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MIP39c2-SP12: Adding Collateral Engineering Services Core Unit

Preamble

MIP39c2-SP#: 12
Author(s): @monkey.irish
Contributors:
Tags: core-unit, cu-ces-001, mandate
Status: Request for Comments (RFC)
Date Applied: 2021-05-12
Date Ratified: <yyyy-mm-dd>

Sentence Summary

MIP39c2-SP12 adds Collateral Engineering Services Core Unit, CES-001.

For more information on the changes to this MIP, please see:

Specification

Motivation

MakerDAO and the ecosystem is faced with several critical supply side issues.

The pace of innovation in the cryptocurrency industry is outstripping the protocol's ability to keep up with it. To thrive in today's market, we not only have to maintain our first mover position, we need to continue increase the velocity of innovation to prevent an existential threat lurking amongst current DeFi players, the multichain future, and entry by traditional finance.

And how do we systematically attract and onboard the trillions of dollars of assets represented in the real world? We are off to a good start as the community is experimenting in different asset classes, with more approaches in the pipeline. Overall, the future growth and long-term success of the protocol is dependent upon the inclusion of a wide range of off-chain assets.

In my opinion, one of the highest priority is to have a Core Unit solely focused on the productization of collateral for the Maker protocol. Since the Multi-collateral Dai launch and with adoption of the collateral onboarding process by the community, we have done a great job with the resources available to us. Now, it's time to greatly improve upon our capabilities to reach one trillion Dai and beyond. Focus is the only way to reach and exceed our supply goals.

Mission

Scale the Dai supply and manage the product collateral lifecycle.

Vision

Provide product management, engineering, & technical services for onboarding and offboarding collateral.

The Mission and Vision involves two mandates:

  1. Productization of collateral
  2. Building a sustainable Core Unit

Core Unit ID

CES-001

Core Unit Name

Collateral Engineering Services Core Unit

Proposed Core Unit Facilitator

@monkey.irish

Core Unit Mandate

The Collateral Engineering Services Core Unit (CES) is a crucial service for growing the supply of the MakerDAO ecosystem and central to the protocol's success. What follows is an explanation of the Core Unit mandates.

Productization of collateral

The mandate of productization contributes to the protocol's success as we follow best practices in software Product Management.

If the goal is decentralization, and it is still a goal at this present moment, then Core Unit diversity and parallelization is a key part of that strategy. A one-to-one translation of teams from the Foundation into the DAO is the first logical step. Currently, you’re seeing a lot of this happening. So, what’s the next step? It’s the product oriented, holistic approach called "productization".

The implementation leads to consolidating the collateral product and technical functions into one Core Unit. It’s really simple to say and a little more challenging to implement. Some of you might have worked on teams where cross-functional value was delivered with each software development iteration. I’m referring to a Product Team where you take a holistic approach in delivering incremental features. You can think of these features as specific collateral or collateral classes as they collectively roll up into the Product.

As more Core Units adopt the Product Team approach, this leads to parallel development efforts on the same code base. CES plans to assist and leverage the work the Sustainable Ecosystem Scaling Core Unit (SES) is undertaking to enable a scalable approach to support parallelization. This work will help create more diversity and reduce bottlenecks and dependencies on any one Core Unit.

All products have a lifecycle and need to be continuously assessed and managed. Our collateral is no different. The health of a product will also be tracked using metrics and dashboards to read out current statuses.

For clarity, some of the best practices of Product Management are:

  • Collaborative ownership of the product vision
  • Managing the product roadmap
  • Scoping and estimation with engineering teams
  • Managing the product and iteration backlogs
  • KPIs, OKRs, and reporting
  • Communication and collaboration with stakeholders

I’d also like to make sure I am very clear on one point. This Core Unit is a highly-collaborative effort and it’s a partnership, not competition, with the key stakeholders in the DAO. CES will continuously work with Protocol Engineering, Oracles, Risk, Real World Finance, and other critical stakeholders to:

  1. Identify and determine CES technical responsibilities
  2. Manage ongoing priorities with the product vision and roadmap
  3. Develop processes that work for all stakeholders
  4. Build competency, quality, and trust with the MakerDAO ecosystem

Key Takeaway

Productization is the way we scale the Dai supply.

