Startup seeks to centralize operations for decentralized organizations

DAOs can be a revolutionary new way to organize a business, but they still have to get the payroll. Utopia Labs, which just raised $23 million in a Series A fundraising round, is looking to provide back-office support.

Why is this important: Utopia’s proposal – payroll and payments for crypto-native organizations, to begin with – is to centralize operations for these decentralized organizations.

The big picture: DAOs have seen massive growth over the past year as an alternative to C-Corps and LPs. According to DeepDAO.io, an analytics platform, there are about 4,834 such organizations, with about $10 billion in DAO treasuries.

  • The context: DAOs are member-owned communities that aim to use blockchain, less centralized leadership, to make decisions to achieve a goal.

Details: When Utopia Labs met SushiSwap months ago, the DAO was manually billing for events and other services. Utopia changed that by creating payment request links that Sushi now uses to bill their customers and can have in one place.

  • “DAOs have increasingly complex needs in running their organizations. We are excited to partner with Utopia as they build the operating system for DAOs to streamline their operations,” said Matt Mizbani. , partner at Paradigm, to Axios.
  • Paradigm, a venture capital boutique launched in 2018 by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam and former Sequoia Capital partner Matt Huang led Utopia’s $23 million Series A round.

State of play: Utopia now works with over 100 DAOs, up from around 30 earlier this year.

  • Besides SushiSwap, the list includes Friends With Benefits and OlympusDAO, according to Utopia.
  • The company is seeing an average 75% month-over-month growth in payment volume, which reached $15 million in April.

Co-founders Kaito Cunningham, 23, Pryce Adade-Yebesi, 22, Alexander “Alex” Wu, 21, and Jason Chong, also 24, met online in DAO fashion.

  • “We weren’t a DAO, but we had the same philosophy,” Cunningham, head of Utopia, told Axios. “DAOs are an extremely important experiment in human coordination.”
  • Example: The infamous ConstitutionDAO aimed to collectively buy a copy of the US Constitution, only to be outbid at auction by billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel.

In the weeds: Other Utopia investors include Coinbase Ventures, Circle Ventures, and billion-dollar HR platform Gusto.

  • Utopia Labs declined to comment on its valuation.

Backtrack: Utopia announced that it raised $1.5 million from investors led by Kindred Ventures in October.

At the end of the line: Utopia Labs’ vision to help DAOs with details like payroll points to the future of work.