What are investment DAOs and how do they work?


What’s an funding DAO?

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that raises and invests capital into belongings on behalf of its neighborhood is an funding DAO. Funding DAOs faucet into the power of Web3 to democratize the funding course of and make it extra inclusive.

DAOs can have their units in tokens which are listed on a crypto trade. The neighborhood guidelines are agreed upon and governance is enforced via good contracts. Governance rights (voting) will be prorated primarily based on the holdings within the DAO.

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A decentralized group that invests in cryptocurrencies, actual property, nonfungible tokens (NFTs) or every other asset class has a number of practical variations from conventional funding automobiles. That is notably true when the underlying funding alternative is a crypto startup firm. DAOs investing in startups differ essentially from traditional venture capital (VC).

Earlier than elaborating on the variations between conventional VC and funding DAOs, allow us to perceive how conventional enterprise capital works.

What’s conventional VC?

A enterprise capital fund is based and managed by basic companions (GPs). GPs are liable for sourcing funding alternatives, performing due diligence and shutting investments in a portfolio firm.

Enterprise capital is a part of the capital pyramid and acts as a conduit that effectively sources capital from massive establishments like pension funds and endowments, and deploys that capital into portfolio corporations. These massive establishments, household workplaces and in some cases people who present capital to a VC fund are known as restricted companions (LPs).

The function of the GPs is to make sure they increase funds from LPs, supply high-quality startups, carry out detailed due diligence, get funding committee approvals and deploy capital efficiently. As startups develop and supply returns to VCs, the VCs cross on the returns to LPs.

Conventional enterprise capital has been a profitable mannequin that has catalyzed the expansion of the web, social media and most of the Web2 giants over the previous three many years. But, it’s not with out its frictions and it’s these that the Web3 mannequin guarantees to handle.

Challenges of conventional VC

As efficient because the VC mannequin has been, it nonetheless has its points. They aren’t very inclusive and decision-making is sort of centralized. VC can be thought-about a extremely illiquid asset class by institutional traders.


The VC mannequin just isn’t as inclusive because it could possibly be. Because of the quantity of capital concerned and the danger profile of the asset class, it’s usually solely viable for classy traders.

It’s essential to make sure that traders recognize the risk-return profile of their investments. Due to this fact, enterprise capital will not be the precise match for all retail traders. But, there are subsets of the retail investor neighborhood who’re refined sufficient for this asset class. But, it’s usually tough for even refined retail traders to be LPs in VC funds.

That is both as a result of confirmed GPs are sometimes arduous to succeed in for retail traders or as a result of the minimal funding into these funds is a number of million {dollars}.


If participation as an LP is unique, even funding selections are typically made by a small group of those that sit on the funding committee of the VC fund. Due to this fact, a lot of the funding selections are extremely centralized.

This usually generally is a limitation not solely to investing globally but in addition to with the ability to establish hyperlocal alternatives within the final mile of the world. A centralized staff can solely supply a lot by way of originations (of funding offers) and deployment capabilities internationally.


The opposite key subject with conventional VC is that it’s an illiquid asset class. Capital deployed into these funds is usually locked in for years. Solely when the VC fund has an exit, within the type of a portfolio firm being acquired or going public, do the LPs get to see some capital returned.

LPs nonetheless spend money on the enterprise capital asset class because the returns are typically superior to extra liquid belongings like bonds and publicly listed shares.

Allow us to now take a look at the Web3 various for enterprise capital — funding DAOs.

Benefits of funding DAOs

DAOs carry collectively Web3 ethos and the operational seamlessness of good contracts. Buyers that imagine in a selected funding thesis can come collectively and pool capital to kind a fund. Buyers can contribute in numerous sizes to the DAO relying on their danger urge for food and their governance (voting) rights are prorated primarily based on their contributions.

Associated: What are smart contracts in blockchain and how do they work?

How do funding DAOs deal with the shortcomings of conventional enterprise capital? Allow us to focus on the practical variations.

Inclusive entry

Funding DAOs enable accredited traders to contribute in all sizes. By advantage of their contributions, these traders are in a position to vote on key funding selections. Due to this fact, the processes of investing within the DAO and deciding on investments within the portfolio are each extra inclusive.

Deal sourcing will be decentralized, similar to governance. Think about operating a fund centered on know-how for espresso farmers internationally. Having neighborhood members from Nicaragua to Indonesia definitely helps in sourcing one of the best last-mile funding alternatives. This permits funding automobiles to be extra specialised, extra world and but extremely native.

As these DAOs will be tokenized and traders are in a position to make smaller contributions. This permits them to decide on amongst a basket of funds to which they’ll contribute and diversify their dangers. Additionally, DAOs are extra open to receiving investments from throughout the globe (with exceptions) than conventional enterprise capital.

Think about an accredited retail investor with $100,000 wanting publicity to subclusters of Web3 and crypto startups. The investor can discover an funding DAO centered on NFTs, decentralized finance, layer-1 cryptocurrencies and so forth, to unfold their funding throughout all these completely different DAOs.

Liquid investments

In conventional VC, LPs are usually not in a position to liquidate their positions within the fund earlier than the fund gives an exit. Tokenized funding DAOs deal with that subject. Funding DAOs can have a token that derives its worth from the underlying portfolio. At any time limit, traders that personal these tokens can promote them on a crypto trade.

In providing this performance, funding DAOs supply returns much like these of conventional VCs, albeit with a lesser liquidity danger. This makes them a greater funding automobile simply primarily based on the risk-return profile.

What’s the catch?

Each alternative has its dangers and vice versa; funding DAOs are not any exceptions. Regardless of their structural superiority to conventional VCs, there are nonetheless areas that stay unclear.

For example, as a result of nameless nature of crypto investments, it’s usually tough to establish the sophistication of the investor. This implies it’s tougher to guard traders from taking excessive dangers on a unstable asset. It is a area that regulators need to deal with by governing how a DAO markets itself to carry traders onboard.

There are additionally challenges in establishing a DAO the place the authorized language is programmatically set into good contracts. In conventional markets, these funding automobiles are sometimes handcrafted by massive authorized groups. To depend on good contracts to do this successfully poses a authorized and a technological danger.

Nonetheless, there are corporations like Doola that supply companies to bridge the authorized hole between Web3 and the true world. Here’s a desk that illustrates key variations between the 2 approaches.

Funding DAOs are nonetheless works in progress. But, the mannequin reveals promise. As soon as the authorized and regulatory dangers are ironed out, funding DAOs could possibly be the mannequin that conventional VCs embrace.