HomeCryptocurrencyDecentralised Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) Explained

Decentralised Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) Explained


The world of blockchain and decentralised technology has witnessed a remarkable evolution, with one concept in particular gaining significant traction and sparking widespread curiosity: Decentralised Autonomous Organisations, often referred to as DAOs. As we embark on this exploration of DAOs, we will delve into what they are, how they function, and why they are considered a transformative force in the blockchain ecosystem and beyond.

What Are DAOs?

At its core, a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, or DAO, is a groundbreaking organisational structure that operates on the principles of decentralisation and automation. Unlike traditional centralised organisations governed by a hierarchy of individuals, DAOs are, in essence, smart contracts running on a blockchain. These contracts encode a set of rules and protocols, enabling them to execute tasks, make decisions, and manage resources autonomously, without the need for intermediaries.

How Do DAOs Work?

The functioning of DAOs is primarily driven by smart contracts, which are intelligently programmed agreements that govern decision-making based on the activities occurring on a blockchain. To illustrate, these smart contracts can execute various actions such as increasing the circulating supply, burning a specific quantity of reserve tokens, or rewarding existing token holders, all contingent on the outcomes of decisions.

The process of voting in DAOs is recorded on a blockchain, requiring users to make choices between mutually-exclusive options. The weight of one’s voting power is often determined by the number of tokens they possess. For instance, a user holding 100 DAO tokens wields twice the voting influence as someone with 50 tokens.

The rationale behind this approach is to incentivize users with a greater financial stake in the DAO to act in a trustworthy manner. Consider a user who possesses 25% of the total voting power; while they could potentially engage in misconduct, doing so would jeopardise the value of their 25% ownership.

DAOs frequently maintain treasuries containing tokens that can be exchanged for fiat currency. Members of the DAO can participate in voting to determine how these funds should be utilised. For example, certain DAOs, with the goal of acquiring rare NFTs, might vote on whether to allocate treasury funds in exchange for these digital assets.

Benefits of DAOs

There are numerous motivations for entities or collective groups of individuals to adopt a DAO framework. Some of the advantages associated with this mode of governance encompass:

Decentralisation: Instead of relying on a single individual (such as a CEO) or a small group (like a Board of Directors), DAOs distribute decision-making authority across a significantly broader user base. This ensures that decisions affecting the organisation are collectively determined by a multitude of participants, reducing the concentration of power.

Participation: Participants within an entity gain a heightened sense of empowerment and connection when they possess the ability to directly influence and vote on all matters. While individual votes may not carry overwhelming weight, a DAO encourages token holders to actively engage in the decision-making process by casting votes, burning tokens, or utilising their tokens in ways they deem beneficial for the organisation.

Transparency: In a DAO, voting processes are conducted via blockchain technology, rendering them publicly accessible. This transparency compels users to make decisions they believe are in the organisation’s best interest, as their votes and choices are visible to all. This fosters a climate that promotes actions enhancing individuals’ reputations and discourages behaviours that are detrimental to the community.

Community: The concept of a DAO fosters a global community where people from diverse backgrounds can seamlessly collaborate to realise a shared vision. With nothing more than an internet connection, token holders can interact with fellow owners, regardless of their geographical locations.

Challenges and Concerns of DOAs

However, DAOs are not without their flaws. Several limitations are associated with the DAO structure:

Slow Decision-Making: In contrast to a traditional public company led by a CEO, where a single vote can swiftly determine the course of action, DAOs require all users to participate in the decision-making process. This results in a considerably longer voting period, particularly when considering factors like time zones and individuals’ other commitments outside of the DAO.

Educational Hurdles: Similar to the issue of speed, DAOs face the challenge of educating a larger and more diverse group of participants about pending activities. Unlike a CEO who can manage company developments more easily, tokenholders in a DAO may have varying levels of knowledge, understanding of initiatives, incentives, or access to necessary resources. Thus, DAOs must invest significant effort in fostering a cohesive understanding and communication among their diverse members.

Inefficiency: Building on the previous points, DAOs are susceptible to inefficiency. The time required for voter education, initiative communication, strategy explanation, and member onboarding can lead to excessive discussions without sufficient progress. DAOs may become entangled in trivial administrative tasks due to the need to coordinate a larger number of individuals.

Security Concerns: Security is a fundamental issue for all digital platforms involving blockchain resources, and DAOs are no exception. Implementing a DAO demands substantial technical expertise, as any shortcomings in this regard can lead to invalid votes or flawed decision-making processes. If users can’t trust the DAO’s structure, it may erode confidence, leading to user departures. Even with safeguards like multi-signature or cold wallets, DAOs remain susceptible to exploitation, theft of treasury reserves, and emptying of vaults.

Examples of DAOs

Certainly! Here are examples of successful DAOs and their specific use cases and accomplishments


Use Case: The DAO was one of the earliest and most famous decentralised autonomous organisations. It aimed to create a venture capital fund for blockchain projects through crowdfunding.

Accomplishments: The DAO raised over $150 million in Ether during its crowdfunding phase. However, it faced a critical security exploit that led to a contentious hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain, resulting in the creation of Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). While The DAO itself faced challenges and ultimately dissolved, it played a pivotal role in shaping the conversation around DAOs and smart contract security.


Use Case: MakerDAO operates as a decentralised lending platform, allowing users to generate DAI stablecoins by locking up collateral in the form of cryptocurrencies.

