[SC] - Getting University Blockchain Groups Involved in Governance

Idea: Let’s create a program to select student-led University Blockchain Groups and empower them to participate in API3 Governance.

Motivation: To build an academic-focused program to inspire, advance, and evangelize the API3 Airnode and API3’s oracle solution around college campuses worldwide.

Our Ask: We are requesting feedback from the API3 Community. We are open to structuring this idea in a way that makes the most sense for the API3 DAO. See summary below.

Summary:
BlockVenture would request a 100K tokens 1-year loan to manage a University Governance Initiative on behalf of API3 for DAO governance. The purpose of this program is to select and empower university blockchain groups to participate in API3 governance. BlockVenture would serve as the administrator of this program and would use this loan to accomplish the mission that would be entrusted to these university blockchain groups by API3.

BlockVenture is a research-driven alliance of funds and university blockchain groups that specializes in helping crypto startups go-to market. BlockVenture is an official business partner of API3.

Abstract:
The aim of the University Governance Initiative would be to select university blockchain group delegates that would bring real value to the API3 project and to provide participation from delegates outside the core team.

The objectives of the blockchain groups selected for governance would be to contribute to:

  1. Transparency
  2. Decentralization
  3. Innovation
  4. Efficient Use of Resources
  5. Responsible Risk-Taking

Specification:

  1. API3 would issue a 100K tokens loan to BlockVenture, for a 1-year term.
  2. BlockVenture would allocate an initial 1K tokens to each university group selected. Throughout the year, BlockVenture would increase this allocation by up to 10X per group to those delegations excelling in governance; and would decrease it to as low as 0 to those groups not fulfilling their commitment as API DAO delegates.
  3. BlockVenture would conduct a quarterly review with all blockchain groups selected for DAO governance and would make token allocation decisions within one week after the quarterly review.
  4. BlockVenture would make decisions strictly following the best interest of the API3 project and its stated mission and values.
  5. BlockVenture would repay the loan at the conclusion of the 1-year program using the tokens that were originally delegated to the selected university blockchain groups.

Benefits:
University blockchain groups are aligned in values and principles with API3 governance and these groups do not have a short-term profit motive. On the contrary, students are looking to participate and contribute to the success of a high profile crypto project in order to gain valuable experience prior to entering the highly competitive crypto job market. For this reason, university blockchain groups are highly incentivized to participate in all governance initiatives and only vote for those proposals that are of long term added-value to the API3 DAO.

We are open to structuring this idea in a way that makes the most sense for the API3 Let us know what you think!

5 Likes

The Thinkathon 1.0 would be a good way to discern which University groups are interested and active. Some have posted on this forum seeking delegation to empty addresses and without any follow up here or elsewhere, so 100,000 API3 tokens seems a bit steep without any proven activity or interest.

However, there is a large amount of dormant API3 tokens, and structuring as a loan is very attractive (understanding BlockVenture will presumably pocket the staking rewards following the year lock period). I am generally in support of the idea, but wary of how much activity will actually come from this and if there is a voting centralization force to consider. If there are specific target recipients, details would be beneficial.

2 Likes

I support this initiative for several reasons.

  1. We’re actively trying to engage universities (that’s why we work with BlockVenture in the first place) and this seems like a good way to do it.
  2. As @rAPI3r mentioned, we have dormant API3 tokens that could be working for us right now.
  3. BlockVenture has demonstrated a willingness to work hard and follow through in the time I’ve been working with them.

While I appreciate the explicit commitment to repay the loan, my hope is that if this proposal passes then it goes well and we don’t want them to return the tokens but instead to keep the program running.

As for the staking rewards, I think they should should remain in the fund so the program can grow. I don’t think BlockVenture meant to pocket them. Can you clarify @ArielBlockVenture?

1 Like

Thank you for your feedback @rAPI3r ! The staking rewards will remain in the API3 DAO. BlockVenture will not keep any staking rewards. Our main goal is to get student-led university blockchain groups involved in governance in a manner that brings real value to the AP3 project. We welcome all your suggestions to structure this idea accordingly.

