Keep: An Ownership App

It has been a year since Kali was summoned to launch DAOs and provide on-chain legal tools. The time since has been spent absorbing the needs of organizations and we are now thrilled to debut our V2 software to close out #ETHDenver2023:

Start a real digital domain
Start a real digital domain

Keep is an ownership app (or opp). Where many tools seek to minimize governance, we choose to abstract and grow it. Keep takes advantage of meta-transactions and new standards like account abstraction (ERC4337) to make crypto experiences more fun and powerful. Users do not need to have gas in their wallet to participate in voting and have real control of their digital assets. It is also easier than ever to create new tokens and rewards for contributors.

Most good things start small. In its first public instance, you can use Keep as a smart contract wallet and proposal engine. You will be able to securely chat and share ownership with other accounts.

When you are ready to grow, launching tokens for funding and new roles is built in. Each Keep uses our multi-token voting standard (ERC1155-V), so you can manage an unlimited variety of members, access rules and new assets under the same code and address. With governance strategies like multisigs, snapshots and on-chain proposals, Keep aims to bring different stakeholders into the same medium and perfect existing patterns. There should not be a different app for voting, signing and managing things you own together.

This not only saves a lot of gas, but it’s much easier to stay informed and participate. Because each Keep is effectively its own token collection, it gets the composability benefits of web3 since you can see real-time updates in your wallet and NFT marketplaces on each Keep token. Want to know what the next proposal is? Check your membership NFT on OpenSea. In this way, it is also easier for different sets of contributors and sub-DAOs to coordinate as they can all share the same URLs and branding.

Set up signers in few clicks
Set up signers in few clicks

Back to Basics

Multisigs are an important primitive that we have wanted to cover after our DAO contracts in Kali. To start, they make it easy to hold crypto and onboard into web3. Instead of worrying about losing everything with a private key, or trusting an exchange, multisigs allow for multiple people to share custody of digital assets. This increases security for the clear reason that there is strength in numbers. Most people also understand “2 out of 3 need to sign for it to happen”, and in most cases, transactions are gasless through signed messages.

As such, we have given special attention to how multisigs are popularly used, as well as how they can be improved through gas optimization and scaling integrations with tokens and larger groups. In terms of savings, while it costs 263k gas to deploy a 2-signer Safe multisig, it costs only 178k to deploy this on Keep (almost 100k gas difference!).

Not Your Keys, Not Your Digital Castle
Not Your Keys, Not Your Digital Castle

Sign with Key Cards

With Keep, signers and other roles are represented by NFTs. These NFTs are dynamic and visually update based on the status of each organization, such as pending proposals. Group stats like participation are collected on an ongoing basis.

Access rights in a Keep are also represented by holding the token ID that corresponds to a given function hash. This makes it safer to add Keep tokens and roles into other contracts, as you are guaranteed that an ID equals the expected permission.

Co-sign and grow between stakeholders
Co-sign and grow between stakeholders

DAOs with Teeth

DAOs are a true upgrade to governance. While associated with cooperatives and DeFi speculation, DAO-style smart contracts also enhance trad ventures that want to move assets reliably and expand into digital processes for management.

DAOs that approximate companies and shareholders are often successful — they have struggled, at the same time, with coherence between a practical need for hierarchy in some places (often their de facto advantage) and how they engage with community ownership to ward off forks of their value.

While multisigs are often used with DAOs to help manage such day-to-day affairs, this has resulted in more trust being placed in their operators and technical risks. There are no simple and trustless ways to go between DAO votes and multisigs, and this problem has caused contributor fatigue and centralization. Ownership is not something that can be compromised and shortcuts ultimately break down the value proposition of DAOs.

Every organization is an evolving blueprint
Every organization is an evolving blueprint

Progressive Decentralization

Strengthening the link between multisigs and DAOs is a necessary step towards effective decentralization while adding incentives through ownership. In a Keep, signers can be elected and rotated through votes, and access over DAO properties, like treasury and minting rights can be shared, among other hybrid custody options.

Progressive or gradual distribution of protocol ownership from a core team of contributors to a community of users can also be handled more gracefully in this setting — rather than hoping a multisig will relinquish assets or controls, the handoff can be programmed from the start.

Keep tokens therefore help map roles and balances to actual powers. There should be no confusion over who has what right or responsibility in a fast digital environment.

