Development Fund and Governance Model

Development Fund and Governance Model

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.


Thanks for the post Josh.

Two stupid questions that come to mind:

  1. To confirm, the Zenate could vote to stop funding a certain project based on poor performance?
  1. What is the recourse if the Zenate becomes corrupted and withholds funds?

Some scribbled thoughts

WRT the rest of the consideration, I like it at first glance. I’d imagine that smaller orgs who receive major grants and/or minor grants (what’s the threshold for being major vs. minor?) could create programs of their own to further decentralize block rewards so everyone has a chance to “prove-their-work” so to speak and get a slice of the pie.

I’d be curious on how we can create some community signaling model similar to ZCAP to help ZCG make decisions on minor/major grants.

I’d say make ZecHub a “Contributor fund” program that acts as a third ZCG allocation, but I also like the independence ZecHub has to fund things that ZCAP, ZCG, ZF, etc., didn’t want to fund. Still thinking through this (I want more than one ZecHub-like organization too).

If ZCG becomes independent, who would vote on their election? Would the Zenate take that on managing a new ZCAP-like process? Would community volunteers?

Due to the pressing nature of this decision, and the impact it has on the Zcash ecosystem, I’d be interested in hearing ZF, ECC and Bootstrap leadership’s comments on these ideas.


Great questions.

Yes, and/or withhold funding until issues are rectified.

I supposed it would require that a majority were corrupted, which in my mind is much better than the status-quo. I think the funds at risk would also be limited since they aren’t front-loaded into the fund, and the ZIP process could be used to change the wallet address and a new Zenate formed.

I wonder if this would be a good test case for coin-holder petitioning.

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A few thoughts on what I would like to see. Zcash could be split into different layers.

  1. Core Network Layer 1- Zcash blockchain; high priority–>UDAs, Stablecoins, POS, network speed. Zcash foundation has primary responsibility here. Possiblity a Layer 0 dev toolkit to make it easier for people to create new coins on the Zcash blockchain. The foundation should try to make a blockchain that can be the “blockchain of money” so anyone can create on the layer 0 block chain. The main goal, along with Zcash, to enable 100% collateral backed stablecoins; preferably short term government notes. Just and initial thought - Zcash would be used to pay gas fees on the network. This could even be used as a blockchain for securities as privacy is needed to make sure people dont see transactions and who is buying/selling.

  2. Application Layer 2- Zcash Coin. Need to focus on transaction speed. ECC Coin company has responsibility here. Zcash should be required to charge fees that are paid to the Layer 0, to support its own development efforts, and fund SDKs it deems necessary to promote Zcash. Broaden reach of Zcash.

  3. Layer 1/2 Development Toolkits - SDKs. SDKs include everything needed for anyone to incorporate Zcash into a third party wallet or platform, not funding the platforms themselves. or create a UDA

Speculative funding for third party applications should be eliminated if funded by the current POW. If Zcash wants to charge a transaction fee. Then ECC has direct control over its share of any fees (after paying a share to the blockchain) generated by Zcash transactions. Related party transactions should be eliminated. All key technology, patents, trademarks should be held in bankruptcy remote entity and protected from any risk of foreclosure.

New Recpients and grants should apply through Zcash Foundation or ECC depending on where their development efforts are focused. Grants should be minimal given the magnitude of the work that is required to get the blockchain.

Zenate - voted into office by value of coins. Release of funds, hold developers accountable. This is the security to ensure money is spent as authorized. Possibly veto power of certain types of transactions. Related party, long term commitments. High dollar value.

By splitting funding, then it decentralizes governance around the two/three main areas. I don’t think any more governance entities are needed. such as new recipients or community grants. They should work through the governing entity related the layer they are building on.

Not 100% sure this is feasible from technology standpoint. And if it is, I don’t feel (could be wrong) Zcash has any interest in expanding the money use cases on the blockchain. So, this idea is more like breaking up the phone company. Opening up the “wires” to be used by anyone for a fee. Many may not like the fees; but I think we all like the benefits we get from the people who create businesses funded by them. And if Zcash is going to have the funding it needs to create and build, its going to need to charge fees and provide the value added people want from the services. It wont be the fees that are the problem, it will be not delivering what people want out of digital money.

