First I’d like to thank @netrunner for initiating the discussion around setting up a focused Grants Program. I’ve taken the initiative to further iterate on the initial draft.
As previously stated, the goal of this CIP is to gain support from the CoWmunity in order to pass a vote allowing the creation of a Cow Protocol Grants Program (CGP), that could take the form of a GrantsDAO.
The mission of the grants program is to provide funding to help grow the Cow Protocol ecosystem.
The primary areas of growth for the CoW Protocol could be defined as:
To grow the CoWmunity as well as further propel the growth of active users of the protocol, strategic efforts need to be made to achieve this. Any team or individual with a promising initiative that can sustainably achieve this should be incentivized to contribute in any way possible.
User interface and User experience (UI/UX)
The improvement of the general user experience for CowSwap or other user facing products or interfaces which use the underlying CoW Protocol. User retention is as important as user growth. The DeFi landscape is very competitive and continuous efforts need to be made to provide and aim for a superior user experience for both new and existing users.
Any initiative or proposal that researches and solves for further decentralizing all relevant aspects of the protocol.
Becoming a solver on the protocol should be made as accessible and easy as possible. All initiatives that strive to achieve this goal should be eligible to receive a grant. Examples of initiatives: Providing the right toolset, data (end-points), create a DappNode package or otherwise.
Dev. Tools (SDK)
To foster the growth of other products/interfaces/protocols/DAOs integrating the CoW Protocol as the settlement layer, excellent development tools (SDK’s) and documentation needs to be further developed and continuously improved. The demand from notable 3rd parties to integrate is already there and this is a category where significant order settlement volume growth could be achieved.
Any other initiative brought forward through a grants application that doesn’t necessarily fit in any of the aforementioned categories, could still be considered beneficial for the CoW Protocol. It’s up to the grant committee to review such grant applications.
The GrantsDAO aims to fund the development of the core protocol as well as the ecosystem that surrounds it. The following topics are eligible for (longer-term) grant funding:
- Funding for core contributors working under the GrantsDAO.
- Individuals and teams who contribute to any of the aforementioned established grant categories by providing innovative solutions, tackling difficulties, or otherwise contributing to any of the aforementioned defined grant categories.
- General funding for activities tailored to the CoW Protocol ecosystem’s future needs.
The GrantsDAO should be managed and executed by a so-called ‘sub’ DAO (referred to as the GrantsDAO). The GrantsDAO would effectively be coordinated from a Gnosis Safe multisignature wallet. The controllers/signers of this Safe should be equal to the committee members.
Funding for the GrantsDAO is proposed to be sent to a multisignature wallet controlled by both CowDAO and the GrantsDAO, with a 1-of-2 signature threshold. While CowDAO is not envisioned to actively get involved with GrantsDAO proposals, this set up facilitates a replacement of the GrantsDAO’s committee members, if CowDAO redeems such action necessary (e.g. committee members have become inactive).
In order to receive and coordinate incoming grant applications a specific subdomain could be set up under grants.cow.fi (example). This webpage should inform the end-user about the general mission and process of the GrantsDAO,as well as allow community members to apply through a web form (Google Form, Airtable, Typeform). The committee members are responsible for properly handling any incoming requests. This shall be a transparent process.
The goal of the GrantsDAO is to empower the community to tackle and solve any existing (complex) challenges for the CoW Protocol and to attract the right talent with aligned interests. I think @netrunner has proposed a sensible suggestion in terms of how many committee members there should be. Here an iteration on that proposal:
- At least a minimum of 6 committee members shall be assigned
- Of which 3 are facilitated by Cow Services LDA and 3 are active community members.
- 4 out of 6 signing threshold for the GrantDAO’s owned Gnosis Safe (multi signature wallet).
- The Gnosis Safe with the allocated grant funds is controlled by the CowDAO and the GrantsDAO. This Safe shall have a signing threshold of 1 out-of 2 where both DAOs are a signer.
- The GrantsDAO can be overruled at any time by an emergency proposal from the CowDAO (e.g. inactivity of 1 or more committee members). Which can result in revoking the GrantsDAO as the signer of the Gnosis Safe with the allocated grant funds.
