Failed U.S. presidential and NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has finally found his groove: Web3, or more specifically, Lobby3, a new group that will push for policies in favor of crypto in Washington, D.C. But not only that. Yang says that pushing for friendly regulation in an emerging space currently overrun with grifts and scams will "eradicate poverty."
"My goal is simple - eradicate poverty. Web3 technologies represent the biggest anti-poverty opportunity of our time,” Yang tweeted on Thursday in a tweet thread announcing his plan. “Millions of lives are being transformed and creators empowered by new ways to exchange and generate value on the blockchain. It's bottom-up not top-down."For all the bombast about eradicating poverty, the website has surprisingly little on how Web3 could do this or how lobbying could make it so besides vague gestures towards "partnerships" with public officials to run programs "demonstrating the capacity" of blockchains to reduce poverty. What it does have is a lot of buzzwords, and a commitment to "ensure that any new regulations are mindful of the realities of Web3 firms and create an environment here in the US where innovation can continue to thrive." The "What is Lobby3?" section is a self-referential call-to-arms emphasizing that bad policy can "prevent Web3 from reaching its full potential" but Lobby3 will fight that by educating lawmakers about the "positive potential" here. The "How it Works" section also offers no information about how this might help eradicate poverty, instead simply sketching a roadmap for rubbing shoulders with "like-minded thought-leaders, innovators, and Web3 enthusiasts" as they try to talk with lawmakers. The "Membership" and "Roadmap" sections also gesture towards building the economic potential of Web3, but not what it actually is. They will have meetings, more meetings, lots of meetings, and, because part of the plan involves starting a Lobby3 DAO (decentralized autonomous organization), votes among token-holders.
One thing that's worth nothing is the DAO does not currently exist. The roadmap points out that only after the lobbying infrastructure is built will a portion of the funds be used to create the Lobby3 DAO where members can vote. There’s also the question of whether this is actually a good idea: DAOs allocate votes through purchasing power―the more tokens you have, the more of a say you get. While DAOs are often promoted as being the next step for democratic governance, being governed by those with the most money is often pointed out by critics as being a very anti-democratic idea (albeit a very familiar one). Indeed, venture capital firms like a16z are increasingly buying tokens to have a say in DAOs. With this set-up, Lobby3 feels less like a scrappy lobbying operation meant to liberate Web3 and more like a support group for high-rollers, or a bougie social club with high requirements for entry at the top tier. "Each token is one vote, and you can buy multiple if you’d like your voice to be louder (just know we reserve the right to balance the scales a bit if we see voting isn’t reflecting the masses!)" Lobby3's website states. Tier 1 costs 0.07 ETH ($TK) and allows access to the discord, status updates, and participation in AMAs with Andrew Yang. Level 2 costs 1 ETH (roughly $3,000) and allows you access to monthly meetings with "special guests, partner organizations and Web3 leaders" to "help shape" policy priorities. You'll also get access to in-person events, exclusive merch, NFTs, and recognition on the website. Tier 3 costs 40 ETH ($120,000) is invite only, giving you "one-on-one access" to Yang and the core team as well as "100 leaders in the Web3 space." You can also vote to have Yang appear as a keynote speaker to five events a year, ranging from "casual meals" to speeches. Additionally, you get to join off-the-record group meetings with "policy leaders" as the group tries to lobby lawmakers to "decentralize economic opportunity."Another issue for Yang's lobbying DAO is that it's still not exactly clear what Web3 refers to or whether it actually exists once you start sifting through the hype. Is it the third iteration of the Internet—an attempt to use blockchain technologies to decentralize a Web centralized by tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Google? Or does, as tech critic Evgeny Morozov suggests, the “3” refer to the three major VCs interested in centralizing themselves in the Web3 ecosystem: Andreessen Horowitz with its major lobbying push and $2.2 billion crypto venture fund, Paradigm with its “monster” $2.5 billion Web3 venture fund, or Union Square Ventures’ push into financing DAOs and crypto companies?Is Web3 an ecosystem that will liberate artists from traditional markets and allow them to make a living while pursuing their creative endeavors? Or is it a complete disaster rife with theft, scams, insider trading, and bad art? Is it an exciting opportunity to develop a plethora of potential use cases that could revolutionize finance to be more decentralized? Or is it simply recreating financial instruments and risks we are already familiar with?These are all great questions that Yang and his DAO will likely waste no time answering. Instead, the assumption is that there is a "clear need for the Web3 community to have a voice making the case on Capitol Hill for the positive potential of these technologies" even as those supposed benefits (eradicating poverty, I guess?) continue to be overshadowed by what amounts to prodigious gambling in the best cases, with few exceptions.