Let’s be honest, none of any of the folks who did token sales or exchanges thought that tokens were particularly good business models, something probably adequately illustrated by the names used like “cryptofuel” and “proof of burn.” All of us were, however, committed to innovation around these fundraising structures, which Vitalik Buterin has pointed out can solve historically difficult public goods problems. As people write today, “Who Controls Ethereum?” and other interesting confusion regarding other projects, it’s probably a good time to address the problem of “business.”
How to run out of money
As we pointed out long ago, the AppCoin model is particularly dangerous because you are forced to sacrifice future revenue from your product up front. That said, it doesn’t make them any less interesting or novel and sometimes the less great parts have to be iterated through before you can get to the larger business. That’s partially why we’ve been exploring all of the various applications of cryptoequity.
Governance, as it turns out, is also rarely a good business. The primary problem is that almost all traditional means of funding governments involve taxes. While there are various iterations to be made on this, they mostly involve iterating in on corporate governance (my original recommendation which since been taken up by several parties).
Community vs. Corporations
What has this left things? Basically every major open source project has been forced to create some sort of private entity (or two) that continues the development, usually doubling down on a particular use case or set of use cases. In many cases, this actually offsets against the vitality of the open source ecosystem, because these private ventures are non-transparent by default. Moreover, it is often the case that they cannot even be transparent due to the agreements they must make with corporate clients.
Are corporations predatory on the open source ecosystem? Yes and no. Corporations in their usual context are pretty bad at enabling any sort of collaboration their context. They naturally create a divide between “in group” and “outside group,” that has been a part of the general pattern of evolution.
Circles and Collaboration
It’s been long argued from certain theorists on the history of human evolution that this dynamic (tribal competition, scarcity, violence, etc.) is not the only way. What was perhaps most elegantly stated by Bachofen and Graves is that there are other impulses around which we can organize that are far more powerful and serve as the epicenter of economies that are not predatory by default.
While Charles Eisenstein has been known to make this case more recently in his book “Sacred Economics,” the idea has not yet come full circle. That’s because, among other things, there are very significant institutional and legal barriers to creating these types of structures.
Holons and Revolutions
Most of ostensible “holons” we’ve seen so far have sort of descended into some sort of quasi-fusion with existing thought patterns and have destroyed their revolutionary potential. However, we’ve recently kicked off a series of collaborations with other highly-aligned organizations that is brings this circle model forward as a viable alternative to existing organizational types.
Thomas Jefferson famously said that democracy needs to have continual revolutions. In order to stay fresh and evolving, all organizations need to have this embedded structure as well. Stasis is rigor mortis is death.
Maybe that’s the type of consensus we most need… a constantly revolutionary one. And what does a circle do but revolve?