Vish for MGRC

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!

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Hi @Vish Welcome to the forums! :slightly_smiling_face:

I have added a link to your thread to the top post of the MGRC Megathread, Good Luck!

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Wow! What a strong candidate letter. I can confirm that Vish organised this trip to promote Zcash in India:

It was indeed a well-organised tour — I met some influential policy advisors and decision-makers in government and industry, some dedicated cypherpunk activists, and room-full after room-full of hungry software developers and entrepreneurs. It seemed like a propitious introduction to what is potentially the most important market in the coming decade — India.

Unfortunately, about two weeks later the central bank of India banned all cryptocurrencies entirely, in by far the most discouraging anti-cybercoin policy of any major democracy. They literally arrested one of the officers of India’s first crypto exchange — Unocoin — and dragged him off to jail when he tried to deploy crypto ATMs to get around the central bank ban! (He got out of jail. What he had done was legal.)

Fortunately, two years later, the Supreme Court of India has started thawing that policy and cryptocurrency is starting to sprout up once again in India.

Two of the most important crypto exchanges in India already list ZEC: the veteran Unocoin (who are long-standing Zcash allies), and the young Binance-owned startup WazirX.

I can also confirm what Vish says here that he has advised us occasionally about Zcash strategy over the years. He’s probably too humble to say so, but I feel like his broad perspective, strategic thinking, and eloquence has been encouraging and helpful to me.

It’s pretty awesome what a strong and diverse stable of candidates we have for MGRC. We have way more than 5 top-tier candidates. What a great problem to have.

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You have my support Mister :clap: :clap: :clap:

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Hi @Vish ! Welcome to the forums!

I found your application letter riveting! One of the few things I found a bit concerning was the relative “lightness” of Zcash in your portfolio. I presume you’d be open to accepting Zcash on a vesting schedule if you’re elected to the MGRC.

A few questions:

Is https://www.zecwallet.co/ widely used in your communities? To me it feels like a good solution to a lot of adoption problems, but I don’t have much insight into how widely known/used it is?

How do you feel about 1 year terms, on the MGRC?

A core technology Zcash depends on is The Rust Programming Language. Rust is currently in a period of flux, having lost it’s original funding mechanism (Mozilla). It has declared an intention to set up an independent foundation.

Do you have any ideas about how the MGRC might interact with the nascent Rust Foundation?

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Hi Zancas,

thanks for sharing your observations. My brief responses are:

I would disagree that 15% is light skin in the game. It is a meaningful amount of money for me and constitutes a LT position i.e one that I intend to largely hold for perhaps the better part of this decade. If one removes BTC and ETH from consideration, ZEC represents ~60% of my portfolio. That’s not light. I would be happy to take any compensation in ZEC equivalents. I would like to hear more views about the choice of 1 year terms, but am in principle comfortable with defined term limits.

Zecwallets is largely unknown here. Most holders store on exchanges or use hardware wallets. Shielding is hardly ever used. There is much work to do here.

Re: how one should interact with the Rust Foundation, I am still evolving my views and don’t have a strongly held perspective yet.

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I wanted to clarify that I am currently available for a part-time function. My current schedule will permit me to devote ~10 to 15 hours a week to this role with some flexibility to handle occasional spikes. I may be able to make a full-time commitment to the MGRC in the future based on the way the work evolves, but I am unable to make that commitment right now.

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Hello @Vish For my vote, please answer my questions frankly:

  1. Are you pro BTC? If yes, Why? If not, Why?
  2. What is the largest account size you’ve handled in USD? How many end users did it impact?
  3. MGRC will control 8640 ZEC per month or 25920 per quarter, how will this be roughly spent? (provide napkin calculation).
  4. MGRC announcement attracts 100s of applicants from all over the world with all random ideas, all matching your goals, how would you evaluate them?
  5. KPIs aren’t entirely possible on a privacy preserving payments protocol project’s level, it’s all z2z, how will you evaluate funded team’s impact?
  6. DeFi fever made ETH run 2x compared to every cryptocurrency this year, thoughts?
  7. What locals, regions, languages, ethnicities, educational backgrounds of people have you worked with? What are your preferences of assembling teams that deliver?
  8. We live in a remote world now, how do you evaluate applicants for grants?
  9. Projects in Zcash are going to go through a huge change beyond the handful, driven teams funded via Zcash Foundation, thoughts?
  10. Zcash is a protocol at its core, ZEC price is volatile. How will you handle a single digit ZEC? ($9 x 8640/month = $77,760) How will you handle a 5 digit ZEC? ($21,000 x 8640/month = $181.44MM) Thoughts…
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My responses to the “big open questions” from community discussions are as follows.

