Temperature Check - Allocate 1.5M UNI to Go-Ethereum long-term Talent-Acquisition & Retention Grant (GETH-TARG)

IMPORTANT: This is a temperature check, not a consensus check. That means that it only gauges interest from UNI tokenholders in funding Geth development before a more serious and concrete consensus check proposal. See this response for more details.

TL;DR: I propose that Uniswap DAO becomes the first of many Ethereum DAOs to allocate a portion of their treasury (1.5M UNI) towards Ethereum client development, which is crucial infrastructure to the Ethereum ecosystem and is developed solely from public goods funding from the ecosystem [while also complex and requires specialized talent to build on], in hopes that others follow suit in correctly allocating the necessary funds to incentivize the talent needed to build complex open-source infrastructure.

Vote here: Snapshot

Go-Ethereum (Geth) [1], an implementation of the Ethereum protocol run by over 80% of nodes in the Ethereum network [2], is one of the most critical pieces of open-source infrastructure to the Ethereum ecosystem. Continued development of Geth is crucial to the long-term viability of the ecosystem, especially as Ethereum makes significant strides forward in scalability.

Go-Ethereum is open-source software, meaning that the team inherently does not have cash flows to fund its business. Geth is a public good that depends on funding from the ecosystem that uses it, however, as with many critical open-source projects, it is critically underfunded relative to the impact it has. I cannot understate how imperative it is that DAOs in the Ethereum ecosystem wake up and allocate small portions of their treasury towards Geth development.

At the same time, the skills and knowledge barrier required to develop on Geth is high. Geth is thus software that should be given high priority funding from the wider ecosystem.

Sufficiently incentivizing contributions towards intricate and complex projects like Geth that are critical to the ecosystem is important. Existing contributors must also be sufficiently incentivized, to ensure talent retention.

Remember: Uniswap doesn’t exist without the infrastructure it runs on, and any incremental improvements in Geth result in improvements in UX, speed, efficiency, and decentralization features for users of the Uniswap protocol.

I propose that:
• Uniswap Governance allocates 1.5M UNI ($30M USD) to a new Go-Ethereum long-term Talent-Acquisition & Retention Grant (GETH-TARG) for ALL Geth contributors. Given that the Uniswap treasury is one of the largest among the DAOs on Ethereum, I believe this amount is justified.
• GETH-TARG would provide contributors with an allocation of UNI, vested over a long-term time horizon (5yrs+) in a quarterly fashion, based on merit of open-source contribution.
• The Geth team constructs a micro-DAO built on a decentralized payroll scheme, like Coordinape, to manage grants being provided by DAOs like Uniswap DAO, and publish necessary regular updates to the community.
• Other DAOs follow suit in providing long-term funding towards critical public goods to Ethereum, to ensure the health of the open-source software that our ecosystem direly depends on.

Uniswap tokenholders should understand that development of important Ethereum infrastructure will inevitably create value for tokenholders. I have seen some sentiments voiced that allocating funding to Geth would be akin to VCs taking over Ethereum infrastructure [3], since many UNI tokens are held by VC firms. I believe this is wrong, as allocating funding to Geth would not give UNI stakeholders any power or control over Geth development. Geth contributors should nonetheless maintain their independence and alert the community of any suspicious behaviour immediately.

Further details can be provided when the Uniswap community is ready to do a consensus check, including further details on accountability of funds usage, as some in the community have rightfully expressed concerns about DAO treasury usage [4].

One open question: Will Geth team be willing to accept contributions in this way, given that they are under the EF? Péter Szilágyi (karalabe.eth) could best advise here. (UPDATE: See this response)

[1] https://geth.ethereum.org/
[2] https://www.ethernodes.org/ (somewhat outdated, but a good estimate)
[3] https://twitter.com/defiprime/status/1413639038204977152
[4] https://twitter.com/richardchen39/status/1413603022240985088
[5] Original community poll from Hayden: https://twitter.com/haydenzadams/status/1413637704378617864

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UPDATE:

We’ve heard from Peter on Twitter, and have learned a few things:

  1. Teams funded by the Ethereum Foundation (EF) have, in the past, lost their EF funding by accepting external funding. The Geth team is worried that by accepting funding from the community, they’ll lose their EF funding too (Tweet).
  2. The Geth team doesn’t have a formal entity or an accounting function to be able to accept funding (Tweet).
  3. The Geth development team is 7 people large (Tweet).

