25 August 2020 update
- Here are my written answers to the Open Questions
- Here’s the video Q&A i participated in on 25 August, edited to include only my answers:
Hi! I am ML and I’m running for MGRC. I have a business core with a strong tech bent. I am bi-cultural (Asian and Western). I travel between Singapore, Hong Kong and San Francisco. I’m heavily involved in fintech, investing, and crypto.
Some notes on my background, which I hope will be complementary to the rest of the MGRC:
- I worked in banking and investments across the Asia Pacific region. I specialized in the Financial Services industry, doing deals with banks, insurers and asset managers
- I spent the last 5 years working with venture-backed startups in product and sales roles. Most recently I was an early employee at Anchorage, a crypto asset custodian in San Francisco, where I helped to craft our strategy pre- and post-launch. As Head of Business Development, I helped to bring assets under custody to our first billion
- I have degrees in Economics and Finance from the University of Pennsylvania / The Wharton School. (Personally, I don’t believe in school logos; the smartest people I’ve worked with didn’t go to fancy schools. Some didn’t even go to school.)
- I went through a 4-month full stack web dev coding bootcamp, because I wanted to graduate beyond “the business person that shows up with infeasible tech requests"
- While I love crunching numbers and writing code, I have a strong bent for the creative arts; writing and theater are my choice of poison. While this seems completely irrelevant, I believe that what we are doing is fundamentally a creative endeavor - we are actively creating a world we want to see
As a result of my experiences, I have an extensive network, skills in managing intractable situations with multiple stakeholders, an ability to translate between business and tech, and experience with bridging cultures. I’d like to bring these to bear in helping to steer the MGRC.
For a separate note on what i’m up to now, refer to a subsequent post.
Where are We?
The success of Bitcoin took the world by surprise. To succeed, Bitcoin had to contain a message that resonated with its early adopters, affording it the resilience to survive several winters. In the meantime, it had to reach adoption rates that gave it credibility across widely spread groups of people, so that once the cat was out of the bag, there was no putting it back. Once both conditions were fulfilled, Bitcoin achieved escape velocity, growing into the dominant digital asset it is now.
Today, Zcash has a loyal base of believers in self-sovereignty and privacy. While the group is variegated, the momentum we have gathered behind technical excellence and principle-based privacy is undeniable.
A major impediment to reaching escape velocity is our current adoption rates. As many other potential candidates have pointed out, an obvious key priority is to support projects that allow usership to expand as widely as possible. Candidates DC and Eric advocate funding projects that make the front end more user friendly, which I agree with. However, in the face of a volatile relationship between the crypto community and the regulators, I believe that a more nuanced approach is also required.
Go Big and Go Small
We need to encourage adoption of shielded transactions by the actors responsible for the lion’s share of digital asset activity today: major investors (Fidelity for example), exchanges, OTC desks, and other large players. Today, shielded transactions are too hairy to warrant their support. The lawyers and auditors working for these companies are disincentivized from giving their blessing for transactions that render them blind.
I was Head of Business Development at Anchorage, where we worked with large investors to safely custody their digital assets in a highly technical solution. In this role, I also worked with layer one teams as we made decisions on which assets to support. I spent time with teams building solutions at the higher layers such as DeFi apps, OTC desks, miners, and other service providers. This gave me insight into the operational, regulatory, audit, and other concerns that the ecosystem faces when digital asset innovation grows quicker than the “real world” can accommodate.
How do we move past this roadblock, where our interests appear to be diametrically opposed from those of incumbent institutions? A two-pronged approach is likely to prove most effective: we go big, and we go small. In other words, we work with incumbents by funding projects that feed into the mainstream, and we work around them by funding projects that dance on the edges.
Winning by Statecraft
In choosing projects that dance on the edges, I don’t know exactly where the line should be drawn, yet. I do believe that the burden is on us, as a community, to expand our reach in a mature way that does not activate the “fight or flight” response from major stakeholders. We want to win; we don’t want to shoot an own goal. And to do so, we have to be transparent, deliberate, and patient. We have to practice a version of skilled statecraft.
In a previous life, I was an investor in the private markets in Asia, working on deals across the region. In that capacity, we managed a publicly listed board, negotiated complex termsheets, and placed senior executives. We also worked extensively with regulators, law firms, and lobbyists. The most valuable lesson I learned from that period is that outcomes are set before the parties are even seated at the negotiation table - and I believe that’s how Zcash and the projects we support will win in the wider world.
My first priorities would be:
- Governance: Set up the bylaws of the MGRC. This will include provisions on financial reporting, community updates, election guidelines, voting rules, and a description of special committees (such as a compensation committee, which is a question raised by the community)
- Allocation of funds: The MGRC should develop a framework by which we will evaluate projects. What profile of returns are we solving for (how big, when)? How do we spread our bets across different sections of the value chain? How do we support a Go Big and Go Small strategy (see above)? How do we size each bet? How do we update our investment thesis as developments occur in other ecosystems, e.g. mixing applications for Bitcoin, and zero-knowledge systems on other chains? The community should be polled for input, so we don’t miss unique insights
My vision for Zcash is that we become the mainstream alternative to Bitcoin. I want options for the digital asset community - and one day, for the global community. In doing so, we serve the world by enabling self-sovereignty through privacy.
Whatever shape the MGRC takes, we must seize the opportunity to catalyze the next phase of Zcash’s development. We are at a critical inflection point. I hope there will come a time in the future, long after the MGRC ceases to exist, where we look back and see that this is when the Zcash community stepped into a golden era of growth and development.
- ZEC comprises less than 10% of my crypto portfolio. A variety of other digital assets comprise the rest; no one asset constitutes more than 15% of the overall portfolio
- My time at Anchorage led me to own a small amount of stock options in the company
- As both the above stakes are negligible in the grand scheme of things, they are unlikely to lead to a conflict of interest