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Mint Season 1 episode 8 features Cooper Turley who’s actively shaping the Creator Economy through projects like Audius, Friends with Benefits, and PleasrDAO. He advises Variant as an operator and investor and works with teams on token launches and governance through Fire Eyes DAO.
On this episode, we talk about his recent article mapping out the current DAO ecosystem. With 100s of DAOs in existence, he argues which ones he thinks will outpace the test of time, his point of view on how crypto is revolutionizing the music industry, why he’s betting big on DAOs, and so much more.
How To Launch A Token: https://forefront.news/blog/how-to-launch-a-token
Thank you to Season 1’s NFT sponsors!
1. Coinvise – https://coinvise.co/
2. POAP – https://poap.xyz/
Interested in sponsoring future seasons? Get in touch here!
Adam Levy: Coop, welcome, man. Thanks for being on. How you doing?
Cooper Turley: Hey, man doing well, thank you for having me.
Adam Levy: Of course, bro, of course. Alright, let’s get started. For those who don’t know you, let’s give a quick brief about yourself, what you did before crypto, and kind of where you are now.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so I’ve been a fan in the music industry for a long time. Prior to crypto, I was super deep into journalism, DJing, touring, all the likes. Graduated with music business degree and then fell down the crypto rabbit hole as a way to sort of make a name for myself in a new industry. So the past five years, I like to say I’ve been building the creator economy, doing a lot of work on the community front, helping creators learn how to leverage technology to their advantage.
Adam Levy: Awesome. I think a big misconception that people get when they enter crypto is that they have to be technical, and be a developer and know how to build smart contracts. Obviously, people like you and I were more community focused, more front end. What do you see being like your day-to-day role in crypto?
Cooper Turley: Communications at large. I mean, I think that marketing and strategy are really important, you know, relationship building, business development, all of those kind of fall under that umbrella, but basically helping to connect the dots and make sure that people are working on the right thing. So, you know, I’m definitely not technical in nature. But I’ve gotten far enough to the point that I can speak the language well enough to make sure that I’m helping to point people in the right direction and get shit done.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Who got you into crypto? Like, how did you hear about Bitcoin, Ethereum? I know you’re a big ETH head for obvious reasons. Like how did you fall down that rabbit hole? What’s that story?
Cooper Turley: So my music business teacher was teaching a class on the future of music. And in that course, he actually mentioned smart contracts is the way to expedite royalty payments. You know, at that time, it made perfect sense to me, you know, I should be able to send half of a transaction to someone directly with no middleman and it shouldn’t take six months. And so after hearing that, I just kind of dug a little deeper into what he was talking about. I stumbled across a bunch of white papers. And then from there, you know, the rabbit hole kind of opened up and I quickly found myself reading more about it every single day.
Adam Levy: And it was ETH that you bought first or what was the first one you bought?
Cooper Turley: No, first things I bought were Bitcoin and a bunch of random shit on bit tracks like terrible. Most of them went to zero. You know, there’s definitely a rite of passage in crypto, where when you’re first getting involved, it’s difficult to distinguish between what is valuable and what’s not valuable. It actually wasn’t until about a year or two into my crypto career that I started to really understand, you know, the power that Ethereum had with smart contracts and kind of all the capabilities on top of it, that further led me to kind of building a career on top of that ecosystem that I have today.
Adam Levy: Gotcha. And the reason I kind of have you here, obviously, you published the fire article, kind of covering the DAO landscape, they got a ton of traction online, a lot of eyeballs. First off, like how much time did you put into that? Because, that’s pretty comprehensive.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, I’d say about 10 to 20 hours. You know, when I go deep on a subject, I really like to look across the whole space, trying to aggregate as many projects as possible, put out a tweet a few days before I published with kind of a VIP, or an MVP version of it, that kind of had a map. And I said, “Hey, if you want to be on this map, now’s your chance”, to try to give everyone the time to get on it so they couldn’t pitch me after. But you know, all things considered, I’ve been working actively in the DAO space for about two to three years at this point as early as some grant styles back in 2018. But the past three to five months, we’ll call it has been I’ve been seeing a lot more traction around this sector in particular. And so I really wanted to aggregate a lot of my learnings and help people understand what I was seeing in the space.
Adam Levy: Yeah, and I only asked that, because you do a lot of things and everyone’s title for you is, like Cooper comma, a lot of things, right. So you’re managing our RAC’s social token, you’re working at Audius, you’re a part of many organizations in different groups. I feel like the more Discord channels you pop in, the more you see your name involved, right? Whether it be balancer as well. One, how do you find the time to manage everything when there’s a lot of FOMO in crypto, and everybody wants to get their hands on a lot of things and be exposed to a lot of things, how do you manage your time between Audeus, between REC, between these style projects, living life, and just being a human?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. I mean, I like to say I work on whatever excites me. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where my work and my you know, outer life balance are basically the same. Where like, I’m doing social stuff, and it happens to be work-related too. So, time wise, you know, I think I’m just keeping my finger on the pulse trying to make sure I’m aware of what’s going on. And more recently, when I see people with an affinity for the space that are really excited to use the technology, I want to try and carve out time to help them. Because I think those are the use cases where you learn the most about what’s going wrong and where we need to improve as an industry moving forward.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I think also from the point of view of that many times you can be an active contributor and a passive contributor. How do you kind of not prioritize, because that kind of falls back to that answer, but being a part of so many different organizations, like when you are joining one and you becoming more of an active contributor, what do you find yourself doing? And then, how does that kind of spread across the multiple groups you get involved with?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, it comes in waves. I mean, I like to say that I work on a lot of different sprints at one time. And so for any given project, they’re typically cycles where they’re rolling out a big update, you know, they’re releasing a product, they’re looking to do a big marketing push, and so I try and stay aware of everything that’s happening. And when I see something I can really double down on, I really try and hop in and create as much value as possible. You know, these days, we see a lot of these DAOs forming boards or councils to try and sit on as many of those as possible. And, you know, beyond being a member of a DAO, I really like to try and add value where I can as it makes sense. And just being there, you know, putting in a couple hours a week, it’s really not as much time as you’d think it’s just really the intent and the commitment, always stay active and engaged with what’s going on there.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Do you ever find yourself spread too thin? You know, because you want to get involved with too many things, do you ever come across that? Because I think it’s like a point of fatigue that many people come across on crypto because they’re trying to get involved with different projects. You ever experienced that?