The current funding model was a good start. But it does not incentivize anyone to create the products that generate transactions does it? The reward is paid no matter how many transactions of Zcash there are, or how widely adopted it is, people are not focused on user experience, or design, among other things consumers care about. If the reward mechanism is shifted to transactions, then there will be a stronger incentive to create things to generate transactions. Further, to fully decentralize, the funding also needs to be decentralized. You cant have centralized funding and decentralized spending and expect it all to run smoothly. Otherwise you get what we have: in fighting over money allocations, fiefdoms, etc. etc. Transaction fee based funding decentralizes the funding around what people want. When people want something, they will use it and it will create a transaction fee that can be used to better target the things people want. It certainly would be a better compass to help guide development. The governing bodies can then allocate accordingly to their respective “layers”.

A couple people asked out of band, as well as @januszgrze above, about Zenate accountability. Let me try to clarify.

In this model, I am advocating for a governance and ZIP process that more closely aligns to Etheneum’s governance model. The Zenate is not governance in this iteration. Governance is the ZIP process. However, the Zenate and/or its members may provide insight and recommendations to the community as part of the ZIP process.

That means the community has the power to hold the Zenate accountable, with the ability to remove them from any power due to corruption or negligence, by simply changing the address to which dev funds are deposited. All recipients of funds are incentivized to work with the community to establish a new Zenate.

Additionally, I envision that the Zenate would, at least initially, include ECC and the Zcash Foundation as well as new voices that may or may not receive funding themselves.

In this model, the pool of participants at both the Zenate and ZIP process level is likely richer, more diverse and more flexible to change.

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“Zenate”, a much better name the Dev Fund Committee :person_facepalming:. I’ve been rambling about it on forums. Given I assume we both independently came up with a similar model it gives me a lot of confidence this is the right direction Zcash should head.

In my forum ramblings this is almost exactly how I thought it would work. For completeness of discussion the few differences were:

  • no dev fund recipients on zenate but all changes would require a Dev fund recipient to “champion/support/table” any changes which protects against excess enforcement of pausing dev funding. But I believe the ability for dev fund recipients on board also protects against this. Support either method of protect and open to others.
  • no split of minor/major grants but I agree it’s a good model. I support it.
  • I advocate that by default we should smooth decrease allocation to recipients over time (e.g. 30% per year but could be less). This means recipients might “ask” for a slightly higher initial allocation but it also encourages dev fund recipients to apply to increase their allocations periodically. This is good for accountability. I also believe it’s easier for a zenate to reject an applicant’s request for more funding then it is to reduce an existing recipients allocation. It also naturally frees up allocation for new recipients in a constant basis.
  • I didn’t have thoughts about how this fits in with he ZIP process but it’s a really important piece of the puzzle. Will have a deeper think on it :thinking:.

That’s all I can remember at the moment but will review my notes. :exploding_head:… This is great. Thanks for taking the time to write about this.


Excellent original post, and also to the follow-up discussions.

Some notes from myself about Governance primarily - because my opinion about funding is that all of these organizations should be funded without a free ZEC coins protocol directive. Thats a whole other thread.

As has been noted many times now, and officially noted by the Electric Coin Company, they’re stretched too thin and had been pulled into areas of work outside of their core competancy. We are talking about the peculiar balance of Software Development and Research vs Regulatory Lobbying, Locale Compliance Work, Marketing, Event planning, Content creation, et al.

I propose that the ECC is wholly split into two organizations, the ECC to retain its sw engineering and researchers and the name/ brand.

The new organization being the “Zcash Regulatory, Communications, and Marketing” call it what you want. This new organization could be US chartered or non-US. And its scope should be global on the long timeline. Global regulatory, global marketing and communications, global financial compliance.

In separating the ECC of today, it allows the ecosystem to more concisely allocate funding and efforts for Software Research and Dev, vs Regulatory, Marketing, Comms, etc

This would not be a small task, but if we’re taking seriously the idea of Zcash decentralization, governance, and efficiency, I believe that its worth the cost upfront today.

Other thoughts, it seems that all circled organizations in the diagram should be “participates” in the ZIP process, or perhaps at a minimum “voluntary participates” - I don’t think the ZIP Process should only have the Zenate participating.

Lastly, given interest in coin-weighted voting or other direct ZEC holder polling mechanisms, I’d recommend that we conceptually begin to envision how that type of circle would interact with an org chart like this. I believe ZEC coin weighted (or unweighted) voters should be represented in the Zenate org, the ZIP process, ZCG, and potentially any or all new recipient action-flow models.


