Major Grants Review Committee Candidates MEGATHREAD

If MGRC members begin running thier own projects with MGRC funds don’t you think there is a possibility of a COI when it comes to competition (if others apply for grants of similar scope) or bias with regards to which projects get funded and which do not?

I think MGRC members should be impartial and agnostic when deciding where to spend the communities ZEC. Only spending where the ecosystem needs it, granting to parties that are most qualified to do quality work.

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Hello! (Be kind, this is my first post).

On August 18, the Foundation is hosting a Community call to discuss the Q&A around the structure and process of the MGRC, moderated by @amiller . You can sign up for the call here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdXECdHO3sD2HVmi6gZ14Q_qU14EYfNTutKlaqkUzWEKXig7A/viewform

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Welcome @antonie !!

Good to have you posting on the forums :slightly_smiling_face:

Added a link to the Foundations Q&A to the top post

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Andrew, I envision that MGRC should use the second paradigm, providing oversight and review. The other model, in which MGRC becomes an ‘execution team’ itself, is IMHO biting off more than 5 individuals can achieve (in a single year), despite a steady stream of funding. Hiring contractors and managing coordinated execution is far more difficult than most people think it is.

The latter model, in which MGRC provides oversight and review, should not be a passive endeavour. The committee won’t simply sit around and wait for applications from qualified contributors to trickle in. I draw upon my experience as a volunteer mentor at Techstars to inform this perspective. Each year, the managing directors of (my local Boulder) program do a tremendous amount of active outreach to find the very best candidates from which to select the class. They solicit hundreds of applications, and then perform a collaborative vetting process to whittle this list down and eventually select about a dozen companies to participate in the class. From a sourcing perspective, I see MGRC members as serving a similar role as Techstars Managing Directors, encouraging inspiring applications from a diverse set of qualified individuals and teams from all over the Internet.

It’s my belief that the individuals and teams should do the execution, with mentoring, guidance and oversight provided by the MGRC members.

Once the applicants are selected, I believe that MGRC members are responsible for providing ongoing guidance, mentoring and oversight to grantees, with MGRC ultimately being held accountable to the community for the effectiveness of the funds distributed.

I am also naturally very suspicious of committees and bureaucracy. I noted that @Mikerah voiced a concern that MGRC was at risk of creating nested bureaucracy, and encouraged MGRC to explore DAO-like capability. I’m also moved by @_eric 's suggestion that we explore adhocracy over bureaucracy. For those MGRC candidates that have served on grant committees in academia and other domains, I ask that we come to the MGRC table with a solid understanding of what’s broken in those other areas, so that we can address those deficiencies from the genesis of MGRC, and avoid repeating mistakes common in other similar governing bodies.

We are working on a decentralized revolution, so let’s be open minded about the tools, tactics and processes that we leverage (and build) to maximize the impact on Zcash and the world that MGRC will be creating. Grants? Sure. Prizes? Yes! A DAO? Perhaps. Let’s work together to model MGRC on organizations that we admire and respect, and question all assumptions along the way.

DC

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It would be fun to model the structure of MGRC after DARPA, a good example of adhocratic organization. DARPA was founded in 1958 “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies” and is responsible for the precursors to the internet, AI, virtual reality, graphical user interfaces, ballistic missles, etc. DARPA keeps a skeletal crew among 6 offices, each specializing in a particular area, and they award short contracts/grants to scientists and project managers to do r&d or develop a specific technology. If you look at the technological progress they’ve made, it seems to have worked.

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Folks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the assertion by some in the Community that MGRC members should be full time employees. I believe that this is the wrong approach. As I mentioned in this reply, I believe that MGRC members should be responsible for sourcing, mentoring, and providing guidance and oversight. I don’t believe that MGRC members should be responsible for execution (shipping software or other deliverables).

As it relates to compensation, I believe that MGRC members should have “skin in the game”, and receive ZEC, similar to how independent directors in early stage companies receive stock options. Fred Wilson at USV succinctly describes the parameters for this style of compensation in private and public for-profit companies, and I believe that his formula can be adapted appropriately for MGRC with some minor adjustments. We want MGRC members to be dedicated to the project: working hard to attract, develop and retain the very best applicants and recipients, while being good stewards of the funds that the community has entrusted to the committee. I believe that vesting ZEC over time is a great way to encourage long term thinking in MGRC members, and discourage short-term cash grabs and/or lazy bureaucrat behaviour.

