In the run up to one of the biggest festivals stateside, the city of Austin, Texas is buzzing. Local and international entrepreneurs, artists, designers, producers, and many others flock to the city each year in March for the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival. But SXSW isn’t the only reason. There is far more to Austin than just events.
Last year #DisruptionBanking spoke with Lee Bratcher at Texas Blockchain Council (TBC). Lee is a very influential force in the digital assets space in the Lone Star State, and one of the organizations the TBC team has been engaging with is ATX DAO.
What’s in a DAO?
The concept of a DAO or ‘decentralized autonomous organization’ has been around for some time. Although many will attribute the rise in popularity of the DAO to Maker DAO, there are other organizations that work similarly. Just consider the fan ownership of global soccer team Real Madrid or how the ownership of Minor League Baseball team Memphis Redbirds works.
In 2018 a revolutionary company hit the headlines amongst soccer communities across the world. London Football Exchange (LFE) was described as “the world’s first football stock exchange and fan marketplace”. The LFE promised a new football experience using tokens to help support teams large and small across the world.
Limited by the burdensome ICO, or ITO, process at the time, things have changed dramatically since. ATX DAO unites Austin’s crypto community, promotes builders and innovators, and advises legislative officials on blockchain practices. Membership is reflected through NFTs, which allows individuals to exercise voting rights
We spoke to Megan Murray, Operations Manager, and Mason Lynaugh, Co-Founder of ATX DAO, about how it all works. And why Austin has such a bright future.
Welcome to the ATX DAO revolution
“ATX DAO has been funded by multiple rounds of NFT raises. Each NFT comes with one vote. Everyone who joins has a vote, and the votes control the treasury,” Mason explained. “By buying our NFT, you are investing in the future.” The future of Austin.
The demand for ATX DAOs NFTs has been constant. In fact only today our editorial team filled a form on the ATX DAO website in case their memberships re-open. On a hot afternoon in Austin, I met and spoke with Megan and Mason in person. Just before a regular meeting of the ATX DAO community.
Using NFTs to grow ATX DAO addresses a concern about the way that DAOs work, Mason explained. The community is represented through individuals who own 150 NFTs right now, completely eradicating the risk of a whale upsetting the way that the ecosystem is going to evolve.
There might be a further hundred NFTs issued in the coming years, Mason expanded. Each owner of an NFT has to go through an evaluation process. The human factor within the growth of the community is at the heart of what the team are doing.
ATX DAO Introduces Bill in Texas Legislature
Strengthening the organization through the ATX DAO NFTs has led to a floor price of 250,000 ETH or more than $380 million dollars. However, people within the community have a lot more reasons to be involved than just the value of their NFT. “ATX DAO is not affected by the market,” Mason elaborated.
Less than a month ago the team at ATX DAO introduced a Bill in the Texas House of Representatives. The Bill is about helping make the Unincorporated Nonprofit Association more usable by DAOs and provide key definitions higher up in the business code to facilitate blockchain use by more traditional organizations. They have been working with legislators for some time now:
When speaking to legislators during the introduction of the Bill, Mason explained how DAOs are not the same as blockchain. It’s not about crypto. “A DAO is still just an organizational structure of people,” he accentuated. It’s not a technology.
Megan pointed to ‘Crypto Mum’ SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce as a good example of a forward-thinking legislator. “Hester is willing to look at things objectively,” she explained. Hester isn’t the only legislator who is forward-thinking. The local legislators in Texas are also open to explore possibilities that initiatives such as the metaverse or DAOs present.
Community Governance within ATX DAO
Unusually for some to read, but legislators in the Lone Star State are not full time. So it should come as no surprise that much like state legislators, Megan and Mason are able to be flexible in how they are developing the DAO too. So are many of the members of the community.
One of the core contributors at ATX DAO is Brennan Mulligan. Mason shared how Brennan had supported the organization in embracing the concept that every month you have a pot of money allocated to the community. Then, once a month, you have a ceremony where you appreciate each other and present your achievements. Creating a platform to allocate the money to individual stakeholders.
“Brennan did a great job creating this idea,” Mason explained.
