History of experiments

History of experiments


  • Creator Coop (2020)
    • Context: The first thing we did, before the DAO. Basically an online support and accountability group for creators. We kept doing this in various forms during the first year of the DAO.
    • Learnings: Getting small groups of creators together to be accountable to each other is a great way to build community.
  • Creator Fellowship (2020 - 2021)
    • Context: During the Creator Coop phase, I also made the Creator Fellowship, an income sharing agreement / investment for individual creators. I ran a pilot of the investment with David Vargas, who become an indie developer and profitably built/maintained the Roam plug-in ecosystem.
    • Learnings: While financially successful, it was not scalable. It’s possible that a model centered on power law distribution content creators (like Slow’s Creator Fund) will work, but we don’t have the expertise or depth of pockets to do better than what they are doing.
  • Creator residencies (2021 - 2023)
    • Context: What started the DAO. Month-long creator residencies that offered housing at Neighborhood Zero with no strings attached.
    • Learnings: Not enough structure to the program. A feel good product that people can rally around, but without a path towards financial sustainability. Some ancillary marketing/brand benefits, but never enough to justify the time, effort, and cost.


  • DAO operator residencies (2022)
    • Context: At the height of DAO excitement last cycle, we completed several excellent week long programs for DAO operators. The first two DAO operator residencies were among the best gatherings we’ve produced.
    • Learnings: Highly produced events with excellent people can be magical and create lifelong memories. Relationship forming is highly valuable for participants, particularly during the early part of a cycle where new things are forming quickly.
  • DAO media content (2022)
    • Context: For awhile, we produced some of the best content about DAOs via essays on Mirror and our podcast Campfire’s first season. We were using that content to drive DAO contributors to Cabin’s discord, where we offered bounties and a marketplace of opportunities for contributors to get involved in other DAOs.
    • Learnings: Bull market attention produces very different outcomes vs bear market attention.
  • HN for DAOs (2022)
    • Context: We built a web3 Hacker News clone during the height of the DAO bull market, and had a community of users testing it. You can see the repo here: GitHub - CabinDAO/Blaze. We shut it down when the market crashed and we realized we needed to drastically reduce scope.
    • Learnings: Bull market attention produces very different outcomes vs bear market attention.

IRL gatherings

  • Team retreats (2022)
    • Context: During the last bull cycle, we sold out a calendar of DAO team retreats at Neighborhood Zero. This was a profitable business that looked solid until May of 2022, when the DAO market imploded along with most of crypto.
    • Learnings: PMF is a spark that must be kindled in a resilient market. You can make money doing retreats, but the operational expectations erode margins and it doesn’t compound culture.
  • Camp conferences (2022-2023)
    • Context: We’ve run two 60-person events at a summer camp, called DAO Camp. Some of the best work we’ve done in terms of creating trajectory altering experiences for people. DAO Camp 1 brought together core leaders of the DAO ecosystem for the first time. DAO Camp 2 resulted in a venture funded company with 3 excellent founders.
    • Learnings: Conference events are a lot of work and don’t make much money, even with high picket prices. People love them because they build lasting relationships and memories.
  • Conference events (2021-2023)
    • Context: We’ve thrown some excellent conference side events and hosted great coliving houses at conferences. From our over-capacity vibe-filled Campfire event at NFTNYC 2021 to The Room at MCON 2022 to pasta night at ETHDenver 2023, these have often been peak events for the Cabin community.
    • Learnings: Conferences are marketing expenses, and while we’ve gotten great brand building bang for our buck, they are a cost center with indirect, expensive, and variable value.
  • Coliving (2022-2023)
    • Context: We’ve operated a coliving environment at Neighborhood Zero since late 2022. We also built and supported a network for coliving in 2023.
    • Learnings: Our internally operated coliving resulted in some very positive experiences for residents, but didn’t have enough to demand to maintain profitable utilization. Our network faced similar demand challenges—we couldn’t fill the qualified supply that needed our help being filled. Our marketplace also faced challenges with disintermediation between long term residents and hosts.
  • Role based residencies (2023)
    • Context: We designed six personas for the Cabin community and tried offering work-stay exchange residencies designed for these personas. The Builder and Naturalist roles had the most successful residencies, but they were still hit-or-miss.
    • Learnings: These residencies need the right combination of someone with some basic skills, a willingness to learn, a strong independent work ethic, and more support/guidance than they got in most cases. Work-stay exchange is a cool model for building a culture of reciprocity, and it can really work. But it’s very hard to find the right people, and enough of them that want to take the leap.

