Zcash Community Grants Meeting Minutes 5/31/22

Below please find the latest @ZcashGrants meeting minutes and Public Dashboard link.


  • Aditya
  • Brian
  • Hudson Jameson
  • Jason
  • Michael
  • Alex Bornstein (ZF resource)
  • Daniel Wolande (ZF resource)
  • Jack Gavigan (ZF resource)
  • Danika Delano acting as notetaker

Key Takeaways:

  • ZCG rejected the IRL Zcash Community Hub in Downtown Austin, TX proposal but noted they are interested in sponsoring a meetup.
  • ZCG rejected the zkApe - Zcash // Sponsored Turkish Newsletter and Marketing Campaign proposal and encouraged the applicant to apply for the Zcash Global Ambassador Program.
  • ZCG rejected the Greek Community Building | CryptoBlocks proposal and agreed the applicant is a better fit for the ambassador program and/or the translation RFI.
  • ZCG briefly discussed ZGo - The Zcash Register and decided to give it more time on the forum before discussing in depth and making a decision.
  • ZCG let ZF know they would like them to forward on all non-spam RFP submissions as they come in for the committee to respond to.
  • ZF explained why the discretionary budget was used for the ambassador stipends and Jason volunteered to write a 6-month retro blog explaining what the discretionary funds were used for.
  • Jack walked through the discretionary budget on the Public Dashboard and Jason told him the committee would let him know if they would like to hedge those funds.
  • ZCG asked ZF to just forward interested ambassadors that email and they will respond to them.
  • ZCG clarified that they plan to keep the current ambassadors until the end of the year and cap the program at 10 ambassadors for the time being.
  • ZCG and Jack discussed the Direct Grant option in ZIP 1014; Jack emphasized that, in his opinion, there should be a high bar for this option but he is in favor if they have a track record and tech abilities. If someone came along and ZCAP, ECC, and ZF wanted to add them to the Dev Fund, they would likely be added within a matter of months and could be funded by a regular ZCG grant in the meantime. Jason emphasized that despite what many people think, the Direct Grant Option is currently not an option, and this should be brought to the community’s attention to discuss a possible ZIP amendment so that it is an option for future grant recipients.


Open Grant Proposals

  • IRL Zcash Community Hub in Downtown Austin, TX
    • Jason summarized that the applicant asked for $80,640 to open a Zcash hub in Austin; the committee discussed it and the majority voted to reject; ZCG is open to sponsoring a meetup for $1k, but they are not comfortable funding the proposal as it currently stands. Hudson added that he is in agreement, something smaller would be okay. Jason noted that they want to welcome the applicants’ former students to the forum and emphasize that ZCG is happy to help if they have any questions about the Zcash ecosystem. Brian said he wants to encourage them to apply to have an event sponsored.
    • Dan to respond to the applicant on the forum.
  • zkApe - Zcash // Sponsored Turkish Newsletter and Marketing Campaign
    • Jason explained that the applicant is requesting $20K to focus on Zcash for 6 months in a Turkish newsletter about Zero knowledge proofs; they don’t seem interested in being a global ambassador; ZCG would like to have an ambassador from Turkey and voted to reject the proposal and encourage the applicant to join the Zcash Global Ambassador Program.
  • Greek Community Building | CryptoBlocks
    • Jason explained that the applicant was requesting $8,200 to build out the Zcash community in Greece by translating official Zcash blog posts, creating user oriented tutorials, and maintaining a Twitter account and Discord server; ZCG agreed that it was a better fit for the ambassador program and or the translation RFI. The grant has only been open for 5 day; they likely wouldn’t change the decision based on community feedback but they will wait a few days before responding.
    • Dan asked if he should refer the Turkish applicant to the translation RFI as well. Michael responded that it is more of a content creation for the Turkish proposal.
  • ZGo - The Zcash Register
    • Jason explained that the applicant, pitmutt, is a regular on the forum and is requesting $114,200; they posted a day ago and the committee hasn’t discussed it yet; they will all review it and discuss it in the ZCG brainstorm session.
    • Aditya commented that ZGo looks solid and he likes seeing the detail in the technical overview provided by the applicant.
    • Hudson said he was also impressed by technical details and added that he wishes the same amount of effort was given to how and with whom they would integrate i.e. a go to market strategy to explain who is going to use it. Aditya stated that it’s good to see initiatives to build missing software in the Zcash payment solutions category. Hudson agreed that taking initiative is the first step and the lack of a market strategy is not a dealbreaker.
    • Jason said the committee will discuss if they want to go back to the applicant with additional questions and concerns.

