What initially attracted me to CityDAO was the name, the meme of it. I imagined a flourishing city of the future, operating on open source protocols, where the government is competent, markets are efficient, and citizens can count on rule of law. A City DAO would support this vision, building public goods at the intersection of local government and Web3. It’s this intersection that I can’t stop thinking about. Many of our cities’ government offices share the same fundamental function: to steward public ledgers. Civil servants and outdated software handle data validation, permissions, and consensus (to the extent it’s needed). Imagine how open source token technology could transform the stewardship of those ledgers.
Today, I work in crypto full time on the team at RWA Co., a venture helping MakerDAO onboard real world assets as collateral for DAI loans. For the last decade plus, however, I’ve been working in real estate, specifically in Philadelphia, the poorest big city in America. Philly has many, many vacant properties, and I started a company, Forward LLC, with the mission to increase quality of life in Philadelphia by activating that uninhabited space. A huge fraction of Philly’s vacant properties have title issues, and clearing the title requires navigating city government and the civil court system. I learned that these public institutions are flawed: arbitrary, friction-filled, and, sadly, rife with corruption. Philly has excellent geography, healthcare, universities, infrastructure, history, and human capital. Yet it fails to flourish because of its government.
Philly isn’t the only city failing to increase the flourishing of its citizens, the efficiency of its markets, and rule of law. From the local level to the national level, the incompetency of our governments is an enormous problem in America. That said, “Love it or leave it!” is small-minded. I am a proud American, and I am for “love it and revolutionize it.”
I dream of a future for Philly where the government operates with competency. I dream of the same for America, a rebirth of effective, trustworthy institutions. And I believe that open source token technology will enable that.
Today, municipal systems are closed source, opaque, corrupt, slow, and costly for users (and taxpayers). Even the public records data that is legally in the public domain is hard to access.
I think CityDAO has an incredible opportunity to produce the open source primitives needed for a city or county to operate on Web3. I am most familiar with the real property systems and want to work on those.
Here are some primitives needed for real estate rights to transact 100% on Web3:
“Tokenized Real Estate” The legal docs and smart contracts that enable tokens to govern a real world legal entity like an LLC that owns real world assets like real estate such that token holders are the legal beneficiaries. All of this in compliance with Securities law.
“Smart Leases”. This is the legal docs, smart contracts, and payment systems that enable a digital lease between Lessor and Lessee to be recorded on chain, assignable on chain, etc.
Web3 mortgage financing (I work on this at MakerDAO)
Web3 Recorder of Deeds
Web3 title insurance
Web3 compatible Register of Wills
Web3 compatible Municipal Court
After 3., we go from building on the existing municipal services layer to actually building a new municipal services layer. I think it would be fun to tackle these one at a time in essentially that order, and I hope there’s a home for this at CityDAO.
I propose this as a direction rather than CityDAO purchasing more real estate (ironic from a guy who’s expert in real estate transactions). CityDAO’s treasury will not go far if CityDAO chooses a capital intensive operating model. The current treasury balance of $6,128,503 USD buys a lot more open source software and legal docs than it does real estate.
I look forward to your comments about my ideas.
On a final note, it is not lost on me the hubris of thinking that CityDAO, a DAO that, in this moment, struggles to figure out how to govern itself, will somehow fix local Government. My experience with MakerDAO governance has taught me a little about which DAO political systems work and which don’t – The design of these token-economic-political systems is very much a work in progress across the crypto ecosystem. CityDAO is fortunate to have a lot of other DAOs that it can look to for inspiration. I am interested in helping CityDAO figure out the best model for governance.
You can find me online, on Discord as MaxRealEstate#4705 and in this Discourse to engage with this community and core team.