Unstoppable organizations. That’s the tagline for the popular Ethereum project, Aragon. At first glance, it can be a little difficult for some to decipher what exactly Aragon is all about. We caught up with one of the co-founders and company CTO Jorge Izquierdo at the Shanghai Ethereum Meetup to talk about his project and the recent developments they’ve had as they move into their next version of the software, v0.5.
What Is Aragon?
Aragon is a service designed to help people set up their own decentralized autonomous organizations, also known as a DAO. While it is possible to set up a DAO on any number of blockchain platforms, Aragon offers some compelling features as well as enhanced ease-of-use that can potentially allow for even those without any programming experience to get started.
One of the major selling points of Aragon is its distributed governance and conflict resolution model. What this basically means is that if two companies create an agreement on Aragon (such as through a smart contract or a traditional one), and one side of the agreement is unhappy with the results, they can choose to pursue action through Aragon itself.
Here’s how the system works. Aragon will allow certain trusted community members to review case details and vote on what the outcome should be. The majority agreed-upon outcome is then what is enforced. What’s interesting is that this could almost be viewed as a distributed and entirely online court-like system. Of course, this system is only designed for dispute resolutions.
Speaking with Izquierdo, we asked him, who is Aragon for? He told us that Aragon is “for anyone.” It’s been designed for anything, from a single person company all the way up to a multinational conglomerate. He also noted that currently Aragon is essentially the only game in town in terms of the specific offerings they have available now and in the near future.
Who Is Using Aragon Now?
A part of Izquierdo’s presentation was about the current status of the network. He noted that several hundred DAOs exist on the service today, with many more appearing all the time. Currently though, the system is still running on an Ethereum testnet. He advised that those who are serious about creating a DAO for real-world business should hold off for a while. That is, until the full 1.0 release goes live. The group has not officially released a timeline for when this will happen yet.
In the current test environment, there are two template choices for DAOs that early adopters can try today. In the future, however, users will have many more templates to choose from, in addition to being able to customize and create their own organizations based on their own custom requirements. Presumably, higher degrees of customization will likely require some degree of programming skills.
Why Not Just Use Ethereum?
It seems like each day, dozens of new projects are coming out on Ethereum and other blockchains like it. Of these, many could be considered DAOs. This begs the question, why should someone wanting to create a DAO use Aragon and not just put it directly on Ethereum?
To this, Izquierdo pointed out the ease of setting up an organization on Aragon. Creating an entirely new DAO on Ethereum obviously requires extensive programming experience. That, or have access to highly skilled individuals that can write detailed smart contract code, among other things.
Aragon is designed to be more akin to using accounting software like QuickBooks instead of needing to write and develop accounting software just for your own company. Obviously, the majority of business owners would prefer to just use an off-the-shelf product instead of spending the many years and many hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in development costs for custom software.
International Court Cases a Thing of the Past?
The arbitration features of Aragon could prove to be attractive, especially to those that deal in high-risk lines of business such as international trade. International trade in general is rife with issues like fraud, deceptive practices, and international law complications. To have all of this out in public on a blockchain and open to arbitration could add an additional layer of security to these types of comparatively high-risk transactions.
As international lawsuits can be unbelievably time-consuming and difficult, getting involved with a legal contract that requires the use of the Aragon arbitration system could greatly simplify things.
What will be interesting to see, however, is once these first arbitration cases go through, how their judgments will be enforced. For instance, if a company is found to have shipped a bad product, how will Aragon work with law-enforcement in that country to enforce the judgment? This is all still at least a few years away, but it will be exciting to watch when these cases begin to unfold in the future.
The Aragon Token (ANT)
Aragon tokens have seen steady upward movement in price over the last several months. Today, tokens are trading for about $4.40 USD each, which is a significant increase from where they were a few months ago at just over $1. In total, the project has a market cap of $115 million, with a total of 26.36 million tokens in circulation.
The tokens themselves can be used as payment between Aragon companies, as well as be representative of a stake ownership in the network.
Looking Towards the Future
As blockchain as a concept continues to absorb and reshape industries, services like Aragon could prove to be a natural destination for companies that want to get on the blockchain quickly, but perhaps don’t know how. Or, to give access to smaller organizations that could never afford to otherwise invest in the development of a custom blockchain solution.
Aragon has certainly grown in popularity since its initial launch. However, it is still in its early days and has a long way to go until it’s ready to work with major multinational conglomerates. It could be possible as well that major companies might choose not to use Aragon. Instead, Aragon could still be a useful tool for smaller organizations or individuals that want access to the blockchain with low start-up costs.
As the goals of Aragon are so high, it could take many years until it sees general adoption. This does not mean that one should simply write off the project as being too far-fetched. Instead, if they’re able to demonstrate slow but steady growth and pick up more partners on the way in the form of functional DAOs, then this could prove that their system is indeed ready for larger adoption. And, perhaps, to be embraced by the business world at large.
Will Aragon see widespread adoption in the near future, or are we still many years away from DAOs being a normal company structure? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images via Robert DeVoe, Aragon.One