Unlock is a decentralized protocol for memberships. We believe that an open protocol for memberships is itself very valuable for the internet as it removes friction and enables memberships at scale. The model here is a protocol like HTTP that has democratized publishing for everyone. Our goal is to make Unlock the default membership primitive for each and every membership, both online and offline, from small indie creators publishing content to large corporations broadcasting videos for hundreds of milions of viewers to local stores wanting to offer unique benefits to their communities.
We also believe that the protocol itself should not be immutable. We believe the protocol should be able to evolve and support currently unpredictable behaviors, and it should be able to sustain education, promotion, and marketing. For this, the core protocol needs to include its own governance mechanism.
Finally, we believe that people who are using the protocol should be part of the protocol's governance. Interested individuals should have additional mechanisms that are more meaningful than "buying out other existing community members" that enable them to join Unlock's governance process. For this, the Unlock protocol includes its own governance token, called Unlock Discount Token (UDT), which can be earned by anyone using the protocol.
The community of token holders is the Unlock DAO.
Unlock Labs, despite being the original builders of the protocol, are just like any other token holders and do not have more "power" or control on the protocol and its smart contracts.
Governance can happen at multiple levels, and we encourage the community to create their own decision making processes. Currently, we use both on-chain governance through the DAO contract, and off-chain governance through Snapshots.
Unlock Labs has already allocated a significant amount of the pre-mined governance tokens to the DAO contract. At this point, the community has full control over these tokens and Unlock Labs does not have a mechanism to bypass the governance process.