Part One of Series: Grant Funding at The Uniswap Foundation

This is part one of a three-part series that will cover the reimagined grants strategy for the Uniswap Foundation. In part two, we’ll talk about our future dashboards for success, impact measurements, and our process for grantees. In part three, we’ll announce our first initiative from this new model.

Part One: Introducing the Reimagined Uniswap Foundation Grants Strategy

If we are successful, what does the world look like 5 years from now? 10 years? What can we do today to make sure that that future is achieved?

Our vision is for Uniswap – a permissionless, censorship-resistant, credibly neutral protocol – to become the liquidity layer of the Internet. Liquidity is a critical input to value creation. Liquidity enables the creation of open and fair markets. It broadens access for anyone in the world to leverage permissionless financial infrastructure. Uniswap v4 specifically opens up what is possible on the Protocol, drastically reducing the friction for developers to explore and innovate in DeFi.

As stewards of the Uniswap Protocol and community, the Uniswap Foundation (UF) is best equipped to contribute toward this goal by building a robust, diverse, and values-aligned ecosystem. We onboard and support core protocol stakeholders like developers and researchers, and contribute to the Uniswap Protocol flywheel of new swappers and LPs using it. We work with delegates, the torch-bearers for the future of the Protocol, to ensure they have the resources they need to make confident, well-informed decisions. And we work to align stakeholder incentives, which reinforces commitment to the Protocol’s success. In other words, the UF is here to help unlock Uniswap’s inherent network effects, to the benefit of everyone who builds on and uses it.

At the UF, we are grateful to have been entrusted by the larger Uniswap community to use treasury funds to achieve these goals through our grant-making program. Through the second half of 2023, we spent a lot of time reviewing and enhancing our grants strategy to ensure our team’s actions are in line with this North Star mission. Long story short, we made some big changes. We are now spending more time with fewer teams on designing programs (many of which engage with dozens to hundreds of additional stakeholders) to achieve long-term outcomes. The programs you’ll hear about later in the series are already in flight, and we’re excited to be able to share much more about them soon.

Today we’re thrilled to share how our reimagined UF grants program will power this vision to shape in the years ahead. The highlights of our new grants strategy include:

  • Fewer, larger, long-term oriented initiatives: We’re shifting our strategy from funding mid-sized projects to awarding larger grants of $250k+, each committed to building in the Uniswap ecosystem for years to come. These larger projects are therefore expected to make a larger net impact per grant, aiming to achieve more audacious, ambitious goals.

  • Stakeholder-focused grant design: We’re doubling down on a system to build stronger feedback loops with the Uniswap community, including reorienting our team around four audience-specific categories (ie: developers, researchers, governance, and innovation) and redesigning our grant-making process to incorporate expert feedback into the design of each grant. We’re aligning each grant toward one of our three North Star objectives: Growing core protocol metrics, building a pipeline for innovation, and aligning incentives for stakeholders with long-term interests of the protocol.

  • Metrics-driven grant funding: Drawing inspiration from world class foundations in and out of web3, we clearly define what success looks like and how to measure it. Each of our four funding categories has 2-3 KPIs, and all grantees will track progress toward those goals. We’ll report out on these KPIs to the Uniswap governance and community in a transparent, consistent cadence.

With $30M to allocate in grants over the next two years, we designed this evolved approach to foster a network of community nodes, ensuring that teams are not just recipients of grant awards, but active contributors for the long term. In pursuit of our goal for Uniswap to become the liquidity layer of the Internet, we see the UF’s role shift from that of linchpin to that of a conduit, routing between many nodes within a flourishing, self-sustaining ecosystem.

Below is a visual look at how we expect to see our role shift over time. Starting from something like this:

And ending up somewhere like this:

How We Got Here

When Devin Walsh and Ken Ng co-founded the Uniswap Foundation in August 2022, they set out an ambitious mission: To make Uniswap accessible to anyone in the world as permissionless financial infrastructure, supported by a robust, diverse, and values-aligned ecosystem.

In our first year, we committed $5.6M into 99 grants with average award sizes from $20,000 - $50,000. The duration of an average grant was 3-6 months. In just one year, our community of grantees stepped up to deliver on some incredibly innovative projects on behalf of our entire ecosystem. A few highlights included the incredible work with the launch of Oku Trade, the release of the Bridge Report, Gauntlet’s R&D work on protocol incentives, the Institutional Capital Research Report, a delegate portal by Agora, the Uniswap V3 Development Book, our series on Advanced LP Strategies for Uniswap V3, and the myriad of hackathons and developer activities. While we realized that while this initial approach to grant-making solved immediate problems, it had limited impact. We recognized that our ecosystem’s sustainability is dependent on long-term contributors, not just short-term ones.

