Gitcoin 2021 Year in Review

2021 in Summary

As we begin 2022, we wanted to take a few moments to highlight the progress we’ve made towards our mission growing and sustaining public goods in the past year.

As the meme of public goods spreads with groups like Optimism, ENS, and more joining the fight against Moloch, it’s safe to say we’ve vastly exceeded our wildest expectations.

While there are many dimensions on which to measure our progress, we want to highlight two key themes that have been close to our hearts in 2021: impact & decentralization.

Impact means helping to fund as many public goods as we can, and make the act of doing good sustainable.

Decentralization means doing this not by ourselves, but as much as possible with you, our community of over 300,000 builders and funders without whom we wouldn’t be here today.

Before we dive in, we’d like to take a moment to pause for gratitude. We won’t be able to name everyone, but the support each and everyone of you have provided means the world to us.

Impact highlights:

Decentralization highlights:

  • Started on the path to full decentralization with the launch of Gitcoin’s DAO and decentralized governance process, along with a retroactive airdrop to past users & community.
  • Empowered Gitcoin community members to become active stewards and help form a series of thriving workstreams to push forward our mission.
  • Worked to fund and sustain a number of diverse implementations of quadratic funding (which we believe is fundamental to finding more decentralized models for allocating grants funding) including dGrants and CLR Fund.

We feel confident in saying that Gitcoin made a massive amount of progress towards our north star of growing and sustaining public goods in 2021.

As we head into 2022, we’re incredibly excited to accomplish even more together. Here are a few highlights of what we’re planning:

Expanding Funding for Public Goods

As web3 goes mainstream, we want to continue pushing forward conversations about what kinds of positive-sum worlds we want to see. And as we more deeply explore what the metaverse means, we want to continue to push for increasing awareness of open source software as a digital public good, and for the importance of physical substrates like climate.

With the launch of cause rounds mentioned above in Grants Round 12, we’ve already started on this path. In total, the three initial causes–human health and longevity, climate change, and tech advocacy–pulled in nearly $2M in matching funds. During the round, we were thrilled to see thousands of donors respond in kind, voting with their wallets for the changes they wanted to see in the world.

Here are a few of the top grants from GR12’s cause rounds: 

  • Advocacy: Coin Center, one of the most vocal advocates of regulatory reform related to cryptocurrency raised over $400k, while major advocacy orgs like Electronic Frontier Foundation raised over $250k. 
  • Climate: Rainforest Direct, which is empowering indigenous communities in the Amazon, and the Clean Air Task Force, which is reducing atmospheric pollution through research, advocacy, + private sector collaboration, both raised significant sums.
  • Longevity: VitaDAO’s longevity prize, which is providing multiple smaller grants for specific, relevant scientific longevity challenges, raised over $180k.

We’re not the only ones calling for more action on these key topics. Packy McCormick recently wrote that web3 has proven it is good at “hurtling large groups of people and money at arbitrary causes,” but it’s now “time to harness that superpower. From Squiggles to a cure for cancer, Apes to carbon reduction, Punks to saving the fishes.”

As we begin 2022, we’re thinking (and acting!) along the same lines. Gitcoin launched several NFT projects in 2021 including Moonshot Bots, GreatestLARP, $SACKS, and NounBots, which we believe will continue to play a key role in helping us to achieve our mission, but these individual experiments aren’t the end game.

No, we’re thinking far, far bigger than NFT fundraising projects. As our founder Kevin Owocki pointed out in a recent tweet, a larger aim for our funding mechanisms are rebuilding the world’s financial systems to enable human flourishing.

The world needs public goods now more than ever. We hear this from our community each and every day. 

If it’s not already apparent, we’re heartened by the progress we’re making. Every month, we see new evidence of increasing knowledge and acceptance of the novel funding mechanisms that began in crypto. Some of the biggest stories in Web3 such as FreeRossDAO and Vitalik’s article on legitimacy continue to grow public awareness of blockchain technologies and their promise to improve global coordination. 

