Heard of “the DAO” ? It’s an ownerless corporation that raised $150 million and now is bit stalled. Well no one knows about what can go wrong with DAOs like us! Why? We launched DAOs for everything and most of them went nowhere. Why is that? Let’s look at some examples of DAOs that didn’t quite make it.


Drones out to lunch?

“Manna” is a decentralized drone delivery project founded by the founder of the Stanford robotics club. After a three-tiered application process we accepted them into the first Swarm class and also give a credit of $10,000 towards housing and other services in the context of our Palo Alto holon. What did we get back?

So far nothing… We had to invent some legal paperwork along the way for the “coin convertible note,” but so far it’s been mostly radio silence. Are these drones going to fly? Hard to say…


“Vapor” was born at DevCon Zero by a conversation between Vitalik, Gav, and Joel. V thought it might be a good fit for the new Dev Grants program (see comments at the business possibilities of DAOs here)

What’s this fox looking at anyways?

Joel Dietz then wrote up a proposal with Martin Becze and got the first approved dev grant. He also recruited Aaron Davis who he has previously worked with on the Ethereum JS simulator. Together they wrote up and agreed on a governance mechanism to keep VAPOR an open source DAO that could be maintained by the community.

What happened with the project and the Dev Grant money? We have no idea. Apparently it is a Consensys project called Metamask now. That fox is foxy indeed.

Swarm Fund

Long before the DAO we had this idea to create a decentralized investment fund powered by collective intelligence. The idea was to start small (100 BTC) and then, once we had figured out the underlying dynamics and regulatory space, we would scale up.

Are humans meant to fly like this?

What actually happened? Our collective intelligence ended up being primarily the intelligence of the one person watching the market and the trades. The easy money was on the markets, and there was no economic incentive to share back to the crowd.

Fortunately everyone exited their positions with no loss, except for the amount that had gone to regulator.

Lift off?

Learning can be expensive. DAOs are only as strong as the weakest point, which often happens to be humans. We were naive in thinking that the force of positive momentum could overpower the strong economic incentives that existed for people not following through.

And yet there it is. There are lots of people who want global swarms but a lot fewer actual swarms.