[SEP #6] Safe Grants Program (SGP)

Title: Safe Grants Program (SGP)
Authors: @MetaGuardian, OG post from @netrunner.eth
Created: Wednesday 12th, April 2023

Abstract

Taking into account previous submissions by netrunner.eth. This proposal outlines a Safe Grants Program (SGP) to be run by SafeDAO, with funding and administrative support provided by the Safe Ecosystem Foundation (SEF). If voted in by the SafeDAO community, wave 1 of the program would run for 6 months with a view to iterating on the program in wave 2, based on feedback and learnings from the initial wave of Safe grants funding.

SGP Mission

Grow a thriving community of contributors through funding ideas, projects and integrations. To support the decentralised growth and sustainability of the Safe ecosystem.

More specifically:

  • Drive development and usage on top of Safe, cultivating enthusiastic users and talented builders to increase and maintain Safe’s long term growth. Primarily driven by Safe{Build} and Safe{Growth} grants.

  • Bring the best and brightest community members into SafeDAO, members who believe in Safe’s constitution and the constitution goals. In turn, this will attract the best contributors to the Safe ecosystem. Primarily driven by Safe{Research} and Safe{Govern} grants.

Note: This grants program is not optimised to drive token utility, as token utility has not yet been ratified by SafeDAO. Instead, this SGP aims to grow our community that uses and builds on the protocol, which will in turn foster a more diverse and extensive ecosystem that a token utility model can be built upon.

Safe Grants Program - Wave 1

What work does it support?

Safe {Build} Grants

  • Goal: Get developers building out Safe as the default EVM wallet.
  • Doing What: Build account abstraction integrations, developer experience, SDK packs, modules/guards, tooling and retail/hybrid/institutional projects. Primarily looking at early stage projects building on Safe.
  • Milestones Needed: Benchmark and/or Critical (see milestones section)

Safe {Growth} Grants

  • Goal: Get people using Safe.
  • Doing What: Usage incentive programs, user education, community growth, marketing campaigns.
  • Milestones Needed: Benchmark and Critical

Safe {Research} Grants

  • Goal: Get people sustaining Safe.
  • Doing What: Value capture programs, core protocol developments, R&D (e.g. Account Abstraction).
  • Milestones Needed: Critical

Safe {Govern} Grants

  • Goal: Get people governing SafeDAO.
  • Doing What: Increase delegate and proposer experience, governance tooling.
  • Milestones Needed: Benchmark and Critical

What metrics measure success against each Grant category?

Note: The below success metrics are pending, and will be reviewed and refined together with the DAO’s feedback and elected grants team.

Safe {Build} Grants
Primary ROI
Overall share of gas used for Safe txs compared to overall gas used for txs per chain.

Example Metrics

Safe {Growth} Grants
Primary ROI
Overall share of gas used for Safe txs compared to overall gas used for txs per chain.

Example Metrics - Usage

Example Metrics - Community Growth (in last 6 months)

Safe {Research} Grants
Primary ROI
Overall share of gas used for Safe txs compared to overall gas used for txs per chain.

Example Metrics

  • Quantitative/qualitative success metrics to be defined based on proposed research output.

Safe {Govern} Grants
Primary ROI
Share of SAFE available for voting that is actually participating (Directly or via delegation)

What’s the program length and expected outcomes?

  • SGP will begin with a first wave lasting 6 months, consisting of an open period and a review period.

  • The open period will be an initial 18 weeks of operational focus.

  • The review period will be 6 weeks in which the SGP funded initiatives will be reviewed by the committee, token holders and delegates.

  • The wave 1 outcomes should be evaluated and a decision needs to be made on whether a wave 2 should commence at the 6 month deadline, after the review period.

  • Each grantee should prove that they implemented their approved in-scope deliverables.

  • Each grantee should prove that their project has successfully contributed to the increase of their Grant category metrics.

  • Subsequent proposals and grants can be formulated for follow-up work, in the event a Wave 1 grant engagement goes well and a continuation is warranted.

How much funding is available for distribution?

  • The Safe Ecosystem Foundation has committed $1,000,000 USD in grants - see here for original announcement. As a result, SGP Wave 1 will commit a maximum of $500,000 for the next 6 months, with a further $500k available to the program for wave 2. The grants program aims to significantly ramp up in speed and scale in future waves of grants funding, dependent on the SafeDAO’s feedback and learnings from Wave 1.

