[Request for Comment] Introducing SuperRare Grants Round 1

1. Background

Hello everyone, my name is Brennan Mulligan and I am the new DAO Program Manager at SuperRare Labs. Many of you may already know me from the Meta-Gov & Chill chats and DAO Town Halls in discord, but if you’d like to hear more about me and my background, please jump in to the #dao-chat channel or either of the discord events described above and ask away. For the purposes of this post, just know that I’ve been hired by SuperRare Labs to establish more accountability, structure, and meaningful opportunities for participation within the DAO. This boils down to continuing SuperRare’s mission of progressive decentralization and ensuring each of you, as DAO members, have an advocate working to create more open and equitable systems to govern the platform we all love.

My first major initiative is establishing a grants program for SR DAO, based on the SIP | Can the Devs do Something Rare?, which was introduced in April of this year. In fulfilling this mandate, I have tried to take a novel approach that emphasizes agility and quick learning early on, but facilitates increasing decentralization and community participation over time. Posted below is a proposal for the program’s governance processes that I brought before the DAO council last Thursday.

We are now in a review period, ending on December 1st, during which the proposal remains open to feedback from the Community and Council. When the feedback period ends the council will vote pursuant to SIP | Can the Devs do Something Rare? to establish the grants committee and launch GR1 based on a final, formal proposal, drafted based on feedback gathered during this period. Even though this is ultimately being decided at the council level, I feel it is very important to keep the community informed and create the opportunity for public comment.

2. Purpose

Currently we have limited data on the demand for this grants program and what kinds of projects community members are interested in. My intention for GR1 is to establish a minimum viable process that balances efficiency and rapid learning with transparency and accountability. I am to introduce a governance framework which works as a fairly centralized process for GR1, while being capable of further decentralization and community participation over time. In particular, I hope to build a talent pipeline for the DAO by transitioning program participants from applicants to grantees, from grantees to champions, and from champions to committee members over the course of several grant rounds. If successful, this could serve as a model for community participation and promotion in other areas of the DAO.

I should also note that the rest of this post is written as if the matter were settled. That is because it is an easier way to convey complex ideas. This is a request for comment, as such we are seeking community input prior to bringing a final proposal before the council.

3. Summary

For this first grants round, 500k will be allocated to a 3 of 4 multi-sig controlled by the grants committee, which shall be composed of three SRL employees and 1 representative from the community.

There will be 4 categories available for application in GR1: Platform & Protocol, Artware & Algorithms, Community & Education, and Data & Analytics. Applications will be reviewed in a 4-stage process: Screening & Optimization, Formal Evaluation, Committee Vote, and Milestone Review. A dedicated champion will be assigned to each grant, assisting the applicant in optimizing their proposal and acting as the intermediary for committee communications. To ensure that no grant gets left behind, by default this will be the committee chair, but other committee members or 3rd party SMEs may be nominated as needed.

Once the committee has all the information it needs to make a decision, committee members and champions will write formal opinions as to whether the application should be accepted or rejected. Three votes in favor of approval along with a minimum number of assenting opinions, depending on grant amount, are required for a grant to be approved. Once approved, an initial payout will be sent to the applicant, with the remaining grant amount contingent on milestone completion, as judged by the committee.

4. Expected Timeline

Please note, these dates are illustrative. Finalized dates will be announced along with all of the broader program information on December 15th

  • Thurs Dec 1: Council vote on finalized proposal for GR1
  • Thurs Dec 15: Grants Program details publicly released (though applications remain closed)
  • January 2023: Applications open, to be reviewed on a rolling basis, closing at the end of the month.
  • February 2023: Conclude any remaining application reviews, GR1 Retrospective released, and GR2 proposal brought to the council for feedback.

5. Committee Budget

Can the Devs Do Something (RARE)? earmarked 5,000,000 $RARE to establish a grants program, 10% of which will be made available during GR1. The GR1 budget will be deposited into a multi-sig controlled by the grants committee. The committee will be responsible for determining how the budget will be split between USDC and $RARE, in consultation with the council and SMEs from SuperRare Labs.

5.1 Payouts

The exact payout structure will be determined on a case by case basis, based on the needs of the applicant and the committee’s remaining budget, at the committee’s discretion. Generally, an initial payout will be released upon grant approval, with the remainder being released later contingent on milestone completion. An example is provided below, with a split of 80% USDC and 20% $RARE, where 50% of the total amount is issued as USDC up front, and 30% USDC plus 20% $RARE is issued once the grant is completed.

