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The next era of organizations starts with Hats Protocol

Organizations. Everyone knows there is a better possible future where we can more effectively share resources and take collective action. Organizations, in all their forms, are essential to making this future a reality.

We know that it’s possible to create organizations that are internet-native, permissionless, global, and censorship-resistant. The fundamental vision that attracted many of us to this space is still alive.

But nobody knows what it’s going to look like.

At Hats, we love organizations. And we have an idea for what’s coming next.

We believe the future of organizations is code-based and onchain. We believe that it is possible for organizations with widely distributed ownership to coordinate shared resources and attention and actually get things done.

Actually, we’re more optimistic than ever. We believe that the next era of organizations is going to create the most effective organizations in history.

And it all starts with the organizational graph.

Organizational Graphs: the foundational layer of internet-native organizations

Every organization that uses the internet today faces a major problem: a tremendous amount of effort is required to maintain fragmented data about contributors, roles, and permissions across all of its tools and applications.

This problem scales with a) the number of software tools an organization wants to use, and b) the number of agents that are in the organization. Both of these numbers are rapidly increasing — especially as AI agents rapidly enter the workforce and begin to require nuanced permissions. This problem is only getting worse.

We propose a new solution: an interoperable organizational graph that holds all of this data and makes it available to every other tool an organization wants to use.

Change your roles and permissions once, and watch them automatically propagate to all of your connected tools. This saves your organization time and effort keeping everything in sync, and also opens up new capabilities that didn’t exist before.

This is not an entirely new idea. Role-based access control has existed within individual applications for decades, and single sign-on has extended that idea across platforms. 

What’s novel is actually substantiating your organization as a code-based graph of roles and using that as the basis for managing everything in your organization, across all your tools.

Taking this a step further, Hats turns the organization itself into a digital object, ready to be programmed. All of the properties of your organization and its individual roles can now be automated, just like any other software system.

As we set out to create a platform for organizational graphs, we have three key principles:

  1. A role-based framework is the best way to encode organizations.

  2. Interoperability is king.

  3. We are standing up a future-proof public utility.

Let’s dive in and see how this works in practice.

1. A role-based framework is the best way to encode organizations

A platform for building organizational graphs must have a good framework for expressing what an organization is. In Hats Protocol, graphs are made up of roles, which we see as the atomic unit of organizational structure.

Roles — which we call “hats” — are rich objects that bundle responsibilities, permissions, and incentives. These are the nodes in the graph. They are represented as tokens, which are held by agents (Ethereum accounts). Because of the flexibility of accounts in the EVM, they can easily be controlled by individuals, groups, DAOs, smart accounts, or AI agents, with any decision-making structure you can think of onchain.

The connections between the nodes of the organizational graph are the admin and accountability relationships between roles.

Admins get certain in-protocol permissions, like being able to create new roles, select which agents will get each role, and modify the permissions delegated to a role so the agent can accomplish its responsibilities.

Accountability relationships make it possible for any agent in the graph to hold the responsibility for evaluating and aligning another agent’s performance. They can revoke hats that are misused or no longer needed. 

In Hats Protocol, all of these interfaces are extensible by developers. Organizations can easily automate the granting and revoking of roles, admin relationships, and accountability using any criteria or logic. Hats ecosystem developers have already created over 15 automations that organizations can plug into their graphs without writing any code.

Of course, it is the permissions delegated to a hat that make it powerful. Specifically, we’ve seen that there are a few categories of permissions that are particularly important for organizational operations:

  • Control of funds, operational budgets, and compensations streams

  • Ownership or voting power in domain-specific decisions

  • Identity that you can use to represent the organization in other contexts

  • Access to data, communication channels, and workspaces

  • Ability to modify, publish, and execute code

RareDAO is bringing its organizational graph onchain to create committees with accountability and increase the efficiency of council transitions. See this and other case studies here

Ultimately, organizational efficiency is a function of pushing both decision-making and execution as close to the edges of the organization as possible. Hats enables this for onchain organizations, making it possible to get things done even with a widely distributed set of owners and stakeholders.

2. Interoperability is king

The best platform for creating organizational graphs will be a singular piece of public infrastructure that the whole world can permissionlessly use, contribute to, and integrate with. This is because both users and developers benefit from increased network effects. 

For users, the best graph platform is the one that connects with the highest number of technologies and applications your organization uses. The more parts of your organization that you can include in your organizational graph, the more powerful the graph becomes.

For developers, the widest distribution and revenue opportunity will be on the organizational graph platform that has the most users. Developers already love integrating with Hats because they can tap into the whole ecosystem of existing Hats Protocol graphs. 

And because every integration built by developers expands interoperability and makes Hats yet more valuable to organizations, there is a virtuous cycle benefiting developers and organizations. This is the fundamental flywheel of Hats.

Hats Protocol is intentionally architected in a way that amplifies these network effects. The protocol is open source, and leverages existing Ethereum standards to create elegant interfaces for composability. What this enables is permissionless innovation — anybody can build new tools, applications, and businesses that leverage Hats organizational graphs.