Cooper Turley: I haven’t found it to be the case yet. I mean, luckily, I have a lot of people around me who are fantastic co-workers of mine, I can really trust them with the stuff that I’m working on. And if it gets to a point where I feel like I’m getting too overwhelmed, I’ll make sure to try and delegate that to someone I really trust. So the strength of my network has helped me kind of do all the things that I do. And I really value those relationships helped me get across the finish line for all the stuff that I work on.
Adam Levy: Yeah, that’s fair, it makes a lot of sense. So the first DAO you joined was a grand style back in 2018. Which one was that?
Cooper Turley: It was called Meta Cartel. So this was basically my first real friend group in the space. You know, up until that point, I was traveling the world, going to crypto conferences, basically by myself in the middle of, you know, Thailand going to some random blockchain conference. And then I started hearing about these things called Ethereum developer conferences, ETH global events, DEF CON, you know, these more premier Ethereum events. And as I got there, I found this group of people really focused on mainstream adoption. They were saying, “Hey, we have a group of us that love the idea of crypto, we think that we’re too technical now. And we want to get beyond that to help expedite mainstream adoption”. To me, that really stuck out and so I just kind of got involved. I met a bunch of people on the DAO, you know, some of the early members were really welcoming to me. People like James Wall, and Alex Mazur, and Peter Pan, really just took me under their wing and kind of got me involved in a group. And, you know, the rest is history from there. But that was the DAO that really set it off for me and really helped guide my career in the right direction.
Adam Levy: Yeah. You know, that point in time 2018, I remember that really, specifically, because late 70s, early 80s, when I started getting involved, and at the time, you saw a lot of these defi projects that are well and alive right now being built during that dead period during that crypto winter, right? And a lot of people were just really looking for devs to help build out these solutions. And it was hard to find community roles to kind of bootstrap your career for non-technical people. But I guess as time persists, right, people need community members, people need front facing people. And largely part of what DAOs are, right? It’s a lot of these front facing individuals, that either play community roles, right, management roles, mod roles. Talk to me more about that. Like what are you seeing, like the types of roles and the people that are either joining DAOs, forming DAOs, what does that look like to you?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. I use the term operator broadly. You know, on the role of coordination, I think there’s so much to be done in a DAO on any given day that having these lead individuals who are running point on organizing community calls. You know, they’re taking notes that, you know, internal calls, they’re helping to organize different team leads, you know, these people that are kind of just playing point across the community. I’m starting to see more and more some of the first hires every now makes is basically a community manager on steroids. Where it’s not just about being in a chat, and like moderating it, it’s about actually running the show behind the scenes, you know, making sure all the ducks are in a row, making sure that all the game plans in order. And most importantly, keeping everyone abreast to it. You know, there’s so many people across so many sectors in every DAO that a lot of times people don’t know, what a DAO is working on. And so having one person that kind of acts as the touch point, to really organize everything and keep everyone in check, I think is probably one of the most valuable roles that the DAO has to offer today.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And a lot of these DAOs get started from a group chat, and I know you wrote in your article. At least one ETH, probably even, maybe even less sometimes. Telegram group chat and a bold idea to kind of pursue and when people are thinking DAOs, sometimes we will get confused by buzzwords, right. And especially the people are going to be listening to this, right? These creators, these individuals that either want to make their audience more crypto native form these DAOs. It kind of gets, I guess, confusing, because from a creator’s point of view, let’s talk about from a musician’s point of view. Is it like modern day fan clubs, right? And when you’re building these modern day fan clubs, right now, they’re managed by centralized entities. So when people are thinking about forming these decentralized autonomous organizations, how can they kind of dictate whether they should pursue more of the centralized path and do what’s known through an LLC model and have a management team that manage fan clubs and manages social profiles, etc, etc., versus decentralizing it and making people a part of it? Like how should people kind of dictate whether that’s right for them?
Cooper Turley: I think it’s a gradual path forward. You know, I think that at the start just getting people to understand the fact that you have a token associated with your project is a really scary thing. And so spending the first three months let’s call it getting people familiar with that topic, saying, “Hey, if you hold these tokens, you’re gonna get a better relationship with me and deeper access into that community”. That’s kind of like be one of it. And then based on how receptive your audience is to that, I think over time you introduce things like voting, you know, like the most important pieces of a DAO that are kind of picked away and just introduced very gradually. And as you kind of keep running that flywheel and your most active members understand that this token is an integral part of your ecosystem, then you can start doing deeper things like treasury management, you know, off chain voting, like, you know, token swaps and whatnot. But for the first, let’s call it three to six months of any creator token’s lifecycle, I don’t think it makes sense to try and hit someone over the head and say, you’re now part of this magic DAO Working Group. You know, you slowly weed them in and give them incentives to keep contributing. And then, before you know it, you’ll just have a DAO right in front of you.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And I think you’re seeing that right now between rally role and all these random independent ERC 20 tokens that are pegged to either people’s name, brand or reputation, right? You’re seeing a lot of the creators experiment with this route of going public. And they’re trying to create utility, trying to create value to rally in a network effect behind it. And I think we’re starting to see at a point where, okay, you’ve taken yourself “public”, you have your social token, you have anywhere between 70 to 500 people holding it right, you have the Discord channel, what is that process now to make that transition into a DAO? And I only bring that up, because the most common example or the most successful example today is either friends with benefits or whale that come to mind. Right? And whale didn’t start through a DAO format. They started more centralized. And now they’ve transitioned to a DAO. So like, you have your token, you have people holding it, how do you transition into this DAO?
