My Final Day at ECC

As some of you are already aware, today is my final day as an employee of ECC. While I am shifting my focus to a different organization and project, I do plan to keep up with the Zcash community. This was not an easy decision, but many of the reasons for me leaving the Director of Engineering role are similar to why I left the prior role over a year ago. Per a post I made a few weeks ago, Zcash is stale.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken time to read not only the recent forum posts, Twitter (err X) threads and other postings around Zcash. The pattern that comes out is a repeat of the same issues followed by the same kind of approaches to solve them - the difference being the current economic climate. At just under $25/ZEC as I write this post, the value of the coin puts the current spending levels across the ecosystem on an unsustainable path. Looking at the financial transparency reports of ECC, ZF and ZCG, you can quickly see where things are headed. And yet, we try to plow ahead with the same approach hoping that “the coin price will recover”.

It’s time to rethink, reframe and remarket Zcash. Privacy is critical and foundational to this project, but it isn’t selling the project. Tooling is important, dev support is important, but guess what else is important, product-market fit… making the product solve a problem that a group of users has or experiences. How do you find that out? Research. Ignoring that is basically saying we know better, which is what’s continuing this downward trend. Zcash has some of the best tech, other projects figured that out and use it… for free. What does Zcash get back? (Rhetorical question)

I’ve valued the time working with the ECC team and getting to know many members of the community. I hope that in the coming months, a hard look is taken at the project and the direction and perhaps a bit of reflective mirror-staring. The best technical minds aren’t always the best marketing minds… we have a lot of amazing technically gifted people and sometimes that has stifled the marketing aspects. Zcash has to grow beyond just an organic trickle. Pushing the privacy narrative to a group that doesn’t see or understand the value is futile. Start with something that can grasp and can value and then demonstrate the benefits of privacy that come along with selecting Zcash as their crypto of choice.

I wish the project well and hope that there is a shift in mindset. The other option is next November, absent anything else, the Dev Fund ends, the halving happens, the current organizations fall and someone or some groups pick up the pieces and move forward. Costs and benefits to that just like other options.

Zcash is more than just a bunch of techno-jargon and coin reinvestments to the same sized community. At least it shouldn’t be. It can’t be for it to flourish.

I hope this message and the others I’ve shared generates conversation that leads to action - moving beyond the theory to practicality. I wish the best for the Zcash community.



Privacy is the project. If that doesn’t sell, we can’t just try to make Zcash be something else.


I think the point that was trying to be made was if we want to continue the “privacy project” we need some kind of product market fit to make that sustainable.


Very well written post that hits on the core problems.

I think a few of his points are A) we just gave away the family jewels. Privacey is not unique to Zcash anymore. B) the project is defining privacy is a very very very narrow scope. ZEC as money does not have a market fit with the marketing…Something like $5 trillion USD trades per day. But for some reason people dont want to bring privacy to a digital dollar. People think Zcash is money, yet they themselves diversify away from it because of its volatility. So people just dont understand what ZEC is or its use case and they are not applying the tech to the largest market in the world, the USD, or the Euro or so many other areas. C) we are running out of money - So, i read this to mean spending money on marketing and education, having so many websites is a little crazy. There should only be 1 website and marketing should be shut down completely. 100% focus on development and understanding what the market needs (not what developers think it needs) and build it. D) Research should lead. This is where marketing has completely failed. Even some very basic research will tell you people want stablecoins: the vendors, the people earning wages; ECC employees, ECC grant recipients, all of them (and if they say they want ZEC they would likely not want it after they locked into a contract at $100/dollar when its at $25. They would just default on the contract). ZEC without stablecoins just doesn’t work and ZEC by itself cant beat BTC. I have said before this looks like digital art. Bitcoin is the mona lisa. Now we drew a very nice mustache on it. But for whatever reason, people just like the original even if the improvement looks nice. E) This is about privacy for a very small group. To most people who post on these boards, its about a lot more than privacy. And that is a killer because it excludes so many people who might benefit from privacy.


Privacy can be an amazing and critical feature, but it’s not a product. Think about when you go to buy a car. “I want the car with the best safety rating out there.” Some people might cling onto that, but most will take that one element into consideration with other elements when making their purchasing decision. They might not buy the safest car because it looks like a Gremlin.


I see it like this: there’s a grand competition occurring which will decide how money and finance will operate thirty years from now. A small segment of the current market values privacy and is willing to invest extra effort into using private products like Zcash, despite UX problems. The majority of the market isn’t going to become aware of the very real consequences of transparent blockchains and transparent DeFi until it’s far too late, after the transparent projects have established massive network effects and are impossible to replace.

Our moral imperative, as privacy-advocate opinionated engineers, is to out-compete the dangerous transparent projects in the market, to ward off that dystopian future. This means finding product-market fit for our privacy-focused products now, in communities that really need it and who are willing to put up with temporary UX problems that the general population wouldn’t be willing to put up with.

If we can’t find product-market fit within a community that needs privacy and censorship-resistance, we need to keep re-evaluating our strategy until we do. For example, online sex workers are, in my view, the people who need privacy and censorship-resistance the most, and if we can’t help them, we don’t stand a chance at becoming a dominant payment product for the wider public.

