Launching the next phase of Otterspace

The Otternauts have been busy designing their Badges and bringing humans into the Otterverse to improve coordination and slay Moloch. As their mission has grown, they decided to bring a special group of intrepid explorers on board their Otter spaceship to help scale the impact of their work.

We’re otterly excited to announce that earlier this year we brought a stellar set of backers on board our Otter spaceship and raised $3.7M in pre-seed funding. Our investment round was co-led by Cherry Crypto and, both of whom share our vision for the future of Web3 and DAOs. Alongside our lead investors, we are lucky to have support from Bessemer Venture Partners, Coinbase Ventures, btov Partners, Paua Ventures, and 35 Web3 operators and DAO builders, including Fredrik Haga & Mats Olsen (Dune Analytics), Abbey Titcomb (Radicle DAO), Will Papper (Syndicate), Sarah Drinkwater (Gitcoin), David (Metastreet), Sandeep Nailwal (Polygon), Konstantin Lomashuk (Lido), Eylon Aviv (DxDAO), Quickrider (FlamingoDAO), Alp Ergin (Prime DAO), Maex Ament & Philip Stehlik (Centrifuge), Chen Magen (CoW Swap), Scott Fitsimones (CityDAO), Vishesh Choudhry (MakerDAO), NiMA (SeedClub Ventures), Fabien (Snapshot), Peter Grosskopf (Ultimate Money), Mario Goetze, Concept Ventures, nxgen, Atka, the DAOJones collective and many more.

We also want to give a special shout-out to the early believers who participated in our NFT crowd-sale (psst! It’s technically still open) when Otterspace was just a spark in our minds. We are grateful for your support and have created a special Badge which you can claim here.

Thank you also to the many DAOs who have brainstormed, co-created, tested, provided feedback, and supported us on this journey. A big shout-out goes out to Shark DAO, MetaStreet, Radicle DAO, Bankless DAO, Prime DAO, Token Engineering Commons, Juicebox, Token Engineering Academy as well as the teams from Optimism, Snapshot, Guild, and Sobol.

We founded Otterspace with the belief that DAOs hold the potential to act as the organizing principle of a user-owned and operated internet. Our mission is to bring them into the mainstream by addressing a core cluster of challenges faced by many Web3 communities over the past years including plutocracy, governance disengagement, lack of clear participation paths, bureaucracy, and hyper-financialization. We believe that these challenges arise from the limitations of running an organization using solely a fungible, tradable token as the basis for coordination.

We are working towards this mission by providing distributed, digitally-native organizations with a new, non-financial coordination primitive to enable richer interactions and a more nuanced model of participation. We believe that this is a key missing piece in enabling them to scale to a mainstream level.

With the tool of non-transferable Badges, DAOs are able to address plutocracy without sacrificing sybil-resistance, distinguish between different types of network members, use social recognition as an incentive, and automatically distribute power and influence based on roles and reputation.

There are two primary reasons why we decided to pursue fundraising from a large set of investors rather than raising purely public goods grants. First, we sought to expand the number of great minds to help us on our mission and to build the foundation of the wider Otterspace community with a formidable crew of co-owners. Second, we wanted to enable the team to focus on building a solid foundation for the protocol. We consider ourselves lucky to have brought on investors that are values- and mission-aligned, act as sounding boards to our day-to-day challenges, and are in it for the long haul through the bear market.

With support from our investors, partners, and the wider community, our team is focused on building a robust, secure, and easy-to-use infrastructure allowing DAOs to create, issue and revoke Badges for their members. Composability is key, and we are collaborating with other DAO tools including Safe, Snapshot, Guild and Sobol to bring utility to Badges. The open-source protocol is an un-opinionated tool that can be used in a myriad of ways, and we have seen 4 powerful use cases emerge: reputation & governance, engagement & gamification, membership & permissions and credentials & education.

Badges are a powerful governance tool and can be used by DAOs to distribute influence to stakeholders whose interests are non-financial. For example, we are working with Radicle DAO to use Badges to identify project contributors based on their role and tenure. Governance influence is distributed to these Badge holders, as they are high-context participants with low allocations of the DAO token.

The Otterspace-Snapshot integration can be leveraged to grant governance power to holders of specific Badges, in addition to or instead of a fungible token. Communities can select the Badges they want to use in governance and decide how much voting power to allocate to each one. This also allows communities to distribute governance to members of committees/teams by creating a sub-space in Snapshot and allowing only members of that committee to participate in governance. For example, an Engineering Team Snapshot sub-space can be set up for Engineering Team Badge Holders.

Badges can also be used to ensure compliance and carry out Sybil-resistant governance by using the Otterspace SafeSend integration to issue ‘KYC-passed’ Badges without exposing the contents of the checks or the identity of the member. Those Badges can then be incorporated into rules around governance or access permissions.

In addition to governance, Badges support engagement within communities by acting as non-financial rewards to recognize users for their participation. Taking inspiration from video games, where players collect Soulbound items for completing quests, communities can use Badges to reward participation along different membership paths. The MetaStreet community, for example, has multiple levels that members need to complete to earn Badges and get perks. This builds contribution paths and incentivizes member participation by rewarding loyalty.

Token-gating is one of the earliest and most-common utilities of tokens in communities, but Badges can be used to take this to a new level. Badges allow communities to enumerate more complex team roles such as guild coordinator, guild member, or project lead. These Badges can then be used to manage access permissions to spaces, content, and actions like merging code. The Bankless DAO is using Otterspace to build exactly this; season 6 participants and level 2 role holders will be issued Badges that grant access to Discord roles.

Lastly, we want to mention the value of Badges as educational credentials. Web3 native online learning communities are able to issue Badges upon completion of a course or certification, and individuals can then display these achievements as part of their Web3 identity for other projects or people to assess their skills. Token Engineering Academy is using Badges for their new TE Fundamentals course, where they automatically issue Badge vouchers to students who complete the curriculum. Students are then able to mint their Badges and display them in the TE dashboard. By integrating directly with the Otterspace protocol, TE Academy can provide its students with a seamless experience.

One final note: while there are many vertical use cases for Badges in communities, the meta-utility is the ability to stitch together someone’s history, experience, skills, social capital, interests and roles based on their Badge collection. We look forward to seeing how different applications use this primitive to build new experiences.

In case you’re seeing dystopian visions, rest easy that the Otterspace protocol only enables consented Badge issuance – it is impossible for anyone to use the protocol to send someone an unconsented Badge. In addition, the protocol is designed to allow communities to choose their preferred level of decentralization by setting community-level permissions on how Badges are created, issued, and revoked. We consider Otterspace Badges to be a core coordination primitive in Web3 and are thoughtfully and carefully designing the protocol with this in mind.

While Otterspace is currently operating as a small team out of Berlin, we are committed to the path of progressive decentralization and count ourselves lucky to have a raft of investors that are on-board this expedition with us. We are slowly and organically growing our community and crew, so follow us on Twitter and sign up for our Beta if our mission calls to you.

Introducing the Pioneer Otternaut crew…

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