Cooper Turley: It’s a great question. I mean, speaking off the cuff on I think most importantly, is finding contributors that you can trust to run the thing. So going beyond giving people rewards for liking social posts, actually empowering them to have true ownership over the project. So, tasking them with setting up community calls on a regular basis, tasking them with doing competitions to engage your token holders more, you know, things like that, and really building out that core team of let’s call it five to 10 people that you really trust to be the inner circle of the DAO, that seems like v1 to me. And then I think v2 is once you have that inner circle trusted actually putting a substantial amount of money into a pot for people to be able to decide what to do with. You know, I think for most creator tokens, giving away your own tokens fantastic, it’s easiest thing on the table. I challenge everyone that starting a DAO to think about how can you hold assets outside of your own native token. When you start going through that process of either swapping your token for ETH or a stable coin or something like that, and then choosing how to distribute that to your community in the form of paid roles, you know, things start to get really interesting. And that’s where I think the stuff like governance becomes more important to actually make it a reality.
Adam Levy: So when you’re talking about these assets that people are holding outside of the communities, what else can you kind of give an example to outside of governance, just so people understand.
Cooper Turley: Yeah. So with friends with benefits, we now have four different teams. Each of those teams has a team leads, we have editorial, product, membership, and treasury. Each one of those teams has a team lead that’s receiving USDC on a monthly basis, and some tokens on top of that. You know, there’s a pool of incentives for anyone that wants to join those teams. But you kind of have these organizations that are more formalized in sort of their structure. And then outside of that, we have kind of ad hoc monthly budgets that we post on snapshot for things like events. So in Miami, we threw an IRL event, we booked some DJs, we rented out a venue, doing some stuff at ECC coming up in a couple weeks. And so there are definitely larger decisions to be made with like dollars, basically. And when those come into the picture, I think it’s important to have, you know, governance in place to be able to keep the community informed on what you want to spend it on.
Adam Levy: Yeah. One thing that I find very interesting about friends with benefits is that you guys had a capital raise well after you guys were established, you proved your concept and the vision that you’re trying to execute. And now, the DAO is very fluid, right? It’s very rich, capital rich. And I feel like at some point now, you guys have your treasury and your grants program, right, from what I’m understanding. And that’s even probably being applied to build products internally that help kind of orchestrate the DAO more efficiently. Like the best thing that comes to mind is, when I was in Miami, I attended the friends with benefit happily a member, so everyone go check it out. But, you know, like, there’s a point where, okay, the club is full, but also how do you authenticate that people are holders? And how can you do that with the people in the front that are permitting people in and out so that you or Trev or more of these core contributors don’t have to be like, okay, you’re in, you’re in, you’re in, you’re kind of thing, right? So these are like, these are projects and products, obviously, that will develop with time and all these things are social experiments. But now that these creators, they’re getting capital right there and they’re getting their fans to pump in switch from USDC to their native token, creating these liquidity pools, etc. At what point I guess once you have your DAO, how do you now kind of manage and portion a segment for your treasury, portion a segment for your grants, etc., etc. Like how do you segment then also for team leads, like how does that work exactly?
Cooper Turley: There’s no right answer here. I mean, I’ll go back to like trusting your core contributors. I think every team has its own unique skill sets and doing everything you can to empower them. You know, the one thing I love about DAO is people pretty much define their own salaries. You know, if someone wants to work for the DAO full time, chances are, they’ll present a proposal saying, “Hey, I want this amount of money to do this amount of work”. And in that situation, you know, whatever the outcome of that is, will happen naturally. You know, I think that we’re all as an industry is trying to figure out standards around that. And so you’re seeing tools to help with this. You know, in the rally ecosystem, I’m a big fan of these guys working on bonfire, it’s basically a tool to create, you know, easier ways to distribute tokens and do fun things with your tokens. On the Ethereum side of things, we have tools like coordinate to distribute tokens to active contributors. And so right now, you know, I think it’s more about earmark a budget, you know, of whatever amount you want to do, and then figure out how to spend that relative to who wants to work on it. So if someone wants to come to the table and run a podcast for you, or if they want to run a newsletter for you, you know, give them some coins, see what they do. It’s not like you’re locked into having to do these things for years on end. The approach we take at friends with benefits is throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. And now over time, as we run a lot of these experiments, we can start to see, you know, really clearly defined working groups come out of that. So like I said, a product team to further build things like that RSVP for IRL events, we’re working very hard on that now, because we saw their problem from our first event that we threw. But we never would have known that was going to happen if we didn’t throw the event in the first place. So you know, just trying to figure out how to really get people activated and mobilized around anything regarding the community, breaking stuff with it, and then putting smart people on the task to solve it. I think it’s a pretty smart way to just kind of go about it and figure out what works every time.
Adam Levy: But the challenge is, how do you do this in a decentralized manner? Because naturally, with DAOs, you’re not going to have your CEO, your managers, your executives. You can call them team leads, but are people still taking order from people in a decentralized fashion? Like, I think that’s a misconception that people come across. Like, how does a group function without a leader, right?
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: How do you guys think about that?
