How does ZEC fit into the Zcash Foundation's long-term strategy?

Hi Matt!

Good to hear from you, even on a sour note. If you’ll attend Zcon3, I’ll totally buy you a drink and chat about this kind of stuff. Way better than forum threads. <3

I wanted to address some of your post:

It really sucks you’re demoralized, and I want to know if there are ways I can make working on Zcash fulfilling and pleasant for you. What would it take? We’ll still have to sort through disagreement that arises when so many folks with varied takes care about this project, so how can we make it fulfilling and dare I say pleasant even when there are disagreements?

My guess is that a large part of why it sucks is that we interact a lot through forum posts or blog posts, and the medium just sucks for disagreements partially because everything feels like it’s on a stage of public opinion. Personally, I can’t keep up with the forums, and there are also some posters that rile me up too much for me to feel like I can productively contribute.

So one antidote might be more frequent in-person meetings. (I hope in the next few years there are 3 or so events like Zcon per year, maybe put on by multiple different hosts. That would be awesome.)


From my perspective, I feel like collaboration between ECC and ZF has tremendously improved since the Dev Fund referendum days. How can we make it better?

One thing to note is that at ECC we decided it was best to strive to engage with ZF in public as much as possible, rather than the much more natural and socially standard thing of collaborating more in private then bringing consensus to the public. I think this has a tendency to make people feel like they’re put on the spot with surprises, which is unpleasant. I know that aspect is awkward, but I still feel like it’s mostly worth it.

Our primary motivations for that are to help loop more community participants into more decision making and to help ensure a high degree of transparency. IMO, the best example of this working well is Gardening Club calls. It used to be that only ECC + ZF were discussing the protocol, now we have more orgs participating, including qed-it, wallet devs, and various community members who drop in, and I see twitter community spreading news about protocol developments as they happen, whereas before it felt like much more of a silo.

I’m open to finding ways to address the “on the spot” concern, but to some degree I feel like ZEC holders need to be able to see how different DF orgs interact very directly. I also typically prefer as many stakeholders present as possible, so maybe an alternative for “announcements” is to have a closed meeting with known attendee lists and maybe Chatham house notes being published?

Is the “weird governance models” thing about coin-weighted petitioning that ECC has done to gather sentiment? That’s the only thing I can think of, but if there are other examples, let me know.

Can we just get along and work together while discussing how to improve governance and decentralization?

For me, governance and decentralization are crucial to discuss and improve over time, just the same as protocols, wallets, marketing, community, etc… I mean, I kind of think of governance and decentralization of the entire point of crypto!

So is there a way to discuss it without wearing you out?

I don’t quite understand why this topic wears you out. Is it because of a concern of destabilizing already existing working models in the Zcash community that would lead to a breakdown in governance?

That’s the only concern that I can think of, and I agree we should be careful to backtrack or disrupt anything that’s already working. At the same time, we definitely must be discussing, proposing, and experimenting with ways to evolve over time, IMO. Let me know if this is on track, or I’m missing something.

I don’t understand what this means. Has ECC prevented anyone from building anything? Is this referring to Zooko’s post about economic concerns around ZSAs?

I can’t think of other examples right now, but to be fair, I’ve been much less plugged into the forum for the past year or so.

I can’t think of what you mean by ECC “shutting” something down, except for Zooko’s post concerned about economic implications. Were there other examples?

From my perspective, we described those concerns, and then we also surveyed folks around the industry about the potential for ZSAs, and we worked with a team of economic researchers to explore the design space, then we decided a better priority for ECC would be to investigate if we can transition to PoS. (The economics research results haven’t been published yet, and I’m frustrated about this, and I’m going to go poke people to get that out the door ASAP.)

Meanwhile, qed-it showed up, proposed doing the work, got funded, and has been going at it full steam, which is excellent for Zcash!

So I don’t understand how we shut anything down. We judiciously chose among our priorities.