I have one objection to this, which is that engineering efforts have historically not been driven by or informed by marketing efforts, and that’s a leading cause of why usability and adoption are where they are today. Separating these two functions into different orgs will widen that divide, and I think what we need is the opposite: first form a few good, quickly-testable, marketing bets, and then align all engineering resources behind whichever marketing strategy starts proving itself to work.

With marketing and engineering divided, we end up in a really bad situation where marketers don’t have a viable product to sell, while engineers create a technically-exceptional, but unusable, product for which there is little demand.

The one thing I would say to all leaders of this project is: we cannot ride the speculative “crypto” wave forever. The wave is going to break, and when it does, we need users and use cases to sustain our efforts. We need to stop thinking about this as a “crypto” project whose moral goods will sustain it indefinitely, and start thinking about it more like a payments startup that’s trying to get off the ground with limited funding. Governance nuances are a small factor compared to the problem of creating products that people will actually use.

That said, I think governance changes might be what we need to finally start approaching product development and marketing in a way that will be successful.


i agree with this. more organizations will end up with more fighting and politics when you split marketing from the product. There is a reason corporations don’t completely outsource marketing. There has to be leadership that makes good decisions. and good governance to choose leadership. With that, i agree it needs to be split in two. 1) core blockchain and 2) zcash. Then add the Zenate as who will act as a bridge and tie breaker or equal vote and 2/3rds needed to approve major investments. Then develop a funding mechanism to reward zcash and blockchain development based on transactions. More transactions more funding. fees are needed for governance because it seems like there is no real way to determine performance and fees are the only objective way to tell if peolple actually want what is being developed. I paid 100 as gas for etheruem and high fees are not uncommon. but those fees are what’s building the ecosystem and why etheruem is orders of magnitude larger than zcash. so don’t split it based on corporate function. split based on technology where there could be a clear black line.

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Absolutely, @earthrise. It’s crucial to reframe our perspective from a purely “crypto” focus to envisioning this more as an embryonic payments startup navigating the waters of limited resources.

So I guess that opens up a couple of questions.

  • How can Zcash differentiate itself amidst a sea of established payment systems?
  • What unique value propositions could Zcash bring to the table, so potent that they don’t merely help it cross the initial hurdle of adoption, but catapult it to a position of being a go-to choice for users?

when zcash goes into proof of stake and all the ECC ZF ZCG are running huge validators thats paying them 4-8% annually, are we talking about how corrupt its gonna look when theyre also taking in an extra 20% of all the other validator rewards because they decided to force the devtax for another halving cycle. its gonna raise some concerns with government regulators if they see how the block tax groups are double paying themselves. probably worth thinking hard about if its actually fair to change to proof of stake and keep the devtax cause from the outside its gonna look like an insiders honeypot to doubleup their paycheck twice

We’re a long way from that. And besides, in this model, a new ZIP can be introduced which directs the Zenate to reallocate funds.


I would like to decentralize the Zcash blockchain, and the thereby decentralize the funding sources as opposed to creating more mouths feeding off the centralized dev fund. No matter how many organizations are created. It is centralized by its very nature and mechanics. Likewise, Zcash is centralized. If I want to transact privately, utilizing the best technology, I am forced to use Zcash; but it really does not meet what I need in money for day to day transactions. I say this being a huge proponent of Zcash. Zcash to me is for long term savings, not short term day to day transactions. The dev fund has a lot of value and purpose for a startup; and it is needed to get us there. With that, I see a lot of irony in people fighting over a centralized funding model that is not based on creating products that result in more transactions. What is the problem with decentralizing the funding model by letting people get a cut of transaction fees to fund their own development where they are incentivize to develop features or products that create more transactions. You create products that generate transactions and you get a % of the fees generated by your products. If you dont want to charge fees, thats great. But you fund it. Dont take Zcash funding to develop things that wont work or people dont want.

In an exploration of potential paths for the growth and success of cryptocurrencies, the focus often revolves around the integration of DeFi. Let’s look at an example of how Zcash could achieve broader real-world adoption and more extensive usage.

  1. One of the distinguishing features of cryptocurrencies from conventional payment systems is the broader scope of DeFi. In this context, for Zcash to gain significant ground, it needs to fully embed itself within the existing and evolving DeFi landscape. This process requires deep, meaningful integration, not merely surface-level interactions.