All technical development efforts need to be aligned behind an effort to find product-market fit, informed by the communities we want to support, otherwise we are just letting engineers speculate about what “might work” and wasting precious resources.

We need to demonstrate that we can help communities in desperate need of privacy and censorship-resistance if we have any hope of bringing our products to the wider population.


The Zcash dev fund should be devoted to one thing: making Zcash more usable.

Running nodes more easily
Transacting more easily
Building more easily
Contributing to consensus
Hobby mining/staking

People pretend like Zcash works fine and there is something wrong with the governance or the decentralization or the marketing. The fact is that Zcash does not work very well. The spam attacks have been effective. Truthfully, there is almost nothing to market.

If I had someone’s ear, I couldn’t tell them to use Zcash, much less invest in it. Zcash doesn’t work without substantial investment of time. There have been many people who bought into the idea of “a swiss bank account in your pocket” but found their funds stranded - at least temporarily. Wallet problems and node problems have been a frustrating ordeal and no one should deny it.

Who could casually recommend Zcash, much less spend substantial funds marketing it?

If Zcash worked smoothly and was slick, it would be easy to market.

it works like bitcoin but better and no one can see your transactions

… yeah, dude, it’s true, with bitcoin everyone in the world can see your balance and all of your transactions

That would be easy to sell, if there was a simple wallet that hid all of the complexity and looked good and “just worked”

The product is not good enough to start thinking about product-market fit. Learn by using, doing, experimenting and building clean code and putting into production, not by “research”

Everyone at ECC and ZF should be doing shielded transactions every day and iterating on what is painful.


Are you living in a cave? (Rhetorical)

90% of all ZEC are transparent

90% of all ZEC transactions are transparent

Until the transparent pool is deprecated, then it is only false-advertisement, ignorance, and malignancy to say that Zcash is a Privacy project

Until the Transparent Model is eliminated, we owe it to astronomical karma to be truthful, Zcash is a Bitcoin-like copy paste project, with sparsely used, technically challenging, ala carte opt-in privacy features

The Zcash Transparent Model is Hurting Privacy

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There has never been a more fucked up period for Zcash. But we’ll survive it too.


How are you so confident?

I’m in my sixth year on the forum and have read it all many times already. Nick just panicked, as many others have done here before.


Except he worked at the company responsible for development of the product. You are merely a spectator with limited insight into how things run behind the scenes.

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and so it will be :slight_smile:

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Zcash is in a “survive or thrive” situation.

If Zcash is still around in 10-20 years, it will thrive as a Store of Value (SoV).

I don’t see cryptocurrency as a get-rich-quick scheme.
I compare cryptocurrency to trees that we can plant with our own hands.

So, cryptocurrency is like a fruit tree in the long term; it’s binary for me.
Either it dies, or it thrives and gives you fruits.

Maybe I’m mistaken and don’t understand much; it’s my first bear market, but with the Zcash community, no matter how divided it is, I feel like I’m among the first Bitcoin adopters.

I was a child when Bitcoin was invented, but now I believe (perhaps I’m wrong) that given the tokenomics of Bitcoin/Zcash, the system is designed to last for more than 100 years.

The first 10-20 years will be the toughest, but with enough determination, we can make it through.

Our orchard seems to have an illness. Which is a normal thing, trust me, I planted a lot of trees in my life.
So, we should find a way and resources to treat this illness accordingly and continue watering it until we reap our fruits.

Zcon4 was one of the best things that happened in my life. I have met wonderful individuals there.
I am ready to provide all the water I have for the next 10-20 years to enjoy its fruits for the rest of my and my kid’s lives.
Please, let’s not abandon this orchard.

I’m very sad about Nick’s departure.
But with all due respect, I don’t think this will be the downfall of Zcash, so I’ll continue to provide all the water I can.

Zcash is my hope tree. I’m growing it even not for myself as for my child.

@nick godspeed and hope to see you back (maybe applying for a grant) in the near future.


Since Nick explained it all with the stadium metaphor, I’m going to try too. Zcash is not a stadium, it’s a theater. Not a lot of people go to the theater, but the ideas that the theater shows are what will be spread in the society, because the theater is a mirror of hot topics. And I don’t have to know what goes on behind the scenes of the theater to understand the key idea of the play they’re going to show on Friday night, do I? Well, what I do know is that this world needs a confidential decentralized payment medium to maintain balance. Especially if the dystopian future is here and now. After all, the world is always striving for balance and people will be looking for confidential instruments.

Zcash will shine, just give it time.


By now there are many such theaters, competition.
Zcash no longer has a monopoly on best-in-class privacy tech; pretending that we do will be what cements this blinded trajectory.

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I don’t know of anything else that has an emission limit and similar manufacturability. This was the first two feature I filtered coins by. Something has changed?

It’s sad to see you go Nick. I wish the best for you in what’s next to come.

As you said, Zcash is stale. Things need to change.

My hope is that we can be the change we want to see in the (zcash) world.


To be clear, all emission limits rely on Social Consensus, they could change (even Bitcoins, “Bitcoin” i.e. any BTC majority-branded fork).
There are even very recent discussions putting into question the hard cap.
As for privacy tech, there are many (with some degrees of programmability).