  • Contributors can apply to receive between $5k to $50k of funding per grant, however, the Grants committee can request exceptions from SafeDAO to exceed limits.

  • Ideally, the maximum number of grantee projects is 30, given the administrative overhead.

  • The allocated SGP budget has an approximate distribution* of:

    • 40% of funds allocated to {Build} Grants
    • 30% of funds allocated to {Growth} Grants
    • 20% of funds allocated to {Research} Grants
    • 10% of funds allocated to {Governance} Grants
  • Prior to the end of the initial 6 Month period of wave 1, a new SGP renewal proposal should be tabled by the Grants community for wave 2, using data and learnings collected from the SGP, to assess the program, and inform its next phase.

*As SafeDAO and SGP Wave 1, is in an early period of growth, the above split reflects the priority of Safe builders and users over research and governance, in order to give the DAO more value to sustain and govern over the coming years and decades.

Role of Safe Ecosystem Foundation with the DAO and SGP

  • The SEF acts as a legal wrapper to the SafeDAO and provides for limited legal liability, tax and regulatory certainty as well as for administrative ease. The Swiss foundation is particularly attractive for crypto communities since it includes an orphan/shareholder-less organisation form which can exist in perpetuity.

  • The SEF can already execute on signals it receives from the Safe community, this will be the case for voting in the mobilisation of the SGP. During SGP Wave 1, upon receipt of an approved proposal by the grants committee, the SEF (Safe Ecosystem Foundation) council will determine whether the proposal is accurate, secure and consistent with the purposes of the SEF, and capable of being implemented in a legally compliant manner (including completing internal SEF processes, KYC and tax compliance). Once a proposal passes the criteria, the SEF will approve, administer and fund the grant(s).

  • In the mid and long run and after SGP Wave 1, the SEF intends to enable and enact foundation-native bodies and committees which can dispose of the foundation assets in line with a pre-defined monitoring framework set-up by the SEF, and properly/adequately ensure community involvement. This is a work in progress.

Grants Application Process

Application Process

The specifics of the application process will be worked on by the Grants Lead and will be published for comments closer to the launch of wave 1 applications.

Approval Process

  • Phase 1 (Filtering) On a weekly basis, applications (published on the Safe Forum) are reviewed and discussed by internal grants committee at a weekly SGP Funding Sync. Preliminary proposals can also be sent to the Committee for early feedback before the public proposal takes place.

    • Decision “Move forward” → Application is moved into Refinement Phase
    • Decision “Direct approval” → Application skips the refinement phase and is directly approved
    • Decision “Reject” → Applicants will be informed about rejection
  • Phase 2 (Refinement) Applicants can incorporate feedback and work with the internal Grants Lead to refine the grant further

  • Phase 3 (Final Approval) At the end of each application window, refined proposals are reviewed and discussed in the weekly SGP Funding Sync, and committee voting is pushed to Snapshot (see Grants Committee Consensus)

Grantee Milestones

  • Initial proposals should be focused on milestones over no longer than four-months.

  • Each grant proposer will be required to include a set of milestones by which the Safe DAO Community and the Grants Committee can judge the progress of the proposer’s project.

  • Milestones enable the proposer and the Community/Committee to achieve consensus on discrete indicators of good-faith effort to achieve the aims set in a proposal.

  • Each project may require benchmark milestones and/or critical milestones, based on its Grant category i.e. Build/Growth/Research/Govern. Inspired by Optimism grants.

  • Benchmark milestones mark important points on the proposer’s roadmap for accomplishing their aim, to demonstrate its potential success and allow the Safe community to monitor the grantees’ progress. E.g. our project will get X users by Y date.

  • Critical milestones demonstrate good faith effort to accomplish the aims set forth in a proposal, they give the Safe Community/Committee confidence that the proposer has taken actions consistent with those outlined in a successful proposal. On-chain data or other publicly verifiable information is favoured for the determination of critical milestones. e.g. “We will deploy X smart contract on Y date.”

Payment and Administration

  • Currency: 100% paid out in fiat or USDC via the Safe Ecosystem Foundation.

