[RFC] Uniswap Grants Program v0.1

co-authored with Ken Ng

UPDATE — December 19, 2020

Voting is now live for Uniswap Governance Proposal #003.

You can vote here: https://app.uniswap.org/#/vote/3


UPDATE — December 16, 2020

Based on positive feedback from this post and the snapshot poll, we’re going to move forward with a formal proposal. To support the project please delegate your votes to the “autonomous proposal contract” (a fork from Compound) deployed for this proposal here:

0x76f54Eeb0D33a2A2c5CCb72FE12542A56f35d67C

With 10M UNI delegated to the above APC, anyone can call the contract to formally enter the proposal for voting. Once the proposal is live, there will be a 7 day period to reach quorom of 40M votes!

Also, Ashleigh Schap has agreed to be the 5th committee member!


Summary:

This post outlines a framework for funding Uniswap ecosystem development with grants from the UNI Community Treasury. The program starts small—sponsoring hackathons, for example—but could grow in significance over time (with renewals approved by governance) to fund core protocol development. Grants administration is a subjective process that cannot be easily automated, and thus we propose a nimble committee of 6 members —1 lead and 5 reviewers—to deliver an efficient, predictable process to applicants, such that funding can be administered without having to put each application to a vote. We propose the program start with an initial cap of $750K per quarter and a limit of 2 quarters before renewal—a sum that we feel is appropriate for an MVP relative to the size of the treasury that UNI token holders are entrusted with allocating.

Purpose:

The mission of the UGP is to provide valuable resources to help grow the Uniswap ecosystem. Through public discourse and inbound applications, the community will get first-hand exposure to identify and respond to the most pressing needs of the ecosystem, as well as the ability to support innovative projects expanding the capabilities of Uniswap. By rewarding talent early with developer incentives, bounties, and infrastructure support, UGP acts as a catalyst for growth and helps to maintain Uniswap as a nexus for DeFi on Ethereum.

Quarterly Budget:

  • Max quarterly budget of up to $750k
  • Budget and caps to be assessed every six months

Grant Allocation Committee:

  • Of 6 committee members: 1 lead and 5 reviewers
  • Each committee has a term of 2 quarters (6 months) after which the program needs to be renewed by UNI governance
  • Committee functions as a 4 of 5 multi-sig

Committee Members

While the goals and priorities of the grant program will be thoroughly discussed and reviewed by the community through public discourse, the decision to start UGP by operating as a small committee is to ensure that the application and decision process will be efficient and predictable, so applicants have clear objectives and timely decisions.

Starting with just six members enables the committee to efficiently fund projects with tight feedback loops and rapid iterations. The purpose of this committee would be to test the hypothesis that the Grants Program can successfully provide value for the UNI ecosystem before scaling the program.

We suggest the grants program is administered by a single lead. Here we propose Kenneth Ng, a co-author of this post. Ken has helped grow the Ethereum Foundation Grants Program over the last two years in establishing high level priorities and adapting for the ecosystems needs.

The other 5 committee members should be thought of as “reviewers” — UNI community members who will keep the grants program functional by ensuring Ken is leading effectively and, of course, not absconding with funds. Part of the reviewers job is to hold the program accountable for success (defined below) and/or return any excess funds to the UNI treasury. Reviewers are not compensated as part of this proposal as we expect their time commitment to be minimal. Compensation for the lead role is discussed below, as we expect this to be a labor intensive role.

Program Lead: Ken Ng (HL Creative Corp)
Ecosystem Support Program at the Ethereum Foundation

  1. Reviewer: Jesse Walden (o/b/o Unofficial LLC dba Variant Fund)
    Founder and Investor at Variant Fund (holds UNI)

  2. Reviewer: Monet Supply
    Risk Analyst at MakerDAO

  3. Reviewer: Robert Leshner
    Founder and CEO of Compound Finance

  4. Reviewer: Kain Warwick
    Founder of Synthetix

  5. Reviewer: Ashleigh Schap
    *Growth Lead, Uniswap (Company)

Methodology

1.1 Budget

This proposal recommends a max cap of $750K per quarter, with the ability to reevaluate biannually at each epoch (two fiscal quarters). While the UGP Grants Committee will be the decision makers around individual grants, respective budgets, roadmaps, and milestones, any top-level changes to UGP including epochs and max cap, will require full community quorum (4% approval).