Building a sustainable Core Unit

The mandate of sustainability is to ensure CES is a profitable entity for business continuity.

Managing our supply and collateral is the foundational activity that makes everything about the protocol work. It is important not to lose sight of this and to be grounded in the realities of what is required to create a sustainable, systematic, and repeatable practice. This is a top priority for the Core Unit.

One of the key aspects of every Core Unit is that of business continuity. As we know, some Core Units carry a high degree of risk if they do not operate properly. The question is, how do we architect a level of Core Unit stability as volatility continues to hit our industry and markets? The solution is to look at Core Units as a regular business.

Something to point out before we move forward. Functions within every business, entity, or organization, regardless of structure, have two general categories: 1) cost centers and 2) revenue generators. CES is specifically focused on supporting revenue generation for MakerDAO. This is an important point since future compensation, incentive, profitability, and sustainability models will be explored based upon performance.

As a business, the top operational aspects are:

Product-Market Fit

Since CES is a revenue generating function within MakerDAO, it is critical we have product-market fit for our collateral. Citing the article above, the top four reasons a new company fails are:

  1. No market need
  2. Ran out of cash
  3. Not the right team
  4. Got outcompeted

The first and fourth bullets are addressed with the productization mandate. The second and third are addressed by building a sustainable Core Unit.

Attract and Retain the Team

With a decentralized workforce, the challenge is to attract team members while organizing around a common mission and vision relating to the mandates of the Core Unit. I will also mention aligning with generally accepted MakerDAO objectives is also helpful. The cohesion of the team and support of the mission and vision are critical elements in retaining the best people.

The challenge CES faces is hiring permanent team members with a background in software architecture and/or software engineering with a comprehensive understanding of blockchain fundamentals, security architecture, consensus algorithms, formal modeling and verification, and smart contract Solidity/Ethereum development experience. We seek to balance the needs of the community, collateral objectives/outcomes, and the Core Unit to attract, hire, and retain top talent as it relates to compensation and incentive structures.

While individual incentives are important, incentivizing someone to achieve something, especially as a team, is much more sticky and can lead to better retention. As we establish CES, incentive models based upon contribution and performance will be presented to the community.

Expense Management

Runway is a critical aspect with a new business venture since it gives a team time to execute on the vision and strategy. Controlling expenses while building the right product-market fit is a delicate balance.

CES will operate on a funding model where the DAO allocates funds for periods of time. For example, an initial funding allocation for the first six months of operation then quarterly, semi-annual, or yearly after. The first tranche of funds will go into business formation, establishing the CES team, and productizing the collateral. See MIP40 for additional detail.

Generally speaking, month-to-month employee relationships are more costly and can introduce volatility. The goal is to move away from the transactional nature of a group of contractors to a model where the Core Unit has a shared vision and common goals along with incentive systems that support teamwork.

Funding and runway are also incentives to retain the team. Due to the shortage of qualified engineers in DeFi, we will be looking to attract product people and senior developers from outside of crypto and blockchain. Many people from other industries will find it challenging to commit to a month-to-month relationship with CES. Therefore the CES runway will introduce more stability and help as a recruiting and retention tool.

Profitability

As the CES team and business model is established, the Core Unit will focus on profitability. Only when a business entity is profitable and has the necessary reserves does it have a chance to survive a prolonged downturn in the market or industry. Given the importance of CES and having the necessary reserves, in the way of profit, leads to business continuity and sustainability. See MIP40 for additional detail.

Key Takeaway

CES is a business venture that becomes a profitable entity.

Related Documents

MIP40c3-SP14 Collateral Engineering Services Core Unit Budget Proposal

MIP41c4-SP14: Facilitator Onboarding, Collateral Engineering Services Core Unit