The State of Zcash Governance

State of Zcash Governance

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer ECC. Also, I previously disclosed that I will be leaving ECC as of August 1. Also, all of this is intended for education and dialogue – none of this is financial advice.


The current Zcash governance model is too tightly controlled and is no longer appropriate for the project. The Zcash trademark, along with the trademark agreement constitute the “One Ring” that consolidates power in the ecosystem. It is bad for Zcash, putting the project at risk, and slowing us down.

If Zcash is to flourish as a public good, the ring must be cast into the fire. This needs to be done before any decisions about a renewal of the Zcash development fund. We should also discuss new and better governance, the minimization of jurisdictional risk, and funding models that deliver better outcomes.

The foundations of Zcash are stronger than ever and I have high expectations for its future. But we can’t rest on that. We can and should push continual upgrades, governance included.

No atrophy. No regression. Only forward movement.


The purpose of this post, like my prior post on the state of Zcash adoption, is to provide my perspective on the state of the Zcash project, challenges and roadblocks, as well as thoughts on various paths forward. I intend to be forthright and candid with the perspective and opinions I express.

Even if the thoughts I express here are not shared by everyone, I hope the community finds them informative and useful. Please bear in mind that the opinions expressed here are mine alone. Any errors and oversights, are my errors and oversights. Please point them out so that I can correct them.

This post focuses on the state of Zcash governance and lays the foundation for community discussion and deliberation on what governance should be.

It’s my belief that we should not have a new dev fund conversation without first addressing the current state of Zcash governance and its implications.

While some may be quick to dismiss governance as plumbing that no one cares about, in actuality, it is this plumbing that determines the direction of the protocol and the allocation of funding in support of that direction. Zcash governance, or rather, the decision makers in the governance structure, will determine whether there is a new development fund, and who will receive it. Based on the information shared in this post, and your feedback, I hope to post again about the state of Zcash Ecosystem Funding in the coming weeks.

The foundations of Zcash are stronger than ever and I have high expectations for its future. But we can’t rest on that. We can and should push continual upgrades, governance included. No atrophy. No regression. Only forward movement.

Please note that I have been a key member of the ECC executive team over the past five and a half years, and participated in the recommendations and advocated for decisions made by ECC. This has given me unique insight into the inner workings of Zcash governance, but also may color my opinions. Please reason it out for yourself.

In this post and elsewhere, I in no way intend to disparage any person or call into question the path that led us to this point. Quite the contrary! The people at ECC, the Zcash Foundation and in the Zcash community have been some of the smartest, thoughtful and principled people I have ever worked alongside.

I want to acknowledge a few people for sharing their own ideas and perspectives directly or in the forum over time, some of which are reflected in this post. Thank you @Beth, @aquietinvestor, @ml_sudo, @earthrise, @nathan-at-least and @zooko specifically. There are likely other people that influenced me. Apologies if I overlooked you.

Governance Primer

Blockchain governance is a decision making process that:

  • Codifies what the chain does, and how it operates
  • Defines who gets to be decision makers and the manner in which their choices are expressed
  • Determines the direction of the project based on the choices of the decision makers, influenced by incentives

Incentives may be, but not always financial. Other incentives include the need for the utility of the thing being created (such as private digital cash), the desire to be part of something meaningful, or the desire to see one’s perspective or beliefs “win,” either because they believe it to be the best thing for the project, or because the allure of power and reputation. None of us are immune to incentives.

One of the challenges with participating in centralized systems is that we must trust that the incentives of those in authority truly align with our own. If they don’t, we can (hopefully) opt-in to something else that does.

Decentralized digital currencies are more complex. Decentralization is not binary, but rather a spectrum that a project tends to, if healthy, move from centralization to greater decentralization over time. As a young project, centralization is the natural state as it’s the manifestation of the vision of a few, with rapid iteration possible because decisions can be made centrally and without the need for broad consensus.

However, if the project is to be a shared public good, it must continually add new decision makers. We trade speed of iteration and a singular vision, for vibrancy and resilience. Vibrancy and resilience are fueled through greater participation, and greater participation fuels even greater participation. It’s how we get network effects.