I do believe that MGRC represents a material investment in Zcash on behalf of the community, and as such I think it makes sense that a singular full time employee be hired to work 100% on major grants, providing project management, administrative support, as well as muscle to help with the hard work of sourcing candidates, deciding how to allocate funds, and how to support and provide oversight for recipients over the life cycle of the fund. Spinning up an entity that can provide the necessary G&A functions to support full time employees is non-trivial, and as such I recommend that if the elected MGRC members agree that a full time PM/admin for Major Grants is appropriate, that that person be hired into an existing entity (such as the Zcash Foundation) rather than spin up a new entity.

DC

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I don’t think there’s full time work for 5 people. The ecosystem isn’t that big and there are not that many projects. And they shouldn’t be that high touch. You might need one person to handle invoices and reports and such. And right now, this falls on ZFND since they are the 501c3 the funds go through and have to handle compliance.

Put another way, if the ecosystem is that big, you’d think in four years someone would have made a deal with one of them.

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After reviewing this, I think my previous statement was hyperbolic.
My concern is about incentive alignment.
The possibility that I find “terrifying” <–(there’s the confusing hyperbole) is an MGRC where members are not primarily interested in the long-term success of Zcash.

Clearly if a member of the MGRC has a separate job that’s also a “Zcash-centric” role that’s fine by me.

In other words, I think it’s fine if a full-time employee of the ECC, or the ZF sits on the MGRC. Indeed I prefer this. Such a person is already incentivized to enhance Zcash, and wouldn’t need (as much) compensation for their role at the MGRC.

Some people have proposed that some MGRC members are full-time, and some are part-time. In that scheme I think it makes sense that the part-time roles are filled by the ECC and ZF representatives, since they have “correctly” aligned incentives.

Per the remaining 3 members… I maintain that it’s in the best interest of the community/Zcash that those folks are selected in part because they are primarily interested in Zcash. I don’t think it would be appropriate for someone, whose “day job” is working on some other project, to occupy one of those seats.

So, revising my previous position, I am in favor of all MGRC members being entirely focused on the general improvement of Zcash. Whether an MGRC member is focused in this way because their role on the MGRC is “fulltime”, or because their other role(s) are also Zcash-enhancement roles isn’t so important to me.

Finally, in this thread, @alchemydc has mentioned a Zcash-vesting schedule for MGRC members. This seems eminently reasonable to me.

Just to amend this amendment I am now persuaded that the “other Zcash-enhancement” role might well be primarily an ethereum, or EFF, or bitcoin, er etc… role. I don’t want to dismiss the potential for diversification and collaboration.

I am persuaded by the above arguments to this effect.

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In my experience, its been far easier to recruit people by interesting them in the mission and ideals of Zcash rather than compensation. Financial privacy and fungibility are values people share. Anyone who’s really good can get more money starting their own coin or joining a more pump oriented ecosystem. Money won’t recruit them. On the flip side, money will recruit people who aren’t that good but want an easy pay day.

Far more importantly: you are suggesting we need full time people who are highly compensated and have incentives to get Zcash to succeed. The last 4 years have been the perfect experiment for that incentive. The founders reward was a very strong incentive for ECC executives to grow the coin. But in the four years since launch, we’ve lost substantial market share relative to pretty much any cryptocurrency of merit (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Monero). So either 1) coin price is irrelevant (which on a four year time frame I find dubious) and we don’t need skin in the game OR 2) coin price and money is relevant but, measured by the market, the incentive you are proposing failed to produce results. In either case, why would it be different this time? What can we do better going forwards?

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There’s a lot going on here!

I’m hearing (and perhaps it’s just an echo of my own bias!) a underlying assumption that what’s done for Love is better than what’s done for Money.

My personal belief is that there’s not really a tension between the two, unless you can’t get paid to do what you love. If you must work on something unloved to pay the bills, and you have a passion for something else… then I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that you save your best mind/Self for love. If on the other hand you get to work on what you love… then I don’t believe there’s a problem.

Per the amount of compensation I am advocating… I don’t know a number… but I don’t think “highly” is necessary.

Consider the possibility that not providing compensation reserves MGRC seats to a financial elite. Maybe a tenured Academic can afford an uncompensated seat for their love… what about a self-taught hacker not lucky enough to be born in Berlin-or-NY-or-what-have-you?

Finally, per the idea that we’ve observed an experiment demonstrating that aligned incentives aren’t a good idea, I don’t agree.

To begin with, I don’t think historical-observation is “experiment”, but more to the point I don’t think alignment is expected to create miraculous outcomes, I think it’s expected to focus individuals on what matters to them. As far as I know the ‘ECC executive types’ have been pretty diligent… so that speaks in favor of however they’re being compensated/what they Love.