So aside from wanting to remove a “feeling” of shutting down, here’s a great example of how I think we should frequently and constantly discuss governance and decentralization: If ECC can shut down Zcash development, Zcash is in trouble and I hope the Zcash community takes steps to change governance structure to remove this vulnerability.

I personally don’t think ECC can shut something down. We can express concerns, we can do different things, but as this example shows, the Zcash ecosystem can just find someone else to fund to build something if it seems valuable.

Am I being too simplistic here? Obviously we have a big voice, but I’m much more a fan of further decentralizing governance versus asking nicely for overly-centralized governance orgs to be nice. I want ECC never compromise on key principles, and be straight up with the community, and I hope we are as nice as we can be with those constraints. Does this help you understand our behavior better, and is it reasonable, or were you already aware of this perspective and think it’s unreasonable?


I’m sorry you had that impression. I can’t speak for Zooko, but I certainly give y’all the benefit of the doubt where I can.

Let me hone in on an example from my set of questions. I said I wasn’t expressing my position on any of them in that message, but here’s one I will express my preference on:

I personally believe that (for now at least) we should prioritize adoption over privacy.

So for example, I would be a big fan of something expanding Defi usage over renZEC, even though the Defi ecosystems don’t have native privacy. (I happen to think ZEC shielded holders who participated in that would still have fairly strong privacy.)

Now if someone else prioritizes privacy over adoption, they may prefer to take more time, deploy ZSAs, and start building defi functionality on top of it. The result may have much better privacy than the thing I just advocated, and we’re both being consistent given our preferences.

Nobody has ill intents in these two scenarios, they just have a different preference. That’s legit, and if we identify those differences, I believe it will make roadmap disagreements less confusing and frustrating.

ps: this example is “easy” because if we have the resources we can do both! The harder disagreements are where the preferences are mutually exclusive.


Just to add another perspective. Exposing ZEC holders to unnecessary complexity and security risks is not supportive to said holders. In the example you gave, it’s not just about privacy vs adoption, it’s privacy and security vs adoption. Also, not to mention the amount of debt that we’re inheriting to the next generation of Zcash developers by continue adding new features to the legacy bitcoin codes.


No. Zcash Governance is not at all decentralized. Its unnecessarily crazily structured. (to centralise it, in fact) However much anyone spins about decentralization. A third entity outside of the USA will NOT resolve any of the issues. Its the govenance itself.

The forum being lively by the same regulars doesnt in any way make my statement untrue. @rekodi hosting twitter spaces mean community. Meetups mean community. Tell me one thing that the community have done on its own, started or collaberated together in any way? (and ZF or ECC have supported it wholeheartedly)

I meant finished code. Zebra is in beta forever.

With all due respect. Zebra entered beta months after I joined ZF and I’ve been at ZF for 8 months. So maybe forever is a relative term :woman_shrugging:.

Also, thank you @nathan-at-least for your input. As a partner to someone that’s neurodiverse, I’m always prepared for the fact that I may have misunderstood something and your response in this case might reflect that. I’d like to emphasize all my comments were personal and not representative of ZF.


We might not have ZF and ECC support, but ZUG exists. Perhaps other communities exist as well, but choose to stay z2z. :cowboy_hat_face:


(speaking on behalf of myself and not ZCG)

I grabbed this from the Zcash Foundation site which should answer most of your q.

The Zcash Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that builds financial privacy infrastructure for the public good, primarily serving users of the Zcash protocol and blockchain.

Our Mission:
Privacy is a fundamental human right. Its essence is the individual’s ability to choose what information is shared with others. Privacy comprises both autonomy and consent; it is essential to human dignity, and the healthy continuation of a diverse and civil society.

Personal financial data can reveal a huge amount of information about a person, and so protecting financial privacy is an essential component of protecting the right to privacy.

Our mission at the Zcash Foundation is to help sustain and improve open financial networks that allow anyone and everyone to protect their own privacy, on their own terms. While our primary focus is the Zcash protocol and blockchain, we also support broader applications of zero knowledge proofs, as well as other approaches to financial privacy.

