Kairon Earns a Living as a DAO Contributor
Kairon works full-time as a DAO contributor. In this podcast he talks about:
- How he gets work
- The upside of working at DAOs
- The red flags of a terrible DAO
Read the highly edited transcript below or listen to the podcast.
How long have you been a full-time DAO contributor?
Since June 2021.
Do you see yourself being a full-time for the next 2, 3 or 3 even 5 years?
Absolutely. It’s not very different from what I did as a freelancer for 10 years.
How much money can you make a DAO contributor?
It varies. There are some droughts and some floods. I learn to budget.
Some months I earned $10,000 and others I barely scratched the $1,000 mark.
Overall, about $100,000 per year?
What type of work do you do?
Content, primarily. That’s my area of expertise.
Sometimes I write an article and I’m done. Other times I could be building a marketing strategy for the upcoming quarter.
Recently, I handled all the communications for a single event. In a 3-week sprint I sent email, tweeted, talked with guests, etc.
How’d you get started?
During the pandemic I helped a bunch of tiny businesses survive remote work by using technology, but as soon as quarantine lifted, they backtracked to their old ways.
I felt like I wasted my life.
I decided to see where technology was evolving and look for a challenge there. That’s when I stumbled onto web3. I discovered interesting projects that used data properly. That and the core blockchain infrastructure were the perfect scenario.
Integrating into DAOs can be hard. What was your first experience like?
One of the first DAOs I joined was Jump, a community for marketers who are trying to figure out web3. That one had the best onboarding because it included a 1-on-1 conversation with the founder, Jeff Kaufman. We just chatted as two marketers. After that, we had this special little connection that, of course, he has with every other member.
It allowed him to say, “we’re thinking of doing content and need your help.”
One of my first contributions was building a content calendar for Jump.
How much were you paid?
I didn’t get paid for that one, but that’s not the point.
This industry is in its early stages, so it’s common to struggle to find little contributions that pay, but there are ways to negotiate. Like, maybe they don’t pay you out of the treasury, but they find a way to pay you later or reward your contribution with some other type of compensation, like building your portfolio or getting you paid gigs down the line.
That project was about learning to work in a DAO and building a reputation. I was starting by giving.
What were some of your challenges in the early days?
The biggest key to becoming a full-time contributor is trust. When you’re getting started, no one knows you. This is a space that’s rife with scammers, as well as ill-intentioned and extractive people.
You need a special kind of contribution or impact to get your name out there and earn trust.
Building trust & reputation
How’d you build trust?
I was hired to write articles for Rabbit Hole, which helps people navigate web3. Being associated with them, and Jump and Seed Club helped.
I remember being in Devcon, wearing my Rabbit Hole sweater. Hilariously, I noticed that people treated me differently. They approached me. They talked to me.
That kind of reputation, leveraging projects you worked on, makes all the difference. When you’re starting, you have to earn those stripes.
Do you think that we need badges or other cross-DAO reputation tools?
We’re not there are the moment, but I think we should first work on privacy.
Even though reputation would help you, you care about privacy more? Why? I gave your full name? There’s no secrecy about who you are.
My personal data, my name, the work I do, all of it can be public. But once you universalize that data and combine it with every possible DAO contributor or anyone who ever held a token, that data holds a lot of power.
An individual can share. But once it’s grouped, that’s when it becomes exploitative.
So you’re not thinking of yourself. You’re thinking bigger issue?
That kind of information can sway elections. Topple governments.
What’s good about DAOs?
Let’s talk about what’s good at DAOs. Do you have a concrete example?
Real collaboration, like at Radar. They wanted to find a trend to pursue. They decided to make an event out of finding it. Members who wanted to participate nominated themselves and were elected by the community. Those members spotted relevant links and messages and news stories. They tied them together into a narrative. From those narratives the community picked a single vision for the DAO to pursue.
They made an event out of it, celebrated it and gave both credit and responsibility to the community.
What are the problems?
What are the problems? The red flags you look for in DAOs?
The biggest one: tyrant leaders.
Everyone wants to build a DAO nowadays. Controlling founders build a community and get them to generate ideas, share thoughts, and explore paths. Then, their DAOs end up doing whatever the founder says.
I ask, “Why are you doing a DAO?”
If you want absolute control, you could always start a startup. These types of leaders are creating DAOs to source free labor. That’s a big problem. You shouldn’t toy with people’s time like that.
What other problems are there?
On the other end of the spectrum is analysis paralysis.
These DAOs have a lot of projects that set out to change the world. They have lots of ideas. And they never do anything. They never ship.
It takes courage to launch a project. Of course it does.
Unless you’re actually shipping something, you’re not doing anything.
One of the biggest benefits that web3 has is composability. You could grab data or grab an application layer or grab a smart contract from projects that already exist.
Find a way to start shipping.
It could be a Twitter Spaces, it could be a newsletter, it could be anything that you feel pushes your mission and takes those little steps. Because once you get the ball rolling it becomes a lot easier. But I've seen so many projects die at the ideation stage. They never do anything.
What other problems?
I feel lots of jobs at DAOs could be automated or not even done. They’re not necessary to the core function.
They give those jobs for the sake of giving someone a job and paying them an honorary amount, just to keep them going.
I feel that’s disrespectful of people’s time. They’re just reeling people along.
But if members of a DAO don’t have work, they’ll lose interest.
My counter-take is to ask, “Why not help these members spring their own project? Or sub-DAOs?” I feel it’s laziness.
Web3 is polyamorous. Members could be working on other projects, instead of doing busy work.
What other issues are there in DAOs?
The DAO popularity contest.
Say there’s a governance decision or election and they put it to a vote. Something I found is that the most popular person will often win.
Do you have an example?
I’ll give you an example from my experience.
I was in a Coordinape allocation group, which had to allocate payment to members. Then I moved on, but I was still in the group’s Discord.
After I left, I noticed they were chatting about allocating tokens for work. I read how they allocated some to me, even though I wasn’t there.
Because they recognized me.
Broke my heart.
It was a hassle to give the tokens back. I refunded the whole entire thing. I felt guilty.
Where can people read more about your experience in DAOs?
Aragon DAO talks with Origami about the recent attack on its treasury funding and what other DAOs can learn from it.
An open discussion with people building real estate DAOs
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