ACX Mini-Grants Results
And future plans for impact certs
Scott and the other judges (Drethelin, Nathan, Marcus and Austin) have finished their retrospective evaluations of ACX Mini-Grants. The results are in!
(see “PAYOUT” column)
Congrats to the investors and project creators who have earned a retro payout from Scott! You can read Scott’s reflections on ACX.
Next steps for creators and investors
You should have gotten an email from Manifund with Scott’s buy offer on any projects you hold equity in. To redeem your certs for money:
Follow the link in the email
Hit sell to accept his offer
Cash out from your profile page!
Please take Scott up on his offer soon; we’ll keep the projects open for the next two weeks. You can email me at email@example.com if you have any trouble.
Reflections from Manifund team
Like Scott, I’ll start by saying that this basically worked, which is great! That wasn’t guaranteed from the beginning—we worried we might not have enough investors, or they would make totally crazy decisions, or specific implementation details would be sticky, like defining what the final valuation actually means or deciding whether founders should be allowed to keep equity or how the IPO will work. But everything worked out: we got 18 projects funded, Scott only had to pay for the projects that actually worked, and a few did actually work quite well! You can read more about the top projects in Scott’s post.
Now, on to things that could have gone better.
First, Austin and I weren’t that impressed with the investment decisions, relative to, say, the previous ACX Grants round. There are a few factors that might feed into this:
These grants were smaller, so maybe this attracted fewer serious and competent people to apply, and fewer investors to participate.
There were fewer total applicants, and we were less selective. ACX Grants round 1 had 600+ applications and funded 30; ACX Minigrants had ~30 applications and funded 18.
Investors weren’t very profit-motivated, based on conversations with them. Many said they saw their investments more as donations than real investments, so they may not have chosen projects very carefully, or had the same expertise that Scott provided in ACX Grants round 1.
There weren’t very many investors. Much like how a Manifold Market with very few traders will be mispriced, an IPO auction with only a few bidders will spit out the wrong price—like Max’s project, which only got one bid, at a valuation of $300, but ended up being valued at $7500. Though it did exceed expectations, I think an initial valuation of $1000 would have been much more sensible.
Second, in terms of the quality of projects, we were both surprised about how often the initial proposal just…wasn’t delivered on. This isn’t necessarily such a bad thing—perhaps this is common with grants in general, especially small ones, and impact certificates remove the risk for the philanthropist, which is good! But it was still disappointing.
Austin noted that forecasting needs less thinking and more doing. I can kind of get behind this, with the caveat that I’m not sold on forecasting, period. So I’m not that interested in the building infrastructure and tools for making forecasts either (we have lots of that), but am more interested in popularizing and making forecasts useful.
Finally, on the judging side, Austin does think that evaluating “how good was this project and how much should it be worth” was indeed easier than “how good might this project be”. There were many projects where the initial valuations overvalued or undervalued the final outcomes; with hindsight, judges could focus on the delivered results rather than speculate based on their impressions of the project founders. This was what we expected before starting this certs round, but happy to validate that this key benefit of impact certs does actually hold up!
The judging itself was done relatively quickly and without much consultation between judges; judges had a couple weeks, and eg Austin spent a total of ~4 hours on judging + writing comments. This seems reasonable for the $26k we disbursed, but we may want to encourage more judge discussion on larger retro rounds (see some suggestions by Vitalik Buterin for this).
Scott is planning on a full ACX Grants round (tentatively late November), where he makes some grants directly and Manifund creates impact certs for the other proposals; he also wants to get other final funders to commit retro funding too. Manifold is planning an impact certs round focused just on Manifold community initiatives — stay tuned. And we’re happy to partner with other folks who want to commit retro funding for their own impact cert round; reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested!
Some things we’d like to improve on for future rounds:
better trading UI, including an AMM, so prices will be set better and it’ll be more fun to participate in on the investor side.
open up trading to non-accredited investors, by allowing them to fund projects and donate gains to charity but not withdraw them (similar to how mana works)
specifying up front what the final funders will be looking for
better guidance or defaults on how much equity founders should keep, and how much a project might be worth if it succeeds
more regular check-ins with people working on projects, both from Manifund and from investors.
We’d love your suggestions and feedback, in the comments here or in our Discord!
And finally, thanks to everyone who joined us for this first test run: the project creators, investors, judges, and most of all Scott, for taking a chance on this newfangled funding system. This was a landmark use of impact certs, the first time where retroactive grant funding was paired with upfront equity investment; we’re excited for what comes next!