The merits of a new development fund are being discussed. I’m not arguing the merits of a new development fund here, though I think there are many. I previously wrote a post outlining the challenges with the current governance structure and a recommendation to destroy the existing trademark agreement.
In this post, I’m offering a consideration. It’s not a proposal, it’s just a high level concept for conversation. Please poke holes in it!
The principles I am trying to solve for here are:
- Creating a distinction between funding for Zcash protocol and network support vs speculative funding
- A mechanism that supports greater accountability for development fund recipients
- A mechanism that creates robustness and allows for the rerouting of funds if necessary, for example, if an organization is forced to shut down and/or another becomes viable
- Decentralizing governance and reducing opportunities for self-dealing
- Sustainability and flexibility, eliminating the rigidity of the existing “these three orgs for four years” structure
In this model:
A wallet would be established to house the development fund.
An elected “Zenate” would hold the keys and the distribution of funds would require a k-of-n threshold sig among members.
Members could be organizations including the Zcash Foundation and ECC, as well as other organizations or trusted community members.
There are two types of distributions: Support Funds and Grants:
Support Funds: Organizations or people that provide ongoing support services for the network receive funding in larger amounts, over a longer term. This might include ECC for zcashd, lightwalletd, SDKs, protocol R&D, etc. and the Zcash Foundation for zebrad, stewardship of the trademark (against scams), zcon, etc. New candidates might include Taylor for ongoing security work. Necessarily, larger organizations have overhead and these costs would be included.
Grants: Grants are for speculative work, administered by an independent ZCG and available to anyone. If ECC wants to build a wallet, then it may apply for a grant or get it funded elsewhere. But it is not intended that these grants would be used to cover Zcash protocol support functions already covered by the support funds.
I believe there are(at least) two different types of grants and that they should be separated. Major Grants should be consistent with the language in ZIP 1014 which states that: “Priority SHOULD be given to Major Grants that bolster teams with substantial (current or prospective) continual existence, and set them up for long-term success, subject to the usual grant award considerations (impact, ability, risks, team, cost-effectiveness, etc.).”
Minor grants should come from a different pool, where their merits and impact can be considered separately, without impacting the Major Grants pool.
The ZCG would continue to govern grants and the grant process.
The Zenate would periodically release support funding as long as the participating orgs exist, continue to deliver on obligations, and remain in good standing with the community.
In this model, the ZIP process would need to become more robust and authoritative, perhaps something closer to Ethereum governance, with the Zenate participating but not making final decisions.
Thanks for reading and for your thoughts.