The UGP will be funded by the UNI treasury according to the release schedule set out by the Uniswap team, whereby 43% of the UNI treasury is released over a four-year timeline. In Year 1 this will total to 172,000,000 UNI (~$344M as of writing).

Taking into consideration the current landscape of ecosystem funding across Ethereum, the community would be hard-pressed to allocate even 5% of Year 1’s treasury. For context Gitcoin CLR Round 7 distributed $725k ($450k in matched) across 857 projects and YTD, Moloch has granted just under $200k but in contrast, the EF has committed to somewhere in the 8 figure range.

1.2 Committee Compensation

Operating a successful grants program takes considerable time and effort. Take, for instance, the EF Ecosystem Support Program, which has awarded grants since 2018, consists of an internal team at the Foundation as well as an ever increasing roster of community advisors in order to keep expanding and adapting to best serve the needs of the Ethereum ecosystem. While the structure of the allocation committee has six members, we propose that only the lead will be remunerated for their work in establishing the initial processes, vetting applications, and managing the program overall as this role is expected to be time consuming if the program is to be succesful. We propose that the other committee members be unpaid UNI ecosystem stakeholders who have an interest in seeing the protocol ecosystem continue to operate and grow.

We propose the lead be compensated 25 UNI/hr (approximately $100 USD at time of this writing) capped at 30 hours/week. This compensation, along with the quarterly budget, will be allocated to the UGP multisig from the UNI treasury. In keeping with the committee’s commitment to the community, hours and duties will be logged publicly and transparently .

2.1 Priorities

Initially, the program aims to start narrow in scope, funding peripheral ecosystem initiatives, such as targeted bounties, hackathon sponsorships, and other low-stakes means of building out the Uniswap developer ecosystem. Over time, if the program proves effective, the grant allocations can grow in scope to include, for example, improved frontends, trading interfaces, and eventually, core protocol development.

With the initial priorities in mind, some effective measures for quick successes might look like:

  • Total number of projects funded
  • Quarterly increase in applications
  • Project engagement post-event/funding
  • Overall community engagement/sentiment

2.2 Timeline

In keeping with the fast pace of the UNI ecosystem, we organize time in epochs, or two calendar quarters. Each epoch will see two funding rounds, one per quarter, after which the community can review and create proposals to improve or revamp the program as they deem fit.

Rolling Wave 1 & 2 Applications

  • Starting in Q1 2021, UGP will start accepting applications for events looking for support in the form of bounties or prizes that in parallel can be proactively sourced. During these first two waves of funding projects, the allocation committee lead can begin laying out guardrails for continued funding

  • Considering the immediate feedback loops for the first epoch, we expect these allocation decisions to be discussed and reviewed by the larger community. Should this not be of value, the community can submit a formal governance proposal to change any piece of UGP that was not effective

Wave 3 & Beyond

  • Beginning with Wave 3, there should have been enough time with impactful projects funded to be considered for follow-on funding, should it make sense. In the same vein, projects within scope will be expanded to also include those working on integrations and and other key components.

  • Beyond the second epoch, as the community helps to review and help adapt UGP to be most effective, the scope will continue to grow in order to accommodate the state of the ecosystem including that of core protocol improvements

Conclusion:

If this proposal is successfully approved, UGP will start accepting applications on a rolling basis beginning at the start of 2021. With the phases and priorities laid out above, UGP will aim to make a significant impact by catalyzing growth and innovation in the UNI ecosystem.

This program is meant to be the simplest possible MVP of a Uniswap Ecosystem Grants initiative. While the multi-sig committee comes with trust assumptions about the members, our hope is the community will approve this limited engagement to get the ball rolling in an efficient structure. After the first epoch (2 fiscal quarters) the burden of proof will be on UGP to show empirical evidence that the program is worth continuing in its existing form and will submit to governance to renew treasury funding.

If this program proves successful, we hope it will inspire others to follow suit and create their own funding committees for allocating treasury capital—ideally with different specializations.

A Temp Check for the UGP is now live on Snapshot!

Please show your opinions and or jump in on the comments!

26 Likes

Thanks for posting this Jesse - we definitely need some kind of structured program IMO, the governance process thus far is feeling a bit hectic and having a place to point projects for funding will get rid of a lot of potential clutter. I also want to say that I think Ken is a great choice to lead the program.

