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Users in $39b SafeDAO call for unlock of governance tokens: ‘For the love of God, let this pass’

Users in $39b SafeDAO call for unlock of governance tokens: ‘For the love of God, let this pass’
DAO contributor Adrian Hacker submitted a proposal earlier this week, calling for a vote on the matter.
  • SafeDAO token contract is still paused, eight months after its airdrop.
  • DAO participants say they are frustrated with the lack of access to governance.

SafeDAO members are growing anxious as the governance tokens for the DAO behind Safe Protocol — a crypto custody and asset management platform with $39 billion in assets under management — are still locked, eight months after the airdrop that launched it.

DAO contributor Adrian Hacker submitted a proposal earlier this week, calling for a vote on the matter.

“With SAFE tokens as the primary mechanism for participating in governance, having them locked gives no on-ramp for those that want to participate in the governance of the SAFE and no off-ramp for those that are holding the token as early adopters or contributors,” the proposal stated.

SAFE is the name given to SafeDAO’s governance token. SafeDAO emerged as a spin-off of Gnosis Safe with an airdrop of its tokens eight months ago. The token gives voting power to holders within the DAO.

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SAFE tokens were made non-transferable right from the start of the DAO’s existence. This means that they cannot be sold on exchanges or transferred from one user to another.

Hacker’s proposal echoes some of the grumblings espoused by community members who say the non-transferable nature of SAFE tokens has kept them on the periphery of the DAO’s governance architecture.

They say without access to SAFE tokens, they do not have a path forward to make meaningful contributions to the DAO.

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The process to make the tokens transferable will require a DAO vote. Hacker said he does not have the required voting power to do so and will need help bringing the matter up for a vote.

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There are a few options open to Hacker, according to a SafeDAO Guardian and contributor who goes only by Daniel.

“This person could proactively contact people who have the required number of tokens, and convince one of them,” Daniel told DL News.

“The person could also wait and speculate that someone with enough tokens will put the proposal on Snapshot once it advanced to the appropriate stage.”

If the past is any indication, Hacker might be up against it in the quest to make the tokens transferable. The DAO previously voted on the matter shortly after its formation and vote ended with the community deciding to wait.

“It was definitely the correct decision to let the Safe token holders vote on the token transferability proposal shortly after the DAO formed,” Daniel said.

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“This vote has legitimised the previous decision by the team to have the token be non-transferable for the time being.”

The vote happened during the FTX collapse and some within the DAO say this situation impacted the polls. They say token holders were not keen on allowing transferability due to the negative market sentiments at the time.

Daniel agrees somewhat with this position describing the timing of the FTX collapse with respect to the vote as a “true black swan event.”

“Whether the outcome would have been different without the FTX collapse that week I don’t know, but not entirely unlikely,” Daniel said.

Auryn Macmillan, a SafeDAO Guardian, has a different opinion.

Was the DAO right in choosing to delay token transferability?

“It was the right move,” Macmillan told DL News.

“It kind of forced the DAO to focus on its core mission, rather than allowing itself to get distracted at such an early and critical phase of its development.”

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Some DAO participants said at the time that the DAO was not “mature enough” to unlock its tokens. They pointed to the lack of governance structure as basis for their position.

‘Enabling token transferability should not even be a question after this amount of time has elapsed’

SafeDAO has since begun a five-step process to be completed before reopening debate about unlocking the tokens.

But for members like Hacker, the process is taking too long and the delays have caused the DAO to lose momentum.

“If this is truly a decentralised autonomous organisation, then enabling token transferability should not even be a question after this amount of time has elapsed,” Hacker said.

The ongoing situation is palpable anxiety among a cross-section of DAO members who spoke to DL News.

“Please, for the love of God, let this pass or we will never get any progress,” a DAO participant said on the forum.

For some, such frustration is unnecessary.

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“There are plenty of routes to legitimately participating in the DAO, it’s really just a matter of showing up to the forums and getting involved,” Macmillan said.

According to Daniel, DAO members who contribute in other ways to the community outside of governance may end up being rewarded.

The SAFE Guardians programme has 25 million SAFE tokens under its control that is earmarked for rewarding active community members.

“So even if someone doesn’t have any SAFE tokens now and therefore can’t vote, they can still build something, or if they’re not technical write insightful posts in the forum, maybe even write a proposal draft, and in all likelihood they will be rewarded generously in the future,” Daniel said.

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