Burniske for MGRC

Hi Zcash Community,

I’d like to be considered to sit on the Zcash Major Grants Review Committee (MGRC) for its first term. Mario Laul, who many of you will recognize from the forums (@mlphresearch), has agreed to assist me in this endeavor. We would be processing information and making decisions together through rough consensus – 2 for the price of 1 :slight_smile:

At Placeholder we are constantly studying what’s around the corner for crypto, which involves contact with hundreds of teams every year. The portfolio of teams and networks we currently support can be found here, and of course, Zcash is one. We believe our breadth and depth of crypto experience and exposure will be helpful to an MGRC that is tasked with making constant funding decisions.

Why Zcash? As an enthusiast and professional in the crypto industry over the last six years, I’ve watched Zcash grow from a math innovation, to the most hyped launch of 2016, to a robust private-money-network now approaching its first halving. The cryptographic and cypherpunk roots of Zcash go deep, making this community one of the few in crypto that’s actually capable of engineering and sustaining the kind of effort that will be required to win global money status. Add privacy preservation, and this is an extremely important mission. But to be successful, Zcash needs a much more resilient and cyphernative governance system, and in my opinion, it’s partially the MGRC’s job to push that agenda.

Therefore, a core commitment of mine would be to encourage the MGRC to attract and deploy resources to decentralize and bolster the resilience of Zcash governance. Focusing on governance does not mean governance maximization, it means building a system resilient to capture, that is representative, scalable and adaptable.

While I’ve been conversational with key members of the ECC since a few months after their 2016 launch, and in the last year struck up conversations with the ZF through the governance debates, I have no vested interest in the ECC or ZF. As for Placeholder, we are pure ZEC coin holders, and have no plans to develop any other capital interest in, or surrounding, the network. If this were to change at any point (e.g., an investment in a business building on top of Zcash), we would disclose it to the community and withdraw our vote from any matter concerning that company.

When I think about what a balanced MGRC could look like, I think of the below perspectives.

  • Protocol (implementation or research, likely ECC)
  • Demand-side (ideally someone that builds for the demand-side, so a senior individual from a prominent wallet, web application, or other interface)
  • Supply-side (miner, less active voice in Zcash so maybe irrelevant)
  • Zcash Foundation
  • Investor (long-term)
  • Anonymous (pure ZEC coinholder rep, cannot be manipulated or pressured by meatspace identity)

There are six categories and only five board seats, so at least one of these will be excluded at any given time, and there may very well be redundancies in representation. This post is to make the case for the inclusion of myself as a long-term investor. For anyone that’s worried about having an investor onboard, know that Placeholder manages its cryptoassets through 10-year venture funds, which is different from the more short-term oriented hedge funds seen through much of crypto. We chose our fund structure to give us the best chance at helping teams scale successfully over decadal periods.

With Zcash, I think we need to have a vision on the 100-year time scale, but implement, test, and iterate quarterly. To get to global money status, areas where I would love Zcash to spend more time and capital include seamless user interfaces, iteration on applications (e.g., more experimentation on ZEC as a form of collateral), governance formalization and buildout, and education in emerging economies. I will defer to those I trust on technical needs and implementations, if and when they need to be funded through the MGRC.

While underappreciated in a space rife with speculation and loud boasts, one of the most important drivers of what will win at being cybermoney is the size of the economies that transact and account using its system. Financial rails and liquidity are critical, and here Zcash is already strong (though further integrations with the fiat world will inject more capital faster), but a more robust set of services that is drawing real demand needs to be basing themselves off of Zcash’s infrastructure. For what success looks like here, we need to look no further than Ethereum.

I’m not advocating for Zcash becoming a smart-contract platform, but I do think there is a lot of whitespace between what Bitcoin is and what Ethereum is, and Zcash has always sat comfortably in that space between. The community has a good window of opportunity to move more quickly than many of the other monies in strategic and targeted execution and awareness building.

Similar to DC, I have outstanding questions around D&O Insurance and compensation for those that sit on the MGRC. With regard to D&O Insurance, I would look for that coverage to come from MGRC funds, and until Zcash is fully decentralized in its governance that will likely remain the case (a good incentive to further decentralize!). As for compensation, while I would not personally take compensation (would either return to treasury or re-direct to other MGRC members), I do think it’s important that compensation is offered as is customary with most other prestigious decision-making positions.

Open to questions!


Hello @cburniske welcome back to the forums! :slightly_smiling_face:

I have added your thread to the top post in the MGRC Megathread, Good Luck!



I am glad you are standing for the MGRC, you are underselling your involvement in the community though.