  2. Imagine a scenario where a user is exploring home loan options on a preferred platform. Among a list of competitive-rate offerings, they find a loan backed by an on-chain contract. The potential borrower might not realize that DeFi is driving this arrangement; their primary concern is finding a loan package that best meets their specific requirements. The loan application process may permit payments in traditional fiat currency or cryptocurrency, providing a broad choice to applicants. The crux for Zcash in this scenario arises during the payment process when the on-chain contract demands digital tokens that signify homeownership and form the method of payment. As these transactions occur, safeguarding the user’s privacy is paramount. Can Zcash rise to this challenge and provide the necessary protection?

As we ponder over the considerations surrounding the dev fund and governance, a more nimble approach towards ZIP and funding changes seems crucial for adapting to the dynamic DeFi ecosystem. It is important to view Zcash not just as a cryptocurrency but as a product in the digital marketplace. Just like any other product, Zcash needs to continually evolve and adapt to satisfy user needs.

When a DeFi lender approaches Zcash with queries about how the platform can protect user privacy during the transfer of ‘home asset’ tokens, the need for swift and decisive action becomes apparent. If such a situation warrants the financing of a specific feature development through ZCG, it should be pursued. Similarly, if it necessitates Zcash to provide long-term funding to an existing or new entity through the development fund, it should be equally considered. The key here lies in the readiness to adapt and innovate in response to emerging needs and challenges. I think this proposal by @joshs is a move in the right direction for achieving this.

Keep in mind in the scenario above I’m not dismissing Zcash’s usecase as a privacy preserving form of payment for daily transaction, rather, I’m simply reflecting on a possible event that triggers more widespread usage of Zcash. I believe such an event might be critical in helping increases overall adoption which I believe assists in exposing more people to Zcash which spurs Zcash’s adoption as a technology used for day to day transactions.

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In an abstract concept things may feel this way, but in the practice of the past 5-6 years and $30,000,000 of spending at the ECC, we have more than enough evidence that pairing software engineering and research with marketing, compliance/ regulatory, and communications all within the ECC didn’t create great results, not in terms of products, adoption, usability, popularity, or ZEC investor returns.

Marketers will never have a viable Zcash product to sell until ZEC recovers in relative value and demonstrates itself as an investable asset. Let’s not be romantic about what crypto is in the realm of sub-1 billion dollar market cap altcoins. Crypto for a project like Zcash is a peculiar investor proposition where the number must go up; impressive network or wallet functionalities and other esoteric (as perceived from outside of the project) use cases are after thoughts (or punchlines) if the number on the chart is bad.

My recommendation about separating and globalizing Zcash’s Marketing, Communications, and Regulatory activities with a distinct new organization has more to do with the theme of decentralizing and globalizing the ecosystem than it does about the day-to-day nuances about how to help engineers & researchers interface with non-engineers (marketers, policy lobbyists, or compliance lawyers).

Again, I’m making my recommendation based on relatively speaking poor past results and the current financial/ roadmap distress that ECC finds itself in; not based on a conceptual opinion about how projects, products, and marketing ought to work as written in a Business textbook. We all know about the definition of insanity.


Ideology is probably clouding peoples judgement as it relates to marketing/development. When Zcash mission is modified to focus on adding privacy and features to money as opposed to trying to replace money. Think about the marketing opportunities to be able to say a digital dollar with privacy. If Zcash doesn’t move fast, someone else will do it and it will likely be the end for Zcash because to be successful and offer all the features needed, massive scale will be needed to keep the costs low. If Zcash broadened its perspecetive, then, the opportunities will open up and I would expect the price of ZEC to follow. The problem is people think Zcash is money when it is not. We have two main camps in the ZEC community: 1) people who think Zcash is money and will displace the USD or existing monetary framework. For these people, I think they should expect to lose all their money 2) people who think Zcash has great technology that can be used to digitize and improve existing paper money; and if the right model is in place give Zcash value. I am in this camp and see Zcash as an “option” on huge upside if Zcash applies the technology in a non ideological way to benefit everyone who uses money. To me this means stablecoins, UDAs, programmable money. At this point, I expect to lose all my money. But the option value is still there. So I am not selling. All that is needed is a change in focus by the governing bodies and/or a way for people to vote based on the value of their ZEC. ZEC seemed to be on the right plan a few years ago. But somehow they appear to have lost their way. It seems like UDAs, stablecoins, programmable money have lost out to messages (a total commodity with no real added value and a waste of time in my mind), marketing, and probably others. The poor results are not due to marketing, its do to the long term plan to focus on Zcash only, the apparent interest in messaging (waste of money), and not on a sole and laser focus on adding privacy and features to money for all people. I own Zcash, and I never expect use it for day to day transactions as stated many times. If I own gold, why would I sell gold? Its an investment. If I own stocks, why would I sell them to fund daily costs? Daily costs for anyone who saves will be funded in the local currency. If you are selling your investments to fund daily costs it only means you are in trouble. I view Zcash as digital gold (like Bitcoin); but private. And I am holding, and hoping UDAs, stablecoins, and more are in its future.


