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What are DAOs? The Power of Blockchain Governance

November 13, 2023
What are DAOs? The Power of Blockchain Governance

The power of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

Have you ever heard of UniSwap, AAVE, MakerDAO or DASH? Then you already have met DAO based organizations as all of those projects are DAO examples. And there is no wonder, as the concept of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) has gained significant attention in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Today it is essential to understand what a DAO is, how it works, and what its advantages and challenges are for everyone who wants to succeed in crypto and business. 

Introduction to DAOs

The traditional way of investing is on the verge of a revolution. Blockchain technology has enabled businesses and startups to bypass the need for venture capital firms, initial investment rounds, and traditional fundraising models. Anyone can now create their own token and utilize on-chain methods to sell their project's tokens, democratizing access to funding; DeXe DAO Studio presents with the opportunity to join this non-stop growing world.

This shift has far-reaching implications not only for projects seeking funding but also for investors themselves. The emergence of Investment DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) has introduced a new paradigm for investing, allowing even the smallest investors to participate.

Definition of DAOs

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is a revolutionary concept that operates independently through self-executing smart contracts on the blockchain. In a DAO, participants engage in discussions and make decisions, which are then enforced by these smart contracts. This means a DAO can continue to function uninterrupted, even if some participants lose interest or leave the project. The immutable nature of the blockchain ensures that the DAO remains intact, unaffected by external factors.

The most common approach to decision-making in a DAO is through voting, where holders of management tokens participate. The more tokens an individual holds, the greater their influence on the outcome of the vote. Some DAOs allow all participants to submit proposals, while others restrict this right to specific groups. Typically, DAOs are used to manage decentralized finance (DeFi) projects, blockchain protocols, and other initiatives in the crypto space.

Characteristics of DAOs

Let’s explore some DAO basics before diving deeper into this topic. DAOs differ from traditional organizations in three important ways: 

1. Online Operations: DAOs primarily operate online, with participants rarely interacting in person. This decentralized nature allows for a global presence without the need for physical locations.

2. Blockchain Governance: DAOs operate according to rules written on the blockchain, providing a transparent and tamper-proof framework for decision-making. As you can see cryptocurrency and DAOs are tied together. 

3. Decentralized Governance: Unlike traditional organizations, DAO technology is not governed by a central authority. Instead, decisions are made through proposals that are voted on by members within a specific timeframe. This decentralized approach ensures collective ownership and decision-making.

Key Characteristics:

- No central authority or leader

- Collective ownership and operation

- Internal financial system accessible only with member approval

- Mission-driven, with a shared goal among members

- Decisions made through proposals and voting

DAOs represent a new paradigm in organizational structure, offering a unique combination of decentralized governance, transparency, and collective ownership that is poised to revolutionize the way we work and interact.

How DAOs Work

The rules of each DAO are embedded in the blockchain as a smart contract, serving as the foundation of the organization. These smart contracts are programmed to execute specific tasks or make decisions based on predefined rules.  This approach ensures transparency in all decision-making processes, guaranteeing that once a DAO is launched, its rules can only be modified through the governance and voting system.

Members who have a stake in the DAO are granted voting rights, enabling them to shape the organization's direction, propose new ideas, and make decisions. Typically, voting rights are tied to the possession of DAO tokens, which are issued to raise funds. The more tokens a participant holds, the more votes they can cast.

To prevent unwanted or malicious proposals from gaining traction, they must be approved by a majority of DAO members. The criteria for determining this majority is specified in the smart contract and varies from DAO to DAO.

Since DAOs are built on open-source blockchains, anyone can access and verify the code, as well as all financial transactions. This transparency provides a level of accountability and openness that is uncommon in traditional publicly traded companies, where it may be difficult for members to track transactions taking place within the organization.

Where DAOs Can Be Used

Here are some unique use cases for DAOs:

- Decentralized Finance (DeFi). DeFi protocols often use DAOs to manage key decisions of the protocol. For example, managing interest rates, introducing new features. This allows community participants to be involved in the decision-making process, thereby contributing to a more fair and decentralized financial environment.

- Art Galleries: DAOs can be used to create decentralized art galleries where artists can create and sell their work, and collectors can buy and own art pieces in a decentralized and transparent manner.