Brainstorm Meeting Follow Ups

  • RFP response process

    • Alex brought up that ZCG hadn’t provided expectations for ZF passing on RFP responses; he asked if they are treating them like grant submission where Dan does the first pass and then sends them in an email. Jason said if anything is obviously spam, ZF does not need to send them, but if they have substance then ZCG would like ZF to forward them as they come in; this goes for everything.
    • Aditya added that ZCG wants to be flexible and wants to welcome applicants to do a certain part of an RFP.
    • Alex said it is up to ZCG on how they want to respond; ZF will forward on the one RFP submission ZF has received and will continue to forward as they come in.
  • Discretionary Budget

    • Jason shared that ZCG didn’t expect that the Ambassador stipend would be coming out of the discretionary budget, and asked if this was the case because they are contractors as opposed to grantees; he clarified that it doesn’t matter at this point, it is just a matter of process; they thought it was the same as an ongoing grant.
    • Jack explained that calling an independent contractor a grant recipient is problematic; if someone submitted a grant application and said they will run a meetup and get compensated, it would be one thing, but the Ambassador Program is a different situation. Jason asked how it is problematic. Jack responded that it’s not a grant. Jason added that he can see it as hiring contractors to raise awareness of Zcash and the ZCG program so it is reasonable to be taken from the discretionary budget.
    • Aditya asked if the difference was that ZCG is defining the terms for the Ambassadors, whereas they are not for a general grants. Jason pointed out the ZCG defines the terms for RFPs.
    • Jason brought up that ambassadors signed the Independent Contractor (IC) agreement. Alex replied that all grantees agree to grant terms and conditions (T&C) and ambassadors sign IC agreements; what they both agree to is pretty close, including termination; if you have a grantee or IC that does something against the T&C or IC, ZF (at ZCG’s request) can terminate the relationship.
    • Jason shared that he thinks of it in terms of transparency; they should be accountable to the community; after June 30th, he volunteered to write a 6-month retrospective on what the funds were used for and why so there’s no question about it. All members agreed that it was a good idea.
    • Alex pointed out that if ZF were to move the money, it would have to be done before the end of the calendar year, which is the end of ZF’s fiscal year, for the audit. Jason replied that if ZF has any concerns, ZCG will err on the side of caution.
    • Hudson brought up that it would be optimal legally if a third party organisation applied for a grant to run the ambassador program; if it gets big, it might be required for multiple reasons.
    • ZCG and ZF reviewed the discretionary budget. Brian explained that as money is spent, the USD is deducted from the budget. Jack said Brian is correct, and reviewed the dashboard with the committee showing that the ZEC budget is 3156.62 ZEC, and the cap is $1 million USD; there is $982,451 USD remaining and 3008.76 ZEC remaining. Jason asked if they can hedge if they needed to. Jack replied yes, if ZCG wants to, he’d be happy to hedge. Jason said ZCG will talk it over as a committee and let him know.
    • Aditya asked if it is held in USD or ZEC. Jack replied that it is stored in ZEC and ZF doesn’t currently partition it out.
  • Ambassador Program

    • Alex shared that ZF is seeing a lot of interest in the ambassador program and that many of the candidates look interesting; he asked what the committee’s preferred process was to review potential ambassadors. Jason said that in their most recent post, they say candidates can post their interest on the forum thread or email grants@zfnd.org; ZF can just forward emails if they are not spam to ZCG. Alex said that was great; ZF will filter out the junk and forward to the committee without responding.
    • Alex asked if ZCG was planning an expansion of the ambassador program anytime soon. Aditya said that they plan on keeping current ambassadors through the end of year and agreed to cap it at 10. Jason added they are not in a rush to add them and a lot depends on the price of ZEC and how good a fit the candidates are for the program. Alex congratulated the committee for creating an impactful and scalable ambassador program!
  • ZIP 1014: Direct Grant Option

