This post aims to lay out the broader governance initiatives that 0x Labs intends to shepherd over the next several months that will hopefully cumulate in the transition to on-chain governance for the set of smart contracts that make up 0x protocol — the protocol, the treasury, and its governance. It then describes what the future steady state of 0x Protocol Governance looks like; spoiler alert, it’ll be unstoppable and defined by new waves of innovation and community empowerment!
0x Protocol is an open-source public good that serves as the underlying settlement layer for the global exchange of value. In the future where more and more assets are tokenized and moved onto blockchain rails, 0x Protocol will serve as a fundamental building block to a system that will provide individuals with greater financial sovereignty. To ensure that 0x Protocol can serve as this critical infrastructure, it must be unstoppable — the governance, stewardship, and development of its technological and social components must be decentralized.
The need for this is well captured in this piece by Will Warren in 2018 and this piece by 0x Labs in 2021. tldr; centralization requires putting trust in some central party which introduces risks for censorship and single points of failure which is what we cannot have for core infrastructure like 0x Protocol.
Despite all that has changed since the introduction of 0x Protocol to the world in its whitepaper released in February of 2017, decentralized governance has always been, and continues to be the end state. This post builds upon the Unbundling Initiative and lays out several additional key initiatives that 0x Labs will introduce to the community and collaborate to launch through the first half of 2023.
We hope that the four main initiatives that will be introduced can serve as a foundation for decentralized governance that prioritizes the long-term success of 0x Protocol. If these initiatives are accepted by the community and implemented, 0x Labs will fully transition from being the original stewards and development team behind 0x Protocol to one stakeholder amongst many within the 0x Protocol ecosystem
- a ZEIP (ZeroEx Improvement Proposal) to enable on-chain governance of the protocol, treasury, and governance
- formalization of a delegation program coined “0x Protocol Voters”
- formalization of a security backstop coined “0x Protocol Security Council”
- formalization of a grants program coined “0x Protocol Grants”
Each of these are briefly described below
A revamped system of smart contracts will be developed to serve as a fully on-chain binding governance system that will have full control over 0x Protocol, the community-owned treasury, and governance itself. It’ll be largely based on existing governance systems with delegation, token weighted voting, and timelocks amongst other features.
0x Protocol Voters
0x Protocol Voters will be a formalized program for any active voting participant in 0x Protocol Governance, whether this be active ZRX holders who want to participate themselves or parties that want to serve as delegates to vote on behalf of passive ZRX holders.
0x Protocol Security Council
0x Protocol Security Council will be a formalized group that will serve as a security failsafe to ensure that 0x Protocol continues to function reliably by proactively and reactively addressing vulnerabilities. This group will have very limited but impactful power over 0x Protocol.
0x Protocol Grants
0x Protocol Grants will build upon and formalize early grant experiments such as 0xEVE to assist with the stewardship of the 0x Protocol Treasury. The goal is to provide an extendable framework that can serve as an overarching structure to different initiatives that aim to help 0x Protocol become the standard settlement layer for the global exchange of value.
The Future State
0x Protocol is built on the thesis of “off-chain order relay, on-chain settlement” and serves as an open-source corner stone in the tokenized world that we envision. Being the common on-chain settlement layer that relies equally on off-chain components to serve its purpose, 0x Protocol is uniquely positioned to serve as the Schelling point for innovations on both fronts as it pertains to the flow of value. The ecosystem that ultimately settles down to 0x Protocol is already massive — $120B+ of volume, 50M+ unique transactions, and 6M+ user wallets as of February 2023 — and we are still orders of magnitude away from the large scale adoption of blockchain that is to come. In that future state where 0x Protocol could end up facilitating many trillions of dollars in exchange, the stakes of its governance and the desire to be part of the community that shapes its development will be very high.
0x Protocol has already come to be defined as not just the smart contracts that make up its functionality but also the DAO and treasury that supports it. With the initiatives laid out in the Unbundling Initiative and this post, that suite of tools that empower the 0x community and the structure for the community itself will continue to grow — the institutional protocol website, the governance portal, a voter program, a security council, and much more.
The future of 0x Protocol Governance will be coordinated by a growing community that could be grouped into three broad categories: the DAO, Contributors, and the Ecosystem Partners.
- The DAO is the diverse set of parties that believe in the mission and vision of 0x Protocol and choose to invest human and/or financial capital to further that mission. In the future state, DAO participants will form a platform representing stakeholders across the ecosystem and facilitate participation in governance so that the future directions 0x Protocol should take can be discovered.
- Contributors are teams that rely on 0x Protocol as the settlement layers to the on-chain and off-chain components that they build. In the future state, these Contributors will participate in governance to ensure that the protocol continues to function as they need as well as extend its functionality to support their own products.
- Ecosystem Partners are the symbiotic partnerships that projects across the blockchain ecosystem may form with 0x Protocol. In the future state, Ecosystem Partners will participate to ensure that 0x Protocol continues to be a credibly neutral and non-extractive system and collaborate to run initiatives to further the vision of a tokenized world where value flows freely.
0x Protocol Governance has followed a roadmap toward progressive decentralization from its inception in Feb 2017 and this post sets the stage to reach a major milestone in that journey — a transition to a fully on-chain binding governance system and the formalization of both the 0x Protocol Voter and 0x Protocol Security Council. The future of 0x Protocol Governance will be an incredibly exciting grounds for innovation that will have outsized implications on the blockchain space in general but what’ll be most exciting is that the 0x Protocol community will be the ones in that driver seat guiding the protocol toward a future where value can flow freely.