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Common secures $20M to power crypto communities

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Common, an all-in-one platform that makes it easy for on-chain communities to manage their DAO — decentralised autonomous organisation — has secured $20 million in funding. Investors in the round included Spark Capital and Polychain, joined by a group of strategic investors. The round comes on top of a $3.2 million seed round, which was led by Dragonfly Capital and ParaFi Capital with participation from Framework, Hashed, IDEO, Nascent, and angel investors Balaji Srinivasan, Do Kwon, and Stani

While DAOs are common in the crypto space, there are no easy ways to manage them. Common’s platform fills this gap, and the funding will continue its development, as well as launching its $CMN token ahead of its own decentralisation, making it the first crypto crowdfunding platform to announce a governance decentralisation. TFN spoke to George Beall, Common’s head of business and operations, about the platform and their plans.

Spotting the need

Common was founded by Dillon Chen, who, like Beall, started his interest in crypto at a young age. “I got into crypto in 2013. My friend came to school one day and was telling me about Bitcoin. Then his dad was an engineer and helped us set up a very small mining rig,” Beall said. “I met Dillon at Wharton, where we both went to college. In our senior year, Dylan started Common.”

Chen quickly realised that governance was a key issue for Crypto. “In 2018 or so, he identified that governance of protocols is going to be very important,” Beall explained. “If the goal is for these different communities to be fully decentralised, there needs to be a much cleaner crypto native way to actually govern that decentralised community.”

Common itself developed from the practical solution they devised to that problem when they developed Edgeware. “They had 95% of tokens given to 10,000 different community members,” Beall recalled. “They were asking, ‘how do we govern this community?’ From there, they ended up building out the initial versions of Commonwealth — now Common.”

Creating transparent crypto communities

Common offers a series of modules to help the on-chain communities work. Starting with a discussion forum, in which communication is tied to a specific wallet. Beall explained: “From there, we have full governance interfaces for on-chain and off-chain governance. So then you can start to have your discussion about what you want to see happen, and then push that into an actual votes to govern your community.”

More features are being added. A chat function, offering a Discord-like space, is about to be launched. They also plan to launch a crowdfunding platform within the next month. Together, it means that communities can discuss and agree the direction and future of their communities, and raise funds to launch a DAO or growth initiative, all within the Common platform. The combination means that Common is operating in a space with no real competition.

“We are in a lucky position where I wouldn’t say we have strong competitors,” states Beall, instead other services offer some of the functionality at a cost. “We offer a completely free product that’s fully crypto native, allows you to sign in with your wallet, and enables you to track conversations and see people’s voting history and token allocations.” The practical consequence of this is that to participate in a DAO, it needs between five or ten different tools. It means that Common’s only real competition are those DAOs that have opted to build their own platforms.

Plans for aggressive expansion

The funding will primarily be used to expand Common. Currently with 17 employees, they are looking to add between ten and fifteen more staff. Although most of the recruitment will be to their development team, they will also be recruiting to enhance their product design, marketing and legal teams. “We have a very aggressive roadmap,” says Beall, “the team expansion will enable us to really action this.”

Part of that expansion will include making the crypto space accessible for more people. Beall feels they have overcome most of the technical challenges, and are now looking at how their tools work. “It took us a few years of building out robust integrations, understanding different blockchain ecosystems and their technical requirements. But our engineers are amazing.”

That has meant much of the focus is now on making Common the best platform they can, which Beall believes has helped shaped the future of DAOs. Their goal is to develop a platform that continues to make it easy for DAOs to launch and operate, and for people to participate, whether they are crypto beginners or veterans. “Not everyone is down that rabbit hole and understands DAOs and crypto,” Beall points out. “How do we make a best-in-class product? How do we make something that my Mum could use?!”

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