DAO Raises Millions in ETH to Bid on Copy of US Constitution


ConstitutionDAO was formed with one big goal in mind: to purchase a rare copy of the United States Constitution at an upcoming auction at Sotheby’s.

To do this, ConstitutionDAO, which is a collective of “internet friends” and cryptocurrency investors, has decided to form a DAO, or a decentralized autonomous organization, to pool funds.

DAOs can come in all shapes and structures, but put simply, “a DAO is an Internet community with a shared bank account,” Cooper Turley, an investor and builder of several popular DAOs, previously told CNBC Make It.

“Basically, a small group of people come together to form a focus group, and then they decide to raise capital, [typically] using an Ethereum wallet, ”Turley said. From there, they decide how to collectively fund their DAO’s mission.

In this case, the ConstitutionDAO hopes to submit the winning bid for a copy of the US Constitution. Being one of only 13 copies, Sotheby’s estimates that it will be bought between 15 and 20 million dollars. Currently, ConstitutionDAO has raised nearly $ 6 million in ether from its collective members, others in the cryptocurrency space, and institutional investors. like the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.

By donating, investors receive governance tokens, which are cryptocurrencies linked to the project, rather than fractional ownership of the document. Governance includes the ability to advise on where the Constitution should be displayed, how it should be displayed and ConstitutionDAO’s mission, according to the DAO website. In the event of a purchase, the DAO would collectively own the copy of the Constitution.

The Sotheby’s auction will take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. EST. If the DAO is successful, it plans to “put the Constitution in the hands of the people” and display it to the public in a safe place. Where in particular would be voted on by DAO members. If not won, the DAO will vote on what to do, but its members say it will likely return the funds to those who donated.

CNBC Make It spoke to ConstitutionDAO contributors or core team members Alice Ma, Tina (who requested that her last name be withheld), Anisha Sunkerneni, Adrienne Young and Brian Wagner to discuss the birth of the collective, their motivations and more.

How did the idea to create this DAO come about?

Alice Mum: An article about the Sotheby’s Constitution auction began circulating on Twitter and was shared in a few group discussions. A few groups of Internet friends started tweeting, “Hey, how about we buy the Constitution together? [and] started to see that others had a similar idea and decided to team up. A Zoom call, a Discord server, and a few sleepless nights later, what had started as a joke had turned into a serious idea with a real chance to place a bid in the auction.

How did you feel as funding increased and interest in DAO skyrocketed? Was the response surprising?

Tina: Honestly, we weren’t expecting something like this. It’s hard to find words to express how surprised and inspired we were. But we didn’t have time to celebrate ⁠ – we have worked tirelessly to help grow this community in a scalable way, to ensure we have the right legal and financial infrastructure in place to receive contributions and get the word out. so that anyone who wants to be a part of it can hear about it.

What’s the biggest takeaway that people should understand? Is there one aspect that you find undercover in the midst of this wave of interest?

Anisha Sunkerneni: What is particularly inspiring for us (and our contributors) is that the people who participate in our DAO will be able to visit and view this Constitution, knowing that they have participated in this moment and have a say in what happens to him. It’s completely different from the experience of visiting a document at the National Archives, say.

There are a lot of new governance models being developed in the web3 ecosystem, and for us there is something very appropriate about using these new tools and ideas to bring this document (which also put together a new and sustainable governance system), in this new world with us.

Alice Mum: Something else that has been really amazing to see is that many people who have contributed told us that this is their first time joining a DAO, or even the very first time they are buying. or sent cryptocurrency. It makes us really happy that we are a part of their history and that our community has been a welcoming and positive place for them to learn.

If you bid higher, what’s next for DAO?

Adrienne Young: We have a long way to go, but we feel really optimistic. If we lose the auction, our main plan is to return the contributions. We have mechanisms in place for this – we are receiving contributions through Juicebox right now, and they are able to issue refunds if we lose. We are also a DAO, so this will be voted on by the community, and it is possible that another route will be chosen, such as bidding on another historical artifact or donating the money to charity.

If you are successful, what are the next steps for DAO?

Brian Wagner: Basically, making sure the Constitution is safe and transferred to a safe place and ready to receive it. We are fully committed to keeping the document preserved and in very good hands, but also allowing DAO members to determine where it is displayed and visible. He can travel or live in the same place for a long time. We really don’t know, and it makes us proud and excited to say it.

Beyond that, it really depends on everyone involved. We will propose future initiatives to the DAO, and the holders of the governance token will decide the future of the organization.

Tina: Something that has been truly central to our mission and our community is that this copy of the Constitution will be the only one truly governed by its citizens – the people for whom the Constitution was written! Based on the decisions of the DAO, it can be displayed nationwide, and everyone who has contributed will have a say in where it is displayed and for how long.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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