So basically their mission is broader than ECC on paper when it comes to privacy technology, but that enables the betterment of other technology that flows back into Zcash (such as the Arti grant from the Tor Foundation that ZCG supported and ZF helped us gather research for the affects it would have on Zcash).

I think it’s silly to think that ZF doesn’t care about the price of ZEC or about a positive impact loop of building Zcash to be accessible and safe so people use it and it raises the value of ZEC. However, this is entirely a personal opinion.

You mentioned yourself the possibility of regulatory pressure keeping ZF quiet. If that were true, wouldn’t you have just put ZF in a lose-lose situation? If they don’t publish a response to you on here because of regulatory pressure they will get a bad reputation based on your questioning, regardless of your intent. If they do respond to you then that may set them up for issues in the future if their legal team has advised them differently or the government changes their mind.

You have direct connections to most of the ZF leadership and board. My advice would be to put a self imposed pause on this thread to ask many of them privately and if there are indications that what you are worried about needs to be addressed publicly. It would be in the best interest to go this route as it minimizes drama from async comms and regulatory uncertainty (if any is experienced and can’t be disclosed).


Does the Zcash Foundation support the ZEC holders?


However, our support isn’t limited to just the ZEC holders (or “zodlers”, as I prefer to call them).

The Zcash Foundation is committed to supporting the entire Zcash community, including - but not just - the zodlers. If Zcash is to fulfil its potential, we need more than zodlers. Far more.

We need enthusiasts who spread the word and evangelize about Zcash, and educators who can explain the benefits of Zcash to people who think Bitcoin is private.

We need exchanges to list ZEC so that people can buy and sell ZEC, merchants who accept payment in ZEC, and entrepreneurs building products and services on the Zcash network.

And perhaps most importantly at this stage of Zcash’s growth and development, we need developers who improve the Zcash protocol (like QEDIT are doing), and who build tools and products that support Zcash and enhance its utility, so the merchants and the entrepreneurs can do their thing, expose that utility to end users, and grow the network effects.

How many people use ZEC today? 100,000? 1,000,000? There are billions of people who’ve never heard of Zcash, and who don’t yet understand why protecting their financial privacy is important, or why Zcash is the best way to do that. ECC and ZF can’t hope to reach all those people by themselves. Even the community grants program can only go so far. We need an ecosystem that dwarfs what we have today.

In order to grow an ecosystem to that size, there needs to be a positive feedback loop, not just for ZEC and ECC, but for thousands more organisations - which, by the way, are entirely missing from your diagrams. People need to believe that there is value to them in joining and contributing to the Zcash ecosystem. We need to open the door and welcome them in, not discourage them and put obstacles in their path.

Incidentally, when I talk about value, I’m not just talking about the coin price. The value of Zcash isn’t measured solely in USD. Utility is arguably far more important because if you can’t use it for anything useful, if you can’t spend it to buy products and services, what’s the point in holding it?

If we make zodlers our sole focus, we’re not going to grow the Zcash ecosystem anywhere near as fast and as broadly as we need to. As a result, Zcash’s utility and network effects will stagnate, and we’ll never reach those billions of people. We’ll have sacrificed Zcash’s future in a vain attempt to benefit a handful of people. Focusing on keeping your existing users to the exclusion of attracting the next generation of users is a textbook error that tech startups make, and we risk falling into the same trap if we focus solely on zodlers.

Doing so would be the equivalent of trying to grab the biggest slice of a small cake. It’s shortsighted, narrowminded, and ultimately leads to a dead end. Growing the ecosystem is making the cake bigger - everyone benefits. Including zodlers.

The BOSL license will discourage developers from joining the Zcash ecosystem. In fact, it seems increasingly likely that it will actually shrink the ecosystem by driving developers out! That’s why I and so many others - including many ECC team members - are opposed to BOSL.

If you don’t believe that or you just don’t get it, I don’t know how to convince you.