For both reasons (1) and (2), it is worth the Uniswap community voting on this temperature check to help instill confidence in Geth team members that getting significant funding from the community is indeed a viable option. It’s possible for the Geth team to set up a legal entity and hire the right people to handle the team’s accounting and payroll matters.

At the same time, some in the community have been expressing concern over two things: (a) Why is the EF holding teams hostage to in-house funding (strong language, feel free to correct)? (b) Why is the EF not increasing funding towards Geth development? The answer to (b) is likely because the EF is planning ahead for the long-term, and increasing funding significantly may not be a viable option (although I’m not aware of the EF’s financial situation). This makes it still more important for us to express our support.

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One of the symptoms of Geth funding problems seems to be lack of autonomy. Generally, a team working on something is the best party to decide which resources they need and how they want them allocated.

The amount in the proposal seems arbitrary, we should ask Geth team to elaborate their needs, e.g. whether they want to scale the team up. The proposal should also address the fears of them being cut off the EF funding. A long-term lockup contract sounds like a good solution to this, but it might not be enough with the donation coming in the form of a volatile token, leaving the team at mercy of UNI price.

It’s very important this donation comes with no strings attached. The core infra should remain neutral.

As a follow-up to this, Uniswap community should explore funding the team of other clients like Erigon, which have made very impressive progress recently.

The lack of entity point seems like an imaginary problem. Deploying a Gnosis Safe is enough to start accepting funds.

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I am a supporter of the Geth client devs as well as helping bolster up the ethereum ecosystem, however, with the Eth1/Eth2 merge underway, which will likely to occur within the next 12 months, the future client teams of ethereum will be Prysm, Teku, Lighthouse, etc. I may be wrong but would this grant only help fill a 12-month run way for Geth, which may already be funded? I would welcome a proposal from the Geth team on how the Uniswap DAO can directly help them. Alternatively, helping provide R&D for the merge may be valuable, because after the merge the pressure on the Eth1 client teams is significantly reduced.

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This is incorrect, both eth1 and eth2 clients will be relevant after the merge.

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This is a large figure. Has the exact figure been deliberated upon or is this an approximation? Have the specifics of how this amount will be used been discussed? Such as expected annual burn today and in future, number of team members and so on.

Would appreciate if more such details could be made public.

Absolutely. As I’m simply a DeFi community member and nothing more, the amount I’ve proposed is arbitrary, but it is my rough guess of a starting point of funding to allocate to Geth over a 5-year time horizon.

It’s a temperature check; to gauge community interest in funding Geth development and to act as an extension to the Twitter poll from Hayden, before a more concrete proposal is made.

We could’ve started off with a discussion here first though, before starting a Temperature Check proposal on Snapshot. Though the main reason why I went ahead and made this is that from the looks of it, the Geth team isn’t going to be coming out actively participating in a discussion on external funding for Geth, since they’re worried about the politics involved with the Ethereum Foundation. I thought it’d be important to send a signal; that the community is serious about funding critical public goods. Hopefully, people vote on this temperature check proposal and prove that.

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1.5M UNI was given to a “DeFi Education Fund” pilot program that did not present a budget or any clear milestone, with no accountability other than an arbitrary multisig. At this point governance might as well give the same amount to Geth.

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Currently Uniswap users pay ~$500k/day(~$182M/yr) in fees to ETH miners. Donating to GETH would be like paying $182M/yr to run your app on AWS and then also donating to Amazons Devs. In that situation, donating can only ever be a band-aid on what’s a terminally bad structure.

While the Geth team certainly deserves more than $30M, I dont think it’s the UNI treasurys place to fund them, nor do I think external money will solve their teams issues, especially since their current funder has >$850M in ETH.

If we do want to provide funding for the software Uniswap depends, I believer there are higher leverage and more wholistic ways to go about vs a 8 figure grant to a single team. Even a drip to the Gitcoin funding address would be better than this.

Slight Tangent: with EIP 1559 on the horizon, I’d wager $30M invested in Uniswap grants that improve and increase uniswap usage are going to have a more significant effect on the ETH foundation treasury than +3%.

