Squads: On-chain Collaboration and Voting • A deep-dive
Infrastructure for Web3 native teams
A cool human once said “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together with Squads on chain”
Well, now that we have jumped into this show, let's just dive deeper into this!
In this deep-dive we will discuss Squads: a powerful infrastructure for Web3 native teams, Its features, Organizations in Web3 terms, more about DAOs 📦 and how can you get started using Squads to make your Squad in this Collaborative ownership network🌐 .
Squads is a collaborative infrastructure for web3 native teams that allows them to organize, make decisions and manage digital assets together. Whether you are building a startup, contributing to a protocol, or just looking to switch to multiplayer mode and invest together, Squads provides the right tools to make this experience collaborative, frictionless, and intuitive💡.
> Imagine your team participating in a hackathon. You put up a Squad and vote on discussion proposals regarding project direction and decisions, work hard, and then manage to secure VC funding. → VCs fund directly into the Vault where you can securely store digital assets and distribute them to employees, contributors, and contractors.
The team needs SOL for testing and you swap it directly from the Vault by passing a proposal. The team decides to allocate some of it to staking (to secure the Solana network of course!), another few clicks in the Vault, proposal is passed, and your SOL is staked (cue the rewards). How cool is that! that’s what Squads brings to the table (on-chain! also holds true).
Every product is an outcome of the team that worked on it day in and out. They are the foundational pillars of building that, the stronger the fundamentals and understandings the better. So now to make our basics strong and to the point so that we know where we are headed, let us go deeper into understanding the dynamics of a team in a web3 context, how DAOs are taking over the ecosystem and of course the focus of this essay, Squads!
I’ll make sure to make this simple, covering basic backgrounds, to the point and making this a one-stop solution to learn all about Squads✅.
Ready? Here you go 🚀
Prehistory of Organizations and Web-identity
The internet has an identity crisis
The internet platforms of the 2000s made their first debut on making social platforms. They made new types and forms of connection in an open web. It gave rise to another form of Identity and Individuality that represents ourselves. With time it dampened the imagination of a pseudonymous web. Then came monopolies like Facebook enforcing a real-name policy, which insists individual users register with their legal identities.
Whether you think of the enforcement of legal identities, platform lock-in, or more implicit social norms, the logic of individualized identity was baked into web 2.0. With the rise of web 3.0, we have a chance to do things differently. Ultimately, web 3.0 identity will revolve around questions of privacy, permissionlessness, and ownership.
A written report that did impact the political ideology of the early internet was Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks (TIMN) by David Ronfeldt. The TIMN report created a narrative of societal evolution in which humans have progressed through four distinct organizational forms:
While new organizational forms evolve over time, foregoing organizational forms “grow within their scope of activity, even though that scope is newly restricted”,(source)
Ultimately, according to this what the narrative of self-sovereign identity misses, is that identity is always inherently relational, defined in relation to the environment, authority, and self. Essentially, these projects allow subjects to signal they sufficiently trust another in the context of the application, producing a network of identities linked by varying degrees of connections.
Large and complex organizations are built from small and simple ones. Projects, protocols, DAOs companies, and movements all originate from a team of individuals on a mission to build, create or effect change. Judging by the current web3 tooling landscape, you can either be an individual or you can be a DAO, but there is no web3 native organizational structure that allows managing groups at the team level. Web3 native teams need the right infrastructure to flourish and achieve their goals.
Communities and DAOs
Again going back to the past, we are in the year of 1996. John Perry Barlow is about to say, “The internet consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself”
The most apparent identification of the newest organizational form is networks.
A key distinguishing feature between networks and the organizational forms foregoing them is that networks are described as multi-organizational, emphasizing collaboration between “small, scattered, and autonomous” groups over larger distances around the globe. These groups do not necessarily share a distinct organizational unity. “While the development of the institutional and market forms of an organization led to an emphasis on competitive advantages, development of the multi-organizational network form may shift the emphasis to cooperative advantages” (source)
With the report’s final emphasis on civil society’s three letter acronyms for organizations, NGOs, NPOs, and PVOs, a future one is naturally missing: DAOs.
DAOs taking over the world
A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is a group organized around a mission that coordinates through a shared set of rules enforced on a blockchain.
DAOs typically are more globally accessible and are sharing a similar mission might need to compete for members and are incentivized to be as transparent as possible. One of the main benefits of a DAO is that they are more transparent than traditional companies since all actions and funding in the DAO are viewable by anyone.