- Each committee member has an assignment term of 6 months after which the program is up for review again by the CowDAO. This limits the CowDAO’s engagement to twice yearly.
Responsibilities for committee members:
- Weekly review of grant applications (not to exceed two weeks).
- Provide a monthly report on grant requests, approvals, rejections and communicate this with the CoWmunity.
- Define RFPs (request for proposals) and challenges, co-ordinated from within the community and bring them to the attention of the rest of the community (potential grant applicants) as a whole.
- Manage and review grant payment requests
As a committee member you will have to spend a certain amount of time in this 6 month period, to fulfill these responsibilities. Therefore a stipend should be paid out for these efforts. The initial proposal is to allocate 1500 COW tokens per month for each member. Core team (Cow Services LDA) and core contributors will not receive a stipend. The community should discuss the proposed stipend amount in the comments below and needs to approve the actual amount in phase II of this proposal.
For any type of approved grants, contributing to the mentioned grant categories, funding will be required. Also core contributors would receive funding from the GrantsDAO instead of Cow Services LDA.
In terms of immediate funding needs, the initial request would be to grant a monthly on-going stipend for core contributors during this phase (6 months).
The proposed budget by @netrunner of:
- $100K (of $COW) per Month
Seems sufficient to cover for immediate funding needs, including the funding of adding one or more core contributors and paying out the stipends for the committee members within the grant period. Instead of defining a grant period as 12 months, I would suggest shortening this to 6 months. In the next phase (after 6 months) the funding program shall be reviewed again.
To note: funding should come from the non-KYC’ed funds raised by the investments in the CoW Protocol. This allows for KYC’ed funds to remain available for Cow Services LDA.
The committee is expected to perform proper management of the grant funds. The funds do not need to be spent in full within the 6 months period. Any unspent allocated grant funds within the 6 month period shall be kept in the GrantsDAO as a buffer unless decided otherwise by the CowDAO.
Payments and accounting tools
Payments of approved grants and on-going funding of core contributors, shall happen from the Gnosis Safe, controlled by the CowDAO and the GrantsDAO.
In terms of managing payments and general accounting of paid out grants, a tool could be picked to facilitate this. Tools that could be considered:
- Request.network - for receiving and paying invoices from approved grant applications
- Sablier.finance - to stream payments during the 6 months
- CSV Airdrop app (Gnosis Safe) - To manually send payments
An approved grant recipient could send an invoice or payment request to the GrantsDAO. The GrantsDAO should then review/approve and perform the payouts. Grant recipients could be paid out in COW token or any other ERC-20 token that can be swapped through Cowswap.exchange with sufficient liquidity (less than -3% price impact). This should be decided in phase II of this proposal.
To note: The GrantsDAO has no legal character and thus any invoice (or simply ‘payment request’) shall be addressed to the GrantsDAO’s public Ethereum address or ENS name.
As for the specification brought forward by @netrunner, I agree on his points on how to further execute this CIP and to have the CoWmunity create a separate CIP to select the actual committee thereafter.
Summary of call to action points to discuss, prior to phase (II) of this proposal:
- Who will be part of the grant committee? Define the 6 committee members. Any interested community member shall write a short application in the thread of this forum post, laying out their motivation and prior engagements, as well as the address they would like to use as their signing wallet (ideally connected to ENS).
- Define the allocated stipend (in COW token) for each committee member for the defined responsibilities for the 6 month period.
- Define and prepare the snapshot execution parameters to set up the GrantsDAO Gnosis Safe with the grant committee ownership structure and the Gnosis Safe (which will hold grant funds) with the 2 DAOs being the signers.
- Define the mechanism of grant payouts: Streaming (e.g. Sablier) or manual (scheduled and / or CSV airdrop) payments.
- Define what tokens shall be allowed to pay out the grants.
- Define which core contributors will start to work under the GrantsDAO
- Specify the allocated stipend (in COW token) for the coming 6 month period for each eligible committee member.