I have also shared my views on some of these points in the Candidates Q&A recently - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CVDdKot54A&t=356s.

  1. ZIP Ambiguity: The ZIP-1014 language has some ambiguities. Where would you stand on how to interpret and implement operational activities when there is no explicit language to guide you? How should the MGRC consider community will/preference

I believe that the MGRC should approach any operational implementation decision from a perspective of practical common sense, discipline and a true spirit of agency for realising the community’s aspirations. In practice, this means that unless something is expressly prohibited by ZIP-1014, we should consider it permissible if it allows us to advance our stated objectives. For instance, the ZIP does not provide much guidance on how the MGRC will organise itself to achieve a consensus. The initial set of members will have the important responsibility for creating the necessary structures, mechanisms and modalities from first principles.

The community has a key role to play here in ensuring that any operational implementations are consistent with its ethos and long term goals. While transparency in how decisions are reached is important, it is equally important to build channels for the community to express its opinion on critical topics in real-time in a way that the MGRC will take into consideration. I like Burniske’s idea of a decentralised voting system for the community to articulate its view on difficult issues.

Some ZIP ambiguities will be easily bridged whereas others may be trickier to handle. We need to define an elegant, on-going way of surfacing, recording and debating out issues that turn out to be problematically unaddressed in ZIP-1014 so that we can incorporate community input and build true consensus around getting them addressed in future ZIPs.

  1. MGRC Role: Should MGRC be a “driving actor” or provide sourcing, oversight and review?. Should MGRC be more of a bureaucracy (with hierarchy, continuity, defined rules, and expertise) or can it be an adhocracy (decentralized and flexible)?

In my mind, while the long term role of the MGRC should be to strive to be a driving force for the community’s aspirations for ZCash, in the short-term we will need to have more modest, practicable foundational goals for the MGRC that are a pre-requisite for a greater, wider-ranging role in the future. I look at Year 1 of the MGRC as a pivotal period where we need to create stable and scalable mechanisms to source great inflow of worthy projects and clear rules around how we will evaluate them and decide where to allocate valuable, scarce capital.

While I am philosophically biased towards the MGRC being an adhocracy, I believe we will need to initially pragmatically marry some mix of rules-based processes and decentralisation. I believe the MGRC should be non-hierarchical i.e composed of 5 folks who are all equally empowered and serve at the pleasure of the community. In the long-run, I am open to experimentation and thoughtful iteration to navigate towards more decentralised ways of organising the MGRC’s affairs including but not limited to DAO-ifying it.

  1. Teamwork: Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage? How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?

I have been on several start-up advisory boards in my capacity as a VC where I didn’t know the other co-investors. It turned out that they sometimes had fundamentally different beliefs about what they were supposed to be optimising for - the welfare of their funds or the Company. This occasionally led to complicated situations when these two interests seemed to conflict. I found that staying calm and returning to first principles is a useful exercise for realigning common ground when it is temporarily elusive. Being thoughtful, well-prepared and respectful is also critical when one is trying to work out tractable compromises in high-stakes environments.

  1. Processes: If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC?

Initial focus should be on agreeing on the guiding principle(s), objectives and goals that we are jointly trying to optimise for the community through the MGRC. There are a bunch of things that we need to figure out upfront and lay down. These include codifying the administrative scope of work for the MGRC including individual and collective work plans, determining if and how the MGRC will interact with any 3rd parties, setting out both a 30-day and 100-day plan for the MGRC, as well as agreeing on the optimal protocol of communication for each channel - reviewing applications vs communicating with ECC/ZF vs interacting with any 3rd parties. These broad frameworks will help us as we scale the MGRC into a genuinely pro-active and productive body that reflects the voice of the community and is functional at the same time.

  1. Is it a conflict of interest for a member of another cryptocurrency project to be on the MGRC?

I don’t believe that we should prima facie close the door on anyone who is qualified and motivated to add value provided conflicts are disclosed in advance and factored for AND where (very importantly) there is a clear value match with the ethos of the ZCash community. That being said, every situation is unique and nuanced, and we should analyse the quality of such an applicant’s candidacy holistically i.e not just from the perspective of his or her “conflict”, but also through the lens of what kind of unique value that exposure to another (high quality) cryptocurrency ecosystem enables the candidate to contribute to ZCash.

