I wanted to provide some updates about Shielded Labs related to funding and the initiatives it will focus on in the months ahead.
I am happy to announce that Shielded Labs has received funding to help bootstrap its operation.
We received a generous donation from an individual who is aligned with Zcash’s mission and values. Although they wanted to remain anonymous, this individual firmly believes in the importance of layer-one privacy and the critical role it plays in preserving individuals’ autonomy and financial freedom. Shielded Labs is very grateful for their generous donation and for their commitment to advancing the decentralization of Zcash. We plan to use this donation to fund our first development project, the Zcash Sustainability Fund.
Overall, funding is still very limited. I’ve spent the past few months trying to raise donations, but it has been difficult given the challenging market environment. Since Shielded Labs is a non-profit, donors do not receive an equity interest or ownership stake in the organization, which makes fundraising more difficult. In the coming months, I will continue outreach efforts and actively engage with potential supporters to secure the financial support necessary for our mission. Shielded Labs is also interested in exploring grant opportunities, possibly including the Zcash Foundation’s Minor Grants Program.
Shielded Labs recently announced that it is partnering with the European-based Equilibrium Group to develop the Zcash Sustainability Fund. Please read our proposal and provide your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions. We will allow a comment period for at least one month. If there is general community support and no significant objections, we plan on starting development shortly thereafter.
If we can obtain additional funding, there are two other development projects we are interested in pursuing. First, we are exploring covenants that would introduce programmable logic into Zcash transactions to allow users to define specific rules and conditions that must be met before funds can be accessed. Covenants would give users advanced security features that enable custom spending policies, create time-delayed transactions, and provide immediate response options in case of compromised keys. For example, a time-lock vault could impose a time-based constraint on spending Zcash, ensuring that funds remain unspendable until a specified period has passed. This mechanism also provides protection against immediate spending and offers users a chance to detect compromises and take appropriate action. We’re also interested in developing a feature that serves as an emergency measure to lock funds when the owner suspects a private key compromise.
In addition, Shielded Labs is interested in developing a coinholder voting mechanism. To be clear, we do not endorse pure on-chain governance; however, we recognize the importance of providing a means for coinholders to participate in the governance process. As Zcash becomes more decentralized, we need additional ways to determine community consensus. Such a mechanism would allow coinholders an opportunity to express their preferences and participate in the decision-making processes that shape the evolution of the Zcash network. Aditya wrote an RFI for a coinholder voting mechanism last year while he was on the Zcash Community Grants (ZCG) committee, which provides a valuable blueprint for the design of a secure and private mechanism.
User adoption is one of Shielded Labs’ core initiatives. In the immediate term, I would like to focus on two key areas:
First, there has been several discussions on the forum about getting more people to use Zcash. One specific initiative @earthrise recently proposed is Zcash being adopted as the de facto currency within a niche community that has historically grappled with censorship by established payment processors or has unique privacy requirements conventional payment processors cannot fulfill. Shielded Labs can play a role in providing structure to this project to transform these discussions into actionable items that can be implemented. To facilitate this, I will establish a User Adoption Working Group that meets on a regular basis to deliberate on strategies and identify specific communities where Zcash can be effectively introduced. These meetings will prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities, and establish clear deliverables, ensuring focused and effective efforts. Through consistent communication and collaboration, we can optimize our impact and achieve successful outcomes that increase user adoption.
Second, as a member of the ZCG committee, I have come to realize that one important aspect of the program is currently lacking adequate support. While the Zcash Foundation does an excellent job administering the ZCG program and supporting the grant process, there is a notable absence of dedicated post-approval assistance for grantees. Shielded Labs can play an important role by providing ongoing assistance, mentorship, and resources to grantees to ensure that the potential of these projects is fully realized. For example, we can assist @pitmutt with outreach and marketing efforts to encourage adoption of Zgo among payment providers. We can also partner with QEDIT to create educational and promotional materials that communicate the value of Zcash Shielded Assets to a wider audience. If any grantees are interested in post-approval support, please reach out to me to discuss this opportunity further.
Community morale has reached an all-time low, and there is a growing sense of concern and dissatisfaction within the Zcash community regarding various aspects of the project. In order to build a stronger and more resilient ecosystem, it is important to acknowledge and address these issues. To that end, I would like to set up time with community members to share their feedback on what they believe is currently lacking and what they believe could be improved within Zcash. Your input is essential to shaping the future of Zcash, and I strongly encourage you to participate in this feedback process.
I would also like to offer my assistance as a resource to community members to help ensure the Dev Fund 2024 discussions are driven by the community and not existing Dev Fund recipients. If you need help brainstorming proposal ideas, seeking feedback on your proposals, finding like-minded individuals to collaborate with, or understanding how to engage effectively with the community, I can help provide guidance and support.
I am starting office hours where community members can schedule time to speak with me directly about these matters. To schedule a meeting, please book a time slot via Calendly. If you prefer something more private than Google Meet, please feel free to reach out to me via DM on the forum or Twitter, and we can arrange a meeting on Jitsi or Session. I look forward to connecting.
In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, I am also focused on recruiting more directors and contributors who are non-US citizens based outside the US. This is essential for building a truly geographically diverse and robust organization. There are a couple individuals I have in mind who I believe would make good board members, but I have been moving intentionally slow to maintain flexibility and explore various options. Nevertheless, this is a high priority, and I will keep you updated on the progress I make in this regard.
I am excited about the future of Shielded Labs and the role it aims to play in the development and decentralization of Zcash. In the short-term, Shielded Labs endeavors to be an independent contributor to protocol development and other ecosystem initiatives. In the long-term, it aspires to be a core entity that stands beside the Electric Coin Company and Zcash Foundation and makes Zcash stronger and more resilient in an increasingly uncertain regulatory environment. It will take time and additional funding to get there, and we’ll inevitably hit some bumps along the way, but I am confident we are on the right path and working towards success.