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You can’t have if both ways. Either:

  1. Market performance of Zcash is a good metric of success:

    In which case, it makes sense to incentivize it. However, we’ve done that over the past four years. It has not lead to market success. We have declined relative to nearly every cryptocurrency of merit. So, what is different going forward?

  2. Or coin price and market success is not a good success metric.
    In which case, why incentivize it?

Which is it?

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I don’t believe incentives have worked thus far because Zcash was in a building stage getting the Z address infrastructure completed. The reward will come later as adoption increases and Zcash becomes a privacy only solution. I think they should be incentivized because of that reason…greater rewards to follow. That will also be the reason people dedicated to the mission of Zcash will join.

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It’s option 1.
Market performance is a reasonable/useful metric of Zcash success.
It does make sense to incentivize it, for this reason.

The price of Zcash doesn’t imply that our strategy is suboptimal. An optimal strategy is necessary, but not sufficient.

It’s possible that we live in a universe where we’ve done everything in exactly the optimal fashion, and we’re still being outperformed in the market for reasons entirely beyond our control. I don’t think this is exactly the universe we live in, but it’d be overconfident of me to rule it out completely.

More plausibly, we’ve done some things well, and some poorly, and we don’t know (in general) with 100% confidence which is which.

Assuming that aligning incentives is causing underperformance in the market isn’t justified by the data we have. That doesn’t mean market valuations relative to other cryptocurrencies aren’t important metrics, it just means we can’t instantly reason from those observations to root causes without error.

Given the above I don’t believe I’ve understand an argument against paying Zcash to people who enhance Zcash.

Am I misunderstanding? Is it your position the following?

It's not in the interest of Zcash for members of the MGRC to be compensated in Zcash.

If not, please feel free to restate it.
Or… maybe I am misunderstanding the discourse altogether and you’re not trying to present a position?

I’m not trying to be obtuse, or put words in your mouth, just trying to understand what we’re talking about here.

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I tend to agree. I think Zcash over the past 3-and-something years, has been in a fledgling (or sprout if you wish) state. I think particularly with z2z-wallets+shielded-coinbase+shielded HW-wallets, that’s about to change pretty dramatically.

Actually… I have solid evidence for this:

I paid for cat-sitting with z2z txs, to a person who spent all of 2 minutes setting up to receive a z2z tx! I sent memos!

I have this capability now… I just didn’t 2 months ago.

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Maybe. I want to discuss this.

Suppose:

MGRC members declare which projects they like and have stakes in. Then if they get elected, they can advocate for their pet projects.

Is this a bad model? Why?

MGRC members will have power. It’s checked by their peers, and their (re)election potential.

Should they also have an obligation to not direct funds to their preferred projects?

It seems to me that if I were an MGRC member and I really believe that a particular project was the best for Zcash, that I’d want to do two things:

  1. Direct grant funding to it.
  2. Invest in it personally.

Which of those things should I not do? It seems to me that, if I don’t really believe in a project then I shouldn’t invest either public funds (the MGRC grants) or private (my) funds in it, but if I do believe in it, I should invest both.

What do y’all think?

I think it’s inevitable that MGRC members will have “favorite” projects that they advocate for. That’s not what I’m referring to when I said I was concerned about a conflict of interest. There are subtle differences between advocating and leading a project.

Kek had brought up the point that the MGRC should more proactive about doing things, which I agree with, but where do you draw the line about the MGRC members involvement in said project?

For instance, two scenarios:

  1. A MGRC member could be proactive and put out a “I really wish someone would do X for Zcash” and be very specific about what needs to be done. Maybe even calling some of his friends, telling them about it. Allowing multiple parties to submit for the project, and when a party is selected (with MGRC consensus) that MGRC member would be a advocate/mentor for that project setting goals for them to meet.

  2. Would it be OK for a MGRC member to create a project and begin hiring individual developers to work on it (with MGRC funds) acting as the manager for that team they assembled? Perhaps forming a business/ LLC for the project to pay the workers?

I personally think the first scenario is fine, keeping the MGRC as a mentor/leader for projects while trying to be fair to all parties that would want to apply. And remaining neutral when assessing if they meet the goals/milestones.

The second is a step too far, that is the COI. The MGRC member would be too deeply involved in the project to not be biased if others tried to apply for the same work. And would not be in a position to be neutral when assessing performance of the team.

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OK, folks… thought it’d be great fun to join the video calls. Sooo…
I clicked on the above (and reproduced here) link named"sign up for the video call".