- Event Planning: DAOs can be used to plan and organize events, such as conferences, festivals, and concerts, in a decentralized manner. This can include managing ticket sales, scheduling, and logistics.

- Real Estate: DAOs can be used to manage decentralized real estate transactions, such as buying and selling property, renting apartments, and managing property ownership.

- Healthcare: DAOs can be used to create decentralized healthcare platforms where patients can access medical records, communicate with doctors, and receive medical treatment in a decentralized manner.

- Education: DAOs can be used to create decentralized education platforms where students can access educational resources, take online courses, and earn credits in a decentralized manner.

- Social Media: DAOs can be used to create decentralized social media platforms where users can share information, connect with others, and control their own data in a decentralized manner.

- Music Distribution: DAOs can be used to create decentralized music distribution platforms where artists can distribute their music, and fans can buy and own music in a decentralized manner.

- Crowdfunding: DAOs can be used to create decentralized crowdfunding platforms where creators can raise funds for their projects, and backers can invest in projects in a decentralized manner.

- Supply Chain Management: DAOs can be used to create decentralized supply chain management platforms where businesses can manage their supply chains, track inventory, and make logistics decisions in a decentralized manner.

These use cases highlight the potential of DAOs to transform various industries and sectors by enabling decentralized decision-making, transparency, and community participation.

Advantages of DAOs

DAOs offer several advantages over traditional organizations:

1. Decentralized Governance: By using blockchain technology and smart contracts, DAOs can create a decentralized governance model that allows for more diverse and inclusive decision-making processes. This is because decisions are not made by a single entity or individual, but rather by a collective of stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success of the DAO.

2. Transparency: DAOs operate on a transparent blockchain, allowing for complete visibility into all transactions and decisions.

3. Immutable: Smart contracts are immutable, meaning that once a rule is set, it cannot be altered or deleted.

4. Autonomous: DAOs are autonomous, meaning that they can operate independently without the need for intermediaries.

5. Security: Another advantage of DAOs is their increased security. Smart contracts ensure that rules are enforced automatically and securely, reducing the risk of human error or manipulation. Transactions are also secure and tamper-proof due to the use of blockchain technology, which makes it difficult for malicious actors to compromise the integrity of the DAO.

6. Global Reach: DAOs can operate globally, allowing stakeholders from all over the world to participate and engage with the organization. This decentralized nature of DAOs eliminates the need for intermediaries or geographical constraints, making it easier for people from different regions to collaborate and work together.

7. Scalability: DAOs can scale quickly and efficiently, as they are not limited by traditional organizational structures or geographic locations.

8. Increased Efficiency: Automated processes reduce the need for manual intervention and paperwork, which can save time and resources. Additionally, faster decision-making processes reduce delays and inefficiencies, which can enable the DAO to respond more quickly to changing market conditions.

9. Improved Accountability: DAOs provide a level of accountability, as all transactions and decisions are recorded on the blockchain and can be viewed by anyone.

10. Increased Flexibility: DAOs can adapt quickly to changing circumstances, as decisions can be made rapidly and efficiently.

11. Reduced Costs: DAOs can reduce costs by eliminating the need for intermediaries, lawyers, and other middlemen.

12. Incentivization: Token-based incentives encourage participation and engagement from stakeholders, who have a vested interest in the success of the DAO. This increased participation leads to a more vibrant and active community, which can drive innovation and growth.

13. Community-driven: DAOs can be driven by a community of stakeholders who share a common goal or vision, fostering a sense of community and cooperation.

14. Decentralized Funding: DAOs can use decentralized funding mechanisms, such as token sales or crowdfunding, to raise funds without the need for intermediaries.

DAOs offer a unique set of benefits that can improve the efficiency, transparency, security, and scalability of decentralized organizations. From startups to established corporations, DAOs have the potential to level the playing field and provide a new era of transparency, accountability, and efficiency in business and governance.

Challenges of DAOs

Here's a more detailed and in-depth explanation of the challenges that DAOs may face:

Potential Legal and Regulatory Issues. The legal landscape for DAOs is still evolving, and there is a lack of clear guidance on how to regulate and govern decentralized organizations. This ambiguity can lead to uncertainty and risk for stakeholders, as they may not be clear on how to comply with laws and regulations. Furthermore, regulatory bodies may not be equipped to handle the unique characteristics of DAOs, which can lead to confusion and potential conflicts.

