Strengthening Uniswap Governance

In February this year, we witnessed one of the most contentious governance votes in Uniswap governance history. The vote on the proposed BNB deployment of Uniswap v3 raised questions about not only the security tradeoffs presented by various cross-chain messaging protocols, but also the constitution of Uniswap governance. Debate raged on the distribution of UNI voting power and conflicts of interest. The vote ultimately passed, but many questions were left unresolved.

In the months which have followed, the UF has launched one application, and two initiatives positioned to support the DAO in directly improving governance:

  1. The Cross-chain Bridge Assessment Process, to support decentralized decision making with independently generated research and analysis

  2. Uniswap Agora & the Delegate Race, to promote the decentralization and diversification of voting power

The appetite for stakeholder involvement in both of these initiatives blew us away - over the past few months hundreds of new delegates, auditors, researchers, and bridge engineers worked with us to support the Uniswap DAO. Below, we provide more detail about the problems that each of these initiatives sought to address, what we did over the last few months, and then pivot to what’s next.

The Uniswap Cross-chain Bridge Assessment Process: supporting decentralized decision making

Problem: Delegates for protocol DAOs may at times be faced with decisions they are not well-suited to make. These decisions may be highly technical, and have serious implications - protocol security for instance. As we saw in February, delegates needed support in analyzing the suitability of a given bridge for the Uniswap Protocol’s needs. Bridge security is highly technical, frequently changing, and it is often difficult to find objective and verified data. There was an opportunity to support Uniswap delegates in making more educated decisions here.

What did we do? We put in place a Cross-chain Bridge Assessment Process, whose resulting report was published today in the governance forum, here, in addition to a comment from the UF with next steps, here. More specifically, we:

  • Built an independent team of experts to conduct deep due diligence: We selected individuals who had previous deep experience with bridge audits or analysis, who did not have a vested interest in any bridge being reviewed. This team included individuals who had previously compiled a Crosschain Risk Framework, and several auditors who had in-depth knowledge of this subject matter area.

  • Laid the groundwork for a long-term process: The bridge space is nascent, and we anticipate that the list of bridges found suitable for the Uniswap DAO’s use case will grow over time. We are currently finalizing a long-term grant in order to support the DAO in monitoring and re-assessing bridges.

  • Supported the creation of materials to support the DAO in decision-making: The first report, released today, lays out the framework used by the Committee, their in-depth due diligence, and the bridges which as of today are deemed appropriate for use for the Uniswap DAO’s cross-chain governance use case. The information published may also begin to upskill delegates who are interested in developing their own ability to assess bridges in the future.

  • Created more clarity for bridge providers: With this report, bridge providers now have a more clear understanding of what the requirements are for the Uniswap DAO’s cross-chain governance use case. The results of the Committee’s bridge evaluations will also serve as impartial architectural guidance for teams interested in serving the governance use case in the future.

What’s next?

  • A grant for future DAO support and bridge re-assessment, to support the ongoing needs of the DAO in this area, and to re-assess bridges as they make supportive updates.

  • Bridge list grows over time, as upgrades are released and new bridges come to market.

  • Support development of multi-bridge solutions. We are funding an audit of the Multi-Message Aggregation (MMA) code, which was specifically developed by the Celer team - and is now being supported and maintained by multiple community members - following the BNB vote. We intend to work with and support the future development of MMA and other multi-bridge solutions over time.

Uniswap Agora & the Delegate Race: supporting delegate decentralization, diversification, and transparency

Problem: If a DAO’s voting power lies in the hands of those whose interests do not align with other stakeholders, decisions might be made that do not align with the DAO’s best interests. While stakeholders ultimately have the ability to opt out of an ecosystem or potentially fork its code, decentralized and diversified distribution of voting power serves as a counter to the interests of a few. In February, some critiqued Uniswap’s current distribution of voting power, with too much voting power lying in the hands of investors and others who may have conflicts of interest in votes relating to bridges.

What did we do? We worked with the Agora team to launch Uniswap Agora, and launched a campaign to sign up and bootstrap delegation for dozens of new delegates.

  • Published a Code of Conduct that requires delegates to disclose Conflicts of Interest. Delegates confirm whether they agree with the Code of Conduct in their delegate profile on Uniswap Agora. Many delegates have also proactively listed potentially Conflicts of Interests in their profiles.

  • Built Uniswap Agora to improve the delegation process. In Uniswap Agora, delegates can publish and update their platform over time, and share their views on the issues they care about the most. Delegators can more easily find delegates whose interests and views align with their own.

  • Created a campaign to promote and support new delegates. We lined up several million UNI from anchor delegators which they guaranteed to delegate in a Delegate Race campaign, and set a deadline to be eligible for it. As a result, 65 delegate profiles were created (only 35 were posted on the forum in the last 3 years) – 69% of which were for totally new delegates. Delegation by our anchors should be completed over the next two weeks.

What’s next?

  • A celebration of delegates! With a commemorative NFT, an IRL event in NYC, and other surprises.

  • Future delegate race campaigns, to continue to promote new delegates in coming months and years.

Decentralized governance is still in its infancy, with Uniswap learning many lessons early on that we hope will set the standard across protocol DAOs of the future. We are proud of the UF’s work over the past several months, but are even more excited by the appetite we have seen from 100s of stakeholders across the ecosystem to contribute.

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