Cooper Turley: That’s a great question. I think that you know, orders kind of naturally form in and of themselves. I think what’s important is that you’re not giving someone like full power to make every decision. And everyone that is in power is aware of the fact that they are part of a wider group. So at FWB, our first hire was Alex Zain. He’s absolutely killing it for us. I would say that he’s been making a lot of the bigger decisions on stuff like events and sort of governance and, you know, moving the ball forward on team lead side of things. And while we all have a say in that, you know, he’s been really mindful of looping people in and kind of making sure that people feel engaged and empowered. And in that situation, I think it’s okay to have a couple of people that have a lot of the shots being called so long as they’re recognizing that they are not a dictator and they need to take into consideration, you know, the thoughts of others when making these decisions.
Adam Levy: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Have you seen any, whether it be with FWB or other DAs that you’ve participated in, have you seen examples where kind of the founders come into place, right, they set the vision, they set the mission, they bring in key stakeholders to kind of manage and help out on executing different stuff. And then because it’s a DAO, right, and naturally is decentralized other shareholders that hold a lot of FWB, or whatever DAO token it is, they kind of maybe come more into power than what was intended and start shifting the direction of what that DAO was intentionally intended to do and execute on. Have you seen that? I know that one example that comes to mind more recently is Cane Warwick with Synthetics, right? But have you kind of seen these more with these social communities that are forming or investment communities that are being formed?
Cooper Turley: Not so much with the social communities. I mean, the first example that comes to mind for me here is [unsure word 18:30], the Wi Fi ecosystem, where basically it’s this highly sophisticated defi protocol. Andre Caronia who started it is this famous defi developer. But over time, he sort of phased himself out in favor of this more DAO like structure, you know, and I don’t think that’s been for the better or worse, I think the project’s been operating extremely well. But what it does show is you don’t need the core founder to be making every decision for somebody to move forward. It just requires people to be highly incentivized and aligned to build cool shit.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Now that makes a lot of sense. I want to bring up your DAO landscape article and kind of run through that for a minute and specifically bring out this is the old one, let’s really quickly find this new one. It’s on via mirror on your profile, right?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. So it’s pretty funny.
Adam Levy: Yeah.
Cooper Turley: The old image I tweeted out, you know, you asked me earlier how much time that I spend on this, you know, my first pass through, I knew that people were gonna roast me because I didn’t write anything in the image. And so I basically put that first tweet out to say, “Hey, this is v1 of this map, I’m going to publish in 48 hours, if you want your project to be named here, this is your shot to do it”. And so obviously, that got some great engagement. I think 300 plus projects commented on it. So I had to kind of siphon it down a bit. But what it showed is that, you know, taking time to get feedback from the community before publishing actually ended up being net positive for this post. And as you’ll see in this new map that you pull up in a second here, it’s really just mind boggling like how many DAOs there are in the ecosystem now, and there’s so many that it’s hard to keep track. You know, Eugene commented on my posts when I was asked her peer review saying, at some point, it’s going to be impossible to track all these because DAOs are basically just LLCs.
Adam Levy: Right.
Cooper Turley: You have a map for all the LLCs in the world because they’re just too many to count. But, you know, luckily, we’re at a stage where it’s early enough now that we can sort of paint a full overview picture of that, and recognize that there are still a lot of opportunities out there for people who want to get involved and create value in the space.
Adam Levy: Yeah, and actually, let’s pull it out, because the link that I saved was actually a different link. So let’s do this really quick. Let me pull it up. So we’ll go over here share screen. Boom, okay, DAO landscape, okay, so you broke it down very strategically, and very concise and clean, which I love about your writing, every time I come across one of your pieces. Specifically, with this one, it’s like four to five lines, per DAO, explaining what it is, and it’s getting straight to the point, okay? So just to bring up the graphic, I know it kind of like fades out. But the DAO Operating System, Protocol DAOs, Investment DAOs, Grant DAOs, Service DAO, Social DAOs, Collector DAOs, and whatever is below the fold, right here and Media DAOs, right. And all these DAOs serve their own intention, try to solve their own problems, there probably is a lot of overlap. Probably, who knows, it’s hard to keep up with everything, but I’m just seeing with how you categorize them. Okay, I want to go one by one really quick. Give me a quick definition, from DAO Operating Systems, Protocol DAOs, Investment DAOs, so on and so forth. And we’ll kind of dive into all of them individually.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so I’ll just read off the map here. And maybe you can scroll down throughout. You know, basically, when I was making this article, I wanted to try and differentiate what different DAOs operated under and like a very large bucket. So starting at the top there, DAO Operating Systems, this is a way for you to make a DAO. You know, any of the projects in there help you either form a DAO, start a token, or basically create an operating system. Protocol DAOs are probably the most common ones that you see. That is a DAO for an underlying defi protocol or project that basically governs the way the whole system operates. So you’ll see a lot of huge names on there. You know, I use the term DAO here, because most of these projects have a treasury of let’s say, a billion dollars that’s being allocated across the ecosystem in some way, shape, or form. And token holders have the ability to vote on how that capital is allocated, which makes them really exciting. Investment DAOs are ones that I’ve been a part of in the past year. This is basically people coming together pulling let’s say 1000 ETH, and then deciding how to invest in early stage projects, which has been really fun to kind of parlay token based investments. Grants DAO, we talked about this earlier, some of the first ones I got involved with. Basically, we all have capital we want to see it put to work in a productive way for people that need it. And so people make applications to receive funding and these Grant DAOs allocate them capital to build cool shit in their ecosystem. Service DAOs, you know, I’ve spent a lot of time working through Service DAOs in crypto. This is basically a way for you to provide a valuable service through decentralized manner. I’ll call out that one fire eyes in there that I do a lot of work through for a token and governance design, where we’ll work with teams on an engagement to launch a token, to launch a protocol upgrade, and get paid through an on chain wallet and ether tokens to kind of do what would be considered consulting in a traditional sense, but in a much more involved and hands on manner. Alright, going over to Social DAOs there, I’m going to cut you off and we keep going we’re gonna bang them all out. Social DAOs, you know, after VBC club, the thing I really love about Social DAOs, it’s more about the human nature than it is the financial nature. For a lot of those Protocol DAOs that you see, the KPI is generally protocol fees. So how much is this protocol generating? What’s the revenue? And what’s the profit? You know, while a lot of Social DAOs still have that under the hood, it’s more about what does it mean to be a member of this community? You know, what are the qualities and aspirations that I have by being a part of this DAO, and how do I come together to make friends online and then hopefully, in the future IRL relationships. Collector DAOs mainly around NFT’s. So [unsure word 23:52] DAO is one that I’ve been doing a lot of work through. Basically groups of individuals coming together to collect high value NFT’s, and then commission artists and empower and democratize those pieces over time. And the last one is Media DAOs. So basically, instead of there being a closed entity that’s doing reporting and story writing, and whatnot, we’re now seeing this new chapter where anyone can come and contribute to a media outlet, get paid in tokens for that work and be a lot more open source about the way in which they source stories and the way and they share that to the world.