How is this going to work in practice?

would you expect them to join you in meetings/discussions? fill in for you? vote for you?
or is it purely and advisory role and they would have no exposure to the MGRC except through you and/or normal comms channels? (which I expect to be freely available.)

Im pretty sure your selling point is “hey I have this extra resource that I can rely on.” (sorry to call you a resource, im just trying to get the details @mlphresearch) I just want to clarify, if I vote for you, I am voting for you, right? as in you personally will commit all the necessary time?

I understand that part of that is best use of resources, which you are offering to bring another resource to the table for free? which is an amazing offer seeing as Mario already knows the community and what is going on, I personally think you and Mario would be a great asset.

Really this is the only question I have at the mo. Im sure I will have more as I go through all the applications over the next few days.



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If elected, @cburniske would be the official member of the committee. My exact role will depend on what working for the MGRC will require from each member but, based on current information, I would expect to assist Chris with reading applications, searching for useful/relevant information, doing background checks on applicants, keeping track of progress updates, etc. This obviously does not mean that Chris himself won’t be doing these things. Rather, we’d be sharing the work load on an as-needed basis and discuss the pros and cons of concrete applications and/or progress reports before he brings his perspective to the MGRC meetings. My role would be supportive/advisory and, just like all other MGRC members, Chris would always have to make the final decision on whether to support a particular application or not. I don’t know if it would be possible for me to fill in for him at meetings/voting. I think this is something that should be clarified in official MGRC procedures/policies.


Can/Should the MGRC somehow weigh in on the formation of the Rust Foundation?

What’s your position on 1-year terms?


I checked with @cburniske and he shares the views below :slight_smile:

It seems the process of forming the Foundation is already underway, while the MGRC as a unified body does not yet exist. I don’t think “weighing in on the formation of the Rust Foundation” should be prioritized in the early days of the MGRC (perhaps ECC and/or ZF are currently better positioned to do that), but in the future, I think the MGRC could definitely collaborate with or support the Rust Foundation, especially if there are concrete Rust-related pain points for Zcash developers. MGRC can collaborate with ECC and ZF (via their representatives in the MGRC, assuming they get elected) to establish whether such pain points exist and how to best address them.

I’m personally supportive of 1-year terms for the first cycle with the option to run for re-election. Moving forward, I think the term length should be longer: 2-3 years, depending on how the MGRC is structured in terms of compensation and the division of labor. A single individual should be allowed to serve maximum two terms in a row (although I’m open to hearing arguments why that’s not a good rule to have). I also think it’s not wise to replace all members at once, which could cause too big of a disruption. Either the lead coordinators serve an extra year, gradually handing the role over to incoming members, or the MGRC hires a full-time administrator (as suggested here by @alchemydc), a position that can be filled on a slightly different schedule than the MGRC to smooth operations during membership change.


Our written answers to the “Above the fold” MGRC questions below.

ZIP Ambiguity: The ZIP-1014 language has some ambiguities. Where would you stand on how to interpret and implement operational activities when there is no explicit language to guide you? How should the MGRC consider community will/preference?

This first round of elections is particularly important exactly because it will determine the core principles and procedures that the original ZIP does not specify. In our view, the MGRC should not unilaterally implement anything that ZIP-1014 explicitly forbids but should also have the freedom and flexibility to introduce policies that are required for it to succeed in its mission. This includes compensating members or contractors who are taking on most of the administrative responsibilities, as well as allowing for other types of funding in addition to grants - such as bounties, prizes, and investments - to ensure that the MGRC can contribute to Zcash not only in the next four years but, ideally, for decades to come. For anyone interested to learn more about funding innovation via grants vs. prizes, we’ve summarized the relative merits of each here.

We believe the MGRC should always remain transparent and communicative to ensure that highly contentious decisions receive the necessary scrutiny prior to implementation. To date, controversial issues in Zcash governance have been resolved through Community Advisory Panel (CAP) and forum votes. Moving forward, we think the MGRC should support establishing a more decentralized governance/voting system that would give the broader Zcash community a secure and legitimate channel to express their preferences.

MGRC Role: Should MGRC be a “driving actor” or provide sourcing, oversight and review? [context]. Should MGRC be more of a bureaucracy (with hierarchy, continuity, defined rules, and expertise) or can it be an adhocracy (decentralized and flexible)?

During its first year of operation, we think the MGRC should prioritize establishing robust procedures for sourcing high-quality applications, allocating funds, oversight, and review. The need to add additional functions should be assessed based on experience, not assumed, although we could certainly see the MGRC taking on a more active role in areas that are important for Zcash but, for some reason, aren’t receiving sufficient attention.

