20 November 2021 |
ConstitutionDAO: A meme history
By Trung Phan
The funniest memes and tweets from ConstitutionDAO’s effort to buy the US Constitution.
Yo, Trung here. Thanks for subscribing to SatPost, a Saturday round-up of funny memes and tweets from the internet.
Today, we’re talking about the wild ConstitutionDAO story.
What is ConstitutionDAO?
The year is 2021.
So, it was inevitable that I would write this sentence: “A DAO raised $47m+ and tried to buy a copy of the US Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction”.
DAO stands for “decentralized autonomous organization”. Kevin Roose from NYT offers a few definitions:
Formal: “a kind of internet-native co-op that is governed with cryptocurrency tokens and blockchain-based ‘smart contracts’ instead of traditional corporate boards and bylaws.”
Informal: “financial flash mob”
Very informal (and my favorite): “chat rooms with bank accounts”
Less than 2 weeks ago, a “financial flash mob” of ~30 internet folk put together the ConstitutionDAO. Here is the first tweet:
The mission: buy one of the 13 remaining copies of the US Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction on Thursday, November 18th. To do so, ConstitutionDAO needed to raise at least $20m.
Ultimately, it raised $47m+ from 17k+ donors with a median donation size of $206 (contributions made in ETH). While ConstitutionDAO did not win the bid, the effort captivated the internet.
It showed the promise of DAOs and Web3 but — most importantly for SatPost — it birthed some truly glorious memes.
How is Nicholas Cage involved?
Alright, now for some laughs.
To mobilize thousands of people to do stuff on the internet, viral memes are a must.
ConstitutionDAO hit the perfect storm of meme-potential:
The US Constitution is probably the best-known political document in the world (and if you buy into Yuval Hariri’s “humans share myths” thesis, the idea of America is one of the greatest memes ever)
Nicholas Cage, certified meme legend, starred in National Treasure and the film’s plot revolves around his character trying to steal the other super well-known US political document: The Declaration of Independence.
Let’s marinate on Cage a bit.
A lot of people forget that he was an absolute juggernaut in the 1990s. During one 4-film stretch, Cage won Best Actor (Leaving Las Vegas) then starred in 3 legendary action movies (The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off) that grossed a combined $800m+.
This is one of the greatest actor runs ever (don’t @ me).
From 1996 to 2011, Cage made $150m from acting including other notable flicks like Adaptation, Gone in 60 Seconds, Lord of War and 2 National Treasure films.
WTF happened to him? Cage blew all the money on lux homes, cars and yachts (4x)…as well as the most comically absurd shit (like $300k for dinosaur bones). Forced to pay off his debts, Cage started making D-grade flicks at a startling pace (Ghost Rider, anyone?)
Cage’s story is perfect for meme immortality:
A super high-profile actor creates dozens of culturally-relevant film moments during a critically and commercially successful career
The incineration of vast riches, turbo-charged by outrageous spending habits
Incredible acting range, including the iconic “Nic Cage freakout” face
After ConstitutionDAO spun up a Discord, the National Treasure connection bubbled to the top and Cage memes were born:
How else did ConstitutionDAO spread?
If you’ve been on Twitter in the past week, you def seen this symbol: (📜 , 📜) .
Here’s an explainer from Packy McCormick’s must-read essay on ConstitutionDAO’s origin story:
The (📜 , 📜) symbol is a remix of (3,3). The (3,3) symbol previously “started popping up across Twitter and Discord” in support of “the Olympus DAO, which is trying to build a crypto-backed reserve currency.”
(📜 , 📜) is the go-to sign of support for the ConstitutionDAO project, with users appending the symbol to the end of their handles. And it popped up everywhere.
