Dear Zcash community,
I am Vish and would like to be considered for a seat on the MGRC. I trained as an economist and philosopher, and during the course of the last 20 years, I have worn multiple professional hats across different verticals, functions and geographies. I started my career with a large global investment bank in London. Subsequently, I was a founding member of a leading India-based global VC fund, the Chief Strategist at a stem cell R&D company, co-founded and scaled several tech start-ups and have advised several others. I have, at different times, lived or worked in Germany, the UK, France, Singapore and India (where I am now based). I am currently part of the leadership team (Chief Business Officer) at a VC-funded tech-enabled logistics aggregator. In my personal capacity, I am a board member at India’s leading social impact implementation consulting company, which works closely with leading global foundations and philanthropic organisations in India and overseas. I speak several languages and consider myself a global citizen with a deep understanding of my local market.
I discovered Bitcoin in 2012 and have been deeply engaged ever since. I have been a Zcash enthusiast virtually since launch, as it was obvious to me fairly early on that neither Bitcoin nor Ethereum was going to address the need for a provably private, encrypted economic network. I believe that economic freedom and financial privacy go hand-in-hand. As an economist, I am fascinated by our ability to construct decentralised, scalable economic systems, leveraging cryptography and behavioural economic incentives. I was introduced to Zooko by a common friend, and subsequently organised a 1-week roadshow for Zooko in India in early 2018. During his time in India, Zooko met a wide cross-section of key constituencies and decision-makers in 3 cities. These included developers, regulators, politicians, privacy enthusiasts, blockchain entrepreneurs, tech journalists and investors. The Indian offices of global VC firms, Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital, hosted fireside chats where Zooko made the case for privacy-preserving technology and Zcash to a curated audience of local influencers. This represented perhaps the first successful attempt to win Indian mindshare for a crypto-currency other than BTC and ETH. I was a participant in ZCon0, and have periodically provided inputs to Zooko and other ECC members on matters relating to Zcash outreach in Asia. In addition, I have held high-level education sessions on Bitcoin & Blockchain for networks as diverse as the CFA India Society members and the Women in Investing Network.
Rather than be an impediment, Zcash’s deep roots in cypherpunk culture have allowed it to assemble one of the most talented technical teams and mission-driven communities in crypto. This is a tremendous advantage, provided it can now streamline governance to be coordinated, resilient and purposeful. I believe that the creation of the MGRC is a historical opportunity for Zcash to thoughtfully shape the long-term evolution of a robust, holistic and decentralised global ecosystem for privacy-preserving technology in everyday life. The MGRC must balance multiple stakeholder interests while staying true to its core founding tenet of facilitating economic freedom through financial privacy for everyone. In my mind, this is only possible if the MGRC is constituted as a diverse body representing a wide range of interests, cultural and individual belief systems, and strategic imperatives. If elected, the mental model I will deploy when analysing projects is that, for Zcash to achieve its stated mission of bringing economic freedom to the world, we need as many people as possible experiencing Zcash in its most fully-featured avatar. In my mind, the key upstream success variable therefore is to enable genuinely wide global adoption (across social faultlines and economic classes) of shielded transactions in everyday economic activity. Accordingly, I would be interested in evaluating projects that make shielding tech better, more robust and/or ubiquitous, or indeed easier for mobile wallets supporting shielded addresses to integrate with local payment systems across the world especially in emerging countries. This is a wide canvas, but as an initial area of possible focus, there is clearly work to be done in creating the SDK tooling and API layer that would make z-addresses truly seamless to support for commercial enterprises, even in supportive jurisdictions. Another area of potential focus will be partnerships that align incentives and enable deeper adoption cutting across socio-economic strata. I also believe we need to make strategic investments in PR, global regulatory engagement, and the education of uninitiated non-crypto folks about privacy and Zcash. I will be committed to supporting cost-efficient ways of evangelising Zcash globally. I believe interoperability, especially with allied blockchains like Ethereum, is an important topic, but would be hesitant to fund projects that don’t have a clear roadmap towards adoption at scale. Lastly, I don’t believe that we can abstract away Zcash’s welfare from that of privacy preserving tech in general. Given the relatively dismal state of knowledge about privacy preservation as an inalienable human right both amongst global policy-makers and the wider public, I believe that if we want the former, we have to be willing to fight for the latter.
I have helped build a multi-geography VC fund from first principles. Along the way, I have learned how to navigate ambiguity and complexity while always moving forward. Building an institution in India is an education in doing things simply, frugally and creatively. World-class needs to be neither expensive nor ostentatious. I have been an integral part of investment committees which have successfully allocated ~$150mn in capital to investments in tech start-ups in the US and India. My experience as a Board member at a social impact company has rounded out my education as a capital allocator by giving me insight into how to support long-term projects with high social RoI, and whose success cannot be measured in financial terms alone. My experience as both a VC and in the social impact space may be valuable to the MGRC as it seeks to balance diverse stakeholder interests across the short-term and the long-term while allocating scarce capital. I believe being based and rooted in India gives me the necessary distance and perspective to hold the community honest on our end goal of bringing economic freedom through privacy to the whole world, not just to the West. I am experienced at building and leveraging diverse networks to create large outcomes. I would posit that my global background and experience will enable me to better mediate the different needs of the diverse stakeholder audiences that comprise our community. At a personal level, BTC and ETH represent 75% of my overall holding. My position in ZEC represents ~15% of my crypto portfolio. I am a long-term investor and do not trade. I have neither received any compensation from the ECC/ZF nor do I have affiliations with any other ecosystem groups.
I live in a part of the world that has a somewhat dysfunctional passive-aggressive relationship with both privacy and crypto-currencies. While the Indian Supreme Court upheld the legality of crypto-currencies earlier this year, I expect there to be continued headwinds. In India, the rule of law exists on paper, but its enforcement can be both uneven and self-serving. I would therefore like to remain pseudonymous. The key folks at ECC know my identity. I would also be happy to reveal it to anyone within the ZF or the community advisory committee. Staying below the radar allows me to commit without fear which would clearly benefit the MGRC in the event that I am elected.
I hope I can count on your support!