Vision vs Profit
A new visitor exploring Foundry's website and other media will find two main themes that might appear unrelated - an ideological theme of Radical Freedom, and an economic, business-focused one that many will recognize as a Venture Capital strategy.
Radical Freedom is illustrated well in our product Permapost, a platform for radically free speech: A permapost can never be deleted or censored, and permapost authors are pseudonymous by default and can't be silenced. The ZimDai plan goes further, laying out a blueprint for a sort of economic jailbreak for the Zimbabwean citizens trapped in an abusive economic regime. By focusing on these projects, Foundry does not ask permission to make steps toward a radically free world.
Venture Capital is much more practical. Here, Foundry uses a treasury of funds to pursue profitable ventures, and captures any profit to grow this treasury and repeat the process. The posterchild for this theme would be the dETH and Levrly products: straightforward DeFi products whose main appeal to Foundry is their promise of a possibly rapid and high return on investment. Within this strategy, Foundry identifies projects whose potential for profit far outweighs the cost of investment.
Taken separately like this, these two pieces aren't very interesting. The Vision may be inspiring, but in today's cutthroat capitalist world, one needs more than an inspiring vision to get anywhere. The Strategy may be practical, but without a unique niche it doesn't stand out against other venture capital funds.
But taken together, and keeping in mind that Foundry is an ungovernable DAO, an extremely exciting niche appears before us, ripe for harvesting: profitable ventures that threaten entrenched power.
In June 2019, Schalk and Logan of Team Toast developed DAIHard: a tool to allow anyone to trade fiat for crypto, anywhere in the world, without KYC. Even in jurisdictions that were illegal. Even if the government tried to shut the tool down.
DAIHard would be an unhealable hole in currency control, destroying one of the last remaining strangleholds the old world had on the emerging new economy. And Logan and Schalk would make a pretty profitable penny, as an economic thank-you for reducing tyranny in the world.
It was possible to build this unkillable product because it existed entirely on Ethereum, and relied on the game theory of burnable payments to make sure the two strangers who entered into a deal couldn't profit off of any attempted scam. It could support any kind of fiat transfer imaginable: in-person meetings, bank transfer, even blind cash drops. Imagine putting in an order to sell DAI for a local currency to a country just before you board the flight there, and someone shows up at the airport with the cash. DAIHard could support this.
So what happened? Why didn't DAIHard come to market and change the world?
Because Schalk and Logan got scared.
Consider the consequences of a successful product like DAIHard, actively marketed and maintained by these two (non-psuedonmyous) developers. Is DAIHard illegal? Was developing it a crime? If a user launders money on DAIHard, shall Schalk and Logan be punished? The questions had no clear answer, but it's hard to imagine the nations of the world would view these questions without certain biases and points to prove--especially those that relied heavily on the power gained by controlling money.
It's not even clear whether the risk to the developers would be entirely contained within the legal system. Who knows what sort of nasty enemies would emerge from the dark inner workings of today's powerful institutions, if that power was credibly threatened?
Logan did not want to spend his days looking over his shoulder for men in suits. Schalk did not want to tempt lawsuits and other ire from TLAs. Perhaps these fears were overblown. But perhaps not. And these two inventors were not ready to roll those dice.
DAIHard was a perfect blend of the two themes mentioned above: it was radically free and profitable. But that was the problem. To profit off of a radically free product, and to market and maintain such a product, is to paint a target on one's back for retributive actions by any entities whose power is threatened by that freedom.
As a result of this looming threat, DAIHard did not get pushed to market. How many other such endeavors have been stillborn due to this fear? How many freedom fighters had an inspiring idea, only to toss it away after thinking "well, there's no way I'd get away with doing that!"
Surely the number is tragically high, and our world is less free for it.
This tragically high number is Foundry's niche: profitable products that are so radically free, that mortal humans are afraid to pursue them.
Foundry: a Sovereign DAO for Dangerous Ventures
DAOs have the potential to be sovereign: ungovernable, unstoppable, and unkillable. However, most DAOs don't target this explicitly, and thus fail to fully realize this potential. Most DAOs have one of the following characteristics, which prevents them from being truly sovereign:
- Reliant on a Legal Entity
- Reliant on Attackable Centralized Infrastructure
- Identifiable/Threatenable Large Token Holders
- Reliant on Attackable Profit Streams
But it's possible to design and grow a DAO without these and similar attack surfaces. In fact, at a technical level, the simplest of DAOs have a basic level of sovereignty. It's on the social level that this is usually impaired, most often by having well-known, identifiable token holders who can be threatened with lawsuits or less savory threats.
Foundry's explicit aim is to optimize for this sovereignty, such that when it builds something like DAIHard, it can't be effectively attacked in response - allowing it to continue to build freedom-increasing, profitable ventures.
Foundry is still only in the infancy of autonomy, having recently gotten full governance. The next big step is to gather a community of resilient (ideally pseudonymous) FRY holders who coordinate on forums and vote intelligently on Foundry's next actions.