As the internet sniffed out the hilarious potential of ConstitutionDAO, there was a buzz on Twitter. A buzz similar to the whole GameStop / Wall Street Bets affair from earlier this year (keep this in mind):
Step 1: “There’s something happening on the internet”
Step 2: “This is hilarious”
Step 3: “Oh, it’s an internet-native group of folk taking on establishment symbols”
Step 4: “Wow, there’s a lot of money involved”
Step 5: “Holy crap, they might pull it off”
This lead to some quality content:
NOTE: Contributors to ConstitutionDAO wouldn’t have actually received fractional ownership of the US Constitution. Per the project’s FAQ, Sotheby’s doesn’t allow DAOs to bid for auction items. Instead, contributors receive governance tokens in the DAO — called $PEOPLE — that give voting rights like where the document will be placed (e.g. Smithsonian). The actual bidder was a non-profit connected to the DAO’s LLC, which is legally owned by 2 of the ConstitutionDAO members.
How did the auction go?
Here are some fundraising milestones based on the @ConstitutionDAO Twitter handle:
Monday (2:27pm PT): $4m
Tuesday (5:43am PT): $5m
Wednesday (5:34am PT): $11.6m
Wednesday (11:10am PT): $14.4m
Wednesday (12:10pm PT): $20.1m
Wednesday (1:08pm PT): $25.1m
Wednesday (3:46pm PT): $31.2m
Wednesday (9:31pm PT): $40.3m
Throughout Wednesday, ConstitutionDAO moved its donation target to increasingly higher stretch goals: it went from $20m to $25m to $30m to $35m to $40m.
So as to not fully tip its hand against competing auction bidders, ConstitutionDAO shut the counter off at $40m. In the end, ConstitutionDAO raised an insane $47m+ in less than a week ($30m+ on Wednesday alone).
The Sotheby’s auction was live-streamed Thursday evening.
And even though the actual US Constitution auction was short (<10 minutes), it delivered a star: Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art.
A 2018 profile of Lampley from Robb Report notes that she is a “reputed rainmaker” and “auction house darling” who became “a trailblazer” while at Christie’s (the main competitor to Sotheby’s) for “leading evening sales, a senior post long held by a man”.
Here is Brooke making it rain during the auction. As it turns out, she was actually bidding against ConstitutionDAO…
…but the internet embraced her, nonetheless.
Enter the memes (with some solid Succession references):
Someone made a Brooke Fan Cam LOL.
To respond, Brooke created a Twitter account and posted her first tweet ever:
Her identity confirmed by Sotheby’s:
Who won the auction?
Ken Griffin, who bid $43m+ for the US Constitution (in addition to the bid, there are costs for insurance, storage and transportation).
For the uninitiated, Griffin is:
Founder and CEO of Citadel, a huge investment management firm and market marker
Worth $20B+ and is the richest person in the State of Illinois
An absolute VILLAIN to the Wall Street Bets / Reddit community, who believe he colluded with RobinHood to stymie their trading on GameStop and AMC
If you want to see a steady stream of unprintable words, do a search of “Ken Griffin” on Reddit.
So, Griffin is already hated by a massive meme-loving community of stock investors. Now, he’s taken a dump right on the front lawn of the Web3 community.
The ConstitutionDAO response was fantastic:
It’s too cliche at this point to even say “no Hollywood screenwriter could have dreamed this up”.
What an absolutely absurd outcome. Unfathomable.
I have nothing else to add…enjoy these:
Will this happen again?
Yes! Of course.
As long as the internet, funny shit and infinite money exist.
Having said that, it’s gonna be pretty difficult to top this trifecta:
Coming out party for DAOs (this last point can only happen the first time once)
The mystique of the US Constitution (with the added time element of an auction deadline)
As an exercise, I did a quick summary of other Cage-themed DAO opportunities. They don’t look as good:
The only thing I know for sure…Nic Cage is def laying low right now:
Here is ConstitutionDAO’s post-auction message to the community:
Contributors also have the option to continue supporting ConstitutionDAO. To do so, they leave their funds in the DAO’s treasury for future initiatives.