As we know Publicly traded companies must provide independently audited financial statements, but shareholders get to see thenumbers at a snapshot in time. Whereas a DAO’s balance sheet exists on a public blockchain, it is completely transparent at all times, down to every single transaction.
Though this might seem so much innovative and better in terms of design, the first to implement perhaps is the most notorious DAO so far was The DAO which was launched in April 2016 as a decentralized venture capital fund. Where Members contributed ETH and received DAO tokens in return that could be used for voting on which projects the funds should be allocated to. It raised $150 million in ETH and was hacked with $60 million stolen🤯🤯.
But now things are changing rapidly and have evolved so much with many DAOs with good use cases coming up to change and strengthen this decentralized economy
Patrick Rawson argues that, for DAOs, “distributing ownership to squad like entities with more specialized objectives is the key long-term problem to solve” in order to enable meaningful work. These “squad-like entities” are smaller teams with trust and relationships, perhaps not unlike the gaming guilds, which most often execute on value-aligned missions with DAOs.
But how do things come together in this type of design of putting these things to work?
Crypto projects themselves can be considered DAOs if they are managed by decentralized governance where token holders can vote on the direction of the project or various parameter settings, rather than solely determined by a centralized team. For example, token holders of MakerDAO building a decentralized stablecoin are able to govern the system and vote on parameters such as fees charged, Curve DAO building an automated market maker (AMM) that generates fees and provides revenue sharing for token holders that lock their tokens. Other DAOs like Moloch DAO , FlamingoDAO, and blockchains like Tezos and Decred have also had this type of system in place for rewarding contributors for their work and going on a mission together.
DAOs, as we will see, also introduce new dimensions that exceed what the operating principles of a digital cooperative normally surround with. In certain cases this may feel apt, but as some DAOs evolve toward maintaining basic infrastructure, such inequality becomes clearly undesirable. In part, this is because not all stakeholders have the purchasing power representative of their stake, and their practical knowledge may be excluded from governance. This should be solved by shifting the culture toward more decision-making mechanisms that decouple economic interest from governance rights.
Multi-signature Accounts and Composable Identity
Put in more traditional terms, multi-signature accounts can be explained as a form of joint bank account. Anyone who has set up a joint bank account for an international company may be aware, rather than several months or more.
Beyond such issues, if we become more imaginative, with a reinvigorated diaspora of tools in our hands for thinking through identity. One of these tools is multi-signature accounts, which are accounts that can provide identity collections for individuals, groups, or organizations. such accounts take less than 60 seconds to create, and they are borderless. Yet multi-signature accounts offer far greater customizability than joint bank accounts.
Embracing more than the normative individual as a fundamental unit of account, such a paradigm could better serve the creation of resilient, accountable, and mutualistic institutions leading into the twenty-first century.
They are accounts that can manage funds, display digital collectibles, and interact with applications. As their name suggests, they have multiple keys as owners, and they can require multiple key signatures to confirm a transaction. Keys can be other wallet accounts. While typically described as requiring M out of n signatures, this means a multi-signature wallet can be configured to require a custom amount of confirmations for each transaction, like 2 out of 3 signatures, 6 out of 10 signatures, or even, like a typical private key-based wallet, 1 out of 1 signature.
At their core, multi-signature accounts enable composable identity on web 3.0. When we approach identity as an inventory holding multiple contexts, we can easily navigate the highly varied use cases of a peer-to-peer web, and reimagine what we are. By reevaluating identity in our technical systems, we can also fundamentally remap agency in the political sphere to come.
our accounts of the future may look more like inventories, less like identities.
If these things seem too good to be true and require significant adoption to get started ! Let me tell you that, we are still at a early stage of a trajectory and it still has some potential issues which is constantly worked upon on.
Some current issues
Though these DAOs are powerful ways to organize, we are still very early on this and have some potential issues
Now and for the coming time ,the most immediate challenges that these communities are facing is- trying to figure out Governance! How to manage collective decision-making to optimize operations and funds. Some nuances of this are
- Collective asset ownership and management: DAO treasuries and balance sheets should function like decentralized corporations with considerations of assets and liabilities, liquidity, income, and where to allocate financial resources.
It becomes important for communities to manage their capital much like a company, because corporate governance best practices lend themselves well to DAOs, with the added difficulty of less privacy (:p).
- Risk management for assets: Generally balance sheet of a DAO is made up of risky assets, managing a DAO’s currency exposure to ensure that future operations can be funded becomes increasingly important. so the DAOs need good treasury management.
