Gather around, it’s time for some Product Working Group Lore… (AKA PWG Season 1 and 2 report)

How to start?

“A long time ago in a galaxy far away…”

Maybe not.

“In the beginning, there was nothing, which exploded…”

Possibly closer…


INTRO

INDEXcoop came into the world with a single product. At the time $DPI had been live on the market for a few weeks and failed to capture much attention as DeFi Summer progressed into Autumn.

The creation of the coop added a few vital reagents to the mix (sorry, I’m still a chemist):

  • Ambition to grow
  • INDEX tokens for contributors and Liquidity mining
  • DAO infrastructure - discord, gitbook, website, googledrive, discourse
  • Self-selecting contributors

The result was explosive:
image

Early product management

In the early days, the community was focused on a few activities:

  • Building DPI AUM and market share through Growth and BD activities.
  • Getting organised and growing the Coop.

In terms of Product functions, the community did the majority of the work on:

  • Analysis of the products/blogging.
  • Discussions around future products / proposals of products (internal and external).
  • Liquidity mining design (post the initial 60 day campaign baked into the coop launch).

However, the majority of the heavy-lift around product was conducted by Set Labs staff:

  • Closed-door negotiations with potential methodologists.
  • Coordination of work team analysis for CGI and ETH2x-FLI.
  • Setting the technical specification for products.
  • Coordination of rebalances.
  • Assessing underlying liquidity for token inclusion / exclusion from sector products
  • Implementing the liquidity mining strategy agreed by INDEX votes.
  • Managing the Set protocol roadmap for new features for future products (Leveraged products, Polygon etc).
  • Go to market activities with GWG and Set labs engineers.

@puniaviision presented a summary of Coop products and context (along with some context on the PWG) in a PWG meeting in April covering our products to date (highly recommended viewing).

PWG season 1 (April to June 2021)

In Spring 2020 I (@overanalyser) quit my full-time job in order to 1) spend more time on INDEXcoop, 2) restore some sort of Life-Work balance. I also proposed the formation of the PWG with Punia as my co-lead.

Looking back (and ignoring FLI for the moment) I would say that season 1 of PWG activities was characterised by:

  • Largely unsuccessful attempted to delegate activities (Liquidity mining research / IIP’s) to new contributors.
  • Successful delegation to established coop contributors (CatJam, MetFanMike, JDcook, Verto, Matt_Graham…borrowed from other work groups [e.g work team analysis and Uniswap v3 research]).
  • The majority of the day to day workload was split between Punia and myself.

In season 1, the general split of work was:

Community

  • Work team analysis for new product proposals
  • Univ3 research

Overanalyser:

  • Community engagement / forum / discord / representing PWG in coop calls.
  • Feedback to methodologists on new ideas
  • Running the weekly PWG call
  • Liquidity analysis / mining strategy and associated IIP’s

Punia

  • Closed door negotiation with potential methodologists
  • Co-ordination or rebalances
  • Outreach to INDEX whales.
  • Assessing underlying liquidity for token inclusion/exclusion from sector products
  • Coordination with SET engineers
  • Goto market activities.

In addition we started to involve BD in a number of areas particularly with respect to methodologists and fee splits.

May 2020 - Leveraged products

In mid May, BTC and ETH prices crashed and the FLI products were put under incredible stress. The Set Labs team rose to the challenge and worked tirelessly to prevent our product beings liquidated.

During this period, the INDEXcoop community (including PWG) was largely absent / redundant. With little more than a tweet (which I think was posted by Punia) to inform customers that following the price dip, we had hit the unit supply and ETH2-FLI was at a significant premium:

image

As a result of this near miss of liquidation, which would have been catastrophic for the FLI products and INDEXcoop’s reputation, Set labs Engineers focused efforts on improving the robustness of the contracts and accessing more liquidity to allow more rapid deleveraging during market drops.

At this time PWG asked the Growth Working Group to stop all promotion work on leveraged products while we/Set worked to improve the methodology and increase the supply cap.

Meanwhile, PWG, realising the Punia and myself didn’t have the time, experience or knowledge to give leveraged products the support they needed, recruited a number of contributors and formed a new cross-functional Pod focused on supporting leveraged products.