Many grantees indicated an active interest in staying involved with future Uniswap projects. The intermittent nature of both the inbound application and quarterly RFP process, as well as team structure with fewer people responsible for writing grants was not conducive to long-term engagement with our grantees. Moreover, we noticed the overhead cost of funding and managing a $50,000 grant mirrored that of a $500,000 grant. We wondered: How might we catalyze longer-term impact and engagement from our community in a capital-efficient way?

Throughout a series of internal workshops, and dozens of conversations with other grant managers in and out of web3, we took a close look at the key stakeholder groups in the Uniswap ecosystem, then realigned our priorities around key outcomes for each group.

Here are the broad goals and the one-year budget earmarked for each area:

Starting this year, we’ll define, capture, and report on measurable short-term and long-term KPIs in service of each of these big-picture goals. You can expect to see a more transparent view into the quarterly dashboard of budget allocation and success metrics. We’ll share more about this in the second post in this series.

We’re Thinking Bigger (And We Need Your Help)

As a result of this strategic shift, you’ll start to see some pretty big changes pretty quickly. Rather than fund one-off projects, events, and content, you’ll notice larger strategic initiatives and programs – many of which are set up specifically to support many of you. Residencies. Fellowships. Bootcamps. Accelerators. Consortia. Shared repositories. Initiatives intentionally designed to bring as many people as possible into the ecosystem to catalyze network growth and protocol innovation.

We began testing this new strategy with a few larger grants from 2023. A few examples you can look at from our work thus far includes launching TL:DR, a first-of-its-kind research institute for DeFi which empowered 10 established researchers to articulate the largest research problem areas and select fellows. TL;DR will result in a DeFi research conference later this year. Another example is our year-long partnership with Gauntlet on incentive design. Gauntlet hosts community calls with the DAO to share information that helps them make data-driven decisions. Instead of thinking about an immediate pain point (e.g., a three-month grant for developer documentation for v4), we will build toward continual, longer-term relationships (e.g., engage in a multi-year partnership with a dev rel team that will produce world class documentation as updates and new versions emerge).

We’ve reorganized the UF internal team around funding categories, which distributes grant-making responsibilities among the entire organization. We call the team members who create initiatives for each funding category workstream leads. You can think of Workstream Leaders as representative nodes for that part of our ecosystem, running groundcover with key contributors to ensure that our fundable initiatives align with what’s needed the most right now. We also recruited a new Grants Lead, Aaron Lamphere, who joins us from Flipside Crypto to help shape the process of defining these strategic initiatives and the structural elements needed to support all grantees.

By giving Uniswap grantees a broader time horizon in which to innovate and build, we hope this new funding model helps broaden the influence and accessibility of the Uniswap protocol globally. We also expect to learn a lot from the residual network effects of the contributors, builders, and researchers that coalesce around each of these big strategic initiatives.

In next week’s post, we’ll share more details about the KPIs that our foundation and all of our grantees will be measuring success against in 2024 and beyond. Until then, we’d love to hear any of your feedback or ideas.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of our ecosystem partners, grantees, and advisors who helped us throughout this strategic shift. They include: Bethany Crystal for spearheading this strategy and roll out across the team, a16z Crypto, Paradigm, Kristen Stone, and Variant Fund. Special thanks to the entire Uniswap Foundation team, as well as Aziz Aiden (a UF dev ambassador), hooks developers Ben Price, makemake, and vanillahill, and past grantees Robin Nagpal (DoDAO), Omer Goldberg (Chaos Labs), Leighton Cusak (PoolTogether), as well as Bhaumik Patel and Mary-Catherine Lader (Uniswap Labs) for sharing their feedback and ideas.

We’d also like to thank the myriad of external organizations for inspiring this approach through their own funding and grant-making efforts. They include Remy Hall (0xPARC), Eugene Levanthal (Metagov, DAO Research Collective), Clarissa Redwine (Helium Foundation), Dan Shaw (Ethereum Foundation / Node.js), Avi Zenilman, Lawrence Mosley (Aave Foundation), Louis Guthman (Starkware), Elana Berkowitz (Schmidt Futures), Mario Laul (, Brittany Laughlin (Stacks Foundation), Duane O’Brien (Indeed Open Source), Sonia Koshy (Kapor Foundation), Hannah Lee (Cognizant Foundation, GitLab Foundation) and Roger Perez (GitLab Foundation).

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