Accomplishments: MakerDAO’s DAI stablecoin has become a cornerstone of the DeFi (Decentralised Finance) ecosystem, providing a stable and trustless cryptocurrency that has seen widespread adoption. MakerDAO’s decentralised governance model has enabled it to adapt and evolve its protocols over time, maintaining stability and reliability.


Use Case: Aragon is a DAO framework and platform that facilitates the creation and management of decentralised organisations. It offers tools for governance, token management, and decision-making.

Accomplishments: Aragon has empowered numerous organisations and projects to establish decentralised governance structures. It’s been used by a variety of entities, from small community groups to blockchain projects and startups, to manage decision-making, funds, and resource allocation in a transparent and decentralised manner.


Use Case: DAOstack is a platform for building and managing decentralised organisations and networks. It provides tools for governance, proposal creation, and voting.

Accomplishments: DAOstack has been utilised in various projects and communities to create decentralised decision-making processes. It enables participants to propose and vote on actions, allocate resources, and collectively shape the direction of the organisation or network. It has been used in initiatives ranging from blockchain governance to community-driven projects.


Use Case: MolochDAO is designed to support Ethereum ecosystem development by funding Ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) and projects.

Accomplishments: MolochDAO has successfully funded several critical Ethereum improvement proposals and projects, contributing to the ongoing development and improvement of the Ethereum blockchain. It has demonstrated the potential for decentralised funding mechanisms to support public blockchain infrastructure.

 The Future of DAOs

The future of DAOs promises exciting developments in decentralised governance and collaboration. Emerging trends suggest that DAOs will become more sophisticated, interoperable, and inclusive. We can expect increased integration with real-world assets, enabling DAOs to participate in traditional finance and manage physical assets through tokenization. Additionally, improved user interfaces and governance structures will make DAOs more accessible to a broader audience. Furthermore, the rise of cross-chain and cross-protocol DAOs will foster greater cooperation and coordination across diverse blockchain ecosystems, facilitating complex multi-DAO interactions. 

As blockchain technology matures, DAOs are poised to play a pivotal role in reshaping traditional organisations, governance structures, and even government functions, promoting transparency, decentralisation, and community-driven decision-making.

In this evolving landscape, potential areas of growth include decentralised identity solutions to enhance DAO member verification and privacy, the expansion of decentralised finance (DeFi) DAOs into new financial products and services, and the emergence of DAOs focused on addressing global challenges such as climate change, healthcare, and education. 

As regulations around blockchain and DAOs continue to develop, compliance and legal frameworks will also become crucial factors in their evolution. Ultimately, DAOs are on a trajectory to become integral components of the future digital economy, offering innovative solutions for collective decision-making, resource allocation, and governance on a global scale.

How to Get Involved

  1. Learn about DAOs: Understand what a DAO is and how it operates

A DAO is a blockchain-based organisation that operates without a centralised authority. It relies on smart contracts to automate decision-making processes and execute actions based on predefined rules. DAO members typically use tokens to vote on proposals and influence the organisation’s direction. DAOs aim to create a decentralised and democratic structure where decisions are made collectively by token holders.

  1. Choose a DAO: Select a DAO that aligns with your interests

Research various DAOs to find one that aligns with your values, goals, and interests. Consider factors like the DAO’s mission, community, and governance model

  1. Get DAO Tokens: Acquire tokens associated with the chosen DAO

To participate in a DAO, you’ll need to acquire its native tokens, usually through cryptocurrency exchanges. These tokens represent your ownership and voting power within the organisation.

  1. Set Up a Wallet: Create a compatible cryptocurrency wallet

Choose a secure wallet that supports the native tokens of the DAO you’re interested in. Popular options include Metamask, Trust Wallet, and hardware wallets like Ledger or Trezor.

  1. Join the DAO: Become a member by meeting its requirements

Most DAOs have specific requirements for membership, such as holding a minimum number of tokens. Follow the instructions provided by the DAO to become a member.

  1. Participate in Governance: Vote on proposals and influence decisions

Once you’re a member, you can participate in the governance of the DAO. DAOs often use a token-weighted voting system, where your voting power is determined by the number of tokens you hold. Review and vote on proposals submitted by the community, which may include budget allocation, project funding, or changes to the organisation’s rules.

  1. Stay Informed: Keep up with DAO activities and discussions

Stay engaged with the DAO’s community by participating in discussions on forums, social media, or chat channels. Being informed about ongoing activities is crucial for making informed decisions.

  1. Contribute: Offer your skills to help the DAO succeed

Many DAOs encourage active participation and contributions from members. If you have skills or expertise that can benefit the DAO, consider getting involved in its projects or initiatives.

  1. Exercise Caution: Be aware of risks and invest wisely

While DAOs offer exciting opportunities, they also come with risks. Prices of native tokens can be volatile, and smart contracts may have vulnerabilities. Invest only what you can afford to lose and do thorough research.

  1. Follow Legal and Tax Rules: Ensure compliance with regulations in your area

Depending on your location, participating in DAOs may have legal and tax implications. Consult with legal and tax professionals to ensure you’re compliant with local regulations.


Decentralised Autonomous Organizations, or DAOs, represent a revolutionary shift in the way we think about governance, decision-making, and collective action. These blockchain-based entities are opening up new frontiers in transparency, security, and inclusivity, making it possible for anyone with an internet connection to have a say in the organisations and projects they care about. However, it’s essential to approach DAOs with a blend of enthusiasm and caution. While they offer exciting opportunities for participation and innovation, they also come with risks, including smart contract vulnerabilities and regulatory challenges.

Akash G Varadaraj