- Asset curation: For most of the time, the DAO governance token is utilized for voting on adding or removing assets. As many such DAOs use their governance token as an implicit or explicit insurance fund to pay back lenders should an adverse event occur, it is crucial for such DAOs to be careful which assets they admit and how the parameters for those assets are chosen.
And the elephant 🐘 in the room, Governance tools 🔰!!
It’s a complex and never-ending topic, some of the smartest folks are still trying to figure out effective governance strategies and voting mechanisms. The tools take the first steps to solve this.
The goal of such tools and services is to allow for communities to scale to larger and more diverse populations. As protocols become increasingly complex and intertwined due to smart-contract composability, governance becomes incrementally more difficult for each new member.
-Tools that can allow all members to understand what they are voting on without needing to understand underlying technical intricacies.
-Tools than can allow collaboration. to make proposals and take collective decisions on-chain.
-Tools that can help decentralized teams to contribute, build cool things together!
Uff🤯! those were some heavy stuff and complex issues and to make those lighter, simpler, and efficient here we have Squads protocol taking collaboration to the next step.
Squads: revolutionizing DAOs
With Squads, you can create web3 native organizations on Solana to not only make decisions but manage value as a collective. And the interesting things here is your Squad is codified on-chain, no one can take that away from you (of course, unless the Squad votes to kick you out, or you lose access to your wallet)
Squads are the ultimate framework and infrastructure for collective ownership of digital assets, along with that for asset management, collective missions, and making a trustless joint network all at once.
Let’s go one by one about what you can do with Squads⚡, and then how you can put up a squad and start collaborating with your team on chain⛓️.
Key features ⚡
- 🤝 Collaboration
Contribute together, Ape together, Ship together that’s the vibe we are getting into. DAOs on Solana can use Squads to implement committee structures, working groups, and subDAOs as part of their organizational design in order to make their governance processes more robust, efficient and foster a sense of ownership for stakeholders that can position a DAO for healthy growth.
Squads are resilient vehicles since they are capable of supporting teams at various stages of project development.
As more DAOs move towards decentralization. under the direct control of DAO token holders, there is and can be a misalignment of incentives and which prevents DAO scaling in the long run since it requires high level of token holder participation in order to operate. And Squads can help in bridge this gap and bring member participation to life and on-chain.
2. 👥 Multi-signature:
When you choose to create a squad a multi-sig wallet will be created for your squad, which will be controlled by governance which allows for flexible allocation of the voting power.
You can create 2 types of squads:
- Teams: It is codified on-chain membership, tokenless, member-weighted on-chain voting. Which works on proposals
- Multi-sig: simple multi-signature wallet to manage team assets by requiring multiple signatures to confirm a transaction. It works on confirming transactions on a Multisig.
Also, one advantage with this is that decision points can now be managed on-chain allowing you to vote on them together with your team (solving record-keeping, transparency, and validating the legitimacy of a team’s decision-making, all at once).
3. 📦 Diversify team assets:
No more funds in individual wallets, with Squads, multi-sigs the funds are now in treasury of your DAO on squad’s secure treasuries audited by Neodyme.
Squads protocol partnering with other protocols to gives users, the access to swap tokens seamlessly through the squads interface. So users will be able to swap assets deposited into the Vault by passing a proposal (Teams) or confirming a transaction (Multisig).
4. 🛡️ Vault
Each Squad has a built-in Vault where you can deposit/send tokens and NFTs as well as diversify them (at the moment you can initiate a swap directly from the interface with available integrations (also more and more platforms are getting integrated with squads).
But the point to remember is that Squads are illiquid, there are no tokens airdropped to any wallets upon creation. The Squad identifies members solely by their public keys.
5. 👩💻Proposal Framework
With the voting system you can democratize the decision making in the DAO. With this in place members will be able to vote on DAO’s proposals whether it is DAO voting to create and fund a payroll Squad to deal with expenses for contributor incentives or manage the current assets, Squads got you covered with all type of Proposals.
Please note that few of the features described above are not yet implemented and will be implemented soon.
Making a Squad 🛠️
Let me guide you through how to Create a squad, Swap your assets and make decisions on-chain.
Creating a Squad
Step 0 : Visit app.squds.so and connect your SOL wallet.
Step 1: Creating a New Squad Then after clicking on Create Squad, It will show you two options to make a squad Multi-sig or Teams. Every Squad has a built-in Vault. Each type of Squad allows configuring the Vault in a different way
So as we discussed earlier Multisig is just a Simple multi-signature wallet, requires signatures of multiple team members to confirm a transaction, and Teams are for those who just want Codified on-chain membership, being tokenless and want member-weighted on-chain voting.
