In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was formed in what many consider the world’s first initial public offering — allowing perfect strangers to share in stock ownership. Four centuries later, the joint-stock model — especially its incarnation as the modern business “corporation” — sets the pace for much of the economic world.
But, decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, could soon disrupt the joint-stock capitalized business model, much as the Dutch East India supplanted the limited partnerships of its day — or so some may say.
“DAOs are the new limited liability companies (LLCs),” says DAO investor Cooper Turley of these leaderless internet-native entities where key decisions are typically made by consensus. “In five years, companies won’t have equity anymore. They’ll have tokens and they’ll be represented as DAOs,” while high-profile investor Mark Cuban adds, “The future of corporations could be very different as DAOs take on legacy businesses.” Others see DAOs challenging venture capital firms in the race to fund Web3 projects.
“I think DAOs are already replacing traditional corporations,” Sam Miorelli, an attorney who has been active in a number of DAOs including Curve Finance, tells Magazine. “The promise of DAOs is the chance to return closer to the historical norm of project-first where smart people with good ideas can get funding and build a community around a project without first finding a legal budget.” These decentralized autonomous organizations have some unique characteristics. According to law professor Aaron Wright:
“DAOs are not run by boards or managers, but rather aim to be governed by democratic or highly participatory processes or algorithms.”
Indeed, they have been described as operations that “resemble an online chat room with a bank account,” given that “virtually anyone from anywhere with Internet access can join a DAO, participate in its governance and share its profits,” Florence Guillaume, a professor at the University of…