Thanks @nathan-at-least for your insightful list of questions! It almost feels like at the end of the questionnaire I should be shown a “vote compass” interactive chart showing where I sit on the Zcash political spectrum :joy:.

This gem below really hit home.

Bonus trivia:
What’s also super interesting with that question is that if you back to the Arti thread it was overwhelming supported by everybody (including both ECC and ZF members). I wouldn’t have even considered there were prominent members who didn’t support funding this so this is truely insightful.


“A hand full of people”, you seem to forget that those people era exactly the ones who are funding you.

If you have grandiose dreams of changing the world that’s great, but it is unfair to see zodler’s as your piggybank to do so.


@Dodger This all sounds very nice, but how exactly is the Foundation living up to its commitment to “support the entire Zcash ecosystem” in the ways that you’ve mentioned? Virtually everything you listed are efforts that either ECC or ZCG are focused on, not the Foundation.

I’ll ask my question again: What’s the Foundation’s vision for Zcash? And more importantly, where’s the roadmap that lays out your organizational goals and objectives and how you plan to achieve them?

I’ve been asking this question for almost a year now. See here and here for reference.


(Speaking for myself, not ECC.)

Is this thread about governance and ZF priorities, or it is about the license? Because it is absolutely not the case that thinking it would be preferable to release the orchard crate under MIT implies lack of support for ZEC holders.

For the record, I think it would be preferable to release the orchard crate under MIT. Part of the reason I think that is that I agree with the position (which Zooko has also relied on in previous governance discussions) that it should be possible to do a fully permissionless fork of the Zcash mainnet block chain based on zcashd and/or zebra code. [*]

That has always been possible up to NU5. After NU5, it very likely will not be possible without either rewriting the orchard crate, or stripping Orchard out of the protocol. Note that the other possibility of asking ECC for a license exception is not permissionless.

(It is unclear to me, legally, whether another option would be to relicense all of the zcashd or zebra code as BOSL. The MIT license allows relicensing, but some of the dependencies are Apache 2.0-only; see the contrib/debian/copyright file for details. Is it possible to link Apache 2.0 code with BOSL code without permission from the Apache code’s copyright holders? I don’t know. Note that the scope of the license exception is significantly narrower than I was originally led to believe it would be, otherwise I would have kicked up a bigger fuss about this at an earlier stage. The only other project using a TGPPL-derived license, Tahoe-LAFS, had a bunch of license exceptions allowing linking with any code using a wide range of open-source licenses, but zcashd doesn’t have that. Note that dual-licensing the orchard crate as BOSL/GPLv3, as suggested by @nuttycom and as I’ve previously indicated support for, would resolve this question since there is a well-established social consensus that each of the licenses used by dependencies of zcashd is compatible with GPLv3. I would still prefer MIT though.)

Rewriting the orchard crate is feasible (zebra has reimplemented some of the necessary non-circuit code), but would be a substantial, probably months-long, effort. Which precludes this option in precisely the circumstances (e.g. ECC attempting to push through a protocol change that a substantial portion of the community disagrees with) that it would be most necessary.

In any case, the relative merits of permissive vs non-permissive open-source licensing is a decades-old argument that we’re not going to be able to resolve here. And no, TGPPL or BOSL do not resolve it.

It is, incidentally, my birthday, and I’m supposed to be on holiday, so I probably won’t be engaging much more with this thread.

[*] I also think that it is usually an incredibly bad idea to fork a block chain, especially a privacy-oriented one, and anyone should be thinking really hard about downsides such as anonymity set; security against rollbacks; technical issues such as nullifier exposure across chains; and –most importantly– splitting the community. As you might expect from an anarchist, I don’t think that it being a bad idea in most circumstances means that you shouldn’t be able to do it.


Hi Jason. It seems pretty unfair for me to read this knowing I’m actively involved in ZCG’s efforts to promote the grants program so that we can attract more applications. (From working directly with media outlets, helping ZCG with comms stuff, and soon running campaigns). These are all activities aimed at bringing more contributors to Zcash.