Thank you for your feedback @ryan! That is correct. The staking rewards will remain in the API3 DAO. BlockVenture will not keep any staking rewards.

The staking rewards would automatically go in BlockVenture’s wallet where you hold the staked API3, so if it goes well the first year that’s a natural way this fund can grow year by year.

I do like this idea but I’d like to see more detail on the rubric being used for evaluation. This endeavor would likely include Block Venture’s involvement more heavily than anyone else and making the rest of the DAO’s involvement and oversight something that’s easy to participate in is my main call out on this.

Specifically, for items 3, 4:

  1. BlockVenture would conduct a quarterly review with all blockchain groups selected for DAO governance and would make token allocation decisions within one week after the quarterly review.
    - Do you have ideas on specifically what criteria would be evaluated? Seems like more structure on this would be good. The concern is whether simply asking the rest of the DAO about this may not be as effective if everyone is not scrutinizing these activities to the extent BlockVenture would be.
  2. BlockVenture would make decisions strictly following the best interest of the API3 project and its stated mission and values.
    - Can you break down specifically what this would look like (i.e. a rubric of evaluation).

Thank you for your feedback @LikeTheJar! We plan to create a set of criteria in line with the Bylaws of the API3 foundation that university delegations will have to meet for their role in DAO governance. The metrics we plan to develop for a formal proposal will be transparent and measurable in order to give these delegations accountability to the DAO.

However, we also want to make sure that any criteria developed do not take away from the ethos of decentralization and autonomy that governance delegates will need to have in order to vote with confidence and be of added-value to API3.

For example, here is a set of criteria that we might use as the rubric in a formal proposal and we think it would be practical for this purpose.

  1. Each year by October 1st, the University Blockchain Group President must appoint a delegation consisting of two student representatives (one lead and one secretary) to serve on API3’s DAO Governance for a 1-year term. This appointment should be sent via email to BlockVenture.

  2. Each year by October 15th, the appointees must read the Bylaws of the API3 Foundation and schedule a video call with BlockVenture to confirm their understanding of their role in DAO governance. The appointees will need to agree to these bylaws and protect the Bylaws in their role as DAO delegates.

  3. Attend at least 80% of official governance meetings online and the secretary must keep an attendance log for the university delegation records.

  4. Participate in at least 80% of official governance votes in a timely manner and the secretary must keep a participation log for their university delegation records.

  5. Each quarter by the end of the last month, conduct a quarterly meeting with BlockVenture to review delegation records and to earn any quarterly token delegation available.

2 Likes

I do agree with @rAPI3r that participation in the Thinkathon would be a good first step to gauge how engaged these delegates will be in the DAO. I also think that the downside to being given a loan is negligible as Blockventure has been proactive (even if the individual universities haven’t beyond making their initial delegation proposals) and I trust Ryan’s opinion on them. I should however state that the staking rewards that have been earned from this should also be returned to the treasury, and this would be a good way for the tokens to used in a beneficial manner to the DAO
Undecided, leaning in favour

3 Likes

Two main risks I see:

  1. 100k API3 gets lost somehow
  2. Gas costs prevent individual groups from participating

The ideal solution would be that we send the tokens to a contract. The contract stakes/unstakes+withdraws tokens on a DAO vote. A multisig is (only) authorized to have that contract cast votes. BlockVenture distributes the ownership of that multisig. It casts a single, majority vote per proposal (instead of each group casting their own independent vote).

I don’t have the time to build that contract but I can review it if someone else does.

1 Like

I definitely agree it would be better to do it in a contract. But I’m not sure how hard that would be having never written one before. @ArielBlockVenture what are your thoughts on creating a contract for this?

Coming in a little late on this one.

Personally i have liked to support student activities, just a way to pay back for the support my groups received during those years.