Neighborhood development

  • Squad wealth support team (2022)
    • Context: We tested one of our first hypotheses for building and monetizing the network of neighborhoods in late 2022, by creating a product offering to help squads of friends co-buy properties with guidance and support from a team of Cabin experts. This culminated with us running a comprehensive sales qualification process at MCON 2, in which we determined that none of the many groups we talked to were qualified.
    • Learnings: Everyone wants to live with their friends in theory, essentially no one has the willingness to put in the time and money required to make it happen in practice.
  • Neighborhood Race (2023)
    • Context: Coming out of the Fall 22 Fellowship Retreat, we planned to take a bet on the Neighborhood Race, an attempt to pilot developing coliving neighborhoods more directly via a splashy matching grant program. After qualifying leads and considering the $250k price tag, we mothballed the project and starting building towards the citizenship/network city launch.
    • Learnings: Some interesting ideas re: overcoming coordination problems for funding neighborhood development. Ultimately hard to make a case for profitable returns on coliving given risk of development.
  • Co-developing a neighborhood (2023)
    • Context: We’ve fielded several inquiries about doing neighborhood developments within the context of larger development projects. These projects are typically interested in monetizing the adjacent land and will offer great terms if we can help bootstrap neighborhoods.
    • Learnings: Bootstrapping neighborhoods is valuable and you can get great deals to try to do it. The hard part, of course, is actually pulling it off.

Tools for network cities and states

  • Passport NFTs (2022)
    • Context: During the heat of the 2022 DAO bull market post-Constitution DAO, we built tools for DAOs. One of the earliest ones was a protocol for Passport NFTs, which you can find here: GitHub - CabinDAO/Passports: nftpassports.xyz. We stopped working on it when the market collapsed, and now use Unlock Protocol for our ERC-721 membership tokens.
    • Learnings: Membership NFTs are a real product use case, but it requires exclusive focus on this problem to be the leader. As a market rapidly develops, infrastructure appears that enables you to move up the stack.
  • City Directory (2022-2023)
    • Context: In 2022, we transitioned our frame for the DAO as a decentralized network of contributors to a focus on the DAO as a decentralized network of neighborhoods. These neighborhoods formed our network city. We recruited an initial 22 of them, built a clever token curated registry for $CABIN holders to rank them, and launched an app for the first network city. Earlier on, we attempted to build our own TCR protocol: GitHub - CabinDAO/0xRegistry: A dapp for easily launching and managing token-curated registries
    • Learnings: Clever ideas only get you so far. While this proof-of-concept for a crypto-governed network city may lay the groundwork for future attempts at similarly ambitious projects, it has not provided enough real value to end users as a liquid marketplace for solving a burning problem.
  • Census (2023)
    • Context: As part of our network city app launch, we built onchain user accounts for displaying the range of stamps, roles, and tokens members of our community had earned.
    • Learnings: This seems like an important basic building block of a network city or state, but alone doesn’t make for an engaging enough product.
  • Citizenship (2023)
    • Context: We launched Citizenship as part of our network city package, which provided us with a subscription membership model for our community.
    • Learnings: While subscription membership NFTs seems like a natural fit for onchain communities to generate revenue, we haven’t sold very many of them. What’s actually impressive is that we’ve sold as many as we have, given the relatively weak membership benefits and challenges getting vouched and buying the NFT.