VDP-137: Hiring a Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) for VitaDAO

TLDR: This proposal seeks to authorize VitaDAO to hire a full-time experienced executive who can source and advance pre-company projects. This person could be thought of as the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

Team: @timrpeterson, @gweisha, @tylergolato

Background: This person will be in charge of the 80% of projects that VitaDAO aims to fund as IP-NFTs and IPTs. For projects already at the company stage, which is 20% of VitaDAO’s funding, VitaDAO already has sourcing and evaluation coverage through the existing members of the Dealflow working group.

A pre-company project means one that could be made into an IP-NFT and IPT. An example project could be where an academic group has a tool compound or an idea on how to generate a tool compound and they want to fundraise with VitaDAO’s help to create that initial IP. The CSO’s goal would be a key cog in creating the initial value that could be later turned into a company or could be licensed to someone. Both of those would likely result in ROI for VitaDAO and the other IPT holders.

Pre-requisites: The CSO would ideally have a strong existing network who could bring talent and future funding to the IP-NFTs/IPTs (to generate the aforementioned ROI for VitaDAO). They wouldn’t necessarily have to have previously brought a drug to market or clinical trials. VitaDAO optimizes for motivation and people taking initiative. Being motivated can more than make up for lack of experience. That being said, this person would need to have at least 5 years of experience advancing molecular therapeutic projects and have successfully fundraised for a molecular therapeutic project before where it could be agreed they were the main driver of the fundraising.

VitaDAO is especially looking for someone with experience in newer therapeutic modalities such as CRISPR, RNA, and ADCs.

How will the CSO fit in with VitaDAO’s existing personnel? The CSO would work with many people at VitaDAO. They wouldn’t be anyone’s boss though they would be the primary person in charge of ensuring at least five (5) new projects per year are advanced to a successful IPT launch. One can imagine a situation where VitaDAO is not the majority owner of some of these five IPTs. It would still count to the CSO’s quota if there was agreement amongst the stakeholders of that IPT that the CSO was key in driving it. Post-IPT depending on the circumstances, there can be a leadership hand-off from the CSO to the Builder’s Squad. VitaDAO’s Dealflow Steward and other Core Contributors would be “glue” between these groups to ensure their long-term alignment.

Proposal: VitaDAO seeks to hire by mid 2024 one person who can lead the sourcing and advancing of IPTable projects. The tentative offer is $250,000/year, 25K VITA/year, and a TBD stake in each IPT they launch. The priority for the CSO will be in launching IPTs, therefore their stakes in IPTs will be prioritized over VITA tokens. The intent is to continue to decentralize beyond the many VitaDAO contributors who are primarily incentivized through getting VITA tokens. These numbers should be considered estimates and subject to change. In general as with anyone in VitaDAO the less USD one takes, the more tokens one would get. The CSO will be accountable to VitaCore and the VitaDAO SAB. Meaning, if they aren’t doing their job or VitaDAO can’t afford them anymore, VitaCore and the SAB will determine a resolution.

Disclaimer: The timeline of hiring is subject to change.

Please vote below on whether VitaDAO should hire a CSO.

  • Agree
  • Revisions Requested (Detail in Comments)
  • Disagree
0 voters
1 Like

We can’t afford this, we have enough people that already do this, including myself, Mike Torres, Bret, and many many others. We should not be hiring for who we cannot afford. We don’t have enough projects to even begin justify this.

A full time CSO this would at minimum be $350k+.

9 Likes

I disagreed with this proposal and will share my thinking:

  1. VitaDAO’s mission is to decentralize science, not have highly-paid, full-time employees, but rather a huge network of scientists it can incentivize and tap into on an ad-hoc basis based on specialized knowledge and competence when needed. This proposal seems to be increase centralization, not decentralization.
  2. VitaDAO hasn’t funded a ton of research to my knowledge as of late, and I would hope that cash would be preserved for funding research, not employee salaries. We have to be extremely cash conscious, and this seems to be an extremely high risk, relatively low reward proposal.
  3. We have not yet made significant headway at actual decentralization, and I would like to see more proposals in that vein before deciding that we’re “too decentralized”. There is still minimal data that is being disseminated to the community, and minimal effort to leverage existing talent in our network. We could do a lot better here before deciding to further centralize.

That being said, I’m open to being wrong here. I’m just not convinced that this is leveraging decentralization as a competitive advantage, which is our defining thesis.

9 Likes

Strongly disagree. The token holders can onboard & offboard the CSO.

1 Like

Disagree with the proposal or our responses?

1 Like

the decentralization response, fren

3 Likes

Asking someone to leave their job and come on full time should not be taken lightly. If we’re going to hire quality, it shouldn’t be taking as a light onboard/offboard.

5 Likes

It’s highly unlikely an experience CSO would quit their job for this, too. We aren’t validated enough.

3 Likes

As a former VP of R&D and current VC-backed CEO that is supporting VitaDAO, this is not what VitaDAO needs. The current system while still needing optimization, is much better equipped to move the mission of VitaDAO forward. This type of centralization is the opposite of DeSci.

I voted against this.

10 Likes

I disagree with this proposal. I’m also not sure why my name has been used as a part of the team leading this and would like for it to be removed.

