Decentralized Platforms: Governance, Tokenomics, and ICO Design
Traditional two-sided platforms (e.g., Amazon, Uber) rely primarily on commission contracts to generate revenues and fuel growth, whereas their decentralized counterparts (e.g., Uniswap, Filecoin) often forego these, in favor of token retention. What economics underpin this choice? We show that with properly designed Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), both mechanisms can independently alleviate market failures at the initial fundraising stage, and incentivize long-term platform building. But they achieve this in different ways. While commission contracts often lead to higher profits for founders, token retention leads to higher services levels, benefiting the users and service providers. In essence, token retention surrenders a fraction of earnings to better align with the tenets of decentralized governance. Combining both mechanisms can add value, but only in relatively limited cases. These findings offer guidance and a possible rationale for why blockchain platforms may want to favor one mechanism over the other, or employ both.
Business Administration, Management, and Operations
SMU Cox: IT & Operations Management (Topic)