This week, Gitcoin co-founder Kevin Owocki gave a presentation at CoinFund’s monthly Rabbithole Talks on open source sustainability efforts. Therein, he surveyed a series of development funding possibilities whose profiles have surged in the Ethereum community over the last month as builders have grappled with finding the best funding paths forward.
It’s an increasingly pertinent topic. The vast majority of the projects in the cryptoeconomy are open-source ventures or directly rely on open-source software, and Ethereum’s nook is no exception.
The nature of open-source undertakings are uniquely suited for the cryptocurrency space, indeed, as the release of free and modifiable software is a powerful driver and facilitator of decentralization.
However, a major downside of open source is that it can lead to the so-called “tragedy of the commons” — resources becoming overtapped without sustainable replenishment, to the detriment of everyone in a given community.
As concerns about this dynamic have recently started to reach a fever pitch around Ethereum, a few funding avenues have started to rapidly gain attention among its proponents.
A Few Options on the Table for Funding Ethereum
In his talk for crypto investment and research firm CoinFund, Owocki highlighted a few possibilities for sustainable open-source Ethereum development that are on the rise, namely MolochDAO, microdonations, block issuance funding, Gitcoin, and CodeFund.
Be sure to check out CoinFund Analyst @devinawalsh's live tweets as a recap from last night's Rabbithole Talks with Kevin Owocki (@owocki), @GetGitcoin #blockchainnyc #blockchain #ethereum https://t.co/Pg9OLS3fCy
— CoinFund (@coinfund_io) March 27, 2019
First off, MolochDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) centered around coordinating members’ ether (ETH) and skills to help pay for worthwhile projects in the Ethereum arena.
Launched last month by SpankChain maestro Ameen Soleimani, the DAO’s membership and buzz has steadily been growing. 100 ether is the minimum tribute to join for now, and once in, users can submit and vote on relevant funding proposals.
Any member can submit a funding proposal. @ameensol submitted the 1st proposal to support @kyokan_io for their efforts on The State of ETH 2.0. Members will have 1 week to vote, simple majority no quorum.
— 👹 Moloch (@MolochDAO) March 14, 2019
Of course, MolochDAO’s limited scope means it won’t be a catch-all for the entirety of Ethereum’s funding needs, so other alternatives are being simultaneously explored. A microdonation system is one such possibility that Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin first floated earlier this month.
In an associated tweet thread, Buterin waxed on the idea of Ethereum wallets instituting a 1 gwei gas fee per user transaction, with the resulting raised sum — as much as $2 million USD a year, he estimated — then being able to be diverted to paying for development ventures.
At the cost of only increasing average user gas costs by ~7%, it would raise up to $2m/year in sustainable non-institutionally-biased market-based funding for client/wallet developers.
— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) March 8, 2019
A more controversial funding notion that has gained considerable attention this month has been block issuance funding, or diverting a slice of every Ethereum block reward (currently 2 ether per block) toward a fund for ETH developers.
One such notable block issuance proposal put forward this month is the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1789, which was co-authored by Kevin Owocki. If eventually passed, this proposal would increase the Ethereum block reward by 10 percent and thereafter give 20 percent of the resulting issuance rewards to Ethereum “ecosystem stewardship.”
Other Ethereum stakeholders like Eric Conner and Evan Van Ness have proposed alternative block issuance schemes in recent days. Conner’s system would see 0.2 ETH from every block going to Ethereum Foundation (EF) Grants, whereas Van Ness’s model would see 0.1 ETH going to the EF.
Gitcoin and CodeFund Options, Too
Zooming out from recent proposals, Owocki’s older Gitcoin is characterized as a decentralized Patreon: Ethereum proponents can use the platform to submit funding donations or get paid for working on the Ethereum projects of their choice.
Like MolochDAO, Gitcoin likely won’t become a catch-all for the whole range of Ethereum’s funding demands, but it’s at the vanguard of tackling the issue of open source sustainability in Ethereum and is accordingly gaining significant community support.
CodeFund, an open-source project under the umbrella of the ConsenSys venture studio, is another related funding avenue. It hosts non-invasive and relevant ads in order to accrue funds for developers.
Whether Ethereum will go full steam ahead on an “all of the above” approach remains to be seen. But what is clear is that the blockchain’s stakeholders are collectively considering development sustainability more than ever as they keep their eyes on the horizon.