Zcash Governance

The following is a diagram of the key actors (circles) and “functions” (squares) in the Zcash ecosystem responsible for governance today. The lines represent the relationship between them.

There are many other voices and actors not depicted here, but they have limited power to influence the direction of Zcash. Why? Because Zcash governance is under the tight grip of two actors: the Zcash Foundation and the Electric Coin Company (ECC).

One Ring to Rule Them All

The most powerful tool of Zcash governance is the “Trademark Donation and License Agreement.” This legal agreement, signed in 2019, transferred ownership of the Zcash trademark from ECC to the Zcash Foundation with certain stipulations as summarized in ECC’s blog announcing the agreement. It establishes the Zcash trademark as the centerpiece of Zcash governance.

More specifically, this agreement gives the Zcash Foundation and ECC the exclusive right to legally determine what chain is called Zcash. All upgrades must be formally sanctioned by these two organizations. If they don’t agree on what chain is Zcash, no chain can be called Zcash in the jurisdictions where the trademark is protected. The name of the chain, token and logo all disappear.

Per ECC’s blog:

Yes, you can fork as Ycash did, but no third party can make the decision to call the new chain any kind of variant of “Zcash” without violating the Zcash Foundation’s trademark. And because ECC and the Zcash Foundation have built a fantastic moat including stewardship of the Zcash brand and third party relationships, any fork has a massive uphill climb.

The Mysterious Divination of Clear Consensus

Now in theory, both organizations are obligated to support the community’s voice. That provision of the trademark agreement is copied here:

“19.12 Approvals. Each party covenants and agrees that it will not make or withhold any approval, consents, or other decision under this Agreement if such approval, consent, or other decision is contrary to the Clear Consensus of the Zcash community. For purposes of this Agreement, a “Clear Consensus” of the Zcash Community will be determined by evidence agreed to by both parties, or in case of Dispute regarding such evidence, decided as specified in Section 14 (Dispute Resolution). Subject to the foregoing, all approvals, consents, or other decisions required by either party under this Agreement shall be given within any applicable time period specified herein and shall not be unreasonably withheld, conditioned, or delayed. Any decision or determination to be made by a party hereunder shall be made in such party’s discretion, with the use of such party’s good faith and reasonable judgment.“

But what is “Clear Consensus?” What it means in practice is not defined, and as such is a subjective decision based on an agreement between the Zcash Foundation and ECC. If we extrapolate this further, “Clear Consensus” is a subjective decision based on whatever particular person has authority to make this decision at these two organizations. Today, that person is Zooko Wilcox at ECC and Jack Gavigan at the Zcash Foundation.

Objectively divining clear community consensus is an impossible task. To begin, what is the common definition of the “the Zcash Community?” No such definition exists. Are we assuming the community is adequately reflected on ZCAP or in the forum? What about ZEC holders that don’t or can’t participate in either? What about non-english speakers? What about those that desperately need Zcash and wish they could have a voice but must remain out of sight? Since no definition of the “Zcash Community” exists, Zooko and Jack currently get to choose. And even then, objectively, what defines “Clear Consensus" and at what point in time?

There are no good solutions to this because a good solution does not exist. “Clear Consensus of the Zcash Community,” is like Sasquatch. Some claim it exists but no one has really ever seen it. We’re trusting in hazy snapshots.

To date, the Zcash Foundation has largely leaned on votes from the Zcash Community Advisory Panel (ZCAP). Quoting from the Zcash Foundation’s site, the ZCAP “is a panel of community members established by the Zcash Foundation (ZF) as a means of soliciting advisory input from the Zcash community. ZCAP was originally formed in 2018 as a community governance panel. It has been repeatedly expanded, and, as of April 2023, there are 167 members from across the Zcash community.”

The Zcash Foundation has used the panel to vote on its board and both the ECC and Zcash Foundation agreed, under the Trademark Agreement, to leverage it to determine consensus for ZIP 1014, which included a new development fund for them both. The foundation’s executive director at the time of ZCAP’s inception, Josh Cincinnati, penned a blog that outlined its creation and intent. How members may join, and the rules that govern it, has been changed by the foundation over time, but some of the initial intent, such as stake-based voting, has not been realized.

