Investing in Ahoy

Several months ago Jordan Cooper introduced me to two entrepreneurs, Ben and Spencer, the co-founders of Ahoy. When I first spoke with them, I was instantly enamored by their vision. The thing that stood out to me is that they were exploring a practical use case for crypto that bridges the digital and analog world while making the internet fun.

Ahoy enables anyone to create a Bounty, which you can think of like a GoFundMe for something that you want to see happen in the real world. People anywhere can create a financial incentive for someone or something to take a desired action. Want your favorite band to collaborate with your favorite visual artist? You can create a Bounty that incentivizes them to do so, and the money raised can either be distributed directly to the artists (i.e. the "fulfillers") or to a charity or cause of your choice. The Bounty is only paid once the fulfillers complete the action in the real world and all of the contributors (or "stakers") vote on whether or not the fulfillers completed the bounty. It's a democratic process end to end.

One of the things that I think will be particularly interesting is using Bounties as a tool to incentivize political action. Today, many politicians are bought by corporations and special interest groups via Super PACs. This all happens behind the scenes and in secret. Bounties can be a tool to enable the public to influence politicians. Imagine a world where millions of individuals contribute to a Bounty that pays a Mitch McConnell Super PAC if and only if he gets Congress to pass a defined set of common-sense gun reform legislation? The concept of buying votes feels very icky. I'm sure there is legal complexity to this and this particular example is definitely contentious, but if this type of behavior happens in private, why not bring it out into the open and let everyone participate in the system? Incentives drive behavior, and Ahoy is an experiment to let the public coordinate around the specific incentives it can deliberately create to drive the actions it wants to see. I'm following a project called DAOPAC that is exploring this idea within politics.

But there are so many more potential examples of Bounties that span the spectrum of super serious to super fun. You can probably dream up several things you'd like to see happen in the real world right now where money can incentive it to happen. The open-ended nature of a Bounty will unlock creative projects that I can't even begin to fathom today, and I find that so incredibly exciting. It's a tool that provides a blank canvas for online communities to create real-world outcomes. You can follow along here as people create more of them.

But why the blockchain? Ultimately, to most participants the Blockchain shouldn't matter. In fact, it should and will be almost entirely abstracted away from the customer experience. Today, you can only fund a bounty with SOL and you must use your Phantom wallet (or a SOL wallet) to participate. That's obviously a massive barrier for the average individual to contribute, so the team plans to enable normal fiat rails as well so anyone can contribute with their credit card or bank account. What crypto enables for Ahoy is two things that are important: 1) every Bounty is effectively a crypto-enabled escrow that programmatically releases or withholds funds based on the collective votes of stakers, and 2) it meaningfully reduces network extraction fees such that fulfillers can receive as close to the full Bounty amount as possible and each staker's contribution is measured in full (as a counter-example, GoFundMe takes 2.9% of a transaction and also $0.30 for every individual donor). This is important because when a staker contributes $1, the entirety of that $1 is committed to the Bounty and received by the fulfiller. Micro-contributions become possible which means large-scale participation is viable and effective.

I've written before that most of what is happening in the crypto world is unimportant and counter-productive to fulfilling its promise. Ahoy is an experiment that, if it fulfills its potential, takes us a meaningful step in the right direction. It selectively uses crypto-infrastructure to deliver a superior user experience to non-crypto users across the world, while creating a tool that otherwise would not have previously existed. I'm quite excited to see where this goes.

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