CityDAO: Pioneering the blockchain metropolis of the future

Enter the second edition of our “DAO Spotlight” series, where we feature the most innovative Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) operating on Snapshot. Today, we turn our focus to one of the most disruptive organisation in the world of urban development and land ownership: CityDAO.

Imagine a world where the power to shape the cities we live in rests not in the hands of a select few, but in the collective wisdom and participation of its inhabitants. This groundbreaking initiative pioneers decentralised governance, empowering citizens to collaboratively govern and transform their urban landscapes. Step away for a moment, as we delve into a new realm of community-driven decision-making, where CityDAO emerges as a trailblazer, ushering in a future where cities are shaped by the very people who call them home.

CityDAO: Reimagining land ownership on the blockchain

CityDAO is an ambitious decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) aiming to revolutionise the concept of land ownership and urban development through the power of blockchain technology. At its core, CityDAO seeks to create a network of assets on the Ethereum blockchain, starting with a single parcel of land located in Wyoming, USA.

Where the digital frontier meets the real-world plains in Wyoming, at Parcel 0 by CityDAO. Credit: CityDAO
Where the digital frontier meets the real-world plains in Wyoming, at Parcel 0 by CityDAO. Credit: CityDAO

In this innovative ecosystem, each parcel of land is represented as a unique Non-Fungible Token (NFT). These NFTs can be collectively owned by the DAO or by individual participants. By putting land on the blockchain, CityDAO aims to facilitate seamless land transfers, establish programmable digital records, and enable ownership through crowdfunding. CityDAO's vision extends beyond mere land ownership, as the organisation plans to incorporate the placement of buildings and structures on the land, further expanding the possibilities for development within the digital city.

The journey of CityDAO began with the acquisition of 40 acres of land in Wyoming, near Yellowstone National Park, by leveraging the state's groundbreaking 2021 DAO law. This legislation recognises DAO governance of LLC corporations, providing a solid legal framework for CityDAO's operations. With Parcel 0 serving as the first piece of land on the blockchain, interested users can gain access by becoming citizens and joining the CityDAO Discord channel.

How does CityDAO operate?

CityDAO's mechanics spark curiosity and contemplation. By linking physical land to blockchain assets, the project blurs the lines between reality and digital existence. A three-tiered social hierarchy exists within CityDAO, granting various privileges to citizens.

  • Citizen: The novice level of the game, offering basic voting rights and access to the Discord channel.

  • Founding citizen: The high-class citizenship tier, providing early access to land auctions, allowing bidding privileges before regular citizens.

  • First citizen: The unique and exclusive position held by the very first person to purchase a CityDAO certificate. First Citizens gain the right to name a parcel of land and enjoy the benefits of Founding Citizenship.

A sneak peak at CityDAO’s citizenship certificates.Credit: CityDAO
A sneak peak at CityDAO’s citizenship certificates.Credit: CityDAO

CityDAO actively welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the project's success, regardless of their level of expertise. While the team comprises numerous individuals with impressive credentials, such as countless PHDs and top professionals in their respective fields, the community also consists of enthusiastic learners who join with little to no knowledge about city building and gradually acquire substantial insights.

CityDAO embraces everyone, fostering an inclusive environment for all to participate and thrive. Additionally, individuals versed in land use are essential in determining the appropriate usage, governance, and control of the land. The project also acknowledges the importance of meme-making and community sustainability in fostering an engaged and vibrant CityDAO ecosystem.

The governance model of CityDAO: Ready, vote, go!

The governance of the land within CityDAO is driven by the citizens themselves. Through leveraging decentralised voting on Snapshot, citizens collectively decide how the land should be utilised and governed, while also developing the DAO even further. This democratic approach ensures that the community's voice is heard in determining the future of the city. To actively participate in the decision-making process, users can purchase a certificate of citizenship, which takes the form of an NFT.

Also, while the land on the blockchain is intrinsically linked to physical plots of land in Wyoming, it's important to note that citizens do not individually own specific portions of the land. Instead, their ownership lies in the rights to govern and influence policy changes and laws regarding the land.

Once individuals become established citizens of CityDAO, they gain the ability to participate in the submission and voting of various proposals, all while exploring different voting strategies. For instance, when the DAO acquired land in Wyoming, they conducted a "temperature check" by posing a question to their members on Snapshot: "Which monument should be built on parcel 0?”. Members were given the opportunity to rank their preferences for different monument options. These options included statues of prominent figures like George Washington and Shiba Inu, a sculpture of Vitalik Buterin, or the choice of not supporting the proposal at all. Without any surprise, the CityDAO logo emerged as the top-ranked preference, suggesting the possibility of one day seeing the futuristic CityDAO bronze logo gracing the parcel.

Which monument would you like to build on Parcel 0? Credit: Snapshot
Which monument would you like to build on Parcel 0? Credit: Snapshot

As CityDAO pioneers the path of decentralised governance, supported by robust tools and innovative approaches, it sets a compelling example for the potential of DAOs in shaping the cities of tomorrow. With citizen empowerment at its core, CityDAO is forging a path towards a truly collaborative and dynamic urban landscape.

CityDAO: A journey through time - from inception to present

The journey of CityDAO, from inception to its current status, is indeed a fascinating tale. It all started with a tweet in July 2021 by co-founder Scott Fitsimones, expressing his interest in buying land in Wyoming. His tweet quickly caught the attention of many, leading to the official registration of CityDAO as an LLC by October of the same year. The team initiated their fundraising campaign, and in a significant milestone, the first Citizenship NFT was sold. The event generated interest in the crypto community and consequently, the collective successfully purchased a 40-acre parcel in Wyoming.