This is an important step, so choose according to your use case because, Squad type cannot be changed once it’s deployed on the blockchain.
For this example let’s go with Teams. Then add the name and description.
Step 3: Adding members
It’s the time to add members, you will be added at #1 member then you can add other members with their wallet addresses and allocate them with a voting token amount(at first you will be given 100000).
▶Another point to remember is that you don’t need a token to use squads, the voting points you see on the squads are limited to the squads only. So it becomes tokenless.
Step 4: Customizing Voting rules
After adding members, next step is about customizing Voting rules. Let’s understand
Here you can add the minimum percentage of token amount you will need in a Squad to vote for an option to pass which is denoted by Support.
Quorum: It is the minimum percentage of Squad member participation needed for a vote to pass. (for example if you have 10 members and 40as quorum so you need participation from at least 4 members for a vote to pass)
Add those as you’d like to design the voting power in the DAO. Here we are taking a 51% support and 40% quorum for a vote to pass.
Step 4: Deploying the Squad On the review screen you will be shown the DAO type and other specs. Then Click on deploy.
You will be prompted with a transaction with a small fee, you approve that, and
Voila! your Squad is now live 🎉
Also one more thing, as Squads is now integrated with Raydium you can swap your assets in the vault itself.
These integrations allow Squads to diversify their assets trustlessly and intuitively.
Why Squads will win
1. Good UX
Stunning and easy UX Design is a MOAT in Web3. As most of the space is engineering heavy so the design is often left in the corner. But Squads, with its intuitive and sleek UX design, is on a way to onboard users with ease.
2. dApps integrations:
Squads by partnering with other protocols (like Raydium and Cardinal!) is making it easier to manage assets from the vault itself (with the voting of course!). As more platforms get integrated it’ll become a seamless experience for the users.
Security is a valid concern while adopting an infrastructure that will become the epicenter of your workflow and which holds your funds as well. So Squads audited by Neodyme generates that trust to relay on the platform.
By combining the core DAO primitives under one platform and building it on a fast and scalable layer 1 blockchain like Solana, we hope that Squads will become a social hub for web 3.0 coordination.
The community and Backers
When talking about DAOs of course we can not forget about the Community. Squads after it’s lunch on mainnet has achieved a milestone of 1000 squads being created. They have one of the supercool and supportive community in the Space. They are constantly growing with over 3k+ in discord members and 8k+ following on Twitter.
It’s backed by the most prominent investors in the ecosystem including Multicoin Capital, Jump Capital, Delphi Digital, Solana venture, and the list goes on and also many angels like Joe McCann, Dylan Macalinao, Ayush Menon, Alexander Golding, and Kash Dhanda.
What more to expect?
There are still more to come. The most awaited thing being the Mobile version!
Mobile version will make a workflow so much better and more convenient when it gets available on mobile.
Till then you can ping them on Twitter, asking “Wen mobile?” 👀
Things I’m keeping a look at!
- Governance! (Of course :p) and that in a rapid pace to make on-chain decision-making and collaboration effective
- Meta-governance when DAOs themselves serve a number of different protocols and receive governance tokens in return.
- DAO where all members are anonymous and can build up an on-chain reputation in the DAO without having to reveal their identity. and making a reward system for individual contributors rather than preferring higher-profile members.
- Owning collective NFT art where each member can vote on different attributes of a piece of art and have the overall art piece change depending on individual attributes.
- Forking a DAO and making parallel networks of niche DAOs and their tooling Infrastructure. (For better understanding, refer to this amazing essay by Akshaya BD and Kash Dhanda about DAO forking)
Wrapping up the DAO powerhouse
This is one of my favorite topics which I keep going back to again and again. Governance and on-chain decision-making are the most important parts of this network state.
Squads built upon strong fundamentals and trying to codify the DAO workflow, is on the verge of making it a mainstream infrastructure powerhouse🔥.
When that will happen? How well that is going to happen? Is it going to stay relevant? Well, that’s the part I’m looking forward to in this evolving space of uncertainty…
That was the deep-dive into Squad protocol. Grats to you! if you have made it this far, I’m very optimistic and excited for DAOs and that’s why these words are kept flowing this far, If you liked it share it with that curious friend of yours.
If you have any queries or feedback, reach out to me @inSitesh on Twitter :)
Until then …
Some of the Images and numbers are taken from Squad protocol’s official sources and the third parties referenced. If you want to know more you can also read their blog. The information contained herein is for informational and entertainment purposes only. readers are advised to do their own research before making any decisions. Read the full Disclaimer.