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Could DAOs Change the Future of Investing?

If you’ve never heard of a decentralized autonomous organization before, you’re not alone. But DAOs, which essentially involve a community of individuals with voting rights coming together to work toward a common goal (i.e., one recent DAO bid to buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution with crypto), could shake up the world of investing before you know it. In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Nov. 19, Fool contributors Travis Hoium, Toby Bordelon, and John Rosevear discuss the emergence of DAOs and what they could mean for the future of investing.

Travis Hoium: Maybe this gets people to think about what structures do we need to build to make a DAO successful in buying something like this or a productive asset, a business that’s maybe more of a community asset?

I think that’s where this whole concept gets really interesting is if you start to look into crypto and NFTs, a lot of those concepts are built around a community of people. This is like the meme world, but if you were part of this ConstitutionDAO, you were part of the meme, you were part of the community, and whether or not it was an actual ownership over it, you have ownership over the idea.

That’s why I brought up like a sports franchise, I think, is a natural extension. We talked earlier this week about potentially a DAO buying the Miami Marlins.

Not a lot of people care about the least valuable franchise in Major League Baseball, but if you could own a piece of it, that would make me look at that franchise a little bit differently. That’s where something like this is, there’s something there.

Toby Bordelon: I think that’s right. Then when you talk about sports franchises, I’m reminded of the Green Bay Packers.

Hoium: Yes, Packers is a perfect example of this.

Bordelon: Theoretically, they sell stock, but there’s no voting rights. You have no right to get any dividend. There’s no right to sell it. But you can imagine something like that with a DAO where you might say, we’re going to structure it a little bit differently so that the people in the DAO are not necessarily the owners of the team. But we will convey some voting rights, we will convey some information rights. We will convey some rights that allow you to have some say in the future of this franchise.

That would be fascinating. Or maybe you go all the way. Maybe you eventually get a community-owned sports team. I don’t how the sports teams would go for that. Some might think — we talked about this earlier. My position was there’s no way Major League Baseball would ever go for that. But then you were like, I don’t know, maybe it generates the excitement that that is necessary to bring people back to the sport. There are a couple of ways this could go.

Hoium: It’s going to maybe take somebody like that being desperate. If the value of sports franchises start going down and an owner who paid a billion dollars for a franchise, now their offers on the private market from other wealthy people is $600 million dollars, they might go, hey, at least let me open up this to other bidders.

Bordelon: You can also see like maybe Major League Soccer, which doesn’t have the same cachet, could say, you know what? This could be a way to suddenly get this league more popular.

Hoium: John, a Formula One team? Let’s start a DAO.

John Rosevear: [laughs] The problem now in Formula One is you’ve got to pay $200 million to enter. This is a recent thing. It used to be you could just sign up, show up with cars, get your cars approved and race, but now you have to pay this huge fee to entry. You could crowdsource the fee perhaps, but then you’ve got to build the team, and that’s probably another better part of a billion dollars right there, so it be would a lot.

Bordelon: These guys got $45 million in five days. [laughs]

Rosevear: It’s true. It’s true. [laughs]

Bordelon: I feel like you go a month. If you promote this on Twitter to racing fans.

Rosevear: I can think of a couple of Formula One teams that might benefit from this. [laughs]

Hoium: Williams could absolutely benefit from this.

Rosevear: I was thinking more of Haas. [laughs]

Hoium: Haas, a really good example, yes.

Bordelon: This is fascinating. ProShopGuy says, “There is a lot of friction in using the crypto marketplace.” We did see that with this, where you’re not going to get a refund of the full amount because of those transaction costs, but I think maybe that changes over time or maybe there’s room for that to change somehow, as this evolves and maybe this becomes a thing. Maybe this is the way things go in the future.

I don’t know. You can think about do DAOs become a player in the buyout market, competing with private equity. Again, you’ve got to get around securities issues, I think, ultimately for that. We have new things. New regulations have allowed greater participation in some crowdsourced deals.

Real estate is a good example of this. I’ve done a couple of real estate crowdsource deals myself that I’ve invested in. That’s democratizing. Maybe you might see the DAO movement put pressure on regulators to say at some point, some of these markets should not be just for rich people. Maybe we need to open this up a little more, and maybe this is a groundswell of support to lead in that direction.

I don’t know how it’s going to go, but it’s just fascinating the amount of money they’re able to put together in a short amount of time considering what you could do if you actually didn’t just wake up one morning and think this is a fun idea. You thought, oh wow, let’s plan this out, let’s put a real plan in place and see what we can do if we’re really super organized. [laughs]

Hoium: The community was pretty small. The niche crypto Web 3.0 community who did this activated it really quickly, but we’re talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of people that they’re reaching. This isn’t reaching tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people. So as this whole revolution happens, the pool of potential buyers is going to get bigger and bigger. So the transaction cost will come down. I think a lot of these barriers will potentially come down. I don’t know. Maybe it’s part of the future, maybe it’s not, but it’s definitely interesting and worth watching.

Bordelon: Yeah. I have always been a believer that one answer to a lot of our social and economic problems is expanding stock ownership, making every person in this country, every person in this planet, an owner of companies that are doing business in the world. If you just make that the default, then people start to buy into that idea.

Maybe this would move in that direction to give them this concept of corporate ownership. It shouldn’t be just a thing for a few people. It should be a thing for everybody. Everybody controlling these assets that are doing potentially positive things in the world. Fascinating. We’ll see how this goes.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.




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