The Pod started by doing research into leveraged products and knowledge transfer from Set Engineers. @afromac @allan.g @tgreco and @emault hit the ground running. They started building tools, writing to educate the community and our customers about what happened, and how the products work. Then they took ownership of the FLI product parameters and worked with Set Engineers to increase the unit cap to allow the product to grow (without burying the community in IIP’s). Discord and Twitter bots followed along with a complete rewrite of the gitbook.

The Pod has recently produced an excellent update summarising their work to date, it truly deserves more explanation than I can give here.

I am truly thankful to each of them for stepping up to the challenge and taking responsibility and workload off Punia and myself and from the Set Engineers. :pray:

Reflections on Season 1

We started season 1 with 4 products:

  • $DPI
  • $CGI
  • $ETH2x-FLI

$MVI was launched in April (so the majority of the work was completed prior to Season 1).

$BTC2x-FLI was launched in May.

$CGI was deprecated in May.

So by the end of June, we had 5 products with DPI and ETH2-FLI dominating AUM and income.

If I had to summarise season 1 in three words, I would pick:

  • Firefighting
  • Frustration
  • Reactive

Firefighting was largely focused on the leveraged products, however, attention was also needed on the painful rebalancing (and eventual depreciation) of CGI, and the Basket DAO vampire attack on DPI which resulted in extension of the DPI liquidity mining as the primary defence.

Frustration due to our inability to launch new products and the secondary effects of this. In order to reduce pressure on the go to market process, we developed a backlog of product ideas in discussion. At times our (largely opaque) DG1 to DG2 process was used to delay. This resulted in frustration for methodologists and for PWG leaders.

In addition, there was a lack of understanding of what we could build easily (Simple indices, leveraged products), and what was at the time impossible. Also, the impact of underlying token liquidity (and which DEX’s) is critical for a product, but was not fully understood. I feel like this was evident within the community, but it was also the case for myself for many aspects of the limitations of Set protocol contracts (and thus our products). This also meant that we would have requests for features that are not currently available. The lack of knowledge sharing led to uncertainties and added frustration.

We have also looked at a couple of other initiatives that largely got nowhere (in Season 1 and 2):

  • INDEX.labs to allow low cost / low risk launches to assess product market fit. The initial view was that while it would be nice, the L1 costs / liquidity requirements would make it grossly inefficient in terms of contributor / Engineer time and INDEX costs. When SET protocol launched on Polygon (in July), the Labs idea resurfaced, but when it became apparent that the implementation did not include all the features required for a coop product, it was returned to the backburner.
  • Delegating Liquidity management has been proposed as a better way to manage the Coop’s liquidity as the number of products grows. However, even when dedicated calls are run to gain consensus, it was clear that the community wanted to be actively involved in every decision with regard to liquidity.

I think reactive is the key attribute for PWG for season 1. It felt like we were constantly reacting to outside influences and never in control of our destiny. Our product pipeline was determined by the methodologists, with those willing to push being the only ones to proceed.

During a few calls with CatJam, Punia, and myself were keen to gain insight into how other organisations manage the product function, and what tools we could use to become more effective and proactive.

Season 2 - July to September 2021

While season 1 can be summarised as reactive, season 2 is something different.

While many frustrations remain (particularly with regard to methodologists and the time taken on those relationships), I see most of them are being addressed and we have a process that is beginning to bear fruit.

What has PWG achieved since April?

  • BTC2-FLI launched with Onsen Rewards from Sushiswap.
  • Bankless BED launched with the Bankless Community providing the majority of liquidity on Uniswap V3.
  • $DATA is about to be launched.
  • Liquidity mining for $DPI has stopped with a managed migration to Uniswap v3.
  • Liquidity mining for $MVI has stopped and is being closely Liquidity Review - August 2021 - #8 by overanalyser.
  • The Automated indices pod has formed and delivered huge amounts of modelling, tools and information.
  • The Simple indices pod has launched and taken over management of the new product onboarding process and is looking at our roadmap.
  • More visible tracking of the product onboarding process.
  • We are revising the product on-boarding process

Compared to the initial and 2nd PWG proposals we had de-prioritised / failed to complete a number of activities:

  • Coordination with other DAOs has fallen on the shoulders on the BD team.
  • Likewise, a significant part of the early methodologist conversation has been done by BD.
  • Research into customer desires has largely been done by DocHabanero in Growth.
  • The promised 4 additional products launched in season 2 will be missed and we will only have 6 live by the end of September.

