The Aragon Association in 2020

Aragon is a movement to fight for freedom. The vision is so ambitious that the possibilities are endless. We are pushing forward many fronts that are revolutionizing the way humans organize.

We are creating the world’s first working futarchy implementation, the world’s first digital jurisdiction, and we are decentralizing our own governance — all while trying to dissolve the entity that fosters the project.

If we want to be successful we must pick our battles.

To focus on everything is to focus on nothing. Not only that, but aiming for novelty in many initiatives compounds risk of failure.

We want Aragon to be successful. This past month, the Aragon Association team has been working on identifying the key issues that slow Aragon down on its path to success.

I’ve said that every startup needs three things: to start with good people, to make something users want, and not to spend too much money — Paul Graham

We are performing exceptionally great on the first. We have made great progress on the second, having relatively good numbers for a decentralized application. We are not doing well on the third, since we are deploying more capital than needed at this stage of the project.

The issue is that the last two can put in jeopardy the first one — spending more money creates more commitments since we enter the sunk cost fallacy. More commitments lead to lack of focus to make something people want, and not doing something people want demotivates the community.

This is a clear drawback of the token sale model — it is extremely easy to lose focus due to not worrying about funding. We are lucky to be in that position, but it shouldn’t blind us.

With this in mind, our guiding light for the foreseeable future is to talk to users and build things they want. This will be our north star. Everything that doesn’t relate to that main focus should be put on hold.

That doesn’t mean we will stop being ambitious — it just means we will be strategic about our ambitions. That means tackling one problem, understanding it well, and solving it — and only then moving onto the next one.

The Aragon Association exists to turn token sale contributions into the Aragon Network. We have built most of the items outlined in the Aragon whitepaper, and much more. The problem is, no one knows it. We need to talk to users to understand their problems and how Aragon can help. Feedback from users will guide our future funding and product decisions. This will create a solid foundation for the Aragon Network. Here’s the plan to get there:

  • Simplify governance to separate powers.
  • Talk to users.
  • Fund and support development teams.
  • Measure growth.
  • Keep talking to users.

Simplify governance to separate powers

The Aragon Association will use its treasury to fund development of the Aragon Network.

Independent contractors will receive funding from the Aragon Association to build infrastructure for the Aragon Network. While contractors will build the Aragon Network, they will not control it.

Aragon Network Token (ANT) holders will control the Aragon Network. They will approve upgrades to the Aragon Network‘s services and protocols. This will make the Aragon Network a truly decentralized autonomous organization governed by ANT holders.

Talk to users

What do developers, communities, and companies have in common? They build on each other. Building tools for developers allows developers to build things that communities and companies want. Engaging with communities increases the amount of people using Aragon. Solving the problems of companies will allow Aragon to fuel the next generation of global-first remote startups. All together this will create a healthy ecosystem of developers, users and customers.

People thrive in groups. The web brought us blogs. This allowed us to share ideas across boundaries. Web2 brought us social media. This allowed us to share and discuss ideas across boundaries. Web3 brings us DAOs. We can now share, discuss, and coordinate to take action on ideas. DAOnuts, the Aragon X Reddit integration, is just the tip of the iceberg. We are stepping into a brave new world where self-sovereign online communities will be able to govern themselves autonomously, creating and capturing value.

The “American dream” is that if anyone works hard and creates value, they can then capture value for themselves. Recently, Silicon Valley made that possible for lots of engineers with work visas. Now Aragon will make that dream possible for anyone anywhere. This requires making it easy to create an organization, raise capital, and manage that capital. The Aragon dream is a world where anyone anywhere can organize to create value in the world. Legally compliant Aragon DAOs will make this a reality for 1000x more people than Silicon Valley could ever touch.

If we are successful reaching these markets the Aragon Network will become an unstoppable force in the world. Developers will build things we cannot even dream of. Online communities will take action to put their money where their mouth is. The next wave of unicorns will be decentralized autonomous organizations.

Now that all sounds great, but talk is cheap. Talking in an echo chamber is even cheaper. We need to pop our own bubble. We need to get out of the building to talk to users. To do this the Aragon Association is going to manage communications and community infrastructure for the Aragon Network. This will allow us to share a consistent and clear message to all Aragon stakeholders. We will then be able to optimize user on-boarding and engagement. By creating a tight feedback loop between capital allocation, product development, and user feedback we will constantly validate and update our strategies.

Fund and support development teams

The Aragon Association exists to turn our current treasury into the Aragon Network. Our five person team can’t accomplish this alone. We need the help of amazing development teams to build out the core infrastructure of the Aragon Network. For that, we need to maintain aragonSDK and the Aragon client — tools that allow people to build, deploy, and use DAOs.

Not everyone, however, will interact directly with the Aragon client. Software is eating the world. Social media is eating society. Creating ways for communities to upgrade to Web3 will help us not just talk about things, but take action on those things together. Social media has already changed the way that billions of people communicate and coordinate today. This has led to Wikipedia, revolutions, and much more. For the most part we are still just working with text, images, and video. Imagine what people could do if they could also vote and move money right from their phones too.

People spend copious amount of time on social media. But people spend even more time at work. And work is becoming remote. Global teams need to create organizations, raise funds, and get things done. Legally compliant Aragon DAOs will make the dream of Silicon Valley real for the entire world, not just major markets.

We will also launch Aragon Court. This will allow DAOs to create and enforce machine and human readable contracts. The best of both worlds.

But wait! Aragon funded some products that never got real usage. Why would this time be different? This time, we will be taking a much more professional approach to due diligence. Before moving forward on any product we will perform an in-depth analysis on the problem, solution, market, user validation, and business model. Even with that, if products do not get validation from users or paying customers, they are out.

How do we know that development teams will actually follow through? We will check! The Aragon Association will have regular check-ins with teams to verify progress, gather user feedback, and help them ship. Teams that deliver and get traction will be supported. Teams that don’t will not.

Measure growth

Aragon’s token sale was the second biggest crowdfunding at the time — it validated that people want the Aragon Network: a digital jurisdiction where anyone anywhere can collaborate. We have spent the last few years building a foundation for that vision. But if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If a product solves a problem but no one knows about it, did it make a difference?

We need to get our products into people’s hands. As long as we are funding development of the Aragon Network we will talk to users: all day, every day. User feedback will guide our funding and product decisions. When we say “talk to users” we literally mean talking to users. On the phone or in person, we are going to have conversations with people. We need to understand their problems, the solutions they currently use, and how Aragon can help make things better.

Actions speak louder than words. The point of talking to users is to then build things they want. And how do we know if people are using the things we are building? We will track engagement across the Aragon Network and community.

We will also work to make on-boarding and engagement easier for Aragon users and community members. This will make the Aragon DAOs, apps, services, and the entire community more accessible for everyone. Together we stand, divided we fall.

Keep talking to users

The Aragon Association and Aragon Network have been doing too much. Moving forward we will focus on talking to users and building things they want. We will use our communication channels to talk to users and community members. We will optimize our capital allocation strategies to build things people want. We will maintain close relationships with contractors so that user feedback can inform product development. We will engage with users every step of the way, all the way. This will allow us to grow Aragon into an unstoppable decentralized network that can fight for freedom long into the future 🦅

Thanks for reading,
The Aragon Association team

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