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maybe outside of the scope of this temp check, but could this allocation be done as part of setting up an infrastructure fund, something similar to UNI grants program, since there are various key pieces of tech infra that could benefit form funding, uniswap itself relies upon many of them, further it could resolve those concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest or biases on siding with any particular solution/team

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See, exactly for this reason funding the DeFi Education Fund solely by the UNI Treasury was a milestone setting one of the worst precedents ever. It hasnt even been a month and another proposal asking for 30M in funding is here. If we keep this pace up, we will find ourselves having a treasury thats worth nothing because people will realize that the only purpose of the UNI token is to transfer wealth out of their pockets to pockets of other people.

Do not forget that the value of the token is derived from people buying the token. If nobody wants to buy the token because all they see is sell proposals all the time, the total value of the treasury will be next to nothing.

ITS TIME TO TURN THE FEE SWITCH ON and then debate stuff like this.

This analogy makes no sense, there is no dev fee on Ethereum, client devs see nothing of what you pay as gas fees.

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Hey uba.eth, lets help each other out! If you help my Capital Protection Temp check proposal voting YES with the 1k UNI you used to create this proposal, I will use my 1k UNI to vote YES on yours!! What do you say??

Imperfect analogy but I do think you got what i was trying to highlight. Miners make billions using Geth, Protocols pay millions using Geth. But how much of that value currently flows to Geth, or other client teams, even indirectly via them holding or being vested ETH? Its outside the scope of this temp check but the root problem seems to be absent the EF how can we (as a wider ethereum, not just uniswap) sustainably fund client teams?

For geth specifically, it seems like a skin in the game problem, which can only be solved by giving them a stake(ETH) in the system they built, or more autonomy; not more money or a stake in a different thing. But no sense speculating, what does the geth team say?

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A final proposal would be sure to provide more comprehensive details and transparency around funds usage.

We’ve learned from this article by the Ethereum Foundation that in 2021, $4M was provided to 5 ETH1 client teams. We could guess that the Geth team is getting about $1M/year or less. Offering $6M/year over 5 years to Geth contributors would allow the team to scale out its development and acquire the right talent, add additional supporting roles to scale up productivity.

If the team has 7 members right now and the team is getting a $1M budget allocation, that works out to a salary of about $142K/year. That’s rather low to be frank! While a flexible and fulfilling role, their skillset could pay far higher elsewhere. I’d advocate for starting off with upping their salaries to between $200K - $300K, while eventually tripling the team’s size. On the low end, that works out to $4.2M/year; on the high end, about $6.3M.

A 1.5M UNI allocation could be the sweetspot to account for volatility in the token and to encourage team members to hold their tokens over the long-term, but it may also be too much for the Uniswap DAO to be providing. The point was to just offer a small “boost”; to also encourage other teams to fund public goods and there are also other public goods to fund as well, so I’d say that cutting the original figure in half or into a third might be more reasonable.

$850M seems like a small amount. If the Foundation is running on a 10-year timeframe, that’s just $85M/year to fund all of it’s efforts. It’s no wonder many teams feel somewhat constrained on funding. It does seem like a funding issue to me, and aside from Ethereum’s cash-rich DAOs, it seems like there’d be nobody else to help the EF fund these teams.

I agree that there might be higher leverage ways to do this, though I still think a small UNI allocation, even if it’s far smaller than the original proposed amount, could be worthwhile in giving the Geth team a proper stake in the dApp ecosystem.

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Excellent idea, it’d be worth including something like this as part of a larger infrastructure grant.

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Calm down, nobody in here is in particular infatuated with the local beef you have with the OP. Let´s keep things here on track.

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I’m in support of providing funding to Geth, though I agree with comments above about the arbitrary amount. I think the ideal path forward would be to find out from the team themselves what amount of funding would be most useful based on their product roadmap and plans to grow the team over the next 1-2 years. Then we can always provide further funding in the future. I do believe there’s such a thing as having too much funding, to the point where it gets in the way of speed.

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We’re in support of funding public goods on Ethereum, especially those with as much impact as Geth. However, we agree with the sentiments above around discussing with the team the appropriate amount of funding and how this funding would impact their EF grants. If the EF grant is contingent on no outside funding, then perhaps exceptions can be made or this can be renegotiated from Uniswap strong position in the Ethereum ecosystem.