For example, the legal status of a DAO is unclear, and it could be considered as a company, a trust, or something else entirely. This ambiguity can make it difficult for DAOs to obtain legal recognition and certification, which can limit their ability to operate effectively. Additionally, regulatory bodies may not be equipped to handle the complex governance structures of DAOs, which can lead to conflicts and disputes.

Furthermore, the lack of clear guidelines on how to regulate DAOs can lead to inconsistent enforcement of laws and regulations. This can create uncertainty and risk for stakeholders, as they may not be clear on how to comply with laws and regulations. For example, some countries may have more stringent regulations on the use of cryptocurrency, while others may have more relaxed rules.

Governance Challenges. The decentralized nature of DAOs makes it more difficult to make decisions and achieve consensus among stakeholders. This is because there are many diverse opinions and interests involved, which can create conflicts and disputes.

For example, different stakeholders may have different views on how to manage the DAO's assets or how to allocate resources. Additionally, some stakeholders may have conflicting interests or agendas, which can create tension and conflict. Furthermore, the lack of clear guidelines on how to govern the DAO can lead to confusion and uncertainty.

To make matters worse, the decentralized nature of DAOs makes it more difficult to hold individuals accountable for their actions. This is because there is no central authority or governing body that can enforce decisions or take action against individuals who are not following the rules.

Plutocracy. Despite the decentralized nature of DAOs, significant decisions in most organizations still follow the will of large stakeholders — founders, their teams, and investors. Many organizations rely solely on ownership-based governance models, centralizing power around the narrow circle of interested parties, which fundamentally misrepresents the essence of DAOs and creates manipulation risks. For DAOs to genuinely embody decentralization, we must establish mechanisms encouraging participation and influence from a broader spectrum of competitive contributors. By doing so, we can ensure that decisions are made collectively and are not highly influenced by a narrow circle of key stakeholders.

Incentive Imbalance. In current structures, DAO members must not only spend time studying proposals and making decisions but also cover commission costs. At the same time, the benefits of the organization's activities can be accessed by all members regardless of their involvement and the outcomes of their efforts. Such a model devalues initiative and demotivates individuals.

Low Activity. As a result, most organization members remain insufficiently motivated and engaged. Initiative and contribution go unrewarded, and a quorum for decision-making is only achieved with the participation of a narrow circle of interested parties.

Lack of Infrastructure. Although there are many solutions in the market, we still lack a comprehensive infrastructure that contains mechanisms for constructing complex organizational structures, discussions, on-chain and off-chain voting, incentivization mechanisms, decentralized treasury management tools, the ability to integrate proprietary contracts, and autonomously execute DAO decisions, and so on.

Overall, these challenges highlight the complexities and uncertainties that come with building a decentralized organization. While DAOs have the potential to revolutionize the way we do business, they also require careful planning and execution to ensure their success.

Criticisms of DAO

While The DAO's revolutionary idea has garnered significant attention, many experts believe that the project's significance is being overstated. MIT Technology Review, for instance, considers the notion of relying on the masses to make decisions as risky.

Experts like Tim Swanson, Director of Market Research at R3CEV, have raised several red flags. He notes that The DAO is essentially an investment fund, but many people view it as a get-rich-quick scheme. Swanson questions whether the project will be profitable in its early days and whether it will face legal challenges.

Jeremy Gardner, co-founder of Augur and a venture capitalist focused on blockchain investments, shares similar concerns. He wonders how participants will analyze proposals and conduct background checks on entrepreneurs and programmers. He also highlights the risk of hackers and scammers targeting the project.

Many commentators have expressed concerns about The DAO's legal position and the potential impact of its recent fundraising on ETH's value. Joseph Lee, owner of Magnr, believes that once DAO token holders exchange their tokens for ETH, the value of ETH will plummet.

Others, like Dan Larimer, CTO of Steemit, have raised concerns about personal interests and political/economic obstacles. He notes that even if the project starts well, it may eventually face losses and participants may abandon ship.

