Angst01 for ZCG (December 2022)

Hi all - I’m pleased to be throwing my hat back into the ring and looking forward to a new election cycle. I’ve been impressed with and appreciative of the work of ZCG this year and undoubtedly there has been major progress towards adding some great features to Zcash.

Like many community members (including current ZCG members) I think there is a great deal of inefficiency in the grants process that may turn off prospective applicants and potentially acts as a barrier to retaining teams who have done good work for the Zcash community. Concretely, I am supportive of and hope to work towards a more expedited review process for teams that have delivered for ZCG previously, as well as a more structured community review process. Community feedback is crucial for ZCG to be able to act in their representative role, but recently there has been a tendency towards over-representation of certain voices and derailment of otherwise productive conversations.

I understand that current market conditions favor careful investment, but at the same time, I am of the view that the development funds exist to be spent. It is impossible to know when our beloved token will climb skyward again, and if we sit on our hands until that happens, we may find ourselves severely underdeveloped and less competitive when Cryptocurrency comes into vogue again (which I believe it will!). In my view we should be welcoming of bold, new and even potentially expensive ideas in the face of market uncertainties.

Linking here to my previous candidacy announcement that covers more of my particular background and perspective.

Thanks for your consideration!



Being unable to make the call, I’m going to take on a smattering of the questions posed on the forum here. There are a lot of great questions, quite a few of them repetitions or variations of the same theme so I will somewhat arbitrarily choose the ones that I think best represent a particular line of though. I’ll try to answer anything I missed that was actually posed during the call later on. So without further ado:

My dual background as an investor and a psychiatrist gives me an idiosyncratic skill-set when it comes to evaluating grants. I like to think that I’m very effective at getting a point across while remaining open to feedback, collaboration, and new information or framing of circumstances that may change my view. I’ve been accused of many things in my life but being shy about my opinions is not one of them.

As an elected ZCG representative, I believe I would have a dual duty to carry out the will of the community and to act in the best interests of the ZCash ecosystem. While I believe these 2 objectives are almost always aligned, there certainly are circumstances in which 1) it’s unclear to gauge exactly HOW the Zcash community feels as a whole about a certain topic or 2) the present views of the Zcash community may in my view be misaligned with what I believe personally is best for the future of Zcash. So with that mind, while I believe it is essential to engage with the community and hear many different perspectives, ultimately we are voting ZCG members because we are endorsing their judgment and discretion, I believe that ZCG members should be free to make decisions even in the face of some degree of resistance or disunity within the community.

I am very much aligned with the view that a staggered election cycle is strongly preferable in order to maintain continuity and institutional knowledge. So yes, I would be happy to sit for a 6 month term before running for re-election to help bring that about.

Zcash governance, in my view, is in need of more formal decentralization. In theory governance is more distributed, but in practice most of the critical decisions about Zcash are being made by ECC and ZF on a day-to-day basis. I think both of these entities are run by good people who know what they are doing, but a more diverse panel of decision makers is a good thing for many reasons, and more in line with the spirit and ethos of Zcash. I do think that ZCG should be on a path towards independence and perhaps even actively looking for ways to promote further decentralization and domiciling entities outside of the United States. As a ZCG member, I intend to explore further the pros, cons, and practicability of full independence for ZCG and if it all makes sense (which I believe it does), work to further that objective.

I do support ZCG becoming its own legal entity, and agree that being housed outside of the US would be a good thing for decentralization and diversification. That said I think it should be more of a priority right now for ZCG to sort out some of these other issues you bring up not to mention projects to bring improved usability and visibility to Zcash. So while I do think this is something to strive for in the long run, other issues take precedence and this would not be my focus on day 1.

As to your other (somewhat rhetorical questions), I see your point that the demands we place on ZCG definitely exceed the compensation offered to ZCG members. I’m ok with that for now - as I think other ZCG members and candidates are. We are engaging in an act of voluntarism and even to some degree charity. You’re absolutely right that pool of people with the knowledge, skills, time and community spirit to do all this is very small. ZCG’s future would be well served by looking into ways in which we could outsource some of this work using some of the discretionary budget, or maybe an RFP for RFP person!. Companies and projects of a similar scale often have full-time project managers/RFP writers to turn ideas into practical guides for how teams can fulfill them. I think this is something ZCG should explore.

That said I like the idea of ZCG remaining populated and run by people with a vested interest in the long-term success of Zcash and motivated by a community service spirit rather than “looking for a job” or expecting to settle in for the role indefinitely. ZCG should represent the Zcash community broadly and should be open to anyone interested in making the case to the community as to why they should serve. It shouldn’t be a tremendous burden, but nor should it be so comfortable that it becomes a position incumbents fight hard to maintain. That in my mind would incentivize politicking and could eventually become counterproductive. So as weird as it might sound (because I am all about people receiving fair compensation for the work that they do) I think it’s a good thing that ZCG is undercompensated for what it does, and selects for people who have a genuine interest in serving the community.

I think my answer to this would be the least satisfying - “somewhere in between”. Ideally with more time and resources, ZCG could do some substantial handholding to guide applicants with a workable idea towards a successful grant and serve as an active liaison between outside developers/grant applicants and the Zcash community. That said the technicality and complexity of some of these grants requires far more input than 5 people working 20ish hours a month can provide. I think for the time being we need to find a happy medium here while working towards using some of ZCG’s discretionary funds to fund/hire people that can do this work in a more focused way. Project management and developer outreach strike me as things we should consider making into more formally and consistently compensated roles, possible as part-time/full-time work.

I think there is nothing wrong with individual ZCG members talking independently to applicants in principle, but agree that this should be disclosed (at a minimum, the fact that the conversation took place) to the rest of ZCG. Any team needs to operate on mutual trust and a significant degree of transparency, so while engaging in deliberations it behooves ZCG members to be clear about where they stand on an issue and why, and how interactions with an applicant may have shaped that. It’s also important that these lines of communication remain clear so ZCG members don’t find themselves working at cross-purposes or played off of each other.

I think potential COIs (such as having any personal financial interest, previously work with/for an applicant, or a meaningful personal relationship) should be made very clear to the community and there should be clear guidelines for recusal from a grant application.

I could wax poetic with this one (and have in the past), but I’ll keep my answer straightforward. Zcash to me is an investment in a better future. As I’ve laid out in past posts, consent over the exchange and broadcast of personal information is the linchpin of freedom and dignity in an epoch in which everything about everyone is digitized and potentially weaponized by malicious actors. In that sense Zcash is just a means to an end, but to reach that end, we need to be a strong, attractive ecosystem that people will opt into not because they feel like they MUST to keep themselves safe (which may not be apparent to many) but because they want to.

Zcash is a tool, a community, and an ethos, all working in concert to maximize human freedom. There are other teams and projects working on privacy-preserving tools, but in my view, Zcash has the best brains behind it and the most workable use case for MOE/SOV.