Dash has long operated on a meritocracy-based system, where the best and brightest prove themselves and are eventually rewarded in a long-term and sustainable way. This stands in contrast with many other crypto projects that either expect volunteers to work their hearts out for no eventual reward, or those that raise ridiculous amounts of money in a crowdsale and award it to those who have proven no merit. As someone who worked his way up in the Dash rankings, starting from a simple energetic volunteer to working into a full-time career, I’m still impressed with how this system lets anyone get to the top provided they know how to work hard and innovate.

The process tends to be like as follows: New entrants into the Dash ecosystem observe, suppbooort, and participate, until they find an avenue to either volunteer to help an existing project or launch their own. Over time, they may request funding, either through donations or from being paid by one of the more established initiatives in the space. Provided they do well, many pursue full-time employment, and some even spearhead their own proposals, eventually hiring the next wave of excited volunteers to become Dash employees. The meritocracy lets the hardest workers prove their worth, with funding available to them with each step of advancement, up until a full career or even quasi-entrepreneurship.

Bitcoin’s “begging for scraps” approach isn’t sustainable

For years, Bitcoin took the world by storm through an impressive burst of grassroots enthusiasm and hard work. Everyone was working on Bitcoin, from developing plugins and applications to giving presentations and handing out printed materials everywhere. While it’s truly impressive what was accomplished on donations and free work, at some point much of that inertia had to wane, leaving much still to be done without the adequate infrastructure in place. Much worse, though, is the predicament facing smaller projects who don’t have the benefit of goodwill from driving the tech as a whole forward, and struggle to sustain themselves. Eventually, with bear markets and time, it just because so difficult to sustain any meaningful resistance, especially if you aren’t Bitcoin or one of its forks running off of “new chain energy” and a renewed feeling of hope in recapturing digital cash’s former glory.

The unsustainable ICO approach creates misaligned expectations

The epic ICO boom created enough money for everyone, however incentives were misaligned. Projects raising millions had more than enough to play with, but without the right actions tied with the earning of that money, teams had no idea how to actually earn their keep moving forward. Once the bubble popped and values started to tank, many projects had been misallocating their capital without having ever earned it, and now faced budget crunches with very little to show for their previous funding, compounding the difficulty in acquiring renewed funding.

The treasury isn’t perfect, but does tend towards funding known performers

Dash’s treasury system stands out by providing recurring funding that must be continually voted on by the network, though it hasn’t been without rough patches and mishaps. Over the course of 2017 and part of 2018, with the Dash Core team expanding in size and scope at a much more conservative rate than the available budget, lots of money was on the table, and a plethora of low-ROI projects (several likely taking advantage of the system for ill-gotten gain) came out, needing only a strong pitch to the masternode network to run off with some funds. However, most of these failures operated on the “fool-me-once rule” of disappearing after one go at the treasury. In the meantime, long-term performers have stuck around and have continued to receive funding month after month, slowly squeezing out room for waste. Now with the markets at a low and relatively little in the treasury, most of the treasury is already spoken for, funding leaned-out essentials, arguably delivering similar net impact as when significantly higher funding levels were available. Those who have earned their stripes persist, and unlike the tireless volunteers of other projects who made great personal sacrifices for nothing in return, Dash’s heroes have the means to continue.

With the budget squeeze and Dash Boost, the meritocracy is more streamlined than ever

The Dash DAO has never been more efficient than it is today. As much as this time has been difficult for myself and others having to cut and squeeze to stay afloat, I wouldn’t trade this bear market for anything. We the performers are still here, arguably at our peak capacity, while the non-performers have largely fallen away. I can imagine most fellow projects will not re-implement the waste they cut when the budget fell, but rather find new productive uses once more funding is available. Additionally, thanks to consistent funding, Dash Boost is available for anyone with Dash to be able to vote for micro-proposals of much smaller scope, giving the long-term volunteers an avenue for ramping up their participation.

The last two years were a learning experience for all of cryptocurrency. Dash stands to gain tremendously from these learned lessons, and in 2019 will hopefully field the most lean, efficient, and effective teams the cryptoverse has ever seen.