district0x is the creation of developers who believe that decentralized, online markets possess enormous potential. The district0x platform provides the tools for individuals to establish and manage online communities — called districts — in a range of industries. district0x sees its network as an improvement on previous, centralized business models, including recent shared economy networks such as Uber and airbnb, which have transformed their sectors but remain profit-driven. district0x’s open source platform eliminates this type of intermediary, providing full autonomy to each community’s users, who among other things, can determine design, features, codes of conduct and how revenue is distributed. “Our technology is built with the end-user in mind,” said district0x’s Marketing Lead P.J. Leimgruber.

Leimgruber, a veteran, digital marketer provided written responses to questions and along with district0x’s Community Manager Brady McKenna, spoke with ThirtyK about the vision behind the platform, the challenges that it has encountered and promise for changing how consumers and sellers of products and services may interact. “We remove the need for a traditional (for-profit) business entity; instead, people get to engage directly with one another,” Leimgruber said.

ThirtyK: district0x operates on the principle of a network of decentralized marketplaces. What does this mean?

Leimgruber: We imagine a world where user-owned and operated peer-to-peer marketplaces have replaced traditional, centralized ones, giving people control over their privacy, data and security. We’re building a new model for internet marketplaces. The people supplying and consuming services will be able to govern the platforms/markets they use without paying “rent” to a third-party. Our technology is built with the end-user in mind, meaning our technology is built for the community with no corporate interests attached to it. This is not a for-profit entity. In short, we remove the need for a traditional business entity; instead, people get to engage directly with one another.

ThirtyK: What is the need that District0x addresses? Why did you create it?

Leimgruber: A network of decentralized marketplaces can remove idle middlemen that provide no unique or substantive value to the end user and lower the cost of transacting on the platform for customers and service providers. Until now, we have not had the tools to accomplish “crowdsourced incentive alignment.” People are not used to having this level of control…We are addressing that need (for control) directly, where if you are the user of the marketplace layer we are building, then you get control over the rules (governance). Examples include giving the users a say in the design, features and functionality, bi-laws and its accepted code of conduct, even the way revenue is generated, and potentially how the revenue will be utilized or distributed.

ThirtyK: Do you consider yourself a protocol, a system or platform?

Leimgruber: We’re an open source project creating a network of decentralized marketplaces and communities. We’re building open standards for a modular community marketplace layer for others to build on top of. This layer is using the IPFS and ethereum protocols and will implement governance using Aragon. So we would be a platform built using open source protocols governed by the Aragon system.

ThirtyK: How does an entity or individual participate in district0x?

Leimgruber: Each district is capable of searching, filtering, posting and listing, ranking and reputation, as well as payments and invoicing. You can use Name Bazaar and Ethlance now to see these market functions in action. The d0xINFRA framework sits as the core component of each district. This framework is a stack made up of front-end libraries and smart contracts. They are then distributed on IPFS and power the basic functioning of each district. In developing d0xINFRA, we’re making it extendable and open, which allows districts to plug in auxiliary modules as a way to improve functionality and create their own  features. In short – d0xINFRA is a toolkit for budding developers to build decentralized marketplaces using a standardized modular framework.

A second core component is our user governance enabled through a partnership with Aragon. When a user creates a district on the district0x network, it will trigger the creation of a deposit pool and corresponding entity on the Aragon network. Through the district0x network token ($DNT) staking interface, token holders can stake their tokens to deposit pools to mint tokens, which represent voting rights in district-specific Aragon entities. This means these districts will now completely be in the hands of the users for governance. Voting rights can be used to partake in the processes that determine the characteristics of a district. While we wait for the completion of d0xINFRA and Aragon, we are accepting district proposals. To incentivize the submission of thoughtful district proposals, the following rewards will be issued (subject to change):

  • 250 DNT = Proposal submitted as issue, adheres to District Proposal Standard, and is ethical.
  • 500000 DNT = Proposal is launched as a new district on the district0x Network.

ThirtyK: Did you hit your fundraising target? How are you staying keeping the community informed about what’s going on behind the scenes?

Leimgruber: We did not have a specific fundraising target, only a soft cap that would allow us to secure the minimum funds to build what we had proposed. Leading up to our initial fundraiser, we shared some ideas for potentially utilizing funds in excess of our soft cap to expedite the network’s growth.

Transparency is a core value of district0x. We are transparent with our use of funds. Ongoing communication is the cornerstone of transparency. (The) district0x team has committed to a transparency policy, reporting regular updates via our blog, including The District Weekly every Saturday, dev updates every other Tuesday, and the District Proposal Spotlight, which focuses on an outstanding district proposal from a member of our community.

ThirtyK: What’s been the main obstacles to what you’re doing? 

Leimgruber: It’s explaining concepts like a token registry. It’s new and it’s difficult to explain to people. The protocols aren’t commonplace yet. That’s something we are trying to address — the education. There’s so much interest in the space in the ethereum network — on the prospecting and investment side, as well. You see these two kinds of interests. There are communities that are split down the middle between people who care about the technology and people who want to make money. People need to understand that just because you raise money that that doesn’t mean you have that built from day one. It’s an ongoing process. Our goal is to turn this all over to the community coupled with the excitement, people can’t wait, they’re so anxious to get on there. These things take time where the development, particularly with the ethereum network, takes time. The coding language is very nascent.

James Rubin
James Rubin has covered a range of business topics for such publications as the Economist Intelligence Unit, Forbes Insights and Adweek. His papers have been presented at World Economic Forum events. He was an associate editor at TheStreet and is the author of the "Urban Cyclist's Survival Guide."