In large part, this loss (or lack) of direction is the result of the Block Reward which indiscriminately gave the Zcash ecosystem a ton of free money but no clear path for how to manifest it into a popular, usable, and valuable cryptocurrency network. Yes, ECC and ZF have done great work in the past 5-7 years, but it is far from what could be called A-grade in the context of all other comparable crypto projects.

The evidence of lackluster results are all around. The block rewards have been spread thinly across more than 10 different and distinctly average wallet products (evidence: see 2022 speed and sync issues) that all essentially provide the same features.

There is no unified front on social media that is the known source of the Zcash narrative, development efforts, teams, governance model, et al. Free money creates moral hazard, it creates an urgency to use it or lose it, and it dis-incentivizes meritocratic themes that we all assume are the core of how and why the current economic-business system works so well.

Zcash transaction volume and participation in shielded pools remains low.

Is there any means to explain answers to a 5 year old about:
How Zcash is Governed
Who pays/ paid for Zcash

Currently, there aren’t clear answers for those questions. In the future there need to be! And threads like these are an excellent way to work through the challenges and create shared understanding.


I would agree. They get paid based on block reward so they have become Zcash centric as opposed to blockchain privacy and transactions privacy centric. User experience requires a transaction orientation. And transactions are driven by creating the products people want. So they are focused on the edge wallets with what I think is the mistaken belief its somehow people dont understand Zcash as a form of money. In fact, I think many inside Zcash are the ones that dont understand how to apply the technology. Bitcoin at least understands its value proposition whereas it seems like many in Zcash community to not. They want it to be money for day to day transactions. But, the unfortunate truth is that it is not money. Creating more tokens will only further undermine the value, which @zooko correctly pointed out on the stage on Day 1. So it is likely they will continue to try and put a square peg in a round hole. And we are going to get this pushback to increase the supply or do wonky things to try and make Zcash work. But, I am starting to think Zcash is the beta test (it can still have massive utility/value in a broad based ecosystem). I feel stronger every day that ZSA is the future with stablecoins and an open blockchain where anyone can create a coin. A privacy based USDz would accomplish the objective of private money. And it would have a justifiable and supportable underlying collateral to be 1) a store of value 2) acceptable everywhere, 3) no volatility inside the relevant community. If anyone should understand ZEC is not a money for day to day transactions, it is ECC, and the foundation. They are living it. But instead of recognizing its shortcomings, they blame the community! They try to say its not an investment. But the reality is, people are smart. They know what they want out of money…The only sustainable money in my opinion will be 100% collateral backed coins. Everything else is a speculation, or utility. So ZEC should revise its mission to include privacy based stablecoin and simply copy tether and use short term government T bills as collateral. Pay the interest to the holders after a small fee to cover transaction costs and development. Use ZEC as gas and it becomes more of a utility token with fixed supply and a economic model that is not just saying “trust me”…The fact some people inside Zcash may be saying increase the supply or saying this is not an investment its money, means to at least some degree we cant trust them.

I was much more impressed with the foundation and feel a lot more comfortable with governance. I think some of the issues on governance came from someone who really did not understand the governance system in place. I think the current governance structure good enough; and needs more accountability. I would really like to see them go all hands on deck to move harder and more quickly on the ZSA and stablecoin. And @zooko should lead the charge on stablecoins and take a broader and more inclusive view of what people want as money. ZEC could be at the heart of a very inclusive privacy based money ecosystem.