Sounds like a reasonable sentiment gathering mechanism, right?

While the current foundation executive director, Jack Gavigan has seemed to assert that ZCAP is governance of some form, the reality is that the voting body is a group of people that may or may not have any active engagement in the community, may or may not hold or use ZEC, and is polled with questions developed solely by the Zcash Foundation, when it chooses, and the results of these polls are non-binding on the foundation’s decision making.

To its credit, the Zcash Foundation, and Jack specifically, has suggested that it may be changed and jointly owned by ECC, but it’s my opinion that the ZCAP is both flawed in its construction and too centralized in its management. Sharing its ownership with ECC, another self-interested party, in order to codify it as governance for a decentralized project should be a non-starter. Fwiw, I think it is a useful mechanism for engaging a subset of the Zcash community, and I am an active member and voter, but don’t agree that it is an appropriate mechanism for governing a public good such as Zcash.

For all the faults of the foundation’s ZCAP, ECC’s approach is even more confusing. ECC has not made it clear how it will evaluate community consensus for any upcoming decision. It has advocated for ZEC holder polling but, to date, there are no viable means to safely support this method of assessing community sentiment, and ECC currently has no other means other than its subjective determination of sentiment for a given decision. This lack of clarity results allows ECC to maintain optionality, deciding when and how it will make its determination. I don’t believe that any abuse is intended by ECC, but ECC’s subjective determination of sentiment is the current state of things. This is unsatisfying, leaving Zcashers confused about how to best express their voice, and thus, often assuming the Zcash Foundation’s ZCAP to be the best mechanism for expression.

To summarize, Zooko and Jack are the current joint decision makers on any consensus rule changes to Zcash, as long as they can agree on how “Clear Consensus” by the Zcash community will be determined. If they can’t agree, nothing can be called Zcash.

I believe both of these people are well intentioned, but that there are two people determining how the community feels, on a case by case basis, is concerning. The current governance model is antiquated and brittle. It’s not appropriate for Zcash and it’s time the project evolves beyond this structure.

Something else to consider: what happens if one of these orgs collapses, is sued out of existence or otherwise forced to shut down? What happens if jurisdictional powers require a change that forces one of their hands? What happens to the trademark then? We claim we can “just fork,” but practically speaking, forking for this reason would cause an extreme amount of damage and pain. Resilience is far better than reliance.

Control of Community Speech

There are a few other challenges with the current governance structure beyond control of the trademark and confusion about community consensus.

As shown in the diagram, in addition to trademark ownership, the Zcash Foundation has significant power as it manages and/or moderates much of the conversation with the community. This creates a risk of the suppression of speech and also capture.

Let me give you an example. In the case of Zcon, which is the annual in-person and online event the Zcash Foundation hosts on behalf of the Zcash community, speaking submissions are made to the foundation.

I greatly appreciate all the hard work that goes into Zcon, including the challenge of curating and surfacing the most valuable information and conversations in a tight window. The team at the Zcash Foundation has done an amazing job with these events. However, the community has no visibility or voice in determining any of the content or workshops, and neither does the foundation’s ZCAP. It’s a black box. The Zcash Foundation curates and schedules content without any transparency or community say-so.

This year, “SoK: Programmable Privacy in Zcash” is the first session after ecosystem updates, which is based on research the foundation commissioned, and a path for Zcash for which the foundation is advocating. The session will be emceed by Jack Gavigan. Whether or not it is a worthy topic of discussion (and I believe it is - pretty excited about it!) is not the point. But that the foundation has the unilateral power to pick and choose what the community discusses, without prior community engagement, on Zcash’s biggest stage, is concerning.

In another example, ECC requested a workshop to discuss the decentralization of the Zcash digital assets (website, twitter, readthedocs and cypherpunk zero) it manages. It’s a pretty big deal as these assets are often where people first land when they want to learn more about Zcash. Additionally, the website is the canonical location for communicating the foundation and ECC’s decisions about network upgrades. The session was repeatedly rejected by Jack due to his own concerns about the trademark and content moderation, without asking about ECC’s intentions for how it intended to engage the community on this topic. As far as I know, Jack made the personal and final decision to exclude ECC’s intended desire to engage the community at Zcon on decentralizing digital assets. While not explicitly my point here, I believe it would be fantastic if the foundation opened up the selection process to the community as is done for other conferences, perhaps even more ad hoc sessions as was done at Zcon0.

