A personal note about the expansive opportunity in front of us, and how I think about it.
DAOs are an iteration of human cooperation, which has been evolving for as long as we’ve been hominids. It’s our latest attempt at the best model for communities to come together, create value, and share in that value.
At the core of the cooperation are the humans that spend our precious time here at Index. You, me, the owl you agree with, and the owl you don’t. We’re all choosing to spend our time in this firestorm of novelty, complexity, progress, ambiguity and nuance. Completely thrilling and all-consuming.
As active participants in the grand human and technological experiment that is a remote, async DAO, it’s easy to forget who is on the other side of a discussion, debate or disagreement. The fast-moving world of defi is unforgiving, and we are sometimes too aware of the stakes or game theory at play.
Despite all of that, it’s most rewarding to spend my time with this group because of the relationships with a disparate collection of people, who choose to see the same opportunities I do. We have collectively discarded conservatism, being understood at family events, and embraced the unknown.
As a commitment to building relationships with you, here are some of my shortcomings that may get in the way of us getting to know each other, and an ask that you commit to do the same with me and others.
A personal note: In conversations, I tend to jump into solution mode, and can be unnecessarily serious - both of these are because I care deeply about the problems we are seeking to solve. Don’t be afraid to call me out.
An ask of the community: Assume (and verify) good intent as you contribute, so you can build each other up individually and as together in your relationship. Having high expectations of each other should be an official love language, but until then, it’s how we get the best for each other and ourselves.
Index Coop has come of age, and is stretching its wings to fly from the nest. We see this in the restlessness for autonomy, the evolution of our governance, and the striving to define and upkeep our own principles. High growth can be disorienting and uncomfortable, but it’s crucial we continue to build out and strengthen a functioning organization that can consider, decide, act and reflect.
In the default-open environment of a DAO, higher stake decisions are subject to scrutiny from all angles. Reducing accountability or transparency isn’t the goal, but we need to build an organization that can operate effectively within constraints and not fall victim to bureaucracy. Wide open accountability is a unique and important aspect of DAOs, but recently this has felt more like an anchor than a saddle. There are no perfect governance structures, role definitions, compensation models, or airdrop amounts, but we can be sure that a lack of action will kill us sooner or later.
I’m confident that the proposed Index 2.0 models of governance, compensation and organization are a huge step in the right direction. This has been a gargantuan effort lead by @Pepperoni_Joe, and if isn’t directionally successful, I’m scratching my head at what we should do instead. We are at a much greater risk of the downsides of not making decisions (lost time, opportunity, and people) than making poor decisions. We have a brilliant collection of people, and like every startup we are in a race; consensus is our enemy disguised as “everyone needs to be on board”, and speed is our friend but requires greater levels of trust and communication.
We need, “the right people making the right decisions, and make sure anyone can become the right person.” (TempleDAO) We want to build an organization that empowers people to take action that they are expert at, and keep them accountable to the outcomes.
A personal note: Having come from startups, I have a bias to action, and believe that speed is crucial to overcoming most obstacles. Not necessarily speed of action, but definitely speed of something. I prefer to outline a solution, and then place trust in high performing people to figure out the rest as we go. If I’m applying this to a situation you don’t believe is appropriate, please flag this via DM, even if we don’t know each other well.
An ask of the community: Index Coop is bigger than each of us individually, so take part vocally, succinctly, and passionately. Steer your perspective, expertise, and insight towards creating and supporting action. Where decisions diverge from your perspective, consider if this is something you can disagree and commit to in the interest of action. If so, make this clear and discuss how to test the outcome or keep the decision makers accountable. The faster we can decide and act, the faster we can review and correct.
We can debate whether Index Coop has found product market fit yet, but what’s clear is that the market has made a $500m vote of confidence in the community and our backers. We’ve figured out how to turn ideas into products, and are staring down the barrel of the three comma club. What’s needed are more products, more quickly.
Over the past few months we have not lived up to our own expectations of the number of products launched, or AUM they have garnered. We now better understand most of the controllable factors (liquidity needs to be sufficient and gas costs considered) and are better placed to manage them, but ultimately we need to launch products to prove them.
The low product launch rate was a combination of low internal engineering capacity, products that were poorly defined and more complex than initially understood, and fee split negotiations that slowed the process to a halt. Significant progress has since been made on all three fronts.
The role of Product at a non-DOA organization is fundamentally to make the difficult tradeoffs like, “what tradeoff of time, scope, budget, quality are we choosing to best serve our customers”. There’s an art to building products people want before they know it, so this is usually data-informed and rarely data-decided. There aren’t neat options to choose from, and underneath the pretty facade, everything is always on fire - if you haven’t worked in a product organization before, ask someone who has to share their gremlins
The scope and role of the Product at Index Coop has been somewhat contentious in the past, partly due to the wide range of interests in the community. Our contributors have a wide range of incentives both inside and outside Index Coop, which means decisions will rarely be uncontroversial.
In absence of products that have passed DG2, Engineering is engaging with products earlier in the process (improving feedback and estimates), building tooling that will serve products in the pipeline, and ramping up Wizardry (an unofficial and non-exhaustive summary). There are now as many Wizards writing smart contract code as EWG members, and at least one we would like to hire full time.
The core operational units of Product are the two Pods: Composite (cos they aren’t simple) and Automated (cos some aren’t leveraged). Each Pod now drives the relationships with respective methodologists, and are guiding the products through the Onboarding Process. The calibre of the process is improving, and we are holding ourselves to a higher standard.
In keeping with my own Asks, my approach is to build Product into a reliable capability for Index Coop, that creates and maintains index products. To do that my influence on the Pods is to simultaneously:
- Make the product launch process more robust and repeatable, so we can launch more products, and discover the successful ones, in a scalable way. This includes higher and clearer expectations of both Index Coop and methodologists, and more standard fee split terms.
- Be more aggressive to launch the products that fit the process, so that the products we launch have the best chance at success. Launching a product with Index Coop is a privilege, not a right, and we need to live up to that.
These may be controversial, but I’m happy to take the brunt of criticism in the interest of building a Nest / Pods that can deliver reliably for Index Coop. I’m wide open for feedback, and here to serve Index Coop until my work is done or the community loses faith in my approach.
Not to jump the gun (or make a commitment) but if all goes to plan, we could see $GMI, $TTI, two FLIs on Polygon, and progress on an intrinsically productive index this year. For 2022, the Product and Engineering flywheel will be spinning even faster.
A personal note: Product is both art and science, and Product at a DAO has an additional, third dimension still being discovered. Product and Engineering at Index Coop are full of people who, like me, want to launch products, and make Index Coop proud and successful.
An ask of the community: Keep us accountable, but place some trust in PWG, EWG and the contributors directly launching products. We are working in the interests of Index Coop, and within the constraints both obvious and hidden.