Further, with on-chain checks and balances, organizations can behave more optimistically and experiment — for example, a CEO or dictator-like-role could be given control over a Keep and make snap decisions but at all times be subject to being replaced or fined by their DAO.

Keep is Kali V2

Around these root considerations, Keep can adjust to more specific needs through opps like Kali extensions, similarly to Zodiac modules and guards.

This leads us to a quick summary of the key features of the Keep application and the insights we have taken along the way:

People identify with NFTs

NFTs allow collectors to express taste and people to quickly find their in-group. For organizations, the desire for symbols is no different, which can account for the acceleration seen in DAOs that show membership with NFTs, like Nouns.

With some surprise, there hasn’t been a push or integrated approach to managing the social layer of DAOs with their on-chain governance. Many allow debt to accrue in the form of web2 permissions and badges to track history without much ability for members to change trajectory — Who runs the server? Who is most active? Who is a trusted signer? How are are they governed? These things are usually unknown, subject to being lost in a data breach, and not computable with tokens and on-chain rights.

By using the ERC1155-V standard, DAOs that integrate with Keep can issue as many and different types of branded tokens as they need over time (NFTs or fungibles) and enable trustless participation in governance. Metadata and social context can also be stored for each ID and DAO artifact on-chain. Currently, the Keep application also supports token-gated commenting. Over time, the options will expand around linking social accounts and chatrooms.

Less Fees, More Fun

Saving money just makes crypto more fun and the high cost of L1 has limited access to security there. Overall, the Keep contract design reflects code minimalism with careful gas optimizations. Promoting censorship-resistant blockchains is an important part of our mission and we will always apply the best resources we can find in delivering efficiency for L1 access, such as using minimal proxy, multicall, and signature recovery snippets from Solady.

With Keep, we are proud to land on a multisig design that is a third cheaper to operate than other options like Safe. Our upgraded DAO proposal engine has also been optimized by hashing inputs rather than storing them on-chain, simplifying voting logic, as well as increasing overall support for meta-transactions. Perhaps most useful, every proposal has a built-in chatroom and commenting system restricted to member wallets, and “signal” proposals can be signed and voted on without any gas involved at all.

Every step of the way, you can be confident that our contributors have engaged with the challenge of keeping DAOs on L1.

Every Proposal is a Signal, Unless an Action is Attached
Every Proposal is a Signal, Unless an Action is Attached

Many Modes, Better Games

Keep rests on the premise that a token interface (as core) helps groups preserve shared context across apps with interesting multiplayer benefits.

With immutable contracts, optionality is king. To this end: each Keep token ID can be made fungible or non-fungible; non-transferable or transferable; permissions can also be attached; if attached, users must be permissioned to make or receive transfers; metadata can also be updated or stored permanently.

This flexibility makes it feasible to create compliance plans for DAOs and founders to fundraise by issuing on-chain equity or other investments. Keep is agnostic to how people will create value or how they will document and govern it. Our design however is opinionated to keeping tokenized components immutable so that other protocols can safely integrate them without fear of malicious upgrades.

In studying proposals for security tokens, such as EIP-1404, the common and convenient patterns revolve around controlling transfers and updating metadata — to this end, users and balances within each Keep ID can be tagged with transferability rules while also displaying custom URI and context. What is perhaps most significant in using Keep versus alternative domains to issue security tokens — governance is an embedded assumption, so when organizations fundraise or want to lock shares, it can all be done from the same app. Overall, after considering the tradeoffs between different and competing standards, we believe the Keep token design most practically meets the legal needs of companies and DAOs.


Summoning the Kali DAO

This March marks our public beta after internal testing for the past three months, a year of R&D with ten contributors, and five rounds of audits. We are confident and eager for our initial launch of Keep and Kali V2 and grateful for the thoughtful support of our developer community.

You can now use Keep for ownership on Ethereum and Polygon.

To onboard improvements to the protocol, users will receive incentives to help polish the Keep beta application and provide timely feedback. These incentives will be in the form of Kali tokens launched on an Ethereum instance of Keep.

Kali tokens will make the operation of marketplaces and software that service our users more open and reliable. Related tokenomics, governance initiatives and distribution details, including to existing Kali users and contributors, will be shared in an upcoming post. At all times, plans are subject to change, and major updates will be communicated here.

It is our strong belief that the next economies and legal systems should be built in ways that secure human rights as a base assumption, and that fair distribution of power is critical to make networks, including governance software, more resilient and principled. We are excited to begin this part of the journey with you.

- K

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