Members with at least one $FWB token (current price: around $45) can read the group’s newsletter and blog posts. Local membership, which requires holding at least five tokens, comes with limited access to the group’s chat rooms on Discord, a chat and texting app, as well as entry to offline events. . Global membership costs $75 FWB — around $3,400 today — and includes access to all Discord chat rooms. (Friends With Benefits loaned a Times reporter five FWB tokens in order to view Discord chats; these tokens have been returned and the reporter has no stake in the organization.)
The group has chapters in New York, Los Angeles and London, but its real headquarters is its Discord server, where members swap outfit-of-the-day photos on the #selfies-n-fits channel, share financial tips on # trading- stonks and #taxes, and debating new community governance proposals, such as a recent proposal to spend $20,000 of group treasury to develop a membership-only subscription coffee service. (As with most DAOs, major group decisions are voted on by token holders and permanently recorded on the Ethereum blockchain.)
Culturally, membership skews less of “Bitcoin brothers driving Lamborghini” and more of “Williamsburg DJs dabbling in Ethereum on the weekends.” During a recent orientation session, new members introduced themselves: an intellectual property lawyer, a poet-slash-investor, a brand strategist for Nike, a handful of musicians and software engineers.
“We’re sort of the crypto anti-crypto club,” Raihan Anwar, founder of Friends With Benefits, told Newbies.
Being organized as a DAO, rather than a traditional company, has advantages. The group can easily take stakes in members’ projects or reward them with $FWB tokens for contributing useful work. Members can leave at any time by selling their tokens. And if the price of $FWB goes up, every member will benefit.
But attaching a community to a volatile crypto token comes with risks. Last year, a service used by Friends With Benefits to create its tokens was hacked. The value of $FWB plunged 99%. The community voted to issue a replacement token and avoided a total meltdown. Still, $FWB tokens are now trading around $50, around 75% below their peak.