There are already lots of permissions and applications that interoperate with Hats. See our docs for more

As an onchain protocol, Hats inherently integrates with tokenized assets and decentralized finance. This opens up an entire world of automations and permissions related to asset ownership, compensation, and operational budgets that are superior to what traditional solutions are able to achieve.

The final piece of the puzzle is incentives. At maturity, the protocol should draw on those financial primitives to facilitate interactions where participants receive value for what they create for the ecosystem. This would pour fuel on the fire of the existing network effects, significantly increasing the motivation of both organizations and developers to use and integrate with the platform.

Taking a unified approach to building an important piece of infrastructure requires assurances for the organizations and developers who choose to integrate with it. This brings us to our final principle.

3. We are standing up a future-proof public utility

Given its potential scale, network effects, and likelihood of accruing significant value as a key point of integration, it is important that Hats Protocol is built as credibly neutral infrastructure. 

The protocol is designed with web3-native constraints and assurances that support ecosystem-wide coordination, even at massive scale. The platform is as trustless as possible, and uses mechanisms to facilitate trust between participants when necessary.

Most importantly, with Hats Protocol, organizations retain sovereign control over their own graph. Users are not locked into any single application or user interface to access their graph, and aren’t reliant on a single platform provider to create the integrations they need.

Open source code and immutable contract deployments make permissionless integration easier, and ultimately reduce platform risk for developers. This enables developers to invest in more new innovations built on Hats Protocol than on closed alternatives.

Organizational graphs will be a key point of integration for an organization’s automations, agents, and operational capabilities. As such, the platform is likely to be very valuable, and it is critical that the value created goes back to the ecosystem itself.

In the long-term, we believe web3-native shared ownership models can facilitate alignment between users, developers, and owners. This will ensure the platform is self-sustaining, valuable, and able to solve this problem at massive scale, without a concern that costs to organizations will become highly extractive.

Another way to say this is that Hats Protocol is a hyperstructure for building organizational graphs. We see this as an essential part of the future of organizations, and are committed to stewarding it with the intention, responsibility, and clarity of vision to get this right.

RaidGuild is automating contributor permissions, accountabilities, and role-based compensation across its 140+ member organization. See this and other case studies here

Hats Protocol graphs unlock the next generation of organizations

Organizations today are already using organizational graphs powered by Hats to save time and operate more effectively, and these benefits will continue to strengthen as the ecosystem grows.

Hats Protocol starts by solving the acute problem of high administrative costs associated with keeping permissions and roles up to date. But powerful organizational graphs that are programmable, interoperable, and capture-resistant will unlock a much broader set of new capabilities.

Organizations that are substantiated as digital objects that fundamentally live in code — are about to significantly evolve the way that we work together. 

New automations will dynamically and intelligently update the graph to respond to real-time needs, increasing operational speed. AI agents will join the graph as part of the organization's workforce, automating work and decreasing costs. Cycles of delegation and execution — the lifeblood of organizations — will get faster and more effective.

These trends will produce the most effective organizations that have ever existed. Over the next decade, we believe that organizations will get 100x faster, fairer, and less political. They will be more efficient at stewarding shared resources and achieving shared goals. And they will be more enjoyable and fulfilling to contribute to and be a part of.

The big picture: what’s really at stake

This is a very exciting time to be on the cutting edge of building organizations. But there is something even bigger at stake. 

Exponential technologies are already stressing the governance capacity of traditional companies and governments. Giant internet platforms and AI projects have grown too big and powerful for any single company or even nation states to govern effectively.

To ensure these technologies remain aligned with humanity, we must create decentralized, capture-resistant governance structures. Whether that looks like DAOs, network states, or something else — these organizations require an organizational graph that works for them.

Our vision for Hats Protocol is to birth a new category of organizations capable of meeting the challenge of owning and governing exponential technologies at global scale. The full stack of features in the protocol is what makes this possible:

  1. A role-based organizational graph that is fully programmable

  2. Compatibility with agents of all kinds — people, AI agents, DAOs, and multisigs

  3. Automatable admin delegation and accountability relationships

  4. Integration with all the technologies, tools, and applications organizations need

  5. Designed for growth via network effects and a composable architecture

  6. A future-proof public utility that is open source and credibly neutral

  7. Aligned incentives that support fair value distribution and reliably low costs for users

We are part of the only industry crazy enough to take on the world’s governments, banks, and big corporations. Nowhere else in the world of technology has there been so much coordinated effort to ship open-source software that is fundamentally composable. And there has never been such a potent way to program value flows such that they can be shared amongst everyone who creates value in that ecosystem, without that ecosystem having a single owner.

At Hats Protocol, we are building public infrastructure for the next era of humanity. Join us.

Celebrate the next era of organizations with us — mint the Hats hat NFT on Forage to add it to your collection.

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