The single tweet that revolutionised real estate, 1000 parcels at a time. Credit: CityDAO
The single tweet that revolutionised real estate, 1000 parcels at a time. Credit: CityDAO

CityDAO gained even more traction in November 2021 as several influential figures from the crypto sphere, including Vitalik Buterin, Mark Cuban, Anthony Pompliano, and Balaji Srinivasan, acquired Citizenship NFTs. Their participation substantially boosted the credibility of the project. Consequently, the CityDAO treasury soared to an impressive $8.5 million. In December, CityDAO integrated the Chainlink Verifiable Random Function (VRF) to ensure secure on-chain randomness, a crucial step in establishing an operating agreement and charter for the Wyoming DAO LLC.

2022 kicked off with CityDAO taking critical steps toward decentralisation and resilience. By January, the CityDAO Council had finalised the Charter, introducing measures to ensure its long-term success. That same month, however, they were forced to confront a phishing scam that had affected their Discord server.

Scott Fitsimones continued to champion the CityDAO cause, speaking at EthDenver in February, which helped gain further support for the project. This led to substantial progress in establishing the CityDAO Council and launching a podcast. The subsequent month saw the CityDAO Council completing the Charter and developing plans for future parcels and guilds.

The same month, February 2022, CityDAO organised an exciting Super Bowl party, primarily focused on watching the crypto advertisements. The event turned out to be one of the most memorable highlights for the CityDAO community members. The gathering witnessed the enthusiastic participation of numerous citizens, creating a magical atmosphere as like-minded individuals, mainly founders and builders, convened to discuss and showcase their projects aimed at improving people's lives. The experience of meeting these passionate individuals working tirelessly to create a positive impact was truly awe-inspiring for the CityDAO community members, leaving a lasting impression on their journey within the DAO.

By May, CityDAO had conducted the Parcel 0 NFT drop and successfully passed a proposal for a "One-Person One-Vote" system, known as quadratic voting. They also established a mission statement and key metric, and announced a grant program in June. Additionally, a partnership was established with Nemus for conservation efforts in the Amazon Rainforest.

Shifting paradigms, one vote at a time: Snapshots of CityDAO's audacious journey towards Quadratic Voting. Credit: Snapshot
Shifting paradigms, one vote at a time: Snapshots of CityDAO's audacious journey towards Quadratic Voting. Credit: Snapshot

Throughout July, CityDAO introduced new parcel types, Baby Parcel and Big Parcel, and released the Parcel 0 viewer app. They were also featured in a TED Talk. August saw the announcement of the grant program winners, and the approval of The Network City CIP.

The beginning of 2023 was marked by CityDAO's ambitious idea to crowdfund territory worldwide and strive for diplomatic recognition, under the concept of a "Network State." They announced the world's first NFT lease for a piece of land in Blanca, Colorado, with the lease awarded based on citizen voting. Following a major earthquake in Turkey, CityDAO donated $9,000 USDC to relief efforts.

February 2023 saw CityDAO initiate a discussion on transitioning to representative democracy through elections. They participated in EthDenver 2023, where their Harberger NFT marketplace project achieved considerable recognition. In fact, the CityDAO team also got 1st place in the ColoradoJam track that helped the state of Colorado find innovative ways to use the Ethereum blockchain.

The CityDAO team are big winners of ETHDenver. Credit: CityDAO
The CityDAO team are big winners of ETHDenver. Credit: CityDAO

By March 2023, the Harberger NFT marketplace project had placed in the top 3 in the "DAOs & Communities category" at EthDenver. CityDAO began to explore the possibility of acquiring a house in Turkey to benefit its citizens and various communities.

By April, CityDAO had committed to a project aimed at acquiring a house in Turkey. With a budget of $3,000 and a two-month timeline, the project aimed to provide a detailed report on potential properties, legal considerations, rental prices, and operational aspects. This initiative was aimed at increasing CityDAO's visibility, expanding its community, and generating passive income through rentals. Moving forward, Phase 1 of the project is focused on these goals. Phase 2 is planned to develop a comprehensive roadmap, marketing plan, timeline, budget, and an estimation of return on investment. It will also involve the evaluation of pros and cons and the formation of a dedicated team.

As CityDAO continues to expand its influence in the blockchain community, it's poised to become a significant player for hackers, blockchain communities, DAOs, citizens, and the NFT sector. Its journey from inception to present day shows the power of a strong vision and community, and it is anticipated that CityDAO will continue to grow and innovate in the future.

By bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds, CityDAO seeks to create a unique digital representation of physical land. Participants have the opportunity to purchase real-world land in Wyoming, subsequently selling the rights of governance associated with it. While citizens do not possess individual ownership of specific land parcels, their influence through voting allows them to shape the destiny of the city. As CityDAO continues to grow and attract support, the project's values and citizenship certificates are expected to appreciate in value significantly. The cost of citizenship has already increased, making it a potentially valuable investment for the future.

The enthusiasm surrounding CityDAO's vision and the prospect of a blockchain-driven city sets the stage for a thrilling and transformative journey into the realm of decentralised urban living.

Unlock the future, brick by brick: Mint your CityDAO NFT

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If the story of CityDAO has inspired you, explore more DAOs on our Blog. Snapshot provides DAOs with an innovative platform to decentralise governance and make it easy to vote and create proposals. Discover more by joining an existing space or by creating your own.

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