What have we spent?

Overall the PWG costs have focused on contributor rewards. Note, liquidity mining is not a PWG cost and has never been part of our funding requests.

Season 1 (Budget $8,000 Stipend per month + contributor rewards)

Season 2 (Budget $39,000 + 190 INDEX per month)

Recent changes and looking forward

At the moment there are a number of areas where we are starting to lift our heads and look forward.

  • The Automated products pod have recruited more analytical resources and are going from strength to strength.
  • Alex Cavalier and Abel Tedros are learning all about PWG and how INDEX Coop functions.
  • Catjam and I have worked on the new product process and IIP template.
  • BD have taken a role as key contact for potential external Methodologists to help them navigate the coop.
  • DocHabanero has completed user surveys for future products, and has taken over (from Punia) leadership of the simple indices pod. He is currently focused on looking at our product pipeline and what blockers exist for each product / type of product.

Meanwhile, we are seeing huge improvements within the Engineering function that bodes well for the future:

  • Alex has published a retrospective on Set Engineering work to support the coop and so provide more visibility of work completed.
  • Punia has published a post describing the feasibility of different products and features (unfinished for leveraged products).
  • The recruitment of Ncitron and 0xModene forms a community core to our engineering capabilities (along with Dylan) that will only grow.
  • EdwardK has joined the Engineering Working Group to provide support and direction with the goal of helping the engineers become more effective in building.

Hand over from Set

Over the last few weeks, a number of activities are starting to pass from Punia to community members.

  • Cormac is leading the Automated Indices Pod.
  • DocHabanero is leading the Simple Indices Pod.
  • Cavalier is taking over as much of the $DATA launch from Punia as possible. He and Abel are directly involved in discussions with Titans of Data and DeFi Pulse to learn the goto market process (for $DATA) and understand the technical requirements (for $PAY).
  • We are also taking on the interface role between current product methodologists and the Engineers for rebalances (DPI, MVI and Data) and taking ownership of the underlying token liquidity assessments.

This has a number of objectives.

  • Punia’s time will be freed up. This will allow him to transition to a role more focused on supporting the Set Engineers and so help improve Set processes and the communication between the Set Engineers and INDEXcoop.
  • The community is building knowledge of our products and systems and more people are able to take on different roles and so build our capacity to launch and maintain our products.
  • Abel and Cavalier are building an understanding of the processes used to launch and maintain our products.
  • Set Labs are preparing to hand over more autonomy to INDEXcoop for many of our critical processes.

How have our products performed?

Despite the challenges we have been dealing with, and the growing pains as we build capabilities within the community PWG, overall the INDEXcoop, products are thriving in unit supply, AUM, and income.

Final Thoughts

I am incredibly optimistic for the future of INDEXcoop PWG and the Coop’s capabilities for the rest of 2021.

We still have a number of challenges to be solved, and many of them are not going to be easy.

However, I see such an influx of talented people, with the attitude to get stuck in and skills to make a difference, that I see no way that we can fail to move the needle in terms of products launched and maintained.

Over the next few months I’m expecting to see PWG resolve/improve a few things (which will need support from and agreement with the community):

  • Redefined PWG structure and interfaces with Set Labs, EWG and the INDEXcoop community.
  • Improved idea to DG2 process.
  • Better management of methodologists.
  • A better framework for liquidity monitoring and management (Sushiswap / Uniswap v3 / Managed v3…), liquidity mining vs direct provision.
  • More visibility of the capabilities and limitations of our smart contracts.
  • A roadmap of capabilities development that helps guide the prioritisation of INDEXcoop product launches.
  • Un-blocking our pipeline.

Most importantly, I’m expecting INDEXcoop to be launching more products.

If I had to sum up Season 2 of PWG in one word is would be: Metamorphosis

23 Likes

I’m loving the lore and storytelling of this. ❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥 @nic something you like? Hehe

6 Likes

This is my reason for living lol. WE gonna hear a lot more stories in the coming weeks

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@sassal

OA you’ve done it again you beautiful owl you!

5 Likes

what a helpful and honest reflection :owl:

it’s been incredibly exciting to watch the evolution of the PWG over the past year.

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