O say can you see…

Another key challenge is related to jurisdictional risk. Take a look at the jurisdictions governing each of the actors in the diagram above. Or to make it easier, I’ll just drop in another diagram here illustrating all the various jurisdictions involved:

ECC and Bootstrap, the Zcash Foundation and by extension, the Zcash Community Grants, and the governance-defining trademark agreement, are all under US law and jurisdiction. While generally friendly today, we cannot discount aggressive legislative and regulatory courses of action as digital financial privacy becomes an even more contentious issue.

Diversification of jurisdictional risk does not solve all problems, and there are many positives about being based in the US, but centralization under a single government creates an existential threat based on the current governance model.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité


“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass

Where do we go from here and how do we get there?

Well first, that is a question for us, the community. We should not rely on or expect a path devised by either of the two trademark stewards. If we the community stand up and stand firm, I believe ECC and the Zcash Foundation are good actors and will abide by our wishes.

I wish I had the perfect answer for perfect governance. But, there is no perfect answer. However, there are paths to explore that may lead to a stronger Zcash. Some may be good, some flawed. But I believe it’s reasonable to assume the current structure is brittle at best, and fundamentally flawed at worst.

Of course, one option is to keep it all as it is, to accept the status quo as the best option available. But even if you sit in that camp, let’s at least open the overton window of possibilities.

The following are a few ideas to consider. All of these are a topic in-and-of-themselves and this post is already too long, so I’ll summarize.

  1. Destroy the ring, er, I mean dissolve the Zcash trademark and nullify the ECC / ZF trademark agreement. The Zcash Foundation and ECC would give up their power over Zcash governance and the unworkable responsibility for determining “Clear Consensus.”

Independent of chain governance, there are other examples where the existence of the trademark, international maintenance, and enforcement actions, however well intended, has generated significant legal cost to the community and resulted in unnecessary friction and confusion, such as the case with the Mighty Jaxx campaign.

Zcash is ready to stand on its own, without a US based organization controlling the name, logo and ticker symbol / coin name. Bitcoin doesn’t have a trademark. Let community consensus naturally define what Zcash is. It will be fine and we will be better off.

  1. Require the Major Grants Organization (if reinstated) move to legal independence in a non-US jurisdiction such as Switzerland or Malta. It will cost money and time, but it’s necessary for reducing the current concentration of power and jurisdictional risk. I believe there is strong support for jurisdictional diversification of dev fund recipients.

  2. Ahead of any new dev fund, should there be one, we should explore changing the governance structure to reduce the concentration of power, the risk of capture, and jurisdictional risk. This might involve something like a “Zenate” with 5 to 7 globally distributed community members (could be orgs, not just people) that have the authority to manage and reroute funds (if needed), hold fund recipients account for commitments, and assess community sentiment. We might require that they work with the community to create a “constitution” or set of guiding principles for assessing sentiment, funding and governance decision making.

  3. Consider a change in the funding strategy to accommodate different types of contributions including infrastructure and security (ongoing), speculative investments and community support. Funding structures are intertwined with governance, but I’ll come back to this in conversations or another post.

There is a lot to digest here, and we need others to weigh in to support or challenge my assertions, but as a fellow Zcasher recently remarked to me, “change is in the air.”

Thanks for reading.

[Edited to remove a statement asserting that Monero doesn’t have a trademark. Apparently one was filed in the US]


I support these ideas. I’d propose keeping the trademark but restricting its use to taking down malicious scams, if that’s a legal possibility.

My experience as a community member has been that it’s easy to get other community members to agree with my ideas, but it feels impossible to effect any changes to ECC’s and ZF’s roadmaps. I think radical changes are necessary for Zcash’s survival.


If a strong contingent of the active and vocal community stands firm in its demands, the parties will have to deal with the “Clear Consensus” clause for any new network upgrade. There is also an upcoming forcing function - the current dev fund ends next year.