  • Due to current non-transferability of SAFE tokens, retroactive SAFE rewards to successful Wave 1 Grantees can be considered as part of Wave 2 implementation. The Wave 2 proposal, which would include retroactive SAFE Grantee rewards, will be reviewed and ratified by the DAO.

  • Any retroactive rewards would be subject to a two-year lockup period and is designed to encourage projects to participate actively in Safe governance.

  • Milestones: Project is specified into 1-3 milestones + final deliverables.

  • Upfront-payment: The proposer may request an initial lump sum to kickstart the initiative, but the lump sum may not exceed more than 20% of the total funding requested for the project unless the project timeline requires less than 3 months to complete.

Grants Committee

Grants Committee Structure

To ensure that the application process will be efficient and predictable, so applicants have clear objectives and timely decisions, propose that a Grants Committee (with a Reviewer Council) is set up to run the SGP operations, starting with 6 Grant Committee members.

Role Expectation
1 Grants Lead Full-time (40 hours per week)
2 Reviewers - Safe Core Team (at least 1 technical) Part-time (5 hours per week)
3 Reviewers - Safe Community (at least 1 technical) Part-time (10 hours per week)
  • This committee has a term of 6 months after which the program needs to be renewed by the SafeDAO governance

  • A stipend of 2000 USDC per month for community members (not belonging to the core team) will be given by allocating their time to reviewer responsibilities.

  • SAFE token rewards is not feasible as this point in time due to transferability. However, retroactive SAFE rewards for successful Wave 1 Reviewers can be considered as part of the Wave 2 proposal.

Grants Council Selection

  • A separate forum post will be created for SafeDAO community members to apply as one of the 5 reviewers (i.e. the Grants Council)
  • DAO members must post their application to the forum thread and commitment to the delegate code of conduct (pending publication by the Safe Ecosystem Foundation (SEF)
  • The details of the grants council application process will be posted at least 7 days prior to the launch of applications
  • Voting on submissions will be open for 2 weeks; reviewers with the most votes in each category will be selected for the role, and must acknowledge the selection publicly within 7 days of election, otherwise the next highest voted candidate will be contacted.

Grants Committee Responsibilities

Grants Lead - Isla Munro @1sla.eth - employed by the SEF

  • Oversee the operations of the grants committee and distribution of grants. Ensure the grants program meets the strategic needs of SafeDAO and SEF.
  • Develop a process, structure and standard operating procedure for detailed grants reviews, and perform interviews, where appropriate, with grant applicants.
  • Work with proposers to ensure proposed milestones are clear, measurable, and achievable within the specified timeframe
  • Streamline the application process. And manage payments and KYC in collaboration with the Safe Ecosystem Foundation.
  • Steward projects and move applications through the grants process e.g. pushing Phase 3 grant applications to Snapshot, for voting by the Reviewers and ensuring documentation of voting rationale for each grant.
  • Monitor progress towards milestones, prepare regular reports to communicate grant decisions at the end of the grants cycle.
  • Assist teams on post grant support including connecting projects with auditors, liaising with the core contributors, providing marketing support, and other ad-hoc support
  • Create a framework and evaluate ROI of each grant including following up on milestone completion.

Reviewers (the Grants Council) - appointed by SafeDAO

  • Have the subject matter expertise required to evaluate advanced proposals
    • A request for applications will provide further guidance on the specific skill-sets sought for the grants committee, and will be published in the Safe DAO Forum
  • Be accessible to grants applicants, provide feedback, answer questions, and respond to comments. This should be done via public communication channels whenever possible. It should be clear to grant applicants how to get in touch with the committee.
  • Provide transparency to the Grants Lead and community on availability for grants reviews for the 6 month duration of the initial program, and proactively inform of planned absences
    • Discuss proposals openly and constructively in weekly grants review calls and provide feedback to grantees based on a to be defined grants review process
    • Maintain a participation rate >75% on Grants Council votes
    • Document voting rationale for each grants vote in a clear, professional manner
    • Provide any information required by the SEF and/or the Grants Lead to publish regular reports and periodic updates in a timely manner
  • Commit to spend roughly 10 hours a week on these responsibilities, with an expected higher capacity required at the beginning and end of the grants cycle

Conflicts of Interest Policy

  • A delegates policy and delegates commitment declaration is being developed by the SEF and grants reviewers seeking election will be expected to accept and adhere to these policies as part of their candidacy for grants council.