These challenges and criticisms highlight the need for careful consideration and planning when creating and operating a DAO.

Future of DAOs

The future of DAO is intricately linked to the advancement of technology and the expansion of its applications across various sectors. As blockchain and smart contracts continue to evolve, DAOs will become more secure, efficient, and widely adopted.

- Technological Advancements. Research and development in smart contracts and blockchain will lead to improved security, performance, and efficiency, paving the way for widespread adoption.

- Expanding Applications. DAOs will expand their scope to include healthcare, education, arts, and other fields, enabling them to become a powerful platform for collaborative management, problem-solving, and financial innovation.

- Improved Financial Models. DAOs will become a platform for forming complex and flexible financial strategies, utilizing decentralized financial instruments such as stablecoins and decentralized exchanges. This will strengthen financial sustainability and improve risk management.

- Regulatory Resilience. As legal regulations regarding blockchain and cryptocurrencies clarify, DAOs will become more resilient to external regulation, reducing legal risks and promoting wider adoption.

- DAO Ecosystem. A thriving ecosystem around DAOs will emerge, comprising various services and products that provide support and tools for participants. These components may include decentralized applications (dApps), infrastructure projects, and advisory services.

By embracing these advancements, DAO will unlock its full potential, revolutionizing the way we think about finance, management, and social media.

Potential Impact on Traditional Organizations

- Disruption of Traditional Governance Models: DAOs will challenge traditional governance models, forcing organizations to rethink their decision-making processes and leadership structures.

- Increased Transparency and Accountability: DAOs will promote transparency and accountability, enabling stakeholders to engage more effectively with organizations and hold leaders accountable.

- New Business Models: DAOs will give rise to new business models that prioritize community engagement, decentralized decision-making, and transparency.

- Shift from Centralized to Decentralized Power: DAOs will contribute to a shift from centralized power structures to decentralized power dynamics, where individuals and communities have more control over their own destinies.

- Reimagining of Organizational Structures: DAOs will inspire the creation of new organizational structures that prioritize collaboration, community engagement, and decentralized decision-making.

- Increased Adoption of Blockchain Technology: DAOs will drive the adoption of blockchain technology across various industries, leading to increased innovation and disruption.

- Rethinking of Traditional Concepts of Ownership: DAOs will challenge traditional concepts of ownership, encouraging new forms of collaboration, community-driven governance, and decentralized decision-making.

These trends and innovations will shape the future of DAOs and have significant implications for traditional organizations, industries, and societies as a whole.

DeXe Protocol: Create Your DAO Today

The DeXe Protocol DAO is a pioneering example of continuous product development, leveraging the benefits of decentralized governance to drive innovation and growth. This robust infrastructure of over 50 smart contracts empowers the creation and governance of DAOs in a meritocratic manner, ensuring proper incentive alignment and flexibility.

By providing a platform for members to actively participate and contribute their expertise, DeXe fosters a culture of innovation and progress. Holders of DEXE tokens propose ideas and vote on pivotal elements and development strategy, guiding contributors in developing new features, implementing innovative solutions, and adapting the Protocol to meet the evolving needs of its users.

The DeXe DAO is entirely governed and maintained using the DeXe DAO Studio, a cutting-edge tool built on top of the Protocol. This intuitive interface enables DAO members to use their own governance products daily, benefiting from a convenient toolset and gaining a clear vision for future improvements. The DeXe DAO Studio is a scalable, secure, and no-code dApp that equips users with tools to enhance decision-making, featuring robust and adaptable features.

With DeXe DAO Studio, users can create and test their DAOs on Testnet without any gas fees, allowing them to experiment and refine their ideas freely. As the DeXe Protocol sets sail to become the dominant toolkit for future and current DAOs, it's poised to revolutionize the way DAOs are built and updated.


DAOs represent a unique form of organization that redefines traditional approaches to management and decision-making.

And even despite some shortcomings and challenges currently faced by DAO projects, decentralized organizations have a great chance to shape innovative and sustainable governance models, having a significant impact on the future development of technology and organizational structures.

If you require high-quality blockchain development, contact DeXe DAO Studio. There, you can create your own DAO in just a few steps. 


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