Adam Levy: Boom, there we go. That was the most comprehensive fricking breakdown ever. Alright, so how many projects are on there? I couldn’t count. Do you know?
Cooper Turley: At least 100?
Adam Levy: Okay, over a 100 projects. And there’s the saying in the startup world where when you make an investment in a startup, nine are going to fail, one is going to succeed. How many of these DAOs do you think are going to be here a year, two years from now?
Cooper Turley: Generously 50% maybe. You know, I think that we’re in a very early experimentation phase where the idea of starting and joining a DAO is more exciting than actually executing upon it. You know, when you look at those Protocol DAOs, I’d say that basically everyone that I listed in that Protocol DAO bucket is going to make it. I think it’s some of the more fringe ones that is unclear whether or not they have long-term sustainability. But what I will say is the fact that they’re becoming so rampant and how fast they’re being spun up. Inevitably that at least a few of them are going to stand out and become like these really monolithic for the DAO space. I think that right now, it’s just a little bit too early to tell which those are and whether or not we actually have the conus, where all of us to make it through a bear market when the money’s not flowing as much as it is right now.
Adam Levy: Yeah. One of the more I guess, exciting ones that come to my mind, and I’ll bring it up again, are these Investment DAOs, right? And some of them are structured, more decentralized, others have more of a centralized entity supporting them. And decisions are made more decentralized, right? How does that actually work from a legal standpoint if you’re a crowdfunding capital right now and either you’re investing in illegal securities, or you’re investing in, I don’t know, whatever it may be? Like, how is that structure kind of like, put together from a legal point of view? Do you have insight on that?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so I’ll call out the Lau here, because I think they’ve done the best job of this. The Lau is a LLC registered company here in the US, they’re limited to accredited investors only. And there’s a maximum of 99 members that can participate in that vehicle. And so everything that’s being done there is done as an accredited investor. And that makes us that these investments are compliant under SEC regulations. You know, on the other end of the spectrum, we have things like Duck DAO, which I’ll call out, which is basically like send funds to an address and pull capital together, that works conceptually the same way that the Lau does, but I think there’s a lot less formal process in place around KYC, you know, like AML, these typical investor procedures that we see for more formal investments. And as a result, a lot of the projects get spawned out of those are these kind of random coins that come into the market, you know, they’re definitely far more ad hoc, have like a lot shorter life cycles. And so if I had to break it down, I would say that the more legally compliant a DAO is, typically the longer time horizon those investments are, and typically, the more sophisticated those investors are, then their numbers of those DAOs.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And in terms of these Grant DAOs, I feel like there’s also a lot of overlap between the Grant DAOs and the Protocol DAOs. And maybe I’m getting confused, because a lot of these Protocol DAOs have grant departments, right? That Department DAOs like sections that kind of make decisions on what to spend the capital on and their DAOs within themselves, right there may be organized, more centralized, per se, but they govern the funds, just like any other DAO would. The one that comes to mind is Ave right now, right? Ave, is going through that process. And if you’re trying to get sponsorship for events, or you’re trying to get any form of capital to build on top of the protocol, or promote the protocol, you have to go through more of the decentralized funnel to get that money. So would you say there’s like overlap between those two as well?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. So every Grant DAO spawns out of the Protocol DAO. The reason that I broke this off is for a lot of the ones that you see that are also in the Protocol DAO section. So Compound, Uniswap Ave, Audeus, as four examples, those have all been spun out of governance. So basically, to pass a proposal in those Protocol DAOs, you need a fuck ton of tokens, need to make a really compelling argument. And it’s really difficult to pass proposal. And so what we’ve been seeing happening in this space is someone will make a proposal to start a Grants DAO, this will basically take money out of the really heavy, essentially, really heavy DAO in the center, and allocate it to a more nimble working group that becomes a Grants DAO. And so in order to apply for a Grants DAO, you don’t need to have a bunch of tokens, you can fill out a form, fill out a Google form, get 1000 tokens here and there for doing some more lightweight work. And it really helps to disintermediate that step between needing super heavy on chain governance to get a really small amount of capital, and instead empower let’s call it five people to oversee a small fund of money and make sure that it gets sent out to the right people in a much more nimble manner.
Adam Levy: Yeah, that makes sense. Out of all these, what would you say is like your favorite DAO category that you’ve kind of enjoyed either participating in the most, or you’ve seen kind of develop over the course of time? What’s your favorite?
Cooper Turley: Probably Service DAOs. I mean, I’d say Social DAOs are a close second. But for me, my career has been basically predicated off working in a decentralized world. And so seeing the development around Service DAOs, and basically, decentralized working groups coming together to deliver like, really valuable products and service, I think has been extremely exciting. And just based on my recent conversations, we’ve only just begun to see like what DAO servicing looks like. And I think in this next year, we’re gonna see some really, really smart people come to the table on that front.