If i could request for your perspectives on a few points

  • It will be a nice exposure for the students, to a leading DAO. However, what benefits should API3 look for, as it is mainly B2B. I do see one potential benefit, that of adding another POV to the discussions.

  • The API3 team has devised a good process for delegating. Why not use that to start with. Even the community can delegate, need not come only from the treasury

  • 1 to 10K tokens per university may not give them significant voting share (My assumption is that their primary motivation would be to contribute to governance, as they do not have any other stake in the game unlike token holders or the team)

Thank you for feedback! We will include your recommendation in our final proposal to ensure that the staking rewards earned are returned to the treasury. @Midhav, let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you lean more towards in favor.

Thank you for your feedback! We will make sure to address your recommendations in our final proposal.

Re: not losing the tokens, BlockVenture uses best industry practices for custody including the following: 1) non-custodial, hardware wallets, 2) offline storage of keys, 3) Google 2FA, etc. We will do everything in our power to ensure safe keeping of the token loan

Re: gas costs, we will follow your recommendation to cast a single majority vote for all universities.

Re: smart contract, we don’t have devs to write this contract. But we could launch this program in two iterations.

Iteration 1 would be off-chain, we would follow all the rules you suggested without a smart contract. The tokens could be custodied by API3’s Marketing Team or by BlockVenture, whichever is more convenient for API3. And BlockVenture would open source the rubric used to manage the university delegations in Google Sheets. Anyone in the community can reference the sheet to see the weight of student votes, and how they’re voting at any time.

Iteration 2 would be to migrate the program into a smart contract and we could aim to do this for the following school year in fall 2022. The benefit here would be that we would use the learnings from Iteration 1 to build a better program (and possibly implement it via smart contracts) for iteration 2.

@bbenligiray, if we draft the proposal in this manner, will this address your concerns?

If there won’t be a smart contract/multisig of trusted people, some real world entity should formally agree to cover potential losses. I would just have an existing team multisig stake the tokens and delegate the voting power to you, which would not require you to take any responsibility with custody (the team would be responsible).

The API3 team has devised a good process for delegating. Why not use that to start with. Even the community can delegate, need not come only from the treasury

This is a good point

That would work well but I was under the impression the DAO doesn’t support multisigs. If it does then I’m happy to use api3m.eth or set up a new one so the marketing team holds them in a fund and delegates voting to BlockVenture.

I missed burak’s older response here and I should add that I think taking into consideration his point and @Ashish’s should give us the most satisfying solution.
It’d go like this IMO:

  1. BlockVenture lists out the universities that need to be delegated to
  2. BV provides the list of addresses owned by each of them
  3. A team of trusted individuals chosen from within the existing teams creates a multi-sig for each of them
  4. The team creates a proposal on behalf of BV to borrow X tokens from the treasury into a wallet, from which the tokens are redistributed in equal proportions to each of the multi-sigs (IMO each university should be given enough to be able to pass a proposal on their own)
  5. The multi-sigs then stake the tokens into the governance contract and delegate them to each of the provided addresses

Not sure if a multi-sig can easily interact with the DAO, and as for the gas costs for setting up the addresses, staking its tokens and then delegating them - the proposal can ask for a reasonable amount of USDC that could be converted to ETH by the first address and then distributed to the other wallets
The primary reason I am in favour of this proposal is because it ensures that at least a portion of the treasury’s tokens are not diluted, which is also why I’d like to increase the amount being asked for

You can use the Contract Interaction option from Gnosis Safe, it looks up the contract interface from Etherscan and allows you to choose what function you want to call and with which parameters. I think it’s also possible to use WalletConnect + Gnosis Safe and use the DAO dashboard but that was a bit janky the last time I used it. Then you do three transactions: approve, depositAndStake, delegateVotingPower.

1 Like

If we can use a Gnosis Safe then that seems like the obvious solution. We can set up a safe that requires 2 sigs so that BV can manage it but it requires confirmation from another team member to execute txns.

