News and release notes 2.3
We haven’t had the time to write regular monthly news, so instead we’ll publish our release notes here and weave in any nontechnical news too!
Impact markets without funding overhang
Impact markets without the funding overhang! Is that even possible?
Due to recent events, one might conclude the funding overhang for altruistic work has shrunk to the size and overhanginess of a molehill. Is our raison d’être in question now that current EA funders have plenty of time to pick out the raisins among the funding opportunities with the little money that they have left? Does setting up prizes to be retroactively awarded to successful projects not make sense anymore when there’s little money to be set aside for prizes?
Thanks for reading Impact Markets!
While there are likely to be future billionaire philanthropists interested in retroactive funding, we can’t know the answer for sure, so we want to have our plans in place for the bullish and the bearish scenario. So the past month we’ve been busy building out not only some of the planned payment features – but especially features to facilitate donations from donors of any size!
A donation platform as precursor to an impact market
We’re still committed to the long-tail problem: How do we fund thousands of tiny, speculative projects without either handing out money at random or spending, say, 2x the size of the grant on the evaluation of the grant? What we want to strive for is having many for-profit investors who want to do good and do well for themselves. They exist in all sizes all around the world, and while they might not know much about impact, they are experts at investing.
In the interim, while we figure out how to work up to that, we can host projects on our platform and allow people to donate to them. Then, one thing we can do that is proto-impact-market-like is to expose the wisdom of the donor crowd! There are a number of donors who stand out by having made excellent donation decisions in the past. We want to see if we can make their expertise legible to others. Then, other donors can see who performs the best, and top up the donations of the superior donors.
Or put differently: people like to check where trusted donors like the Open Philanthropy Project have donated, and then they will be more inclined to donate (say, $1k). But Open Phil can’t spend a person-year of evaluation and due diligence to make a measly $10k grant to a tiny project. But tiny projects are legion, and they love getting $1k! Impact markets can easily provide an analogous funding mechanism for these tiny projects! Impact markets can be viewed as a particular subset of crowdfunding, so we can start by building a crowdfunding platform for EAish projects and add in some features that track donation effectiveness.
December 17, 2022
We’re working on a new landing page! It’s live only at app.impactmarkets.io/welcome for now, but it can go live without a separate release when we’ve integrated all the latest language and design feedback.
(Thanks to Rachel, Jeff, Jennifer, Dony, Matt, et al. for this contribution! It was a project at the EAGx Berkeley hackathon; thanks to Nicole for hosting it!)
Lower down you’ll find the release where we’ve added tagging for certificates. Now you can filter certificates for these tags and other stuff. Plus you can sort them too.
(Thanks to Fabien for this!)
Donation-focused user interface
As part of our efforts to make the system more accessible for donors (as opposed to investors), we introduced a toggle to show or hide all the investment jargon. Donors may want to see it but there’s no reason why they need to see it. The toggle is currently in the sidebar but will probably move to a new tab on the user profile as we add more settings.
Know someone who was put off by terms like “shares” and “valuation”? Fret no more! They give our platform another shot and just leave that toggle turned off.
(Thanks to, uhm, me for this contribution!)
Payments we previously solved by a note to “please talk to each other.” We’ve now streamlined this process with a field on the user profile. There you can enter your PayPal.me, Ko-Fi, or Facebook fundraiser URL, and – ka-ching! – people can pay you without having to message you first! Just make sure it’s not some obscure method that no one else knows how to use (i.e. Emercoin is fine if you think most of your donors know how to use it).
(Thanks to me for this!)
Minor new features
You can see at a glance how much of the equity of a project is still held by the issuer vs. investors. The bar chart distinguishes these now. That should give you a quicker way to gauge the popularity of a project.
In the app you prove your identity by setting a link back to your profile from a page that only you can edit. Previously you had to do this for every certificate, which doesn’t make any sense. Now you do it once on your profile, and donors can go there to ascertain your identity.
(Thanks to me for these! ^.^’)
We have an automated testing system for unit and end-to-end tests.
We have tests for the certificate creation flow and the bonding curve math.
(Thanks to David Vaughan for these!)
November 19, 2022
We’re continually on the lookout for feedback that can give us insight into what users find complicated, intimidating, or off-putting about our app. One feedback that we got was that having to log in before you can see the market was a hurdle for them. (I feel similarly about the weird subscription prompt here on Substack.)
We’ve adjusted our permission system such that you can now view all public certificates even when you’re not logged in. If you then decide that you want to join the fray, you’ll find the new login and signup buttons in the top corner. Actually they both do the same, but if we only show one, users may go searching for the other.
(Thanks to, uh, me for this contribution!)
Another feedback that we’ve gotten is that our market looks a lot like a blog. One facet of that is that we’ve run an EA Forum post contest, so inevitably a lot of our submissions are really blog (or forum) posts. But another facet of it is that we didn’t display key information about the certificate front and center.
That has changed now. The holdings chart shows you how many shares are available for purchase, how many are currently held in transactions, and how many have been consumed/retired by their owners. We want to add more helpful widgets like that over time based on user feedback. So if you keep clicking certificates in search for information that you’d rather like to see on the index page, please let us know!
(Thanks to Pratik for this contribution!)
One oft-requested feature has been tags, i.e. an easy way to indicate the field and the type of work of a certificate. Now you can select both of these as tags and donors/investors can filter for tags and types of work.
(Thanks to Fabien for this contribution!)
One person is always the author of an impact certificate. But what if they’re collaborating with five others on the project? Previously it wasn’t possible to capture this in our system except by noting it in the description.
Now we have an option field that lets you enter the email addresses of all your other contributors. They need to be signed up to the app with that email address. You don’t need to add yourself; that happens automatically. (The image is a fictional example though.)
(Thanks to David Mears for this contribution – full name because we have several Davids!)
Add Rollbar for error reporting
Change the Postgres port to avoid clashes
(Thanks to David Mears and me for these!)
Fix issues with the server-side rendering
Fix an issue with the Prettier workflow
Fix an issue with Rollbar tokens in the dev environment
(Thanks to Lucie and David Mears for these!)
November 3, 2022
Bonding curve auctions
The major new feature in release 2.1 is the bonding curve auction.
We’ve gotten the feedback that setting the minimum valuation for your certificate is error-prone: You want to test the waters selling a share for a dollar, but if your project takes off, you want to charge more. But then the project might take off when you’re not looking and you sell out of your shares for a much lower price than you had hoped.
The bonding curve auction simplifies that. Now you don’t need to do anything (unless you’re sure that you want to raise more than $1m) – the bonding curve sets the price for you. I was tempted to add no picture for this one since the benefit is in what you don’t need to do anymore!
(Thanks to… me for this contribution! xD)
Minor new features
We now have Intercom – the button in the bottom right corner of the app. If you encounter any problems, you can message us there!
Certificates now have proper CUIDs! That means that you can migrate your certificate to whatever other system, and it’s still uniquely identifiable by its CUID. The old URLs still work for certificates that were created prior to this change but they redirect to the new CUID-based URLs.
We have new informational pages in the app. They are mostly still empty while we’re drafting the copy.
(Thanks to Daniel and me for these contributions!)
The local setup of the app is now a bit simpler for developers thanks to a good readme and docker-compose.
We now have NVM to automatically select the Node.js version that works.
Automatic runs of ESLint, Prettier, and the TypeScript type checks help us keep the code in good shape.
(Thanks to Lucie for these contributions!)
The content doesn’t jump around anymore if you switch from a page with to a page without scrollbar.
The navigation in the app has become clearer for users.
(Thanks to David Mears for these fixes!)
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