The world’s most urgent and intractable issues like climate change, decentralized global governance, and human longevity are no longer beyond the scope of our industry (even if at times it may feel like they’re beyond the scope of our institutions). We’re more excited and motivated than ever before as we enter 2022.

Pushing Towards Decentralization

This is not to say there aren’t challenges to surmount. Progressive decentralization is certainly one of these.

In 2021 and continuing into 2022, we are prioritizing decentralization at every level, from the protocol to organizational structure and beyond. Decentralization is not a binary outcome, but a spectrum, and it remains a central tenet and multi-year priority. 

The DAO launch and introduction of $GTC as a governance token for grants were the first big steps in this journey. Since then, we’ve made strides towards our grants rounds being DAO-led operationally, and in Q4, we launched our first ever grants sub-round on our decentralized platform, dGrants.

We discussed Gitcoin’s decentralization in May, July and during our last grants round. We aim to continue to build in public and keep you apprised as we make this critical transition. Keep an eye on the governance forum to follow our progress. And, if you’d like to get involved, we’d love for you to join our Discord.

Supporting a Thriving Community

The value of any organization in web3 starts with its community, and we’re lucky to have one of the best we’ve seen. Here are just a few kind words that were said about us this year:

“[Gitcoin] gave me the confidence that I was pointed in the right direction and covering what mattered. The rest is history.” – Coopatroopa.eth

“Gitcoin’s early “fund OSS” experimentation was an important personal touchpoint into the Ethereum ecosystem as i tried to go fulltime in 2018. Matching rounds only amplified this, today it’s bloomed into a crucial ritual expression of ethereum values / norms.” – Trent.eth

“We’re thrilled to partner with Gitcoin Grants to build the Uniswap ecosystem. We were able to identify promising projects that align with our goals… We are excited to continue to grow our partnership with Gitcoin and make this an ongoing part of our quarterly grants strategy.” – Ken Ng, Uniswap Grants Program Lead

“A key part of the ENS multicoin support was fleshed out via Gitcoin bounties. wouldn’t have happened when it did without Gitcoin” – Brantly.eth, Ethereum Name Service (ENS)

Setting Focus

The growth we’ve seen over the last year is hard for us to wrap our heads around. We ended 2020 with just under 50k active developers, and now we’re well over 300k. We ended with $8M in funding to public goods and now we’re at nearly $60M.

To continue on this path in a sustainable way, it’s key for us to remain laser-focused, and to find many more people who care deeply about the impact web3 can have. As those of you who have been with us since the beginning know well, the time is ripe for many of the ideas on which we’ve been focused for over 4 years now.

More and more people are being drawn into web3 each day. They’re quickly discovering Kernel and Gitcoin early in their journey, which is shaping their perception of web3 beyond speculative use cases towards participatory, internet-native economies. We love to see this and look forward to see more of the same in 2022.

If this resonates with you, we’d like to invite you to check out the Gitcoin DAO site and stop by our Discord to say hi. We’d love to hear from you.

Predictions for 2022

No year-end summary would be complete without a few predictions! We have too many to count, but here are just a few:

  1. Dozens of regen messages like this one will go viral.

2. The first major project will commit 1% or more of their entire treasury to supporting public goods.
We’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, but 2022 is the year it actually happens. Who will be first?

3. February 2022’s Schelling Point and ETHDenver will bring together some of the world’s key regen leaders, in person!
At these events (and every day in the so-called metaverse!), digitally native communities will come together to build a better world and celebrate our collective possibility by planning and discussing inspiring ideas like self-sovereignty, coordination technology, regenerative economic experiments, radical markets, and of course, the many fruits of public goods. We’ll spend time with amazing people talking about things that truly matter to our collective future!

In closing

To our entire community – core team, stewards, grantees, grants funders, builders, matching pool donors, token holders, Discord lurkers, passionate observers, dear readers – we want to close by thanking you once again. Whether you’re just joining us today, you joined in the past year, or have been with us since the beginning, we feel incredibly blessed to have you with us on this journey.

We hope you’ve all been able to take some time to rest and reflect on the positive-sum worlds you want to see. Together, with some planning and effort this coming year, we can make them a reality.