DAOs: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research July 16, 2023

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  • A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is an organization built with blockchain technology
  • DAOs are often used in the crypto ecosystem to trade cryptocurrency, although they may have other purposes, like supporting political campaigns
  • Admission to a DAO is usually predicated upon having a certain number of crypto tokens of the type specified in the DAO's rules
  • A DAO utilizes smart contracts to accomplish transactions


A DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization, is an organization that limits membership to parties with a specific number and type of digital tokens. A DAO can be used to accomplish a number of purposes, like exchanging a certain type of cryptocurrency. A DAO organizes groups of people without the need for a central authority, such as a bank.

A Brief History

In 2013, a group of developers introduced the concept of DAOs to create a decentralized venture capital fund. They had the goal of creating a fund run entirely by code. The fund would have no central authority to manage investments. The developers launched this project, called The DAO, in 2016. The DAO quickly became one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in history. It raised over $150 million in just a few weeks.

Ultimately, The DAO was hacked and the funds were stolen. This led to a hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain. The event resulted in the creation of the platform Ethereum Classic. Despite the setback, the concept of DAOs continued to evolve. Today, many successful DAOs operate in the cryptocurrency space.

What is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO)?

A DAO is a self-governing organization that operates on a blockchain. It is run entirely by code. Its rules and operations are transparent and open to all members. DAOs are designed to be decentralized. They operate independently of any central authority.

Each DAO is governed by a set of rules and regulations that is encoded in one or more DAO-specific smart contracts. The smart contracts are computer programs that are stored on the blockchain. They execute automatically when certain conditions are met. For example, a smart contract might be programmed to release funds when a certain number of members vote in favor of a proposal.

DAOs are run by their members. Typically, the members of a DAO are parties who hold a certain type and number of tokens. Each member has a say in the governance of the DAO. Members can vote on proposals and initiatives.

Getting Started

  • Utilize blockchain technology . DAOs are built on top of blockchains. This feature of the DAO helps strengthen use of the blockchain and enhances the popularity of the crypto ecosystem.
  • Use smart contracts. Smart contracts automate a DAO's decision-making process. Smart contracts can facilitate a range of actions, including simple and complex trades.
  • Acquire a cryptocurrency wallet . The wallet must support the blockchain on which the DAO is built.
  • Acquire cryptocurrency in the form of the native token of the DAO. Typically, having a certain amount of a specific type of token allows a user to participate in governance and decision-making.
  • See transactions remain protected and secure. Transactions for a DAO take place on the blockchain. Blockchains are decentralized, immutable ledgers that record transactions in a secure and transparent manner. They use cryptography to secure the network. This ensures no single entity can control a DAO.

Unique Aspects

  • Decentralized nature. DAOs are governed by their members. They are unlike traditional organizations, which are usually controlled by a central authority. In a DAO, decision-making is distributed across the network. Each member has a say as to what the organization does next.
  • Use of smart contracts. Decisions are made in a transparent and trustless manner without the need for intermediaries.
  • A new way for people to collaborate. Members of a DAO make decisions in a trustless, decentralized manner. This is particularly important in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), in which trust is a major issue. The use of DAOs allows members to collaborate and make decisions without the need for centralized control. Theoretically, this reduces the risks of fraud and corruption.


  • Transparency. DAOs are completely transparent. All of their transactions and activities are recorded on the blockchain for everyone to see. This limits the potential for fraud and manipulation within the organization.
  • Decentralization. DAOs are completely decentralized. They are not controlled by any single individual or entity. Theoretically, a DAO is not subject to the whims of any one person or group. Its members reach a consensus to make decisions.
  • Efficiency. DAOs are designed to be highly efficient. Members make all of the decisions using a set of predefined rules and algorithms. They are able to make decisions quickly and without the need for lengthy discussions and debates, if they so choose.
  • Low overhead costs. DAOs are designed to be highly cost-effective. They do not require centralized management and infrastructure. The costs of running a DAO can be significantly lower than those of a traditional organization.
  • Accessibility. DAOs are designed to be accessible to all members, regardless of their location and background. Anyone who meets the DAO's minimum requirements can become a member and participate in the organization's decision-making processes.


  • Lack of legal recognition. DAOs are not currently recognized as legal entities in most jurisdictions. This can make it difficult for them to operate in certain industries or enter into contracts with other organizations.
  • Risk of hacking. DAOs are vulnerable to hacking attacks. They are powered by blockchain technology, which means they are not immune to security breaches. Members of a DAO need to be vigilant and take steps to protect their assets.
  • Lack of accountability. DAOs are not subject to the same level of accountability as traditional organizations. They are not controlled by any centralized authority or management. There is a risk that each member may act in their own self-interest rather than in the best interests of the entire organization.
  • Complexity. DAOs can be complex to set up and operate. They require a significant amount of technical expertise and knowledge of blockchain technology. As a result, DAOs may not be accessible to everyone. It may be particularly difficult for parties who are unfamiliar with the crypto ecosystem to join a DAO.