From the moment I saw the title of your post I was certain the point of anything and everything you would further say would be a veiled push for @aquietinvestor (though I have always suspected it is also Zooko/ECC who’s behind it) “jurisdictional diversification” proposal. It is good to see that the powers-that-be in ECC remain as predictable as usual with their manipulative ways. It really just makes it easier to spot the potential ways through which the Zcash community might get used and abused :slight_smile:

Monero most definitely has a trademark, it was registered in secret by the “Monero Distribution Corporation”, whose sole director is Riccardo Spagni. It seems that it is quite trendy for the founders and core members of the two most highly visible privacy-coins to abuse their respective communities doesn’t it? (obviously fluffy also had one of his cronies publicly argue why it was good for the community that such an initiative was taken).

Pattern detection is fun!

Weak sauce. Argue the merit of the argument. Ditch the attacks on my personal integrity.

Thanks for doubling checking. I will investigate and correct.


To be perfectly honest, I don’t think @chammy is that far off of the reservation in his hypothesis, as Shielded Labs et al (the decentralization narrative) seems to have garnered much support from “the powers that be”.

Overall, I think it’s a good thing, but I’m not super sure if it is completely organic either. I don’t think he meant to attack you specifically (although the post directly referenced you since you are the OP here), but I believe it’s in the community’s best interest to be on guard for any revolutionary changes and who benefits downstream. After all, it is very attractive to have a base in Schweiz of all places that may potentially be receiving a portion of the dev fund (if it should continue).


I haven’t publicly opined on Shielded Labs one way or another that I can recall. I have had conversations with Jason about his ideas, and I love that more people and orgs stepping forward, but to date, it hasn’t delivered anything yet and so I’m strictly in the wait-and-see camp. In this post, I argue for a ZCG move as a first step in jurisdictional diversification.

I agree.


Fair enough. It’s refreshing and welcomed to (finally) see this kind of candidness from you.


:wink: [10 char]

  1. The US is a safe and predictable jurisdiction. Seems like a good l choice. I always question a company when they choose certain jurisdictions. I much more trust US than any other country and malta or switzerland have same risks re future changes. Stick with US.

  2. Governance. keep it simple. coin ownership. buy zcash to have a voice in a voting based system. The community can’t vote or be knowlegeable on the technology; but can understand the vision. so it doesn’t seem like votes on many things make sense. Votes on vision and long term direction do. Then, The best measure of how governance, the vision and execution of the vision will be the zcash price. The long term price or value (as opposed to price). It scares me a little when people think of zcash as a public good. Although if in the context as we all deserve private money, as represented by zcash i get it and agree. But if it implies doing things that could in any way undermine the price and value of zcash it’s more of a justification to put one persons personal internest ahead of the zcash community. I think believe some type of structure where the community votes for people who make the decisions. More like a corporate board of directors. The board is picked by the voters and then the board picks the CEO who executes the vision. And vote them in or out based on whatever we think is important: vision, technical skills, price performance or whatever. To make good decisions the community needs transparency and to better understand who is accountable for what. We need some way to gauge performance other than price as well. If that’s even possible?

  3. Dev Fund. seems critical. Focus should be on direct developments on zcash blockchain. It’s mind boggling to me that people even consider spending money to fund a single location cannabis company cash register (at least that’s how it sounded). I don’t ever see zcash as a day to day currency for buying retail goods. Stablecoins are the future on digital money. zcash is more like gold. A store of value that will get converted into a stablecoin to buy things. My vote would be all money to be spent to develop the zcash blockchain, a zcash stablecoin, and faster transaction times.


Thanks for the post Josh! Some thoughts:

  1. I don’t believe that the answer to fixing governance problems is to eliminate what little governance infrastructure we have in place in Zcash. An entire community forking and wrestling over the naming rights isn’t the top priority imo unless there is something I’m missing. Even if it is symbolic or represents a concentration of power, it is ultimately used to prevent scams as I mention in 2.

