Over seven years ago, on April 30, 2016, the first decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) emerged, marking a significant shift in the digital world. However, just three months later, a cyberattack brought it down, leading to its unfortunate collapse. Today, the landscape has transformed dramatically, with numerous DAOs thriving, and 179 treasuries surpassing $1 million. In total, these organizations hold $18 billion in assets, both liquid and vested. As of 2023, the top five DAO treasuries alone hold $11 billion, spread across various token assets.
2023’s Leading DAOs
Various sectors in the world of digital assets have been hit by the crypto winter but decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have seen growth. In essence, a DAO stands as a digital governance model, orchestrated by smart contracts, with decisions documented on a blockchain. With 179 DAO platforms overseeing assets surpassing $1 million, the following is an overview of the top five DAOs as they stand in 2023.
On April 15, 2022, the DAO ecosystem had a valuation of $10.8 billion. As of today, the combined value of DAOs has risen significantly to $18 billion. This evolution continued into 2022 when the top-ranking DAOs had a different composition. Uniswap and Bitdao, which has subsequently rebranded as Mantle, occupied the top positions. However, there has been a shift in dynamics, with the other three contenders on the top-five list—Uxd Protocol, Mango DAO, and Lido’s DAO—yielding their positions.
The Arbitrum DAO, with the largest treasury among DAOs, leverages a community-driven governance model facilitated by the arbitrum (ARB) token. This DAO is closely connected to the layer two (L2) Ethereum scaling network, Arbitrum. In addition to governance, Arbitrum DAO operates a comprehensive treasury system and security council to enhance its operational efficiency. Currently, its treasury holds a diverse array of assets valued at $3.4 billion, including ARB and various stablecoins.
While most DAOs mainly hold native tokens, a considerable number have diversified into stablecoin crypto assets. The second-largest DAO by assets under management (AUM) is tied to the L2 scaling protocol Optimism. The Optimism Collective‘s treasury holds $3.1 billion in various assets, including OP, the DAO’s native asset for digital governance. The governance structure of Optimism’s DAO is uniquely shared between two entities: the Citizens’ House and the Token House.
Arbitrum and Optimism optimize their respective networks for treasury operations, yet Mantle (formerly Bitdao), ranking as the third-largest DAO, administers $2 billion in AUM utilizing the Mantle network for its treasury management. The DAO made its debut in August 2021 and underwent a transformation from Bitdao to Mantle, following a governance vote on May 19, 2023.
Ranking fourth in 2023 is the Uniswap DAO, commanding a treasury currently valued at $1.7 billion. Affiliated with the Uniswap decentralized exchange (dex) protocol, the Uniswap DAO manages a treasury comprising its native token UNI, along with various fiat-pegged tokens. Governance within this organization is conducted through UNI tokens, entrusting the DAO with decision-making and the implementation of modifications to the Uniswap dex.
Securing its position as the fifth-largest DAO in 2023 is the Gnosis DAO. This entity is dedicated to crafting infrastructure to bolster the Ethereum ecosystem, playing a pivotal role in the development of products like Gnosis Safe, Cow Protocol, and Zodiac, which serves as a standard and toolkit for creating decentralized applications (dapps) on Gnosis. In its treasury, the Gnosis DAO manages assets worth $813 million in AUM, including GNO, ETH, and various stablecoins.
Beyond the top five DAOs ranked by treasury size, the subsequent five in the top ten spectrum manage assets ranging from $200 million to $800 million. The DAO landscape today is active, with more than 8 million governance token holders and 2.8 million entities actively participating in voting and proposal creation. In a striking comparison, the current top five DAOs are collectively about 73.33 times larger than the 2016 DAO, which had a value of $150 million.
What do you think about the top five DAO treasuries in 2023? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.