I think the discussion boils down to what the Gnosis Safe is perceived to be in the long run.
Is it a product, developed and maintained by Gnosis and funded through resources provided by GNO holders?
Is it a platform kickstarted by Gnosis and with Gnosis / GnosisDAO being a critical provider of infrastructure, but where the value of the platform is driven strongly by other stakeholders.
If we aim for the former, then I agree, the value created should be exclusively captured by the GNO token and the GNO token also would be a good fit for governing centralized aspects of the system.
However, we have written this proposal with the second assumption in mind. We want to have the Gnosis Safe become the new “account standard” on Ethereum, effectively replacing EOAs as the primary accounts. EOAs will therefore take the role of simple signer keys but not as accounts. The Gnosis Safe is not to be seen as just the Safe Multisig web interface, but as a collection of components some being built by Gnosis and some by third-parties, including interfaces, Dapps, modules, backend infrastructure, SDKs etc.
If we want to have a chance to achieve this ambitious vision, Gnosis Safe cannot be seen as a purely “Gnosis product” and also the token economics, value capture & distribution, as well as governance over the system, should not be tied 1:1 to the GNO token. Here are a few reasons.
Value creators are not necessarily stakeholders
Even looking at the Gnosis Safe situation today, who actually brought value to the Safe ecosystem? Yes, one part was the GNO holders funding the project and Gnosis executing on the project (thus both being represented with a major stake in the SAFE Token Model). But Gnosis Safe, as a project, would hold no value without its user, especially early users bringing trust to the solution and making it an easier decision for later adopters to start using Gnosis Safe. Also, value was brought to the Gnosis Safe through external contributors creating Safe Apps, third-party interfaces, transaction relayers, and other extensions. Especially those external contributors will become even more critical value drivers in the future. As in order to achieve the vision of the Gnosis Safe of becoming the new account standard, we rely on a vibrant ecosystem being built around it. Saying GNO holders should capture 100% of the Gnosis Safe value will not allow to build up this ecosystem. If we build an ecosystem yet capture all value using GNO, wouldn’t the value drivers (i.e. ecosystem participants that are not GNO holders) just want to fork away, establishing their own SAFE Token using a fairer distribution and set up their own core maintainer team for the Safe infrastructure?
GNO Distribution issues
GNO currently is facing some significant distribution issues (outlined here). Any Gnosis Safe components being governed by the GNO Token would inevitably suffer from those. While they might be fixed at some point, this could very well take 1-2 years to achieve.
GNO can’t effectively be used in multiple token economics / (protocol) governance schemes simultaneously
Imagine if at some point Gnosis would have multiple protocols with each one needing to have some decentralized governance in place. How can be guaranteed that the protocol is governed by “relevant stakeholders” given that it might differ for each protocol who the relevant stakeholders are? Does it make sense to have the token economics of one protocol be impacted by things not related to the protocol itself? Should relevant stakeholders of those additional protocols become GNO holders by diluting existing GNO holders?
The SAFE Token is essentially a separation of concerns, GNO Tokens are used to govern initiatives that increase the value of the GNO Token and the SAFE Token is used to bring value to the Safe ecosystem. In case GNO is used as a governance token in the Safe ecosystem, there might be cases where what’s best for the GNO Token is not best for the Safe ecosystem. This proposal makes sure incentives are aligned in those cases, because the value captured by the GNO Token is directly related to bringing value to the Safe ecosystem.
Final thoughts: My personal vision for the GnosisDAO / GNO token
I see GnosisDAO as a vehicle to fund/kickstart initiatives that ultimately capture more value for the GNO token. Whereas the most obvious two categories of initiatives are:
Treasury management: Effective deployment of assets in a way that they increase the value of the treasury
Kickstarting new protocols with their own native token: GnosisDAO is building infrastructure with their own ecosystems and establishes native tokens that capture the value of those ecosystems (not just the own interfaces/products built on top of the protocol). As a result, GnosisDAO receives a significant stake to be further incentivized to help grow the ecosystem. This should also be in the interest of the new “spun-out” ecosystem as they can rely on Gnosis continuing to be core maintainer and ecosystem developer. Therefore, Gnosis does not build products, it builds open-source infrastructure and establishes token economics / decentralized governance around those.
I think long-term it brings more value to GNO holders if GnosisDAO is a major stakeholder of ecosystems rather than an owner of products. At least wherever there is a chance to capture the ecosystem value vs. the product value. 25% value capture of a platform play can be a vastly better return than 100% value capture of a product play. However, both are valid options, of course, so I would not dismiss the latter.
This is definitely an important discussion to have because it also very much affects our product strategy. We have aimed to become a platform and have started to direct our focus towards this. If the GnosisDAO would prefer to see Gnosis Safe as a product, we have to adapt some assumptions and re-adjust our product focus.