Adam Levy: Yeah, I think a lot of DAO service or South server servers, whatever you want to call them, you’re seeing them very, like, human capital intensive. Do you think it’s going to start transitioning into more of a software play down the line? And if it’s already kind of swinging there, what have you seen work? What have you seen not work?
Cooper Turley: I’m not sure if I’d use the word software. I think the most important part about Service DAOs is they need to know how to make on chain proposals. So this is something that’s really complicating to the average person. Basically what you’re doing is you’re going to a Protocol DAO that has a billion of dollars capital in it’s treasury and you’re saying, “Hey, I think I can add value to this protocol. Here’s a proposal for what I want to work on. And here’s how I’m going to rally people around me to support this work and then execute it”. And so you know, right now, the way that Service DAO work is either like hiring as a freelancer, like we’re gonna give you 1000 bucks to write this smart contract, or what I personally like to do more is creating a really creative proposal and going to a community talking out with them, and then having a nice allocation of tokens to go and build, really valuable upgrade to the platform that when executed upon actually makes your work and your compensation more valuable.
Adam Levy: Can you give me an example of what that looks like? And I only bring that up, because a lot of people are going to be approaching this space. And they need reference as to what’s quality versus not quality. So what does that look like from your point of view? And give us an example of how you’ve kind of done that? And with who?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so I’ll call out balancers one great example. Me and my friends at Fire Eyes, we did a proposal around governance mining, where we basically say, “Hey, we want people to be incentivized to contribute to the Governance Forum to the Discord, to vote on proposals”. And we mapped out a pretty long proposal on how to get involved and what that could look like. It included allocations of tokens to go to each of those programs and included specifications on how to get those integrated into the communities. And I would say for anyone looking to learn about this, pop into basically any Governance Forum and or snapshot, look at any space for the DAOs mentioned on the map here. And you’ll see an endless list of proposals where people are defining, we want to take x tokens and do y with it. In the middle, there’s this nice formula proposal with a framework on how to basically write that up and get it presented to a community in a very digestible and well-articulated manner.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I think it’s like critical. There needs to be some type of template that people go off to and reference, I think in the future. Because, you’re just going to be seeing as these communities get bigger and bigger, and like the most random proposals and the most unstructured format…
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: just taking up space on these voting platforms. And it’s probably already happening right now to an extent. So, I want to pivot this for a minute, into the creators point of view, okay? And into whether it be the dancer, the artist, the internet personality, the fashion designer, whatever it may be, right? When you’re building these DAOs and you’re trying to empower your fans, your audience to partake in this journey, there’s already a hurdle with getting them more crypto native. And we said that the way to combat that is just give your tokens out for free, okay? And once people are holding it, they’re in their Discord, they’re being integrated into the process, you slowly transition them into the DAO format, and find those key excited individuals, those people that love you to death, that have the Facebook fan pages for you, bring them into place and have them manage and be key holders. But when you’re building these DAOs, and you’re trying to get I guess creators and more of the normie crowd into play, how do they communicate this to their fans? Like how do they tell them, “Guys, you’re managing me now, you’re managing my brand, you guys, because you helped me build it”. Like, how do they communicate that? Because in crypto makes sense, right?
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: It’s like okay, we play the ownership, economy thesis, etc., etc. But for creators, more normie people, they have a hard time understanding what Bitcoin is, you know?
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: Like, how do you position that in the right way?
Cooper Turley: I think it’s the framing that we’re all doing this together. You know, I think for a lot of creators, there’s historically been a very one-sided relationship where a fan is consuming content that you put out, and they’re getting to enjoy that content. But beyond that, they’re not really seeing any of the upside associated with it. So the more that you can show and not tell where it’s less about, we’re all in this together and more about actually showing them if you get, let’s say $100 in from the sale of a T-shirt, and you end up giving that back out to fans in the form of a token. You know, there are things you can do with your tokens and with your ecosystem to very clearly show that this is a community-owned project now. You know, everything that I do is going to be directly valuable to you as well. And over time, you know, it’s my hope that we just open that more and more to five years from now, when I’m getting every dollar in as an artist, it’s going into a community treasury, it’s very clearly allocated who it’s going to. And as that we can all kind of win together rather than the world today, where you have fans, they’re consuming everything but if they want to get involved on like more of a financial or social level, basically the most that they can do is just share your song a bunch of times on Spotify or Discord or Twitter or Instagram or something and hope that you give it a retweet, which in my opinion falls very short of what’s possible.
Adam Levy: Yeah, no, I 100% and I think we’re seeing very early stages of that. First person that comes to mind is Harrison First. He took himself public, created his own social token, and he incentivized people to earn by basically saying, “I need you guys to scout how many times I said this word in the song and if you get the right number and DM me, I’ll send you tokens”, right? And it’s kind of contributing based off participation. It’s contributing based on action. Another cool example that comes to mind is Ali, who is like a main mainstream Twitch streamer, right, YouTube personality, and she incentivizes participation by putting together these huge events, these gaming events where solely attainable and accessible through Ali coin rewards, or distributed through Ali coin. To buy your way into the event, you got to buy it with Ali coin, right? And now she’s like building an ecosystem around Ali coin. And it’s gotten to the point where and I’m only giving this as an example, because it references a lot of what you preached earlier. Now people have become so ingrained and in tune with what Ali coin can do. Now they’re motivated to start building and using it to their advantage. For example, someone in her DAO is now building a bot right or built a bot that would help streamline communication and processes in the Discord, and they got paid in Ali coin, right?
Cooper Turley: Absolutely.