I don’t know… this whole thread feels off to me. It started out with a criticism of the Foundation’s stance on the BOSL license and then turned into a governance discussion of the “Foundation isn’t doing enough.”


I’m not asking a difficult question here. The Executive Director of an organization should be able to answer this question. It’s accountability, which is one of the Foundation’s core values.


I’m not referring to the question you asked as it’s not directed at me.

I’m referring to the fact that you said only ECC and ZCG contribute towards the growth of Zcash, not the Foundation. Through our support for ZCG and in several other ways, that statement is quite inaccurate.

I’m going to get off the forum and try enjoy the remainder of my weekend :slightly_smiling_face:


Happy Birthday.


@anon35140610 I did not make that blanket statement. I said, “how exactly is the Foundation living up to its commitment to “support the entire Zcash ecosystem” in the ways that you’ve mentioned? Virtually everything you listed are efforts that either ECC or ZCG are focused on, not the Foundation.”

Most of the Foundation’s resources are allocated to support Zebra and FROST development, not what Dodger mentioned (e.g. education, getting ZEC listed on exchanges, merchants, etc.). You can confirm that with the Foundation’s Quarterly Reports, which do a great job noting resource allocation.

Let’s take a step back. This thread is not about whether or not the Foundation’s employees are doing a good job supporting the Zcash ecosystem. I think you, Jack, Alex, Dan, and Danika all do awesome work, and I’m very thankful for your support and consider you all an integral part of the ZCG team.

In my opinion, Zooko is asking a somewhat simple question: Is the Foundation’s mission aligned with ZEC holders?

That mission and the strategic and organizational priorities that support the mission are defined by the Executive Director and the five members of the Board of Directors.

My answer to Zooko’s question is ultimately that it’s impossible to tell because the Foundation has not published or explicitly stated their short-term and long-term strategic priorities.

This can be addressed by the Foundation publishing its vision for Zcash and a roadmap that lays out its organizational goals and objectives.

The community can use that roadmap to hold the leadership team at the Foundation accountable.


I re-read this post, those are fair thoughts & valid questions, I have too. I have wondered many times about the vision of ZF both near term & long term. It would be wrong to say ZF is not contributing to Zcash because they do, don’t think that’s what Zooko is saying.


Thank you for your message.

I’m head of comms at ZF.

I joined ZF a couple months ago. Since then, ZF has launched a new website, we send out monthly newsletter reports, we pushed out Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 transparency reports for the last year, and we’ve worked hard to address the transparency issues that were raised by Jason and the community as a whole. I’m now working closely with our Ops team on Zcon3, and I also work closely with ZCG for promoting the grants program, and yes, I’m the one who will run the campaign.

I’m all for constructive criticism, but this is mean spirited and uncalled for. I get it, we’re not perfect at ZF, no one is. But we’ve been working hard to improve on the areas we have received feedback on and I am proud of the progress we’ve made as a team.


A couple months != 8 months (as you also previously mentioned in this thread) – The Zcash Foundation Welcomes A New Head of Communications - zcash foundation.

From a UI perspective, it’s pretty obnoxious. Loads of sliding in animations, unnecessary illustrations, and scores an 88% on a11y. Is there any plan to internationalize it? There is rather large Latin American representation on Twitter. SEO helps as well – why is there no new activity on Blog - zcash foundation?

I would think that these come for free as a by-product of the IRS Form 990 required as a 501(c)(3) public charity.

From reading your posts, it seems you personalize lots of the comments here. You represent a public charity, and as such, criticism such as mine should be par for the course. I’m glad you are working hard, wish you luck, but from an outside perspective, there seems to be a lack of execution. Perhaps the team should be grown so you can cover more ground (maybe you’re spread too thin – idk). My comments come from a sincere place as I’ve frustratingly invested time and money into this project which doesn’t seem to be going the way a lot of people expect.