6. Committee Composition & Multi-Sig

6.1 Committee Composition

The GR1 committee will be composed of a small group of trusted individuals responsible both for releasing grants and making proposals for how the committee’s processes can be improved and decentralized further in future rounds. The committee has a mandate to create more opportunities for meaningful community participation in future rounds and eventually decentralizing the program, making unilateral control by SuperRare Labs impossible. The committee chair is responsible for running the committee meetings, maintaining grants program documentation, and interfacing with the DAO council. The proposed GR1 roster is as follows:

  • Brennan Mulligan (Committee Chair, DAO Program Manager @ SRL)
  • Rohit Kapoor (Product Manager, Spaces @ SRL)
  • Zachary Kolodny (Senior Protocol Engineer @ SRL)
  • Chikai Ohazama (Founder of MONOLITH Gallery, Developer of the new SpaceRace platform)

6.2 Multi-sig Settings

The grants committee will control a multi-sig from which grants will be issued, subject to committee vote. Multi-sig transactions may be executed with 3 out of 4 signatures.

6.3 Grant Champions

  1. Each grant will be assigned a single point of contact, called a “champion” who is responsible for conducting interviews, assisting the applicant in optimizing their proposal, acting as the intermediary for committee communications, and submitting a formal opinion to the committee as to whether the grant should be approved or rejected.
  2. To ensure that no grants are left behind, the committee chair will serve as the default champion, though other committee members or external SMEs can be nominated as needed on a case by case basis.

7. Application Process

  1. Applicants read about the grants program via the “Grants Hub”, a series of notion pages under the DAO Hub containing instructions and process documentation.
  2. Applicants submit applications through a form, which will populate new entries in a notion database visible to the DAO council and the grants committee.
  3. The DAO Council will be granted view access to the database or individual applications if requested.
  4. For each application, the point of contact email will be granted view access to the corresponding notion page.
  5. There will be four categories open to applications in GR1:
  • Platform & Protocol
  • Artware & Algorithms
  • Community & Education
  • Data & Analytics
  1. Questions on the application form will be released on December 15th, per Section 4.

8. Review Process

8.1 Phase 1: Screening & Optimization

In this phase, spammy applications are rejected, champions gather additional information about the grant from the applicant, and committee members sponsor grants for formal evaluation.

8.1.1 Spam Screening

Clearly spammy or irrelevant applications may be rejected by the chair following notice to the committee and no-objection vote. Applicants rejected in this way will receive notice of the decision and a description of why it was made.

8.1.2 Champion Nomination

Champions are nominated by the committee to take ownership of a grant and ensure that it moves through the process efficiently and equitably. See 6.3 Grant Champions for specifics on a champion’s roles and responsibilities.

  1. The committee chair will be the default champion on new grant applications.
  2. Committee members may nominate themselves, other committee members, or external SMEs to champion a grant, subject to a vote of no objection from the other committee members.
  3. Following nomination, external champions will be given view & edit access to relevant application(s) in Notion by the chair or the nominating committee member.
  4. Champions should be expected to maintain active engagement with their assigned applicants, convey the committee’s questions and feedback in a timely manner, and provide regular updates about the grant’s progress to the committee.

8.1.3 Application Sponsorship

At any point, a committee member may sponsor an application causing it to proceed to Formal Evaluation following a no-objection vote of the committee members and the champion assigned to the application.

8.2 Phase 2: Formal Evaluation

In this phase, committee members and the grant champion are tasked with writing and sharing opinions stating whether the grant should be approved or rejected. These formal opinions will provide transparency into the committee’s rationale and serve as the primary method for Council and applicant oversight. They also serve to develop precedents and best practices for grant review, which builds context for future committee members while making the system more capture resistant.

  1. Committee members and champions will write formal opinions as templated sub-pages created under the notion page for each grant.
  • Questions asked in the opinion template will be publicly released on December 15th, along with the application form itself and broader program documentation.
  • So long as they are able, the champion of a grant will be required to submit an opinion during formal evaluation.
  1. Opinion titles should be formatted as “[Grant ID] - [Approve/Reject] - [Author Name]”.
  2. If a conflict of interest is present, the opinion author must declare it in the opinion.