  • Some basic tenets that will be included:

    • It is assumed that most people in the web3 community will have some kind of conflict of interest, thus transparency and communication is key
    • A declaration of key conflicts will be expected from the reviewers for any key roles / significant token-holdings with projects / protocols
    • Reviewers may not vote on grants for projects in which they have a declared conflict, e.g. direct role / personal benefit, direct competition etc.
    • Indirect conflicts to be addressed individually in respective grants council discussion and documented in the notes on voting

Grants Council Consensus

  • A Snapshot sub-space will be created to allow the 5 reviewers vote on each grant proposal that reaches Phase 3 in the SGP approval process

  • 5 reviewers will each be given an NFT badge that permits them to assign 1 vote to each proposal that is setup on the Snapshot space. The space will be open so decisions are viewable to the public.

  • At a specific time of each month, the Grants Lead will push the validated Phase 3 proposals to the Snapshot space.

  • At the end of each month, all reviewers must record their votes and rationale on each Phase 3 proposal.

  • Upon the agreement of a grant allocation by the Reviewers public Snapshot space, the Safe Ecosystem Foundation will undertake the administration of the payment. Note: the SEF will first determine whether the proposal is accurate, secure, consistent with the purposes of the SEF and SafeDAO, and capable of being implemented in a legally (foundation and tax law) compliant manner.

Requesting feedback and comments from the SafeDAO community. Ideally this discussion proposal is pushed to an SEP format for further review and comments next week.

14 Likes

Hi team, :wave: Isla here – just sliding into this thread introduce myself.

I recently joined as Grants Lead at the Safe Ecosystem Foundation. Just wanted to jump in here and say hi to everyone in the Safe community. I’m fairly new to the Safe team, but a longtime Safe wallet user, passionate DAO advocate and believer in the importance of the Safe ecosystem for the future of finance and financial systems.

One of my mentors always says 'money is more than a transmission of value, it’s a transmission of values’. This sentiment is part of why I’m so passionate about the future of finance: I couldn’t believe more strongly in the values of the Safe ecosystem, in particular in building a safe, secure and easy to use self-custody ecosystem for the next billion web3 users.

I’m thrilled to be part of this incredibly talented team, and excited to get to know everyone in the community, and build great things together. If you have any comments, questions or ideas regarding the Safe Grants Program, or this proposal, don’t hesitate to chime in here!

We’re looking forward to your input.

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Love this post, especially the work around deliverable metrics. I think setting these metrics will be key to a well-functioning grants program. I’ve been part of grants programs whose goals were ill-defined, and it caused a lot of unnecessary downstream confusion.

Related to metrics: what does Primary ROI mean? It feels like you are saying this is the metric to optimize, but i was confused by the phrasing. If it is indeed an ROI, can you tell me how gas fees benefit the SAFE ecosystem?

For 40 hours/month, that’s about $37.5/hr. It’s ok, but I think you might have trouble attracting the quality of talent one might expect from the SAFE Grants team for this stipend. Might I suggest adding some $SAFE to the compensation? That would certainly help ensure the reviewers are value-aligned.

Once again, really happy to see you post this and look forward to see how it develops.

7 Likes

Super pumped to see Safe Grants starting up!

A couple recommendations to share from my 2 years working on Aave Grants DAO:

  • Publish “Request for Proposals”. Lots of devs will want to build on Safe but don’t know what to build. We had a lot of success with RFPs to align the goals of the DAO with developer’s focus. Be really specific! ie “ChatGPT plug-in that’s connected to a Safe” not “new Safe integrations”
  • Consider making Grant applications private to start via an Airtable/Google Form. Publishing on a forum can be intimidating to some and will constrain the amount of applications received. Later-stage or approved grants then get published.
  • Many projects will apply to grants for more than funding! Lots of projects want the marketing benefits of getting their project known or simply a “stamp of approval” from the SafeDAO. Encourage them to present on the Safe community calls, retweet their announcements, and let them put “Safe Grant Recipient” on their website and pitch deck. Help them succeed with more than money.
  • The approval path should be categorized by the amount of funding requested. If less than $20k, then it should be streamlined. If more, the approval path should be more onerous. Micro-grants (<$5k) can be really powerful to give hackathon projects / side projects the momentum they need to launch a production app.

