GrapeDAO: A Case Study
In the first three installments of our “Squads 101” series, we explored the importance of multisig wallets, the many features of Squads Protocol, and the innovative org structures that DAOs can utilize by organizing autonomous working groups within its community called “subDAOs.” In addition to discussing crypto concepts from a theoretical perspective, we should also study the early adopters and experimenters in our nascent industry to learn from those in the field. Today, we share our first “DAO design” case study on Grape Protocol, a decentralized social networking protocol, and DAO on Solana.
DAO Classifications 📝
Before we discuss GrapeDAO in particular, we should acknowledge a few DAO classifications. If you’re familiar at all with the DAO landscape, you are aware there are many different types of DAOs. There are protocol DAOs, social DAOs, service DAOs, NFT DAOs, media DAOS, public goods/charity DAOs, and so on. Let’s briefly define a few of these.
Protocol DAOs are protocols that are community-governed through the allocation of governance power to its users represented by the protocol’s native token. The method in which these tokens are distributed varies.
Investment DAOs are communities that come together with the goal of pooling collective capital and knowledge in order to profit. They usually issue their own token or NFT that represents voting power over investment decisions. Investments can be specific to a certain niche (ie: Solana NFTs and seed round investments) or spread around the entire crypto space.
Service DAOs are collectives that pool, distribute, and direct talent in web3. SuperteamDAO is a great example; they focus primarily on helping Solana projects and contributors from the ascending world (India, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, & Africa) find their place in the web3.
Social DAOs/NFT DAOs
We grouped these two together because they are both based on culture and exclusivity. These DAOs are where people band together to hang out online and IRL based on common interests, or a common JPEG. Usually, the more tight-knit the community is the higher the entry price is to join.
While classifying different categories of DAOs is useful for those looking to understand the space at a high level, as DAOs grow and evolve the lines between these classifications blur. A DeFi Protocol DAO may spin up an investment arm to manage its treasury — does that make it an investment DAO? An NFT DAO may establish a media team to spread awareness of its brand — does that make it a media DAO? Placing titles on DAOs can put them into unnecessary boxes. Grape Protocol, for example, is a DAO that can fit into any of the categories aforementioned.
Intro to Grape Protocol 🍇
As with most DAOs, Grape wears many hats. Grape’s first contribution to the Solana ecosystem was token-gated verification tooling for communities using Discord. Any community could use “Grape Access” to token gate its community using any SPL token, including NFTs and LP tokens. The tool is customizable, so communities can allocate members different roles based on how many tokens they hold, what tokens they hold, and also based on NFT attributes. Being the first tool of its kind on Solana, Grape unlocked a new design space for community building on the budding blockchain. Grape Access currently has over 800 communities onboarded and 370K verified users. By shipping a useful product, Grape not only helped other communities grow — it also attracted a community of its own. By organizing a thoroughly filled community calendar with fun activities like guided meditations, gaming competitions, AMA’s, and live streams, Grape differentiated itself from other communities on Solana and began building a distinct social culture. Of course in order to participate in the festivities, one needs to hold a minimum amount of $GRAPE, the protocol’s native token. The token also allows members to vote on governance decisions like how to spend the community treasury, amendments to $GRAPE tokenomics, and what the rewards should be for liquidity providers. $GRAPE is also used to pay out bounties that are assigned by the DAO. There are also membership tiers that come with different benefits.
Grape started as a centralized team that created token-verification tooling for communities on Solana. Since then, it has grown into a multi-layered decentralized organization with on-chain governance and numerous autonomous working groups that each work within their own respective field. Let’s investigate Grape’s governance process, the missions of its working groups, their membership requirements, and how subDAOs communicate with one another.
Grape Governance Process 🏛
Grape’s governance process is fairly straightforward. Anyone who is a Grape member can vote in on-chain votes. As seen in the graphic in the previous section, Gibbon is the lowest tier membership, then Great Ape, then Gorilla, and finally Neanderthal. In order to be a member of the Grape DAO, one must be a Gorilla and apply to the DAO. This is achieved by depositing and holding a minimum (inflationary) amount of $GRAPE tokens in Realms. This was changed recently in an on-chain proposal you can view here. After the proposal is passed, all Grape members are required to keep their $GRAPE deposited in Realms (as opposed to their wallet or a liquidity pool) in order to keep their membership role and monthly emission. The DAO requires the tokens to be held in Realms and not an individual wallet in order to encourage on-chain voting. By already having the tokens deposited into Realms, the voting process is smoother. Using the $GRAPE deposited in Realms, members can vote on any proposals that are posted.