  2. The trademark agree of who decides what can be called Zcash is wayyy down the list of things that need to be eliminated to start to enhance governance and community participation in Zcash. Right now most of the world and especially the crypto community doesn’t care about Zcash so no one is going to be wrestling over the name if the trademark agreement is dissolved. The #1 reason to have the trademark, and the reason that the Ethereum Foundation, Polygon Foundation, and other crypto orgs gave centralized trademark controls is to prevent outright scams. While I was at the Ethereum Foundation our legal team acted on at least 50 instances of improper use of the phrase Ethereum and our logo to promote scam coins or send people to malicious websites. The way the agreement is set up now seems to be able to work for that.

  3. In my view, the main way to have Zcash start to thrive is to empower the Zcash developers to make the majority of technical decisions and decisions about the future direction of features. This is how every other thriving chain I know has acted. The arborists calls should not have leadership from the ECC or ZFND unless they code or research day to day with the developers as a primary role. Wouldn’t it be weird if your boss was in a call to determine technical features of the code you’re writing, but they aren’t writing the code? I wouldn’t speak against the person who pays me.

I haven’t spoken to devs recently about this, but it seems clear to me that there needs to be less direction from the top and more visionary guidance and operations management to make sure devs feel comfortable and able to do their work. Some of you may be saying “Well if they are uncomfortable why aren’t they posting here? Why aren’t they speaking up?”. It’s because most of the Zcash devs are conflict avoidant, shy, heavily focused on dev work, hate the forums (due to trolls and past incidents), or a combo of those things. There needs to be a proactive outreach to those doing day to day development on Zcash to get their opinion because chances are they won’t even see this thread.


Thanks for weighing in Hudson.

The concern isn’t scams. The concern is that two people, through their orgs, control what gets built and who gets paid to build it, including themselves. I’ve also been living under the tyranny of this agreement since it was signed, and all the politics that come with it. It’s not healthy and not good for Zcash.

If Zcash is to thrive as a freedom-protecting digital currency, it need more voices, from more places, with more community-control, and less consolidated subjective power by two US-based, self-interested orgs.

This at the very core of Zcash and financial freedom. It’s at the very core of decentralization, resilience and the very ethos of crypto. We’re headed into new dev fund discussions. Now is the time to revisit it, even in the community ultimately decides they want to keep it. But as another long-time Zcasher mentioned to me today, “it’s time to take the training wheels off.” What we have done to date hasn’t worked.

As for scams. This is overblown. I filed (or-refiled) and protected the trademark in countries around the world on behalf of ECC for the years before it was donated to the Zcash Foundation. Lawyers made a lot of money. You can only protect the mark where you have filed, and the vast majority of scams (of which there were very few) were in places like China, outside our reach.

And anyway, if that is a big concern, @earthrise raised the idea of killing its use as governance, and only using it against “malicious scams.” Totally doable if the community thinks its worth the expense.

And as for the devs, good conversation to have, but a different topic.


The concern is that two people, through their orgs, control what gets built and who gets paid to build it

Then that is outside of the scope of the trademark. The trademark agreement doesn’t give them that power and destroying the agreement as you propose won’t change anything. I mention scams as the reason for an entity or agreement to control it, but obviously that isn’t applicable yet because Zcash isn’t popular enough to have scammers using the name and logo widely.

And as for the devs, good conversation to have, but a different topic.

You talk about needing more voices, more decentralization, and moving away from the 2 org system. I don’t think that can be achieved without giving the development teams more autonomy from the leadership areas of both orgs who have not succeeded in moving Zcash in any direction without fighting. There is a precedent of the core technical teams (as well as non-core technical contributors) setting direction of a cryptocurrency and then as more value is added to the coin more orgs are built to facilitate governance and different areas of the ecosystem. It is crucial that the decisions for what happens next are not only in the forums and there is some way to collect sentiment in addition to the forums (an inquiry about how best to do this in the Zcash R&D Discord would be a good first step).

Lastly, if you want more orgs, there needs to be more support and less conspiracies and hesitation around people trying to do that. I’m not talking about the recent attempts specifically, there has been a history of this.


Want more voices? Add more use cases via programmability or radically changing Zcash’d codebase.

Want more orgs? Make one or support others making them.

Want more decentralization? Make a plan that minimizes the power of non-technical leadership who don’t code.


Ah, but it does! And it’s how it works in practice. Did you get a chance to read the language in the trademark agreement?