I agree with @links that the Reviewer compensation is on the lower side for the time commitment mentioned.

The Safe core stack is a platform so grants are INCREDIBLY important for building a robust ecosystem. Excited to see this get started! :muscle::beginner:

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Thanks so much for this valuable feedback @links . The compensation is a tough topic to get right, we’re cautious of over-compensating contributors and attracting people for whom compensation is the only attraction, and in general, we’re mindful of a ‘sober’ approach to distribution of ecosystem funds. At the same time, as you say it’s important that we attract ‘the best and brightest’ and that’s a balance we seek to find together with the community.

I really like your input on making SAFE tokens part of the compensation and incentive model for reviewers, and would love us to consider adding that into the refined proposal.

2 Likes

Thanks for this @corbinpage :pray:, really appreciate you sharing your learnings with us here. I’ll be doing a review of previous programs and the take-aways and learnings, to help inform the grants program going forward, so I very much appreciate you sharing, and welcome any others with learnings or experiences from other grants programs to do the same. :fire:

Excited to get our hands dirty here!

1 Like

Very excited about Safe finally getting a grants program!

Regarding the compensation, I agree with @links that SAFE tokens should be part of the stipend if possible. I would even go so far as to completely forego USDC as compensation for reviewers and only use SAFE tokens. But then very generously, as the future value - if any - is still uncertain.

By the way: When @netrunner.eth proposed the Safe Grants Program last year, I decided to register the domains safegrants.com and safegrants.org to prevent domain squatters from taking them.

I’m happy to transfer both of them to the Safe Ecosystem Foundation if there is interest in utilising them for the program. For free, obviously.

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Love this reply, I support forego USDC altogether as compensation for reviewers and only using SAFE tokens, obviously, this will show more value growth in the future, but before that, it is necessary to evaluate the price fluctuation range of safe when it can be transferable.

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A primary ROI is just a key performance metric we want to capture for the grants in the Grant category itself. The thinking on the gas ROI is ultimately to measure the Safe adoption gained from specific grants. This is especially relevant for the category of Safe{Growth} grants when the key result the DAO wants is adoption and growth. Definitely room for discussion on whether that ROI is something we want primarily measure against Safe{Build} grants. Open to alternatives.

Why do gas fees benefit the Safe ecosystem? Primarily because the economic activity (gas fees spent) on Safe accounts is a more holistic adoption metric to use, rather than the number of Safe accounts (which could be ghost Safes). Or the number of Safe tx’s (which could be on chains with a high level of centralisation and thus, super low fees).

The SAFE stipend is a valid point and something to consider. In reality, the lack of transferability of SAFE right now makes this more difficult operationally for the DAO/SEF. Wdyt would be a better compensation model using SAFE?

4 Likes

Thank you for the proposal @MetaGuardian I am glad to see this initiative by the community and congratulations to @1sla.eth on the Grants lead role!

  1. I second @links on the compensation part. I would suggest adding SAFE tokens on top of stables as a way to align incentives and bump up the comp.

  2. The metrics and goal for Research Grants seems a bit abstract, it would be good to have it refined.

  3. In terms of growth grants, people who are already in crypto are well aware of SAFE, the growth potential is in new entrants (which happens in bulls usually) or market expansion ie other language markets. I would suggest focusing on the latter in the current market cycle so we have a solid foundation for onboarding new entrants from all around the world in the next bull.

I would like to push back on this. Lumpsum should be a function of total ask as opposed to timeline.

I would like to push back on using straight up token voting for elections given the history of voting we have seen and referenced here Discussion about SafeDAO voting power. Less than 30 people hold more than 90% of the voting power and those wallets will ultimately decide the outcome unless we explicitly mandate those wallets to not participate or incorporate quadratic voting.

  1. I would encourage the community to come up with a code of conduct for delegated governance positions such as Grants Committiee so members can be held accountable.

  2. I would like to request clarification on what exactly this entails for applicants:

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This proposal has my full support. I look forward to seeing it realised.