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Good Luck Vish.

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thanks for the kind words, @PhusionPhil

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Missed this @aiyadt. My responses are given below.

Are you pro BTC? If yes, Why? If not, Why?

Unequivocally yes. I have owned BTC since 2012/13 and have spent many man hours introducing BTC to family and friends. I am long BTC because I consider it the best form of hard money/SoV ever created. While I am not a believer in extreme hyperbitcoinisation at least in the short to medium term, I think BTC will serve as a reliable hedge against loss of purchasing power when the fiat empire eventually starts eating itself.

What is the largest account size you’ve handled in USD? How many end users did it impact?

The question is a little unclear. I have had primary coverage responsibility for several financial institutions with more than $100Bn AuM while I was in Banking, and served on the IC of a VC fund with $150mn in investable assets. I currently serve as the CBO of a start-up that has raised more than $10mn in VC funding. The 1st and 2nd order social and financial returns generated by these activities have likely benefited 1000’s of people.

MGRC will control 8640 ZEC per month or 25920 per quarter, how will this be roughly spent?

In an ideal world, we have the full spectrum of deployment options available to us: grant-making, rewards/prizes and the ability to write equity cheques. This would allow us to support public infra for which a profit case cannot be made, incentivise productive community members to keep contributing, and to underwrite net present value positive for profit projects where grants do not do a good job of aligning interests. I think it is premature to ascribe % allocations to each bucket at this juncture.

MGRC announcement attracts 100s of applicants from all over the world with all random ideas, all matching your goals, how would you evaluate them?

My primary filter as an early stage VC was quality of the founding team: IQ, EQ, degree of preparedness, thoughtfulness and receptiveness to outside input, and very importantly integrity. I believe that this filter with slight tweaks will serve me well on the MGRC.

KPIs aren’t entirely possible on a privacy preserving payments protocol project’s level, it’s all z2z, how will you evaluate funded team’s impact?

We will have to find other relevant KPI’s that are visible and can be tracked. It may need a deeper investigation into 1st and 2nd order effects to identify the right performance metrics for each team’s mission. In my experience, it is always possible to find relevant parameters that are measurable.

DeFi fever made ETH run 2x compared to every cryptocurrency this year, thoughts?

Mixed feelings. I love ETH and have been long it for some time, but the current pace of DeFi is going to break things across the board. I fear that some newer participants are getting carried away and are going to get burnt. That said, the pace of innovation is phenomenal and ground-breaking, and I am looking forward to digging deeper into how ZCash can plug into and embrace the very best features of DeFi while retaining its core DNA as an uncompromising privacy protocol.

What locals, regions, languages, ethnicities, educational backgrounds of people have you worked with? What are your preferences of assembling teams that deliver?

I speak 4 languages at a native level of proficiency and have lived for meaningful periods of time in 5 countries. I have always been part of small, diverse teams.Diversity for me more than diversity of race, religion or gender means genuine diversity of thought.

We live in a remote world now, how do you evaluate applicants for grants?

I have been working from my home office since March. I have a robust, flexible playbook in place for collaborating remotely with folks and being productive.

Projects in Zcash are going to go through a huge change beyond the handful, driven teams funded via Zcash Foundation, thoughts

I do agree that the formation of the MGRC will constitute an exponential learning curve in terms of figuring out how to grow and support the ZCash ecosystem at a scale unprecedented. That’s the challenge of every high growth organisation.

Zcash is a protocol at its core, ZEC price is volatile. How will you handle a single digit ZEC? ($9 x 8640/month = $77,760) How will you handle a 5 digit ZEC? ($21,000 x 8640/month = $181.44MM) Thoughts…

We need to figure out ways to diversify our exposure to manage price volatility. One way to hedge ZEC price risk is to write equity cheques to technical projects that benefit the ZCash ecosystem but represent distinct crypto ecosystems. Another is to manage Treasury actively by managing the “corpus” counter-cyclically i.e sell ZEC for USD as and when there has been a recent run-up in price. It is worth debating whether this is something the MGRC should be doing. In any case, the way that Treasury is currently constituted to be managed would need to be changed in a way that has community buy-in.

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