Minor points of feedback:

  1. I’d like to see the program start without a budget (i.e. be voted in conceptually before voting on the details) and have the budget be something we vote on after Ken proposes a more formal structure and process for how he’ll be handing out grants.

  2. I think we should denominate the pay in a stablecoin. If Ken wants to convert that to UNI that’s great, but I’ve seen this go wrong too many times to think that payment in a volatile currency is a good idea

  3. More of a question than feedback - is this a “Temperature Check”?

Finally, if the final Reviewer spot is still available I’d like to volunteer :slight_smile:

10 Likes

Having previously critiqued the treasury being spent on liquidity mining incentives (https://www.theblockcrypto.com/post/86082/uniswap-liquidity-incentives-proposal), I think this precisely the type of idea needed and would like to see Uniswap community move forward with it.

If an additional reviewer happens to be needed, would love to contribute to the process.

6 Likes

I think hackathons can be a decent way to get community members involved, but they are biased towards those with the free time and ability to work without guarantees of compensation.

As crypto communities mature, the use of grants to fund specific projects desired by the product team, community, and users have the most mutually beneficial results.
I would love to see an open list of project ideas (maybe some already exist in github issues or could be surfaced from frequent support requests) that people from the community could propose to take on as a part of the grants program.
Of course keeping part of the funds available for organic ideas and proposals as individuals and small teams would also make sense.

I’m cool with the proposed reviewers given they agree to this position. I will say that it would be nice to see more reviewers that come up organically through this forum or from the discord, as it seems like a lot of these crypto projects end up with the “usual suspects” as having power in communities, just because they have power in other communities.

Thanks for taking the initiative on this, I’m excited to think about the things the Uniswap community might build given the opportunity.

I would propose swapping Kaine and Robert for people who are equally qualified but less established in the DeFi community… A few ideas

Katherine Wu (Notation Capital)
Aparna Krishnan (Opyn Protocol)
Priyanka Desai (The LAO, etc.)
María Paula (ETH Berlin)
Rafaella Baraldo (PODS Finance)

Any of those two would be amazing.

3 Likes

I think the idea here is that many different committee teams will emerge who have idea’s to MVP. The people you mention may have their own strategies and test cases they may want to propose for UNI voters to fund and see how it goes. I think this is a good strategy; and I am happy with current committee in this proposal.

I had concerns previously for paying in UNI rather than a stable coin, which I still do. Knowing the hour’s and duties will be logged publicly and transparently alleviates my main concerns of accountability. Is the 25 UNI/hr to Ken Ng up for review every 6 months? i.e. if prices fluctuate in a way that is becomes overpayment or underpayment?

1 Like

That’s a good point but I still think the members of the first committee matters a lot. It’s signaling and it will set the tone for who gets picked on future committees. Kaine and Robert already have a lot of formal and informal influence, better to decentralize a bit and bring in some voices and names that are slightly more differentiated.

2 Likes

Great to see this following the discussions over the liquidity incentives proposal. I agree with some of the critiques mentioned here, but overall this is well thought out and very much shapeable going forward so happy to support. This is exactly what we should be doing with the treasury.

2 Likes

I think it’s a reallt great idea.
Our job as a community is to create a long term strategy for the protocol’s health.

Here are some things to think about :

  • The committee should be elected after the trial trimesters
  • At the end of each trimester, a salary review taking price fluctuation into account should be held or converted to DAI
  • I’m personnally against VC folks in these kinds of position because of the inherent conflict of interests that might be created (corporate law flashbacks, sorry)
  • While nominating key personalities is great for marketing, it seems highly inneficient. Robert is still leading Compound and I doubt he would have time to seriously commit to the task at hand.

All in all it’s a good point to start but we need to flesh this idea more.

Cheers,
Figue

1 Like

I’m heavily in favor of this proposal, it’s great to have Ken as the program lead.

Maybe for greater visibility of the snapshot poll it would be good to create a temperature check topic in the dedicated section of the forum.

3 Likes

I have a simple suggestion that could further aid the Uniswap Ecosystem’s growth in the context of this proposal.

What if we add a bonus on top of the grants the Committee distributes?

The idea is to make Uniswap a more attractive platform to build on than other options developers have.

