On the basis that when The New York Times reports something, it is – by virtue of appearing in the newspaper of record – a fact, we can officially claim 2022 as the year of the DAO. The decentralised autonomous organisation may be the least sexily titled tech trend of all time, but it’s creating a buzz. And at the heart of it is a very old-fashioned idea: the end of the leader.
A DAO is a group that comes together virtually to pool its fiscal and creative resources and achieve a particular aim. Its decisions are made collectively and any earnings are decided on the basis of both a division of labour and level of equity. All its transactions and decisions are intermediated, of course, by blockchain.
Some DAOs are channelling funds to Ukraine or purchasing NFT artworks. Members put money in, then take part in votes to choose where it is spent, how the “organisation” is structured and how to overcome collective challenges. At this level, it is just a more formalised type of crowdfunding, giving those who part with crypto cash a democratic mandate.