Adam Levy: You’re seeing like that early formation. But I still think there’s still like a mountain to climb with getting people in tune with that process. When it comes to practice, right? What does that funnel look like? What have you seen work? For example, people need to start changing the way they communicate their value and their value proposition to their fans. And they need to design their funnels for onboarding them to adopt their cryptocurrency their x token. Are there any examples you can kind of give that our people are doing it right, at least right? Whether it be guys, I’m having this concert, if you buy X amount of tokens, you’ll be integrated blah, blah, you know what I mean? Like…
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: what does that funnel look like?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. I mean, I think we’re seeing a common trend that people that stream content in some way, shape, or form, if it’s on Twitch, if it’s a vlog on YouTube, if it’s on Tik Tok, you know, having a high level funnel to make people aware what’s going on, and making a clear call to action to go one level deeper by joining something like a Discord. I think that’s step number one. You know, I love to use Ali as an example, I think that she is a premier creator on Rally, it’s doing this extremely well. And what I’ll call out there is that for the first two months of Ali coin, being in existence, it was very much educational, just saying, “Guys, I have this token now, I’m super new to it, you know, you can buy some if you want, we’re figuring out what to do with it, slowly adding in new access levels, and then over time, you get into a flow”. Whereas other people in your community become more educated, they can do that for you. You know, there’s nothing that I think is worse for a creator to do than go out and just start blanket shilling their token saying buy this, buy this, buy this, but not supporting the reasons why you need to get involved in the first place. And so I encourage creators to really work on what is access in your community look like, you know, what are the relationships that people can build with you and one another by getting involved? And the more concretely you lay those out, I think the more confident you’re going to be in talking about it, and the more success you’re gonna see as a result of that.
Adam Levy: Yeah, I agree with you. I think starting out very small, being honest and transparent, that you’re new to this and aligning your like insecurities and being empathetic like that to your audience will make it more relatable, and more and more promising that and more exciting, essentially. So when people are kind of launching these tokens, and they transitioning into building a DAO, I think many people get excited by the numbers of seeing a name being publicly traded on a screen and having a certain amount of liquidity and a fully diluted market cap and all these big shiny things attract the people, right? But now, doing it in practice is what kind of gets it going. And I think many people kind of not forget, but maybe don’t even understand what challenges kind of face them. So…
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: when you’re starting to build these communities, and you’re in either you’re bootstrapping from nothing, or you’re trying to onboard an existing fan base or audience and make them more crypto native. What does that look like in terms of challenges that people aren’t seeing?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. So I sent you a message in the chat there, I wrote a blog post for forefront on how to launch a token. This is basically you know, the past two years of my life, drastically oversimplified into a five step process on how to launch a token, I think the things that people often overestimate is how easy it is to get people to join, like people buying your token is a pretty hard step. And for you to think that people are just gonna do it naturally is pretty naive. And so instead, I think it’s about how you give people more ownership and power on like a social basis. They feel like they have a part of this project. So that once they’re involved as like a moderator or someone active in the community, you’re giving them tokens doesn’t feel like that heavy of a step because they’re already actively engaged. If you just try and go out and blindly toss these tokens on people, they’re not really going to know what’s happening, they’re not going to know what’s going on. But if you build a deep relationship with your top fans, I think they’re much more susceptible to getting involved. And that’s why I always tell you know, creators to really focus on that top one to 5% of your super fans and try and really educate them, because they’ll end up doing the legwork for the 95% of the other fans that you have. And your most important goal is just kind of seeding that message outwards. You don’t have to keep doing it yourself. So…
Adam Levy: Yeah.
Cooper Turley: I don’t know if you want to take a second to pull this blog post up I’d love to just like highlight very quickly something about…
Adam Levy: Let’s do it. Let me share my screen. And as I bring it up, the most common or the most relevant example that comes to mind is again with Ali and her having such a broad communities, everyone that enters the Discord now, like she doesn’t really have to do anything. Like the community is “Oh, welcome, we’re so excited to have you. Here’s the steps on how to join. This is how you get started, this is how you buy the coin”, and the community is now educating one another. And she’s slowly starting to see herself kind of like migrate out of that initial leadership-controller position. But let’s bring up this blog post. Alright, super simple to the point go.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so step one, having a community hub. You know, we talked a lot in this call about Discord, something as simple as having a place for all of your fans to come and hang out. Once you’ve built that out a little bit structurally, that you have different channels and whatnot, start taking note of who’s contributing to that. So your moderators, the people that are policing the channels, the people who are going out and sharing your streams, you know, start keeping track of your super fans they’re adding value, and then find a partner to help kind of empower them. So issuance partners here, these are platforms like Rally or Coin Buys, if you’re not a technical person, which pretty much everyone listening to this, including myself is not there are tools on the table now to help you make a token and a very easy way and give you a template to get started. You know, once you have a token out there, there’s a bunch of tools at your disposal to kind of upgrade and integrate that stack. So things like let’s just say for custody, things like governance, tools like Bonfire and Rally that I mentioned, for token distribution type thing. And once you have that blueprint in place, there’s a reason why I did Step five is Token Distribution instead of step one. You know, I think it’s really important for you to think very hard about what this looks like when you roll it out into the wild. And once you have all these first four steps launched with a token that exists with people you want to give it to and with tools to empower the way you use it, then you go out and do a token distribution and kind of kick start this flywheel. And I think you’ll find people will be really excited to get involved because they noticed that you put so much time and effort into getting that started in the first place.
Adam Levy: I think it’s a great tool set. And it’s coming obviously, from your point of view, you got a lot of experience. So anybody that’s watching the video, take notes, anybody that’s streaming this through audio, come and watch the video and look at this chart, I’ll also put it in the show notes. So back to these challenges for a minute, okay? I think like we agreed that the best way to get people on board and from your audience is just to give the token away. And a lot of creators might not come from the crypto background nor the financial background to even understand like the levels of giving to holding, right? So, how do you kind of mitigate the situation where creators just like just take my token, just take my token, they just start air dropping a bunch of tokens, they only have so much liquidity in their pools, and all these fans just don’t swap out and like bankrupt the community?
