Spinning Off the Foundation


The Plan

The Urbit Foundation’s current timeline places it on a trajectory to formally separate from Tlon in early 2022. According to Josh Lehman (speaking in a recent Developer Call), paperwork has just been filed to start the process of forming in the Caymans following months of research by Tlon COO Erik Newton. Next steps are to put the plan before the Galactic Senate and present them with a budget for the next few years of operation.

Foundation as a Protocol

The current incarnation of the Foundation is as a protocol. According to Josh Lehman, this has involved trying to use grants to get things done while keeping overhead low by remaining a part of Tlon. The end goal was to eventually to take over core dev. During this phase, the approach was to work closely with contributors. Valuable lessons were learned, including that initial project specification makes or breaks projects. Furthermore, the Urbit community tends to pull in very high-quality contributors, and the grants program seems to be a good way to recruit them.

From Protocol to Entity

With Josh as the Executive Director, the Galactic Senate will be tasked with selecting board members. The foundation will get assets on Senate approval subsequent to a 2-year budget proposal. Outcomes will be assessed by the Senate, who will continue to provide feedback.

Going Forward

The picture of how the Foundation will operate in the future is twofold: as coordinator and investor. On the coordination side, UF will coordinate people and orgs developing on Urbit. This will be realized through ongoing documentation and course-building. Grants will be community driven, based upon proposals. As a proposal is made, “champions” can come forward to select proposals to work on. Champions will be drawn from the pool of people who have previous Urbit dev experience. Grants, therefore, will be proposed and built by a DAO-like entity of existing contributors.

As investor, the Foundation is potentially paying “champions” and their teams in grants, which going forward may indeed be funded by wrapped Stars, as the price of stars has made single-unit rewards less likely. But the big news here is the formation of The Combine, currently being formed by ~poldec-tonteg, to invest in early stage organizations. The model here expands on the model of Tlon itself, in which the Foundation seeks, through The Combine, to do “Digital Real Estate Investment”.

To bring the meta-mission of UF into focus, it is to “coordinate and foster a growing decentralized ecosystem”.

Additional questions

UF Preferred projects? Networked apps, apps that focus on coordination and comms. According to Josh, those that require file storage are not yet good candidates.

Initial funding size from The Combine? In the range of $100-200k.

Plans to replace Hooniversity? Asynchronous written docs, expansion of Hoon School, and bringing old guides (like the Gall Guide) up to date. Also some support for and reliance on the community, where members like Niel Davis have been expanding offerings.

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