Humanity DAO Post Mortem

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with HumanityDAO. I’m writing this using publicly available information. If the are are some mistakes or I’ve missed something - let me know.

HumanityDAO was launched as a way to build a native identity infrastructure on top of Ethereum

Identity infrastructure sounds both obvious and yet it’s weird that nobody did it yet in proper decentralised way.

Below is the reasoning from the original Aragon white paper.

Identity: This is the very first pillar since we need to establish each entity's identity before operating with them.

Ownership: Shares are a way to reward founders, investors, advisors, partners and employees and can determine the ownership and direction of the company.

Voting: The company's shareholders should be able to have a word over its actions. We will directly link this to ownership.

Capital: Since a venture can be risky and may need to acquire certain goods in order to operate or grow, capital in the form of investment/loans is needed.

People: In the end, it's human beings who build the organizations. Easy ways to on-board them (identity) and reward them (payroll) are needed.

Outreach: A company needs to target their audience in order for them to buy the company's product. In the Internet era, having a domain name is enough.

Payment processor: Organizations need to be paid. There needs to exist a way for them to capture payments easily.

Accounting: In order to manage expenses, burn rate and make business decisions, there is a need to maintain book-keeping.

Insurance: A company is usually risky and may need to buy insurance in case something unexpected goes wrong.

Some of these create this dependency graph, which ends up being circular:

Identity: No dependencies

Ownership: Depends on identity since you need to make sure you're interacting with the right entity

Voting: Depends on ownership since ownership implies control Capital: Depends on voting since implies issuing shares
People: Depends on capital since you need it to hire people

My point of view here: It’s not true that identity has no dependencies, it may be true from purely technical point of view but it isn’t true from business perspective: people need some strong value proposition to sign up for yet another service.

Facebook did it brilliantly: you provide your real name because that’s allows your friends and your network to recognise you - Facebook with semi anonymous identities won’t be working as well.

16 Jul 2018 Introducing Marble:

A smart contract can execute any arbitrary code after borrowing as long as the funds are returned to the bank within the scope of the same transaction.

9 May 2019 Introducing Humanity DAO - by Rich McAteer

Why the project was launched

Humanity was built as a side project in six weeks as part of a larger lending protocol at Marble. The lending protocol required a trustless price oracle, DAO, peer-to-peer lending protocol, and insurance pool. This is the DAO component.

In order to stress test the system, we thought why not take a moonshot attempt to solve Sybil-resistant identity? We had this idea in the summer of 2018 and built a proof-of-concept at ETH SF that didn’t receive too much attention or win any prizes. But it always stayed in the back of our minds as something that might make sense.

  • Documentation

On technical level HumanityDAO is just the token curated registry that:

- requires initial purchase of HumanityDAO tokens to apply

- there is voting over new members

- people that got into are getting $1/month “UBI“

- smart contract gives API with simple function: isHuman(address) returning true if human is in the registry

  • The Results

HumanityDAO was growing with very fast relative rates - getting 100+ new members per day but once the initial niche was filled then there was very little further growth.

Apparently system is actually resistant towards spammers but it isn’t able to survive with people just not using it.

DeFi telegram group is about 4k people. Whole DeFi is maybe ~40k users ( rough estimate )

For comparison DAI token holders and supply: Coinbase promotion of DeFi / MKR resulted in people being financially incentivised to open small CDP and create and use some DAI. Bitcoin ecosystem measured in # of users is definitely larger than ETH right now.

Source for both charts:

  • Analysis