8.3 Phase 3: Committee Vote

  1. After 7 days of formal evaluation or at the discretion of the chair, a vote of the committee members can be called.
  2. To approve a grant, 3 of the 4 committee members must vote in favor of approval.
  3. Following the vote, there must be more opinions in agreement with the committee’s decision than the thresholds shown in the table below.
  • Opinions with a conflict of interest declared by the author or detected by the committee may still be submitted during formal evaluation for the purpose of providing context, but will not count towards the opinions required for approval threshold.
  1. If the threshold of opinions is not met, committee members will be compelled to generate them within 2 business days.
  2. Following a vote in favor of approval with the required number of opinions, funds should not be transferred from the committee multi-sig until the applicant has returned a signed grant agreement.
Grant Amount Opinions Req’d for Approval Opinions Req’d for Rejection
< $5k 1 “approve” opinion 1 “reject” opinion
$5k - $10k 2 “approve” opinions 1 “reject” opinion
> $10k 3 “approve” opinions 1 “reject” opinion

8.4 Phase 4: Milestone Review

  1. Champions should remain available to grantees (i.e. successful applicants) during the duration of the grant for support in interpreting and executing against the success criteria defined in the initial application and grant agreement.
  2. Once the grantee completes the project or a project milestone, they may request payout for that milestone by contacting their champion or the grants committee.
  3. The committee will respond in a timely manner by requesting information from the grantee based on success criteria outlined in their application and the grant agreement.
  4. Once the requested information is provided, the committee will proceed with a three-phase review process mirroring that used in Phase 1 through Phase 3, described above.

9. Conclusion & Open Questions

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Good governance is rigorous and takes time. As such I think it is worth creating the space for transparency into the governing processes for this committee, and providing the opportunity for meaningful feedback and participation. I am particularly interested in the community’s thoughts on the model I proposed in the beginning around the transition of applicants to grantees, grantees to champions, and champions to committee members. I acknowledge that this first iteration of the committee is not as decentralized as one might hope, but hopefully this plan for how the program will evolve over time sheds light on why this is needed, and most importantly, that it is temporary. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns. See you around!

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Hey @Brennan, welcome aboard and first of all, thanks for the detailed proposal!

I agree that the process will likely evolve and decentralise down the line, but this seems like a decent first stab at something that will hopefully tap into the vast resources this community has, and unlock a lot of value for SR.

My main question is if you can provide some clarification around the four categories you’ve proposed. Some of it is kind of obvious, some of it less so. Was wondering if you had any more specifics / examples in mind for each? Or perhaps the idea is to leave it open ended, for now.

Finally, wondering if there is any way to gage applicants interest before the applications formally open in January. There could be some pre-registration form etc. This could provide a way to involve future applicants in the process of setting this up a bit earlier on, and make sure the program is crafted to their needs.

Looking forward to watch this roll out and helping to support in any way possible!

4 Likes

Hi Brennan, congrats on the first elaborations of what is to come.
This approach is an excellent fit for a bottum approach to get the Dao severals steps ahead and to grow organically.
Superrare is a powerful and strong brand in the nft crypto space and can only get better through this way.
I would love to help and have plenty of ideas to get started.
-For example, would a weekly serie of interviews with Superrare artists fit within the scheme of things?
-Or working out a collecting approach where every week/month we invite a Superrare artist to do a collab and and Superrare buys the work/gives it away as prizes/donates it for an auction for charity.
-Or organising a competition among collectors where they highlight their favourite artist
Are these topics under the Community & Education theme?

@mgoes, you hit the nail on the head here. At least at this stage, I want to leave things broad. One of our primary goals with this round is to listen to and learn about the ambient energy in the community around the program and what sort of projects that bubble up.

I can say that in the town hall today there was some interesting discussion around the following, which would fall under the community & education categories:

  • Mentorship program for artists
  • Mentorship program for space race applicants / existing space operators
  • AMAs / Interviews / Content that promotes and tells the story of SuperRare artists

@b123 this ties in a bit with the possibilities that you raise here:

As another example, open source tooling for spaces or collectors would be a great candidate for either platform & protocol or data & analytics, depending on the project.

The most nebulous category is artware and algorithms, and ultimately this one is less specific to SuperRare. We wanted to include a category which represents broader benefit to the crypto-art ecosystem as a whole through innovation in the way art gets made. This could be related to generative art, such as an innovative process for generation and curation as seen in Botto DAO, or some other tool, process, or initiative which pushes the boundaries of what is possible in crypto art.

That said, across all four categories there is one common question (this is illustrative and does not fully represent the actual review criteria or application questions):
Does this provide substantial value to the SuperRare community and, as an extension, the Crypto-Art ecosystem as a whole?

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