LinksDAO NFT Sale Books First $10M Toward Buying an Actual Golf Course
By Tracy Wang, Eli Tan
Country clubs and NFTs collided Sunday when LinksDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization, became one step closer to buying its own crowdfunded golf course.
The DAO successfully sold out of its debut collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), raising $10.5 million to fund the project’s operations. Further capital will have to be raised to buy the actual golf course, said project lead Mike Dudas.
LinksDAO, of course, comes in the wake of ConstitutionDAO, a crypto-enthused group that raised over $40 million in ETH to purchase an original copy of the U.S. Constitution in November.
While the ConstitutionDAO effort ultimately failed, its PEOPLE token lives on with a market cap north of $600 million, netting initial investors some serious gains and spawning spin-off efforts hoping to learn from its mistakes. (As for PEOPLE, it exists as a governance token with nothing to govern.)
In addition to the completed NFT sales, LinksDAO says it will launch a LINKS governance token soon.
“I’m not able to promise a specific date, but the goal is to launch the governance token as early in 2022 as possible,” said Dudas, a staffer at blockchain infrastructure firm Paxos and the founder and former CEO of crypto media outlet The Block. “We need to do it in a compliant way and one where the token distribution and governing rights are such that we can ensure broad participation in governance.”
Governance tokens are used to determine influence and power within DAOs. Holders of LINKS (not to be confused with Chainlink’s LINK token) could decide the geographic location of the proposed golf club, vote on proposals related to the project or simply resell their tokens on the open market – as many did with ConstitutionDAO’s PEOPLE token when the project itself was promptly scuttled.
Holders of either of LinksDAO’s two NFTs are expected to receive an allocation of LINKS, with holders of the higher-tier “Global Membership” receiving four times the number of tokens awarded to the lower-tier “Leisure Membership.”
“We aim to show that literally anything is possible when you have a passionate group of people who move with inspiration and conviction at exceptional speed,” said Dudas. “We hope it shows sports communities that folks in crypto have passion, new ideas, capital and conviction to create new models of membership, fun and participation.”
A DAO for golfers
LinksDAO’s mission is to “create the modern golf and leisure club” and “reimagine the country club,” offering a sports-centric experiment amid a burgeoning DAO ecosystem.
“We were looking at Gary Vaynerchuk’s Flyfish Club model – purchase an NFT to join the membership club at a restaurant – and had recently seen the ConstitutionDAO model of collective organization and funding of a common goal,” Dudas told CoinDesk.
“We thought that we could combine the best of both of those initiatives into something really large and special, creating the world’s best golf and leisure club,” he said.
The group’s vision comes as DAOs increasingly eye real-world assets, thinking up creative projects to onboard first-time crypto users. It also draws from NFT projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club, which have proven that inclusion in an exclusive community is a winning value-add.
Since launch, LinksDAO has built a fervent following on social media, raking up over 16,000 followers on Twitter and almost 12,000 members in its Discord chat.
On Sunday evening, the public minting of LinksDAO’s two NFTs – the Leisure Membership and Global Membership – sold out in mere hours, generating $10.5 million in funds from a collection of 9,090 NFTs. (LinksDAO held back 10% of its NFTs at auction. The group plans to use the reserve NFTs for giveaways and to build partnerships with incumbent golf organizations and athletes.)
LinksDAO says buying the NFTs would provide their holders exclusive perks, such as the right to purchase a membership at the first physical club LinksDAO acquires, discounts on golf tee times and access to members-only Discord channels, including guest appearances by golf, business and celebrity luminaries.
The higher-tier Global Membership would have all the benefits of the Leisure Membership, as well as the right to purchase one additional membership at the first physical LinksDAO club, and four times the governance rights via a prospective token drop, among other additional perks.
While the geographic location of the course will ultimately be decided by a vote of its token holders, a representative told CoinDesk the preliminary interest is largely concentrated in the greater New York and Miami areas.
At mint, Leisure Memberships sold for 0.18 ETH (approximately $676) and Global Memberships sold for 0.72 ETH (approximately $2,703).
As of Monday afternoon, the NFTs were trading on secondary marketplace OpenSea at a floor price of 0.3 ETH (approximately $1,126) for the Leisure Membership and 0.89 ETH (approximately $3,341) for the Global Membership.
Since launch, the project has generated over 875 ETH (approximately $3.3 million) in sales volume on OpenSea, with 7.5% of trading volume royalties awarded back to the LinksDAO treasury.
‘We are buying a golf club’
The first and perhaps largest challenge for LinksDAO is raising the funds to purchase a PGA-certified golf course, which can run upwards of tens of millions, before even factoring in operational costs.
“It is not cheap to buy and operate a world-class golf operation,” said Dudas. “To do so, we will absolutely need additional funding.”
If it succeeds, LinksDAO will also need to do some clever accounting.
DAOs may not hold traditional assets such as real estate or corporations for compliance reasons. The group is currently in talks with legal experts to create a separate operating entity called LinksDAO Inc., which will own the physical asset as well as serve as the day-to-day operating company for the prospective golf course.
LinksDAO’s inability to skirt centralization speaks to an issue many DAOs have faced – their fundraising ability often dwarfs their operational capacity.
Pending legal nuances, LinksDAO also plans to give its DAO members the first opportunity to purchase into the operating company. If realized, some NFT purchasers could ostensibly receive equity ownership of a physical golf course and receive cash flows from the operation.
The group has floated the idea of turning to traditional capital markets to fund its prospective purchase, such as private equity and venture capital firms.
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