Over the past few days, several people have raised questions about the Zcash Foundation’s strategy or intimated that they don’t have a clear understanding of what our strategic objectives are, so I’m sharing this here to both inform, and invite feedback.
The Foundation’s mission is to be a public charity dedicated to building Internet payment and privacy infrastructure for the public good, primarily serving the users of the Zcash protocol and blockchain.
For Zcash, we have three strategic objectives:
- Support the Zcash community
- Foster the growth of the Zcash ecosystem
- Make Zcash smarter
We support Shawn in making these forums available as a focal point for the Zcash community to discuss, campaign, debate, ideate, argue, provide feedback, and all the other types of interaction that you see happening here every day. We also run Zcon, to provide an opportunity for community members to get together in person. Obviously, we haven’t been able to do that for the past couple of years but we’re back on this year, so sign up if you’re interested in participating!
We ensure that the Zcash community has a voice in Zcash governance, both directly, through ZCAP, and indirectly, by listening to the community’s feedback, and inviting ZCAP’s advice on Zcash Foundation board appointments.
We also protect new and existing Zcash users by monitoring for trademark misuse, and taking down scams and fraudsters.
At present, one of the key ways that we foster the growth of the Zcash ecosystem is by doing “an excellent job supporting ZCG” (to quote @aquietinvestor).
In the longer term, Zebra will play an increasingly important role in supporting the growth of the Zcash ecosystem by providing a modern, modular Zcash node implementation, built using a memory-safe language (Rust) for others to build new tools, products and services upon, and to integrate into their own software in order to support Zcash.
Note that this isn’t intended to be a criticism of zcashd or the ECC engineers - they did a great job, and they’re continuing to do a great job of implementing new features (primarily in Rust). I’m sure that, given enough time and resources, the ECC engineers would love to rewrite zcashd from scratch (probably also in Rust). But that would be a huge effort, and distract them from the excellent work they’ve been doing, improving the Zcash protocol.
So the Zcash Foundation is doing that reimplementation instead.
As well as Zebra, we’re also working on FROST, which fills an important gap in Zcash functionality - providing the equivalent of multisig for shielded Zcash (both Sapling and Orchard), using threshold signatures. It will remove a key obstacle to greater support of shielded Zcash by exchanges and custodians (thus bolstering the Zcash ecosystem). It also contributes to the Foundation’s broader mission of building Internet payment and privacy infrastructure for the public good.
Finally, we believe that, in order to achieve mass adoption, Zcash needs to become “smart” (by which I mean “programmable”), so that it can evolve to become both a digital currency and a platform for commerce.
ZSAs are a great first step in that direction. We’re delighted that QEDIT are leading that effort, and we’re prepared to lend whatever support we can to ensure that their work gets deployed on mainnet.
In the longer term, however, we want to see Zcash become fully programmable. We aim to get Zebra to feature parity with zcashd (or, at least, as close as makes sense - we may never implement Equihash mining functionality, for example) and then look to implement programmability on top of it. We don’t know what that will look like yet - maybe we start off with something simple like Pay to Verification Key or look to implement a more complex, stateful solution like Zexe. We might even consider layering eWASM on top of Zcash as a first step, before adding more privacy-preserving features. It’s too early to make firm plans or lay out a roadmap at this point - we’ve got a lot of work to do first.
I’m sure someone will be along any moment to ask “What about ZEC?! What about the zodlers?!”
ZEC underpins the economics and the security of the Zcash network, both today and in the programmable future. As I’ve detailed elsewhere, growing the Zcash ecosystem, and improving the utility of ZEC itself, will benefit the entire Zcash community, including the zodlers.