Kevin O’Keefe is the founder of Gitcoin, a financing platform for Web3 projects that builds for the public good. He is on a mission to accelerate funding towards the most influential world-positive projects. He has written a book for that purpose Greenpild: How to revive the crypto world.
I recently sat down with Kevin to discuss the book and his journey as the founder of Web3. This interview was edited for brevity and clarity. If you want to watch the full video interview, Click here.
What is Green Pill and why should I take it?
It’s up to you whether you want to take it or not. But the green pill is a story about how crypto can resurrect the world.
How do we build a world where we can sustainably solve our contemporary challenges? I believe that crypto can be a shelling point for building more information-age organizations that fund everyday people and help our public. What if we could use blockchain technology to create more coordinates and solve synchronization failures? So is the idea behind the book Greenpild: How to revive the crypto world.
I am the founder of Gitcoin, a 63 million fundraiser for open source software projects for our digital infrastructure. So, we’re actually putting these ideas into practice on Gitcoin. The purpose of the book is to educate people on how to apply it to their own projects.
Help me understand the four-way fund.
Gitcoin grants have been built on top of this method called quadruple funding, which sounds scary, but it’s actually very simple. This is a way to match the contributions of the crowd with the funds raised in a pot With Gitcoin grants quarterly, we have $ 3 million that we’re providing, and we’re matching contributions from the crowd.
The way the quaternary fund works is that the dollars matched are the total amount raised based on the number of contributions to a project. So, if you have a grant that raises $ 100 from 100 contributors and I have a grant that raises 100 from one contributor, you actually get 99% of the combined pool because you are supported by a broad base of contributors. This is really powerful. Even a 1 contribution can be combined with 10, $ 100 or sometimes even $ 1,000 because of the four-way funding formula.
So it’s a way to push grant programs from a central grant administrator who decides if your project is worth financing to your colleagues in the ecosystem. The Gitcoin grant is a proxy for how many people in the Web3 ecosystem respect your project. And it’s a more democratic way to fund grants in your ecosystem.
The 14th round of Gitcoin grants runs from now until June 23. If you want to contribute to Web3 projects that benefit the public, you can go to gitcoin.co/grants and test them out there.
How does the Web3 framework, such as Impact Decentralized Autonomous Agency (DAO), adapt to social and environmental challenges?
Blockchain is the foundation on which we can build solutions to these problems.
- These are transparent, which means I don’t have to be someone working at the Fed to become an economics engineer who can solve these coordination failures.
- These are immutable, which means they cannot be tampered with.
- These are worldwide, which means that anyone with special privileges like me, a middle class white person living in the United States, has equal access to the Internet with people around the world.
- These are programmable, which means you can build on top of them.
I define an Impact DAO as any Web3 project that has a positive outlook in the world. Impact DAOs use these tools to bring greater transparency and efficiency to what NGOs and nation states are already doing. Since these global coordination failures are a systematic risk to humanity, we should throw away what we have received from them.
Here are some examples of Impact DAO:
- KlimaDAOপ্রকল্পA project that tokenizes carbon credits and then allows Web3 projects to offset their carbon emissions through those tokens.
- Proof of humanityপ্রকল্পA project that maintains a registry of unique people in the Etherium blockchain and then sends tokens to them as Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI gives people a stable income that allows them to pursue meaningful work. In fact there are some people in Latin America who are out of the UBI from the evidence of humanity.
- Gitcoin– At Gitcoin, we’ve raised $ 62 million for open source software. In a world where open source software provides $ 400 billion a year in economic value, this is a drop in the bucket. But we still think it’s a significant start.
In our book ImpactDAOMe and my co-author Ale Borda List more than 100 different projects that are trying to launch Impact DAO and are in the concept and seed stage execution stage.
I would like to back up a bit and ask how did you get into the Web3 space yourself and how did you end up with GitCoin as your project?