Megan elaborated, “If you know your compensation is directly tied to how other people value your contribution you’re going to make sure you do a good job.” The idea is still on the experimental level within the organization. However, Megan highlighted, it has already mobilised people who may not have been as active before. It might not be a large compensation package, but “we can directly tie this to the services you provided.”
How ATX DAO engages with the Austin community
“Our pitch competition was a big step,” Megan explained, “We had so much positive feedback.
“We started with 73 applicants, mostly Austin-based. Some had already raised funding, some were still at the idea stage,” Megan shared. “We had 20 semi finalists whom we helped to match with mentors. Then we had the pitch competition.”
Mason explained how “we want to foster local entrepreneurship and innovation. This [the pitch competition] is just the first step.”
Austin is a big magnet for events like Consensus. And, whilst they do generate interest in the local community, Mason shared how these events don’t necessarily translate into long term growth or community. Whereas, “ATX DAO is always here,” and runs many events too.
Recent event partners include Quai Network. A significant layer 1 that calls Austin home. And includes many graduates of the University of Texas, where Mason also graduated. The founders and team at Quai have been supporting ATX DAO since the outset, Mason explained.
Other members of the ATX DAO community include representatives of the DeFi Austin meetup group, Dexible, Tennis Finance, and Credmark. All of them are benefitting as well as adding to the community evolving around the organization.
“Austin is where it’s happening,” Mason shared. “And it’s music, art, tech, and crypto.”
ATX DAO Apparel
The branding used by ATX DAO reflects the traditions of the cultural capital of Texas. ‘Keeping Austin weird’ is something that entrepreneurs in the state capitol embrace.
And, as the organization is involved in the sales of merchandise, Megan explained how it worked in the case of the DAO.
“We’re going to build out the merch line.” Kathleen Nguyendon has been supporting the organization in the capacity of design manager for the majority of ATX DAO’s existence. Going forward Megan shared how Kathleen would be more involved.
“Merch has been a marketing tool,” Mason shared. The organization has produced several lines of merch since the end of 2021. However, Mason is excited about making merch one of the big projects for this year.
It’s an opportunity to work with local Austin artists, Mason shared. Streetwear, capsule collections, limited edition drops, are just some of the ideas that the team are working on.
“I want people wearing ATX DAO that don’t even know about crypto,” he added. Merch isn’t a ‘crypto native’ idea, “we are doing something much more at ATX DAO. It’s an organization that makes things.”
Austin, a Magnet for Financial and Tech Talent
Over the years Austin has attracted both firms and talented technology specialists. UBS, Citadel Securities, State Street, Charles Schwab, Morningstar, VISA, Wise, and many others have opened offices in the capitol. Some of them making bigger statements than others:
Many developers who work in Austin are members of the ATX DAO community. To engage with the community better, Mason shared how there was a recent workshop run by one of the developers.
“ATX DAO can do almost anything,” Mason added. “It’s got a brand, it’s got a community with skilled and connected people. It’s got a city. It really has everything.”
“The focus has always been about establishing, growing, and maintaining a community,” Megan expanded. “What’s different is that now we’re in the maintaining whilst also growing phase. Which is new for us. Up till now it was growth, growth, growth.” That all changed when revenue streams started to increase, she added.
Up till now the organization has had to rely on crowdfunding and sponsorships. And sponsorship is only possible through organizing events, Mason clarified. Going forward there will also be options for corporate sponsorship, he assured me.
Protecting the ATX DAO Community
As the organization scales further it is bound to attract more attention from other stakeholders from within the Austin market. Mason explained how there was a distribution list within ATX DAO that interested parties can join.
But it’s a distribution list that has been painstakingly pulled together through a huge amount of work by the founding community.
“If something doesn’t give value to our members then we won’t send it to them,” Mason elaborated. He highlighted how he is keen to protect the community. Especially as ‘community’ is who ATX DAO are.
Join the Growing ATX DAO Community
It’s not just a waiting list for the next issuance of NFTs that are potential areas to work with ATX DAO. There will be further startup pitches in the future. And there will be a need for mentors. Both local, national and international. Representing banks, tech, crypto or other sectors.
Megan and Mason were very welcoming and extremely passionate about what is happening at ATX DAO. There is an excitement when you speak to them. And a lot of promise. Promise that the future of Austin looks great.
Find out more about ATX DAO and the growing community in Austin:
Author: Andy Samu
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