A new term: "Platform DAO"

Johannes Ernst


I usually invent technology, but today I present you with a new term:

Platform DAO.

Web searches don’t bring anything meaningful up, so I claim authorship on this term.

Admittedly the amount of my inventiveness here is not very large. Trebor Scholz coined the term “Platform Cooperative” in an article in 2014 (according to Wikipedia). He started with the long established term of a “cooperative”, and applied it to an organization that creates and maintains a software platform. So we get a “Platform Co-op”.

I’m doing the exact same thing: a “Platform DAO” is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, a DAO, that creates and maintains a software platform. Given that DAOs largely are the same as Co-ops, except that they use technology in order to automate, and reduce the cost of some governance tasks – and also use technology for better transparency – it seems appropriate to create that parallel.

Why is this term needed? This is where I think things get really interesting.

The Platform co-op article on Wikipedia lists many reasons why platform co-ops could deliver much more societal benefits than traditional vendor-owned tech platforms can. But it also points out some core difficulties, which is why we haven’t seen too many successful platform co-ops. At the top of which is the difficulty of securing early-stage capital.

Unlike in co-ops, venture investors these days definitely invest in DAOs.

Which means we might see the value of “Platform Co-ops” realized in their form as “Platform DAOs” as venture investment would allow them to compete at a much larger scale.

Imagine if today, somebody started Microsoft Windows. As a DAO. Where users, and developers, and the entire VAR channel, are voting members of the DAO. This DAO will be just as valuable as Microsoft – in fact I would argue it would be more valuable than Microsoft –, with no reason to believe it would deliver fewer features or quality, but lots of reasons to believe that the ecosystem would rally around it in a way that it would never rally around somebody else’s company.

Want to help? (No, I’m not building a Windows DAO. But a tech platform DAO that could be on that scale.) Get in touch!