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Very excited about SafeDAO getting a grants program!

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It’s great to have you join the community and steward the grants program @1sla.eth!

I am excited to read through the initial outline of the Safe Grants Program (SGP) and see the Safe Ecosystem Foundation (SEF) invest the time, energy, dedicated roles, and funds to launch a successful SGP. I added some of the important tentative details to the SafeDAO open source info.

Questions

Roles

  • How should those potentially interested in being a grants committee reviewer and/or a grantee approach the SGP?
    • Would the timeline work where someone could apply to be a committee reviewer, and if they did not get it they would be able to still apply for a grant?
    • Could someone have both roles and not vote on the matters related to their proposals?

Grants council selection

  • Will this vote be done by the SafeDAO or will the SEF team be selecting the community reviewers?

Feedback

Retroactive public goods

  • It’d be great to have a path in SGP for retroactive public goods funding for Safe contributions.
    • This funding would focus on contributions between now and the time that occurred after the Safe Guardians program applicants were awarded initial SAFE tokens.
    • Perhaps this would be a separate program if out-of-scope for SGP.

Compensation

Equitable global frameworks

I agree with the points above regarding the $37.50 per hour ($1,500 per 40 hours a month) compensation for the community reviewers stipend being below the market rate set by distributed teams. There is also the potential counter point from SEF that this role is meant to be a volunteer position with some incentive. Therefore the role does not need to compete with other distributed for-profit teams part/full-time compensation.

Outside of the reviewer role, it’d be beneficial for SGP to create a compensation framework for evaluating compensation levels for the grantees based on the skill, value added, and location.

Remote first companies have set a high standard building various compensation frameworks that aim to have a more equitable global compensation, with some variance based on location. Some of these companies outline their thinking on the topic here: DuckDuckGo, Automattic, 37Signal (Basecamp), and Buffer

USDC and/or SAFE

It’d be great if the reviewer role can choose between the amount of USDC and/or SAFE they’d like to accept. It is likely that many promising applicants for this role will have experience with the Safe ecosystem and may have a decent amount of SAFE from their activity with Safe accounts and/or existing contributions.

Offering a competitive amount of USDC compensation could allow for those to consider the role who may not have been able to consider participating before.

3 Likes

The SAFE stipend is a valid point and something to consider, even with the lack of transferability of SAFE. Will review the options and come back on this point.

This is great! I would say the home of “Safe Grants” will start lightweight with a Notion page for now, but we will then look to move to a single domain. Can we keep safegrants.com and safegrants.org on hold and decide which one works best one we get the SEP voted on?

2 Likes

Sure, we can keep the domains on hold.

Are you familiar with super.so which allows you to use a custom domain for a Notion page?

Aave Grants, for example, uses Super to have their Notion page under the aavegrants.org domain.

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This could be a good option will look at this with the team next week and revert - thanks for reserving these for the Safe community. :fire:

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Personally a very big fan of the work of Buffer on transparent orgs and fair compensation from back in the day. I used to read Leo’s blog on Buffer culture in 2010-2012 and eventually when he became a coach, I was lucky enough to have him as my exec. coach for a little while (semi off-topic, I highly recommend him if anyone’s looking for a coach). Looking back he’s definitely one of the inspirations behind my journey into DAOs.

Not so familiar with the others, thank you for sharing. Will definitely take a look at these.

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Hey @1sla.eth, congratulations on your new role. I have a few questions.

  1. How will the Safe grants program be different from other grants program.
  2. Will the grants program be transparent to the community?
  3. How will you call this a successful grant program?

Best of luck been following you since the Bankless and I know you will do an amazing job in this new role.

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Hey Sam,

Really appreciate the well wishes. I’m really new to the team and role so I’m currently asking a lot of these questions myself with regards to the longer term. Will come back to you with a more detailed answer in the coming days but wanted to say thank you and that I look forward to working together on building a successful grants program and Safe ecosystem.

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That’s awesome you’ve followed Buffer and their open-source methodology since the beginning and had the opportunity to work with Leo!

I’ve discovered some sources to find data on compensation across skill sets and cities worldwide like levels.xyz, Glassdoor, and Remotive that could be a useful part of the tool set to evaluate and value grant proposals.