June 16, 2017 - Dev update

Hi Austin,

I’m largely responsible for the fact that ZcashCo has not initiated a wallet development effort. Why?

There are several reasons:

First and most fundamental, opportunity costs:

We’ve been busy at work on a few key things: first, a new protocol (codenamed Sapling) which will have incredible benefits, including for porting and adoption. Second, we’ve been spending our time helping multiple good existing wallets (and exchanges, and other products) integrate Zcash.

Second, specialization:

Those teams are already focused on making good products. Why should we compete with them, further centralizing the Zcash development ecosystem? Especially when our team’s strength is cryptographic protocols and not GUIs.

Third is maximizing Zcash’s utility for users:

Instead our strategy is to collaborate with complementary projects as much as possible. Projects which integrate with multiple cryptocurrencies are better, IMO, because as a user of cryptocurrencies I’d much rather have one good mobile wallet, one good hardware wallet, etc… for all of the multiple cryptoassets my economic collaborators and I inevitably use.

Last, and most important: decentralization.

I want to reduce the scope of the Zcash Company’s influence over Zcash over time and transition more influence to a broader set of stakeholders. Expanding to potentially push out other orgs that bring users to Zcash is the opposite of that.

So those are the reasons we are enabling existing wallet (and other products/services) to integrate Zcash rather than competing with them.

I believe your message strongly mischaracterizes the Zcash company, community, and other stake-holders, and it tangles together many criticisms. I’d like to point out just some of the key pieces I take issue with:

You know, with the current value of the founder’s reward, you could expand your team.

We do in fact plan to do so soon!

Just a quick clarification in case you or other readers missed this part of our Continued Funding and Transparency blog post: the Zcash Company receives only a tiny fraction of the Founders’ Reward. The Zcash Foundation (more below) receives a larger portion, and is a much better vehicle for decentralizing Zcash development.

At a minimum you could put bounties on things.

The Zcash Foundation is gearing up to do exactly that! Check out this ticket for discussion. Please contribute relevant feedback there!

It sounds like you weren’t aware of that, so I hope the Zcash Foundation improves its exposure as it ramps up.

In addition to grants, there are proposals to fund scholarships and put in place a governance structure for Zcash development outside of ZcashCo. If you are interested in helping with that or making suggestions, head over to the Zcash Foundation issue tracker and/or join the Zcash Foundation chat room.

Here are some other responses to the rest of your criticism:

  • We’ve never asked anyone to build something for free, as far as I am aware. I noticed Zooko mention it’s a market opportunity for someone.
  • None of the software we develop for J.P. Morgan is private! It’s all open source. It’s one of our stipulations that our enterprise work be open source and therefore any innovations can be funnelled back into the public Zcash cryptocurrency (or other platforms). (We also stipulate no IP restrictions which would prevent anyone from using our development efforts, such as patents.)
  • I completely reject the notion that we’re not engaged as equals with a broader community. Check out Foundation awards, company hosted presentations by community devs, open mining competition, contribution to Bitcoin and Ethereum, among many other interactions.
  • Our funding model is completely transparent and I posit much better for the world than ICOs (at least by comparison to the current status quo). The amount we raised is 1 or 2 orders-of-magnitude less, and the product we’ve created is orders of magnitude less vapor-ware.

If you are persuaded, at least partially, that we are among the best projects to contribute to, I recommend you make suggestions like “use FR to fund better secure UX for wallets” to the Foundation. (BTW, secure UX is one of my high priorities, and I believe the best way to achieve that is working with multiple wallet vendors, rather than making a single wallet. This way the results will apply across the ecosystem for all users.)

If you are unpersuaded, I advocate finding a project that fits your ideals better and contributing to it positively rather than spending time complaining about a project you don’t agree with. There are already multiple Zcash clones that change the funding model. I am obviously biased as a FR recipient, but I believe our funding model is mostly beneficial for the community at large rather than a cost. Or put another way, I believe Zcash will be more effective at enabling financial autonomy for more people than clones that remove the Founders’ Reward.

Let me know how all of this lands,