In my career as a Technologist, I have been a Software Engineer / Lead Engineer in various startups for the last 12 years. I have hired about 45 software engineers. During that time, I learned two things about Web2 era startups.
One, many employers are just buying a $ 100 LinkedIn subscription per month and then selling those engineers to me for a ,000 30,000 placement fee. So I aim to isolate employers.
Two, open source software is at the heart of everything we ever create in software. And those who are creating open source software have no way of paying for the open source software that they are doing.
So, we have created Gitcoin as a tube through which open source software developers can get coins (for pun intended) for their work in open source. I started Gitcoin in 2017 with some money made in crypto. And fortunately, it’s off. Now 350,000 software developers are making money on Gitcoin. Everyone in the ecosystem needs software developers, so we’ve teamed up with software developers. That’s how I got into the Web3 space.
But it was for me to build and try to value the people who work in the ecosystem. It warms my heart when I meet someone at an Ethereum conference and they say we have opened a door for them. Or, they survived a difficult time in their lives because of some of the money they made in Gitcoin. This kind of impact on people in the ecosystem is really strong.
What would it be like to see a world where Gitcoin is most successful?
I want to create a world where impact DAOs increase every income on the planet. So basically what we can do is not just give people a way to survive, pay their bills, pay their rent, put them on the table in their daily lives. Hopefully, we’re creating a systematic stimulus to support your Commons. Your commonalities are your local community — picking up trash or repairing things in your local community — or global commonalities like digital infrastructure and global public products.
We see Gitcoin as a meta coordinator to fund Impact DAO. In a world where we are the most successful, these Impact DAOs have been so successful that they are increasing every income on the planet.
So I think Web3 has the potential to do much better for the world. But for that to happen, we need to have an influx of capital and talent into Impact DAOs and projects that work regeneratively. At Gitcoin, we’re hitting the drum to make sure that talent and capital can find that effect in DAOs.
Can you tell me the difference between these two leadership styles: Command and Control vs. Sense and Response?
I am a realist at heart. And I think you should use the right leadership style for the environment you are in. But I have noticed that corporations are really good at moving firmly to one side. The boss says X will do it, and then everyone falls into line and collects their resources around X. This corporate model invented by the Dutch East India Company hundreds of years ago has taken us a long way.
A good way to think about leadership in the internet age, where things are moving really fast, is a network. Networks specialize in sensing and responding to local conditions on the ground. Control can be localized to people who decide what they really want to do. They decide in the pod of accountability which can turn into a network. It’s really a strong primitive, and the ecosystem that’s best for you should use that primitive.
So whatever I do, which involves a lot more to win the minds of software developers, I think better as a network model. And everything about Gitcoin is always focused on creating and supporting their open source software and public products. One nice thing is that I think it really speaks to the hearts and minds of many software developers and designers.
A network model where they are building software is a world that is changing rapidly This has been an effective way to increase Gitcoin. But frankly, we didn’t get everything out.
What do you want to know as the first web 3 founder? What advice would you give to Web3 founders?
At the moment, we as a company are in the midst of dissolving the Gitcoin grant and moving the Gitcoin grant ecosystem to a DAO run by its community. I definitely wish I hadn’t made it so centralized in 2017. However, if the founders have the right model for their project, they should consider creating their project as a DAO from the beginning.
Another thing I want to do differently is, in 2015, I bought a bunch of ETH for 70 0.70. Then it went up to 1. And I was, “Sweet! Free mountain bikes. I’ve sold everything, and I’ve bought a mountain bike. My friends know me as a $ 10 million mountain bike. So I was smart enough to buy early, but not smart enough to hold on.”
I want to do that differently. But I am very lucky to be able to do what I am doing. And I feel very blessed to be surrounded by a network of like-minded people who are creating and serving the feast of famine and famine in the blockchain ecosystem. So I am very lucky and very grateful to be here. Apart from these two, there is not much that I can do separately.