultative role SOW’s are developed and adhered to, with hopefully well defined and developed action plans, I see this parallel to what proposals are working to achieve for the DAO. Compensation can’t always be looked at in terms of hours spent or salary, but more on what the determined goal is and what resources (resources in respect to a number of determined variables, i.e. time, knowledge, skill, ability, efficiency, communication, capital….) it takes to reach it, and the DAO’s job is to ensure accountability and that it is done in an effective and efficient manner protecting the assets of the community.

The workstream leader should be working to accomplish the determined goal and providing communication and documentation on how this is accomplished preparing to have someone else to be able to be “plugged in” to achieve the next determined goal. Just like modular code and applications community members are ready and able to be interchangeable as needs dictate. This is a real challenge and not easily accomplished, but this is the challenge at least in my mind at this point.

So on this thought pattern the idea of burnout or quality of life shouldn’t be a concern, you are there to accomplish the defined goal then you move on to something else that suits your ability and skill and has a determined need for the DAO, you are not needed to “hold” that role or spot.

The term workstream salaries I see as a misnomer, workstream budget or part of the resources needed to accomplish the determined goal makes more sense to me. Once the term salary gets used, a sense of individual worth and ownership can get applied, this is a slippery slope.**

I smell a market opportunity for a DAO HR platform with community performance management features :rofl:

I’m definitely in the attract people through a competitive salary camp. Getting a team which sticks together, gels together, and works well together is incredibly important. Paying a lower salary increases the likelihood of churn - I would argue even more so for high performing people in a DAO due to the transparency of their work in comparison to their reward.

There’s absolutely opportunity for task-based work packages/bounties (i.e. ‘Implement support for X coin for Y number of FOX’) - but there needs to be a balance between that and either permanent or long-term supporters so as to not lose the vision/leadership side (in all streams - technical leadership, product leadership, community leadership etc).

One thing that would make us more confident about expenses would be to have a clear vision of income streams for the DAO.

From my understanding, with the current rate of expenses, the treasury will be depleted quite rapidly if there are not strong income streams for the DAO.

I have seen some discussions that try to create new income sources (Yearn integration, Shapeshift-branded items shop, etc.). So far, I cannot estimate how much revenue we expect from those.

To have a responsible and efficient owner mindset, we should try to balance expenses and actual revenue.

I’ll echo ’s thoughts here, but I’m afraid I have to be a little harsher.

The shift between ‘employee’ and ‘owner’ that he describes is the same mentality that successful crypto investors must

  • adopt in order to be successful.

    As a person who has lived and worked in the crypto space for a number of years, I adopt the following lifestyle strategy:

    I make sure that I have 6-12 months of living expenses saved in USD. Periodically (about once per quarter, preferably during the peak of a bull run), I cash out some crypto to top-up my living expenses reserves.

  • After the above is taken care of, my only goal is to accumulate and hold as much crypto as I can.

Here’s why the above mentality is important: If you do not adopt it, you will not last long in the crypto space. Crypto is volatile, and if you focus on the daily, weekly, or monthly price swings of your net worth or income, you will be shaken out of the market. The only way to stay in it, is to ignore the price. The only way to ignore the price, is to have the peace of mind of knowing that you have runway to maintain your current lifestyle.

The mentality of an employee is incompatible with a crypto lifestyle. At PSF DAO, we employ a couple developers in Venezuela. For the most part, they are not in a place to save/hold the crypto we pay them. And so, they are a constant drain on the market cap of our token.

ShapeShift DAO will have to go through these growing pains. The price of the token may very well tank in the short-term, which will force people who can not give up the employee mentality to leave.

This is an experiment. It may not work out. If it does work out, it’ll be because the DAO attracts a sufficient quantity of members with the ‘owner’ mentality.