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: Right? It’s a very plausible scenario. How do they kind of mitigate that death experience?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, I think that it’s very gradually over time. You know, I think it inception being really free about who you’re giving tokens to is probably okay, it’s earlier in the lifecycle, typically, the token is worth less and the marketing exposure of it is more important than kind of the ongoing accumulation. So step one, I think you’re looking for awareness, giving people tokens for something as simple as giving you bits on a twitch stream, giving you a subscription, joining the Discord, you know, things that are really, really obvious in nature, empowering those with really small incentives to kind of start that process. I think that’s v1. And then I think over time, you know, you want to be a lot more calculated about how those tokens go out. So building deeper relationships with people, giving them deeper tasks to work on. I would say the higher quality the project becomes, and the more impactful it is, the more tokens that deserve to be earned as an incentive. And what you’ll see will happen is instead of you going really broad with giving 1000 people one token each, you’re going to start giving one person 1000 tokens. And the more ownership that they have over that project, the more trustworthy you can be with them about knowing that they’re gonna execute on the goals that you’re putting in place and the more valuable stuff that they’re producing for you is going to become.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Let’s try to think a few years from now and kind of like, speculate on what this future may look like. When do you think we’re gonna start seeing like Migos do a DAO, right? Or Justin Bieber do a DAO, or Taylor Swift do a DAO? All these community-rich individuals who have brands that carry so much weight, when are they going to start decentralizing their communities do you think? Where’s your head at with that?
Cooper Turley: Sooner than you think would be my gut reaction. I’d caveat by saying when do you think they’re going to do it well? I think with that…
Adam Levy: Yeah.
Cooper Turley: that question is much different, which will take three to five years. You know, what I expect is we’re gonna see a similar wave to NFT’s where every creator in the world knows that launching a token has value. We’re gonna see some sort of nifty gateway like solution, where launching it is as easy as possible, and people are going to fuck it up. You know, we’re going to see huge creators come into the space, launch a token, not really know how to engage with that. Over time, a lot of those guys get weeded out. And what will remain will be these creators that have really active Discord servers, they have really strong relationships with their true fans. And they’re not just in it to kind of make a statement. Like, they genuinely want this to be a part of their project. And so five years from now, like I said earlier, we’re gonna see these community tokens represent true ownership on a project where it’s basically equity and an artist. So if I discover someone early on, there’s a vehicle for me to get involved. There’s [inaudible 45:10] to be gained from it. And I think that once we have the platforms and tools in place for that to happen in a really native way, that’s when crypto is mainstream and it’s no longer a question of when it’s going to happen. It’s something that everyone knows about and is using every single day.
Adam Levy: Yeah. But, there’s a problem with that, right? Because a lot of these mainstream celebrities, internet personalities, you know, they built their fame off people fan-girling over them, right? And they have a lot of clout. And at least I haven’t seen a lot of these like mainstream individuals kind of come back to these lower level guys, interact with them, hang out with them, build relationships with them. It’s really more like, you have your Instagram following, you have your Twitter following, occasionally you go on live shows and you do tours, you can do like backstage fan meet and greets. Like, it’s very disconnected, right, between the fans I feel like and in the artists itself, would you agree? Like as I’m building this point, would you agree or would you disagree with that?
Cooper Turley: I totally agree with it. I would say that I’m really loving the shift to new like subscriber base models.
Adam Levy: Yeah.
Cooper Turley: So things like Only Fans, I think are a perfect example of this, where creators are starting to realize that getting buy-ins from their top 1% is exponentially more valuable than getting a light from all their followers. And so we’ll slowly start seeing this congregation where every creator is focusing on that core group of fans and they’re going to recognize that the value to be created from engaging and capitalizing with them is far more powerful than just having 10 million Instagram followers, let’s call it.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I think that’s gonna be one of the biggest hurdles kind of like detaching that barrier, right, and removing that and making the one that they love and adore and kind of see big stars over making them more human, more level headed, you know, so that they can onboard them and make these fan clubs. Like you have Queen, right, although they haven’t really integrated with their fans. But like the Queen community, there’s the movie, there’s like these people dress up as Queen characters, you know, the [inaudible 47:03] together. It’s basically a DAO to an extent without the bandana managing everything. And it lives and outlives itself, right?
Cooper Turley: Yeah.
Adam Levy: And I think that that’s kind of like the goal that everybody should be playing towards, should be building towards. And DAOs now provide that instrument to do so, right?
Cooper Turley: Yeah. And I think the difference is that there’s now an incentive for an artist to do that. You know, historically, there’s transitive benefits where if you build a super fan community, hopefully they’re going to buy more tickets. But with these tokens, it’s so direct now. You can see that value being capitalized in real time. But I think it’s going to be much more obvious why you need to do this and you’re going to see those benefits right away. As opposed to historically, if you’re a big fan community, there’s a lot of social capital to gain from it, it’s the right thing to do. But that only translates to really merge sales and ticket sales versus now where it’s $10 investment in your token, and you now have 100,000 people around the world holding it and you have a million-dollar small business company just to be able to run and do cool stuff with.
Adam Levy: I love it man. Coop, you’re a wealth of information. Thanks for being on. It’s a pleasure to have you always. Where can people kind of hear from you, find you, give yourself a quick shout out.
Cooper Turley: The best place to follow me on social is @CoopahTroopa. I’m most active on Twitter. It’s where I spend most of my time online. If you’re looking to go a level deeper than this, then you stay to listen this long shoot me a message on Discord at CoopahTroopa number 9799. Would love to hear what you’re working on and help point you in the right direction for some next steps.
Adam Levy: Amazing, dude. Thank you.
Cooper Turley: Thank you for having me on man. We’ll talk soon.