We’re not at a point where we need to hire a new CSO. We have perfectly capable company builders who are a part of the DAO and DAO members who have expressed interest in leading future spinouts. Anthony, Michael, Brett et al are doing a great job. To Benji’s point, this should be kept in DAO fashion. Open to discussion, and welcome people’s views.

9 Likes

This was clearly written to replace the current company builder… same description… LOL

1 Like

Please read the following post about decentralization.

Typical DAOs tend to “decentralize” by gathering large amounts of capital into a single pool and using token-holder voting to fund each allocation. UkraineDAO, on the other hand, works by splitting its functions up into many pods, where each pod works as independently as possible. A top layer of governance can create new pods (in principle, governance can also fund pods, though so far funding has only gone to external Ukraine-related organizations), but once a pod is made and endowed with resources, it functions largely on its own. Internally, individual pods do have leaders and function in a more centralized way, though they still try to respect an ethos of personal autonomy.

2 Likes

If you didn’t author this, this needs to be taken down or revised at the least. This is ridiculous for your name to be on this as this is some consensus word.

4 Likes

Agree. Very disrespectful to include core people who had nothing to do with this proposal. In fact, I find this entire proposal disrespectful to the people “actually” building companies and projects at VITA that are moving forward–who definitely are NOT making $250k as the proposal suggests and doing it out of their own passion to moving new therapeutics to market. It’s a true shame that those doing the least are in the way of real progress in longevity while those working the hardest and hidden in the shadows.

2 Likes

I don’t support this proposal. Although I’m new to the group, it’s my impression that things are working nicely. I also think that passing it would be a misstep from a resource management perspective. Even were the benefit clear, which it isn’t, there are insufficient funds in hand to make it viable.

6 Likes

This seems like a power grab and doesn’t really make sense with our current budget. Maybe in the future after we raise a large round, but this seems irresponsible with current cash at hand. Additionally, doesn’t the builder squad already serve this function at a fraction or the price? Plus hasn’t builder squad made significant progress in the past half year?

Also why include people on the team here who clearly were not an author and don’t approve of this VDP? It’s seem that there was questionable intent to mislead behind this proposal.

2 Likes

Frens, let’s remember why we’re here and jump on a call to solve any (I think very minor) differences. Like/DM me if you’re in, I will coordinate.

5 Likes

My name should not be on this proposal, as I did not write it, edit it, or previously see it. I previously mentioned in a call that I would be supportive of hiring someone with deep experience in longevity biotech to oversee scientific and biotech activities in VitaDAO, and to report to VitaCore. The goal would be to have a competent bridge between current initiatives and VitaCore, which currently does not exist with clear accountability and reporting lines. However, the terms on which I would support bringing someone in are quite different.

IMO, we could utilize a CSO to supplement our scientific strategy and help advise VitaCore on scientific matters, biotech strategy, outreach, partnerships, etc. I would see them acting as the scientific bridge between VitaCore, the builder squad, and the longevity working group, as VitaCore is currently light on scientific expertise. As written, this proposal threatens those initiatives instead of seeking to support them.

Another issue I see - currently there is no clear offboarding mechanism for paid contributors. It enforces a bit of a legacy mentality, in that people become more or less “unfirable” and difficult to evaluate. The benefit of a hiring someone that reports to VitaCore with a clear role and accountability would be the ability to create clear accountability.

I would not see them responsible for 80% of projects, but an advisor to help oversee and unify ongoing scientific activities.

7 Likes

The general idea of hiring a high-profile biotech person has been raised several times in different VitaDAO fora over the past year, without reaching a general consensus.

I understand that @timrpeterson took the responsibility of bringing it up to the community to advance the debate, articulating the idea into a concrete proposal, which represents one of many ways to execute it, namely by recruiting a CSO, whose primary role would be to source projects and advance them to IPT stage (Intellectual Property Token, such as the one generated from Viktor Korolchuk’s project).

As I previously voiced, there are some points which I support:

  • Having a recognized biotech leader with us, on top of those already in our team, would increase our capabilities and clout in the classic biotech arena (not in the DeSci space, where I think we already are a reference)
  • At this time, it is a good idea to focus our energy on sourcing high-quality projects
  • Someone fluent in newer therapeutic modalities would be a plus

However:

  • Consistently with some of the comments, I think that it is a bit too early to devote a significant part of our resources to a full-time high-profile hire. While we have lots to improve, and it is not easy to find the good balance between decentralized and centralized, we have proven our capability to execute
  • We are deploying a number of actions to improve our sourcing, which should soon begin to pay off. In addition, this type of activity could benefit from decentralization, leveraging the multiple networks of our contributors, rather than relying on a single one
  • We have recently onboarded several biotech contributors in key roles, including in the builder squad. We now also have a stellar SAB, which has already started delivering. Collectively, these people bring experience and a wide range competences. I also understand that to some extent we can also rely on Molecule’s pool of talent
  • While I appreciate the attempt made in the proposal at defining role and responsibility of the hire, this would probably need more though to ensure a good fit with the current organization and avoid duplications

Taken together, these considerations led me to vote against this proposal, while staying open for future iterations, when the time comes, taking into account the lead time required to acquire top talent.

7 Likes

Great discussion here. I can just say that from my experience setting up the Builder Squad that this would not enhance our ability to manage and drive the projects forward, and is not a good investment of money for an organization not generating revenues. It would be interesting to hear from the the larger investors.

3 Likes