With regard to bureaucracy vs. adhocracy, we’d point out that some bureaucratic formality is baked into the MGRC by default because its procedures will be based on written rules (ZIP-1014, reporting requirements). However, to the extent that it’s possible, the MGRC should try to minimize its administrative overhead, and certainly avoid setting up excessive barriers to entry for future MGRC members, potential applicants, and grant recipients.

Teamwork: Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage? How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?

Our written answers to these questions are available here.

Processes: If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC? Is it a conflict of interest for a member of another cryptocurrency project to be on the MGRC?

Our written answer to the first question is available here.

While standard COI policies must apply to all MGRC members, we don’t think involvement in another cryptocurrency project should exclude someone from serving in the MGRC. We consider knowledge and experience in other projects as a strength. More important than previous affiliations are the intentions and integrity of the person, and the unique perspective and skills they bring to the table.


Hello @cburniske For my vote, please answer my questions frankly:

  1. Are you pro BTC? If yes, Why? If not, Why?
  2. What is the largest account size you’ve handled in USD? How many end users did it impact?
  3. MGRC will control 8640 ZEC per month or 25920 per quarter, how will this be roughly spent? (provide napkin calculation).
  4. MGRC announcement attracts 100s of applicants from all over the world with all random ideas, all matching your goals, how would you evaluate them?
  5. KPIs aren’t entirely possible on a privacy preserving payments protocol project’s level, it’s all z2z, how will you evaluate funded team’s impact?
  6. DeFi fever made ETH run 2x compared to every cryptocurrency this year, thoughts?
  7. What locals, regions, languages, ethnicities, educational backgrounds of people have you worked with? What are your preferences of assembling teams that deliver?
  8. We live in a remote world now, how do you evaluate applicants for grants?
  9. Projects in Zcash are going to go through a huge change beyond the handful, driven teams funded via Zcash Foundation, thoughts?
  10. Zcash is a protocol at its core, ZEC price is volatile. How will you handle a single digit ZEC? ($9 x 8640/month = $77,760) How will you handle a 5 digit ZEC? ($21,000 x 8640/month = $181.44MM) Thoughts…
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Answers below are mine and not necessarily aligned with how @cburniske would reply :slight_smile:

I’m pro BTC in the same sense as I’m pro innovation.

While it doesn’t count as being personally responsible, I’ve worked in both public and private sector teams/organizations that allocate large amounts of money, both as grants and investments.

I don’t know how it will be spent. It depends on what sort of applications the MG slice will attract, what kind of work gets prioritized by the MGRC in collaboration with the broader community, as well as technological and social developments external to Zcash. But I’m definitely a supporter of allocating MG funds not only as grants, but also as well-targeted prizes and investments.

I would evaluate them based on their relative merits and against the dominant principles/values of the broader Zcash community. If there are many applications that simultaneously fit the bill, and the MGRC is finding it too difficult to decide which one to support, I would propose exploring the idea of prize competitions. Depending on the task at hand, there may be low-cost ways of giving multiple teams an opportunity to prove themselves before directing large amounts of funding to a single team.

I think the MGRC should collaborate with the ZF and the broader community to make sure that each project funded from the MG slice has clear metrics/deliverables attached to it. I would be extremely cautious about supporting a project the success of which is impossible to measure.

It shows the power of programmability, composability, and a welcoming community/atmosphere. That said, I’d wait for the liquidity mining dust to settle before assessing the success of recent innovations. Good financial services are easy-to-use, secure, and stable for the mass of retail users. I think DeFi is far from any of that.

I’ve lived and worked in 10+ different countries where I’ve interacted both personally and professionally with all sorts of people. Unfortunately, I don’t have much personal experience with “assembling teams that deliver”, but I think teams need to be built with a specific objective/task in mind, and I’m a strong believer in both the moral value and societal benefits of diversity. That said, I certainly recognize the structural obstacles to enabling more diversity in areas such as high-tech innovation. This is a problem that will be solved over time through collective effort, and I think the MGRC should aspire to make a meaningful contribution to that end.

Naturally, I would rely on the Internet and online communications. I think my experience at Placeholder due diligencing potential investments and collaborating in an industry where many people are working remotely will be helpful.

It will make the ecosystem more vibrant, more competitive, but hopefully also more collaborative. There will be mistakes, dead-ends, contention, but this is how communities learn and grow, so I’m confident that the long-term outcomes will be net beneficial.

I think the MG funds should be managed with a long-term perspective in mind. Behind both a single and five digit ZEC is a story about users, speculators, markets, adoption. Understanding that story and the implications of it should inform MGRC strategy and decision making so that it could benefit Zcash not for years but decades to come.