Before decisions are brought forth as a proposal, they are discussed in the community forum here. Anyone can participate in discussions on the Grape forum, but only DAO members can take part in voting. Neanderthals, the highest Grape membership tier (who must hold $200K Grape), are the only group that can post on chain proposals without needing a prior discussion in the forum. After the issue has been thoroughly discussed by the community, it will get pushed through as a proposal on Realms. Provided the proposal reaches quorum (the minimum amount of $GRAPE necessary for a proposal to be deemed valid) the vote either passes or fails. The purpose of the quorum is to ensure that a sufficient population of the community deems the proposal worthy of a vote. The default duration for a proposal is one week, however; non-funding related proposals (proposals that do not require transacting crypto) can be expedited to three days.
Grape Org Design
In order to organize and coordinate talent within the community effectively, Grape has established skill and mission-based subDAOs. Each subDAO has the autonomy to establish its own governance system and multisig treasury, either on Squads or Realms. They are each responsible to submit on-chain proposals relevant to their mission, execute self-imposed tasks as well as assigned tasks from the DAO, communicate their roadmap and milestones to the community, organize subDAO-specific votes, and add/remove subDAO members based on contribution. When there are internal disputes, subDAOs refer to the community for mediation. In order to streamline communication, each subDAO self-elects a board of 2–5 members that represent the subDAO to the broader community. Each subDAO is expected to share weekly recaps of its actions and goals to the community to ensure accountability and transparency. In order to be eligible to join a subDAO, one must already have the “Great Ape” role. Each subDAO is merit-based, and the application process is fairly simple. Members go into the #grape-roles Discord Channel, select which role they’d like to apply for, and a ticket is automatically sent with the application details. Grape has six skill-based subDAOs.
Researches and invests in NFTs and NFT tooling on behalf of the Grape community. The NFT council has its own multisig vault (powered by Squads) funded by the main Grape treasury. In Squads, they vote on things like where they should allocate capital and who should be added or removed from the multisig.
Creates videos, articles, podcasts, and content of all kinds about Grape. Work requests are assigned by the DAO and paid out in $GRAPE.
Aims to be a hub of information and activity for GameFi on Solana. By lending and borrowing NFT assets required to participate in P2E economies, the gaming council has the potential to generate revenue for the DAO. It’s powered by a Squads multisig vault.
Help Grape improve upon its existing decentralized networking tooling suite. Provide technical solutions to the community. Contribute to open-source codebases on Solana.
Community Management subDAO
Obtain feedback from the community, provide support for community members, and organize the Grape events calendar.
A subDAO focused on identifying investment opportunities within the Solana ecosystem and sharing analysis with the community.
Dean’s List (Feedback subDAO)
A working group focused on providing in depth feedback reports to up and coming protocols on Solana in the form of bounties. Although technically separate from Grape, Dean’s List is primarily made up of GrapeDAO members. In order to purchase a feedback report from Dean’s list, you need to purchase their native token $DEAN.
To subDAO or Not to subDAO?
Grape has chosen the route of subDAOifying its organization to efficiently delegate tasks without the need for excessive overhead. By delegating specific missions to small working groups, day-to-day decisions are handled within each group and only large decisions are voted on by the DAO. As previously stated, each group is free to have a treasury and governance process separate from the main DAO, giving it freedom and agility to iterate quickly. A big problem for DAOs today is keeping the whole community informed on what’s going on across its different working groups, and Grape has appointed subDAO board members just for this purpose. We must remember that most DAO issues are human-oriented. If you have responsible and diligent members & leadership, many of your DAO problems can be solved. If you liked today’s article, be on the lookout for more DAO deep dives coming soon!
Thanks for reading!
The research was done in collaboration with C.A.V.I.C.O.N.