Proactively funding wallet developers

At the last ZOMG meeting I proposed that we proactively approach the teams building Zcash wallets and figure out the best way to fund their primary work, not just specific features or infrastructure costs.

In my candidacy announcement when I ran, I said I thought user-facing apps were key to Zcash fulfilling its mission and that I’d bring an app developer’s perspective to the committee. I think we’ve made a good start since launch but there’s a lot more we need to do.

So far, ZOMG has received proposals from each of the 3 teams developing Zcash wallet apps, which is great. We’ve already funded two of those teams, Nighthawk and Zecwallet, and expressed an eagerness to fund the third, Unstoppable. So wallet teams know about ZOMG, and ZOMG is willing to fund wallet teams.

The thing is, none of the proposals we’ve funded so far are for general support to build and improve their Zcash wallets. Two are for lightwallet infrastructure and the third is for a specific feature. (Here are the proposals: Nighthawk’s proposal, Zecwallet’s proposal, Unstoppable’s proposal.) @adityapk00 was explicit to us that it wasn’t clear enough what we wanted, and that writing an application was daunting—and this totally makes sense yet since we just got started and we’re still figuring it out too. I suspect that the other two wallet teams are in a similar position, which is why we’ve gotten narrow proposals for infastructure and a very cool specific feature but not for general support.

To address this, my proposal is to proactively approach the leading wallet teams and help them structure ZOMG proposals that fit their goals.

I’m thinking of this as something where we start with a set of questions and work from there.

  • What’s the long term vision for the project? What does success look like?
  • How will the work we fund support the Zcash mission—i.e. to bring financial privacy to everyone in the world?
  • What are the most important things to achieve in the next 12-18 months?
  • What are the milestones?
  • What are the costs to achieve those milestones, in infrastructure, team size, etc?
  • What outcomes do you feel confident you can achieve, as a baseline—i.e. the pessimistic case?
  • What do the best-case outcomes look like?
  • What are the most important things to execute on, to get to the baseline? What about to get to the best-case?

These are a bit specific to how I think about things, and are really off the cuff. I’m sure others have ideas for this. But my recommendation would be that we write up a structure that encourages wallet teams to think big, and think about the core of their work—not just specific costs or features—and think about the level of funding they need to do that.

And then we should bring that structure to them and help them refine it and fill in the blanks.

I also think we need to make it clear that, since wallets are super important to fund well, this will be a conversation and not always an instant thumbs up / thumbs down decision. But the presumption should always be that ZOMG wants to fund core work on wallets, so the questions are just part of a process to learn / figure out the best way to fund them.