    • Jason explained that there was discussion on the forum regarding what Tromer said about the direct grant option not being possible: Regarding the Direct Grant option, Tromer stated: “unfortunately, this isn’t possible anymore under ZIP 1014. The language there was indeed: ‘the following mechanism MAY be used in perpetuity for some or all grantees, if agreed upon by both ECC and ZF before Network Upgrade 4 (Canopy) activation.’ To my knowledge, no such agreement was published prior to NU4 activation. So offering a Direct Grant option would require a ZIP amendment and, in my opinion, a ZCAP ratification …”. Jason asked if this is indeed an issue and how to prioritize an amendment so it’s an option for future applicants.
    • Jack replied that he doesn’t think we should create the expectation that an unproven entity can come along and ask for, say, 3% of the Dev Fund. However, If an organization like Qedit hits it out of the ballpark with ZSAs, and can make a good case for getting a slice of the Dev Fund, it’s definitely something to consider. Matt Luongo of Thesis pitched for a slice a while back but the community didn’t seem enthusiastic about it. Having reviewed what Tromer wrote, it appears that he’s right, according to ZIP 1014, it would have needed to be done before NU4 activation. Jason agreed that it is for long-standing, well-respected grant recipients with a history of delivering such as Qedit, 37 Laines, and Nighthawk; the problem is if one of these entities were interested, they don’t currently have the ability to do it so we should notify the community so that we can consider amending ZIP 1014 so it’s an option for the future.
    • Jack explained that he wouldn’t think they would need to rush anything if a good candidate for this option came along; if it were Qedit, they would know it needs a fair lead time and they could still be funded with a regular grant. Jason replied that having it as an option makes it possible for Qedit, Nighthawk, and 37 Laines to know it’s available and to pursue in the future; he believes that it’s important for decentralization. Aditya commented that they need to plan ahead for NU6. Jason stated that making the Direct Grant Option an option should be the community’s decision and not ZF or ZCG’s, similar to when the community ratified ZIP 1014, and proposing a ZIP amendment will get it back on table.
    • Hudson voiced that, in a happy future, if someone like Qedit wants continuous funding, they are not reliant on other entities and they feel more secure; it’s also a prestige thing; it shows that the community has a high amount of trust in them; it’s also good optics for decentralization and the optics allow them to be able to have their own opinion and they don’t have to hold their tongue because of who they are getting paid by; ZCG should write up something so there is a path when they decide it should happen; ZCG will decide how well the grant recipient did on their grant(s).
    • Jack suggested posting to the forum. Ultimately, the bar should be quite high and there is a clear path; he could imagine Qedit after ZSAs saying they are interested in part of Dev Fund; adding a direct grant recipient would be a legitimate reason for a network upgrade (it would be small and simple) and there is always the option that they keep getting grants in the interim. Jack pointed out that, currently, grants are denominated in USD, whereas if you are party to the Dev Fund, you are paid in ZEC so you deal with price volatility; that’s a choice the potential Dev Fund recipient has to make; if they are interested, there’s no reason they shouldn’t voice that desire then we see what reaction is. Jason summarized that the takeaway is to post the issue to the forum in the next week or two and then take it from there; he doesn’t want nothing to be done about it.
    • Jack added that he doesn’t think the Zcash community would decide there’s an organization today that would be a strong candidate for getting a slice of the Dev Fund, and it’s not an issue of time running out; he is interested in seeing more well-established, stable teams coming to Zcash.
    • Jason asked Aditya if Nighthawk would ever consider it. Aditya said that they have thought about it; if NU6 is 6 months away, and it takes 3 months before that to get the direct payout code added to Zcash core in addition to a ZCAP vote, it is good to plan ahead to provide a pathway for teams interested in pursuing the direct grant option.
    • Jack clarified that he believes the 6 month schedule for network upgrades has been abandoned so he wouldn’t assume it’s a 6 month cadence going forward. If an org turned up tomorrow and made a strong case, we could hold a ZCAP vote and if they were in favor, and both ZF and ECC agreed, then he believes they could quickly (within months) do a network upgrade to add an org to the Dev Fund. In the meantime, they could receive a bridging grant.
    • Jason asked if it’s easy to do an upgrade for this; is it just adding an additional account to consensus rules? Would it be controversial? Jack replied that if the community is in favor and it’s not close to another network upgrade, then he doesn’t see a problem; if it was close to an already-planned upgrade then would do it then.
    • Aditya commented that it could take a few months or quarter to acquire enough ZEC to setup initial operations & hire new members; it’s good to know that ZF is supportive to make it happen. Jack replied that it’s likely that a new Dev Fund recipient would already be receiving a ZCG grant, and would have already hired; after thinking about it more he then posed the hypothetical: if Daira and Deirdre wanted to leave ECC and ZF to do their own thing and they set up a new entity (they are obviously proven in experience), then they would be faced with the startup problem but they could just apply for a bridging grant until the change to the Dev Fund. Jason added that the ZCG committee decides who receives grants so they would be the ones approving a bridging grant. Jack agreed 100% and also said what Aditya said is correct, that it would be a good idea for them to receive a bridging grant.
    • Jason specifically asked for this conversation to be included in the minutes because there’s a disconnect between how the Direct Grant Option is discussed on the forum and what is actually true; people think it’s an option, but it’s not. Jack replied that he believes that the inclusion of that language in ZIP 1014 means that the community has implicitly accepted that there may be new parties to the Dev Fund, and if an org showed up that was qualified, with track record and tech abilities, he would be in favor of them being a permanent fixture in Zcash ecosystem; he has always thought of it as being an option but there is quite a high bar.
    • Hudson agreed that he likes that the conversation is happening and it’s hard to predict the future. Jack shared that he has a tendency to not plan too much detail for hypothetical future decisions; one can spend a lot of time planning for something that you think will happen but then it doesn’t happen or something slightly different happens, and you risk being mentally anchored to your original plan, which can constrain you; it’s often better to wait and see what happens and how things evolve, and then to react and adapt to it. That said, there is probably a benefit to making it clearer that ZF would support a qualified applicant receiving a direct grant from the Dev Fund. Jason agreed that some ambiguity is always good, especially in a nascent industry where so much of the future is unknown. Hudson summarized: plan for ambiguity and pivot if you need to. Jack added that he thinks of it as a huge funnel; you don’t want to pick a specific path too soon, and block off other options.
  • Other Business

    • Aditya gave ZF a heads up that the RFI for growing exchange adoption of UAs & Shielded Addresses will go out this week to gain more info from the community before putting together a RFP.
    • Hudson sincerely thanked everyone that said kind words and gave support after his father-in-law’s passing.