For example, if Zooko decides there isn’t clear community consensus about ZSAs, maybe because he’s talked to ZEC holders who hate the idea, or he doesn’t feel that the community has enough facts about how it benefits ZEC holders, well, he can make the decision that ZSAs don’t get added to Zcash. What if Jack determines the community really cares about programmability and that PoS won’t provide enough benefit, and/or decides to block another network upgrade until we can retro NU5? Those scenarios aren’t out of the question.

What if one org wants something and the other org wants something, and one org threatens veto unless they get their way? Behind-the-scenes stuff happens. As an example, a behind-the-scenes negotiation happened with ZIP 1014, with the decision to keep ZCG management under ZF rather than specify independence.

What I proposed is an easy fix to all this, it just may not be desirable for the holders of the precious ring. Power fights to keep power.

And there are lots of other risks. What if ECC or ZF is forced to shutdown for some reason? All control then goes to a single org - we go backward.

On dev autonomy, sorry to sound like a broken record, and I’m not trying to be rude, I just don’t see the connection to this particular conversation - maybe part of a conversation related to expectation under a dev fund if they are advocating to receive a portion of a new one. I resigned from ECC, but maybe surface the dev empowerment to ZF and ECC in another thread as a separate topic.


Its quite possible the vision and how its implemented needs to be reconsidered. And, I think we both agree on this based on your post. I for one, as stated in prior post, don’t believe zcash is going to win the battle as its exists today as a broad based form of money. I would love to see a way for decentralized development (focused on features and use cases) alongside a centralized development fund (focused on an open decentralized blockchain where people can create their own brands on top of Zcash blockchain).

According to a recent survey:

Around 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a May 2022 LendingClub survey.

You might think that this is an issue only for those who have low incomes. But it can happen to anyone at any income level. In fact, an earlier version of the study also revealed that 48% of those making in excess of $100,000 a year lived paycheck to paycheck.

It is probably a lot worse in other parts of the world! To me this means people can not accept price volality. For most people, even if you want to buy Zcash, you just can’t take the risk. So, if you really believe the Zcash technology is a “public good”, you are talking about a fraction of the public as a target market. Its the right technology in the wrong form factor. I do believe the target market is 100% of the population if its done as a stablecoin. Why? First and foremost people need to trust their labor will be worth $1 at the end of the day. If there is any chance it will be worth 90% tomorrow and I cant pay rent, my phone bill, my car payment, I just cant buy Zcash. I believe empirical evidence supports, people will choose transparent transactions over private transactions if my transparent money will be worth 100 cents on the dollar tomorrow or my private money might be worth 90 cents.

What this means to me is Zcash needs to develop a blockchain capable of more than just Zcash.

I really like Zcash privacy technology and I like the 21M coin cap. With that I believe the big fight when it comes to money is against 3% transaction fees, and endless bank fees. Secondly it is about privacy. We cant take for granted the importance of stable/sound money (on a day to day basis). And if you combine the Zcash technology with a stablecoin (backed by short term treasury bonds), then I think you start to accomplish what I think you are talking about when you say Zcash is “public good”…

I’m just barely scratching the surface of understanding blockchain. But if you want more voices, then that to me means you need to enable more people to build on top of the Zcash block chain and have a fee mechanism that will incentivize them to build. Adding more voices to fight over a 10/15% development fee doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. But enabling and incentivizing developers, if this is done right, minimizes the importance of the centralized development funds which to me should be focused on building the tools other people/developers can use to “have a voice”. A development voice to create on top of the blockchain. Isn’t this what Ethereum or even Apple (in a sense), does?

I think the broad direction as it relates to Zcash needs to ultimately be driven by the coin holders by voting for a board or boards. Those boards define who the decision makers are for their respective areas. But decision makers should have to report back to the boards and have performance expectations. Maybe board members need to be held more accountable. Will the Zcash viewing key work for this type of voting use case? We authorize Zcash to anonomously view/count our holdings.

If the Zcash blockchain is opened (I’m sure its a monumental task and maybe not doable) where people build on top of Zcash at their own expense and where they also get a % of the transaction fees or any other way their idea is designed to support their vision and their development costs), then would not that accomplish the goal of enabling developers to have a voice?