From there my browser loaded a uniqueid’d html page from docs.google.com… so far… so good!

Then I read through the form and started clicking little check boxes scattered around in a somewhat pleasing arrangement. It felt kinda’ good… I was checking things off! Sort of an accomplishment.

Then I started reading the text next to the boxes… something about:

“I consent to being recorded, and I understand that the recording will be shared publicly.”

And I was like… well but it’s Google right… I mean they’re basically good folks… heck I have bunches of friends that work for Google. They’re good folks!

And then I was like well… huh… there was that whole “Project Dragonfly” thingie a little bit ago… err… something. But I can’t imagine how anyone would feel excluded by critical governance decisions for the world’s most secure privacy coin being held on that platform. Zcash isn’t important for Uigher’s is it?

But thenthen… I drilled a little deeper… took the red pill you might say.

Because then I thought… hey! Maybe this is just a deceitful opt out thing… maybe I don’t have to click the little box with the red asterisk super-script…

So I tried that…

And then this happened…

and that’s when I knew… this is all an elaborate joke. You guys really had me going for a second there!!

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Hey… it occurs to me that this might come across as mean-spirited. I’m really not trying to knock the folks who are doing all the hard work of putting this stuff together. I know how hard that effort is… because hey, we’re all working in a really distorted messed up system!

So along with my above attempt at a authentic account of my first response… I really did Laugh Outloud when I read the above warning… cause… you gotta’ admit… it’s pretty funny. I also want to say I’m not trying to disrespect anyone. I feel like we’re all in it together and we’re all making tradeoffs like this all the time. I dunno’ about y’all but that’s kind of why I’m here!

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LOL! You wanna borrow my ‘green screen video zebra’ ? Its what I stream 'cos I don’t have a webcam :wink:

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HEELARIOUS NON-SEQUITER: I’m not on the ZCAP, so all of my threats to vote this way or that were… so much bluster! Hah.

I mostly agree I think, but I want to continue advocating for a more radical position because I think it’s an important idea to gnaw on.

I think scenario 2. is just fine, and here’s why:

The MGRC member’s success-or-failure to produce results (i.e. Zcash-enhancements) will be used to decide whether they should be re-elected.

If an MGRC member, perhaps flanuering through the park with flowers in their hair, comes up with some concept… and then comes up with a way to implement it, and then asks their friends to help them with their scheme… and then pays their friends with an MGRC grant…

…and the result is a better Zcash…

then I’m okay with it. If their friends are corrupt and/or incompetent and/or unlucky… then the concept fails… then I think the member should be voted out.

I’m okay with that too.

I mean… hopefully MGRC members (e.g. you, hopefully) have deep insight into what Zcash is. Don’t we want the absolute most thoughtful/insightful/creative (where all of these things are the specific Zcash-aspected component of the more general skill) people available, on the committee… DIRECTING THE FUNDING ?

Don’t we want those people to care as deeply as possible about their critical work?

In my mind that kind of person is the kind of person that a project should beg for the attention of.

Should we want to establish a rule that such a person shouldn’t be “too interested”?

I’d like to dig deeper into the underlying assumptions of our positions. I have a feeling that I’m missing folks on a different layer of abstraction. I’d like to understand if there are some sort of axioms that we’re incorrectly assuming the existence of? <-- (dangling participle… oooppps)

So again, I think it makes sense to be careful to consider interests, but I think misalignment of the type you seem concerned about, is adequately controlled for by:

  1. Public Voting:

The MGRC member makes it obvious where their interests lie, by public voting for funding. I am assuming that if Member A votes for project One, then A is biased in favor of One. Voting is expressing a preference.

The only ways around this I can think of, around this are:

If MGRC Member A’s votes are not public. This is problematic, at least because A can never prove how they voted (for any reason). I think many more specific cases reduce to this.
OR
MGRC member A has some sort of guarantee of disinterest. But it seems to me that a completely disinterested A must vote randomly. Am I missing something here? Is there a way to disinterestedly express a preference? Or is my characterization of “voting” deceptive/incomplete/incoherent?

  1. Term limits. If Project One fails MGRC member A doesn’t get re-elected.
  2. Peers: Perhaps the MGRC is structured such that quorum-or-consensus is needed to award a grant… or grants above some size… or some such.

Finally (another non-sequitar)… I confess I haven’t read this whole thread. So I’m going to go do that now, and also apologize for not doing it before.

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This makes good sense to me. I’m in favor of MGRC members having skin in multiple games!