Permissionless DAOs

What is a permissionless DAO?

General Definition

Permissionless DAOs include open networks and token economies like Ethereum and Bitcoin. These types of organizations do not formally limit anyone's ability to participate. Anyone with the knowledge and resources to contribute to the network may do so.

Resource Management

The resource management in these structures relies largely on the code defining a token network's economic behavior. A portion also might be managed by a central vault controlled by a foundation or group of network leaders to support ecosystem development as their ecosystem matures.



Bitcoin is the most autonomous DAO in existence today. The protocol was founded by an anonymous personality, Satoshi Nakamoto, online along with a community of cypherpunks. Members of the Bitcoin DAO include those contributing ideas in forums, mining transactions with computer hashpower, and holding BTC tokens. The barrier to entry does not depend on decisions from any group of people, but of the ability for a new member to find their path for contribution of value.


Ethereum is the second best example of a DAO in crypto today. This token network branches a little more into the social manipulation side of things, as seen by (ironically) in the DAO hack hardfork of 2016 when the leaders of Ethereum coordinated to return $40MM USD of funds stolen from a faulty smart contract. In general, the protocol creates momentum via Proof of Work consensus (automated reward system) but also uses more manual decision making with regard to the treasury held by the Ethereum Foundation. For this reason it does fall a little short of the autonomy displayed by Bitcoin.

Maker DAO

The Maker DAO system was created to build a stable coin based on collateralized debt. With Multi-collateral DAI, the system uses MKR votes to determine qualified assets to use in their protocol (a more manual process). At the same time, MKR holders receive rewards and punishments based on the success of the system to create stable value debt (or liquidate such debt positions). Ultimately, Maker DAO is more frequently reliant on the decisions of MKR holders than Ethereum, but the incentive alignment and membership process (ie. hold MKR, engage in forum posts) comes from automated reaction to market behavior.

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