If we can do it this way I’m not sure why we wouldn’t have BV on the multisig. They are already a grant recipient on the marketing team. The 2 sig requirement would ensure at least one other team member is OK with the transaction.

Although I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as we can delegate to them.

@Midhav @bbenligiray @Ashish @LikeTheJar @rAPI3r @ryan: Thank you all for your feedback! We incorporated all your ideas and here is the updated proposal. Let us know what you think. The next step would be for the marketing team to post this as an official proposal.

Summary: BlockVenture proposes a University Governance Initiative to get university blockchain groups involved in API3’s DAO governance. The purpose of this program is to empower university blockchain groups to participate in API3 governance.

The API3 DAO will lend 1M API3 tokens to a Gnosis multisig managed by the API3 marketing team and BlockVenture. A maximum grant of 100K API3 tokens will be delegated to each university. BlockVenture will select the university blockchain groups and will serve as the administrator of this program on behalf of the API3 Marketing team; however, delegation will need approval from both the BlockVenture and API3 signers. Note: the purpose of the 1M token amount is to give each university group the ability to pass a proposal on their own. BlockVenture will cap the program at 10 university blockchain groups.

Abstract: The aim of the University Governance Initiative is to select university blockchain group delegates that will bring real value to the API3 project and to provide participation from delegates outside the core team.

The objectives of the blockchain groups selected for governance are to contribute to:

  1. Transparency
  2. Decentralization
  3. Innovation
  4. Efficient Use of Resources
  5. Responsible Risk-Taking

This program will be administered by BlockVenture, a research-driven alliance of funds and university blockchain groups that specializes in helping crypto startups go-to market. BlockVenture is an official business development partner of API3.

Motivation: The API3 University Governance Initiative is an academic focused program to inspire, advance, and evangelize the API3 Airnode and API3’s blockchain oracle solution.

Specification:

  1. BlockVenture will select up to ten university blockchain groups for delegation for a one year term and will provide a list of addresses owned by each group.
  2. API3’s Marketing Team will create one multisig wallet to manage the program.
  3. API3’s Marketing Team will borrow sufficient tokens from the treasury into a wallet, from which the tokens will be distributed in equal proportion to each university group.
  4. The multisig will then stake the tokens into the governance contract and will delegate them to each of the provided addresses.
  5. BlockVenture will create a rubric and will conduct quarterly reviews to ensure each university group fulfills their commitment as governance delegates as stated in the rubric.
  6. API3’s Marketing Team will reimburse university groups for gas fees resulting from participation in governance.
  7. BlockVenture can remove a university group that is not meeting the rubric requirements at any time. This rubric is included below and will be open-sourced by BlockVenture to the API3 Community.

Rubric:

  1. Each year by January 1st, the University Blockchain Group President must appoint a delegation consisting of two student representatives (one lead and one secretary) to serve on API3’s DAO Governance for a 1-year term. This appointment should be sent via email to BlockVenture.
  2. Each year by January 31st, the appointees must read the Bylaws of the API3 Foundation and schedule a video call with BlockVenture to confirm their understanding of their role in DAO governance. The appointees will need to agree to these bylaws and protect the Bylaws in their role as DAO delegates.
  3. Attend at least 80% of official governance meetings online and the secretary must keep an attendance log for the university delegation records.
  4. Participate in at least 80% of official governance votes in a timely manner and the secretary must keep a participation log for their university delegation records.
  5. Each quarter by the end of the last month, conduct a quarterly meeting with BlockVenture to review their delegation records.

Benefits: University blockchain groups are aligned in values and principles with API3 governance and these groups do not have a short-term profit motive. On the contrary, students are looking to participate and contribute to the success of a high profile crypto project in order to gain valuable experience prior to entering the highly competitive crypto job market. For this reason, university blockchain groups are highly incentivized to participate in all governance initiatives and only vote for those proposals that are of long term added-value to the API3 DAO.

Let us know if you have any final comments. Thanks!