Wow, there’s a lot here to digest.

Just my off the cuff initial impression: I agree with the big picture @joshs shares that governance is too concentrated, and also with the big picture from @Souptacular that our goal should be to onboard more developers. There are many specifics I need to mull over, however.

I also believe in the importance of the timing here: this concentration of governance and development needs to be addressed today, even though it seems to “work well enough” today.

I’m going to take a few days to digest this before deciding if I want to comment on any specifics here or share different thoughts.


If I understand correctly, you are arguing that power is too concentrated and that ECC is abusing that power to manipulate Zcash governance, and a call to set up more independent entities is actually a secret manipulation…

Is that corrrect?

-so what then? How should the Zcash community proceed?

Can you propose something that can help make Zcash better for all current and future potential users?

Otherwise what’s the point of claiming ECC is abusing power without advocating for some outcome?


I will point out that in my interpretation of the shielded labs’ information, with the topic of jurisdiction, that both of the registered members reside within the United states so I don’t know if that really provides any amount of protective advantage from capture, If that be the main concern and if that is still accurate. If so is there any intention on changing that?

And a personal observation/comment on the larger S.L. grant sort of echoed from the other thread: if shield labs was interested in achieving tax-exempt status, which I think is very important, then perhaps applying for a traditional grant from ZCG to establish that org and show effectively that the organization is not involved activities of economic ventures but providing a transparent, charitable service of public goods.

This is not fully accurate. I am a US Citizen and reside in the US, but the other member is a Swedish citizen who has residence in both Sweden and the US, but plans to move back to Sweden permanently this year. More board members will come on over the next few months who are non-US citizens based outside the US.

I don’t quite follow what you’re saying here, but Shielded Labs has funding it received from independent donors to fund its operation. The reason it doesn’t have tax exempt status is because the tax authorities expect the organization to first prove it is meeting the requirements on an ongoing basis before applying. See this post for more information. Shielded Labs has been around for a few months, and from what I understand, obtaining tax exempt status as a Swiss Association can take up to a couple years.

The reasons I haven’t applied for a ZCG grant is (1) I am a ZCG committee member and as such am ineligible to apply for a grant. I plan on serving out the term I was elected for, and (2) ZCG’s funds are pretty tight, so if I stepped down as a committee member and applied for a grant, I wouldn’t be able to obtain meaningful funding.

Nevertheless, Shielded Labs has already started development on the Zcash Sustainability Fund and is working on a couple other initiatives related to user adoption.

The Zcash Foundation started in a very similar way, with two volunteer directors and minimal funding. It took significant time before it received enough donations to start operating and hire its first employee, Josh Cincinnati.

Anyway, I don’t think this thread has anything to do with Shielded Labs. Josh said:

To which Chammy responded:

I’ve made no “jurisdictional diversification proposal.” I started a new org. Furthermore, Shielded Labs has no connection to ZCG (other than I am a member of both) or any intention of taking over ZCG or assuming its responsibilities. Shielded Labs is not set up as a grant-giving organization. They are completely separate entities.


I obviously need to better understand the mindset of people creating Zcash. I have heard many times that they believe this is a “public good”.

In economics, a public good refers to a commodity or service that is made available to all members of society. Typically, these services are administered by governments and paid for collectively through taxation. We are private citizens funding Zcash with the expectation the price will increase in value. So, we do expect to profit from ownership of Zcash.

Moreover, Zcash 21M cap makes it impossible to be considered a public good. It becomes more scarce as people buy it. By definition Zcash the coin is not a public good.

My fear is some people may be using Zcash as a tool to create public goods. Public goods meaning the underlying technology that makes Zcash have value. If people believe the technology is a public good. Then, they may be inclined to give the underlying technology funded by Zcash holders away thereby undermining the benefits of Zcash and the prospects for appreciation. I hope this is wrong. But, it is implied by some of the comments I have read. Can we say Zcash development is trying to create something that will benefit society as represented in the Zcash blockchain and coin as opposed to a public good, which it is (or should not) be? or is the long term vision to create a blockchain anyone can build on where the blockchain itself and public access is the public good ?

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