Also, it would serve the distribution purpose well. Presuming that developers would need to spend the grants to fund their efforts, it would be good if they had some UNI they wouldn’t need to spend.
This way, we could distribute more voting power towards contributors, which would be beneficial for Uniswap Governance.

Do you think adding a bonus is a good idea?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral
  • Not Sure

0 voters

What do you think would be the right bonus percentage?
  • 0%
  • 25%
  • 50%
  • 75%
  • 100%
  • 125%
  • 150%
  • 175%
  • 200%

0 voters

thanks for everyone’s input on this so far! please keep them coming!

These are both great points!

  • With the program design, we had decided on a budget simply to set a ceiling with a narrow scope so as to get the ball rolling. The goal here is less about creating the best possible program (we know that’s impossible right now!), instead it’s to prove out that this is a method that can work effectively, especially as it expands. Everything is completely open and whatever doesn’t get used gets returned to the treasury but we want to be clear we absolutely encourage others to propose programs that better fit those specific needs.
  • The compensation and grantee treasury in general are really interesting points to note, just based on what I’ve seen with grants in general. I am still working on the Ecosystem Support Program at the EF, but Greg is right, we have seen many grantees/teams struggle with treasury management, especially during market downturns. On the flipside, it’s worked out really well for some other teams! It’s an extremely important discussion to be having, but unfortunately I just don’t have great advice on how grantees should best manage their funds.

Absolutely agreed here. As mentioned above, in the short term we just want to ensure the foundations for the program are well established, but ultimately the goal is to empower a diverse group of community members to steer this program.

4 Likes

I love the idea. UNI governance needs to move from the standstill and I think this is great first step.

As for 6th position in reviewer team. I volunteer. If you find value in someone who is spending unhealthy amount of time with the Uniswap community feel free to reach out.

1 Like

Great effort to move from decentralized to centralized… stop :stop_sign: trying to put hands on treasury :moneybag: and give proposals that will increase value of UNI!

We don’t need full blown proposal process for funding for example a hackathon with $5k. This makes UNI governance more agile. 750k is very small part of the treasury funds and it can bring a lot of value to the protocol.

1 Like

Why would we fund any hackathon? 750k per quater is not small money… Treasury is not there to be spent without clear proposal that will increase value of Uniswap and all UNI holders.

It was just an example.

However funding things such as hackathons and other projects building on top of Uniswap protocol will bring a lot of value to UNI holders. You have to spend money to make money.

Does android pay you to make an app for mobile phone?
It’s natural for projects to build on top of the biggest exchange and we saw in August ridiculous amount of money going to Swapfolio, Unitrade… and a dozen of other projects who wants to build on Uniswap.

This quotes from social networks are nonsense…
You have to make money to spend money.

1 Like

I hear your point, but I think you’re missing some things. At the end of the day Uniswap is a public good, so yes anyone can build supporting applications (and they already have to a large extent). But, there’s a lot of aspects of a public good that cannot be commercially incentivized. For instance, Google builds a lot of the infrastructure around Android. Who is going to do that for Uniswap? The developer tooling is not going to build itself.

Uniswap needs distribution, and grants to eager and talented community members are a good place to start IMO. If executed properly, this will dramatically increase the value of your UNI in the long run by growing the protocol beyond its current limitations.

1 Like

Do you think selling more UNI will increase distribution or give whales more cheap tokens and bigger voting power?

From 250,000 ETH addresses that were eligible for airdrop (min 400 UNI), we know have less than 22k addresses with 400 or more UNI, also the amount of addresses that hold more than 10 UNI is less than 60k.

Every telegram private and public group was talking about Uniswap.
Who ever doesn’t know abot Uniswap is not really into crypto.

We need new users and they will come organically as crypto adoption rises (ETH and BTC price going up is the best marketing to attract new users into this space).

This is not a company and trying to lead as a company is not an appropriate way to do it IMO.

Who is the right person to choose who is talented and who is not?
Should we vote for directors?
Should we vote for remuneration?
Will they be responsible when SEC asks why securities can be traded on Uniswap and why did they accept to work for an anti-law project?

This is a blunt promise, “if executed… then dramatically” .If not executed well, sorry guys we had a good time and experiment.
I was carefully listening to the community call and I saw a very loud mouth who wants to experiment with 5mil UNI tokens to see what is going to happened with liquidity.
For me as an investor and someone who is in this space long time this is not acceptable.

2 Likes