Zcash Community Grants Meeting Minutes 8/22/22

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

Attendance:

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

Key Takeaways:

  • ZCG members stated that Zcon3 was a success and they are invigorated and inspired.
  • ZCG rejected the Accelerating Zcash on FPGA Clusters grant and encouraged the applicant to solicit feedback on an arborist call.
  • ZCG decided to leave open Arti: A project to re-write Tor in Rust for now and follow up with Tor.
  • ZCG unanimously rejected the Qenetex & Zcash (Meta cross-chain DeFi exchange) grant application.
  • ZCG discussed the YWallet & Warp Sync grant and agreed that Ywallet has proved to be valuable to the community; many members stated they are open to retroactively rewarding Hanh for his contributions; ZCG also discussed how long Warp Sync will be useful i.e. plans with Orchard. The next step is to have a call with the developer, Hanh.
  • ZCG rejected ZK Bootcamp & Hackathon.
  • ZCG formulated many questions about the Zingo! Implement Orchard grant including questions about their team, future plans, price, and niche . The next step is for ZCG to set up a call to discuss with the applicants.
  • ZCG was supportive of the One Time Enhancement to Zcash Wikipedia page proposal and were unsure if a grantee is eligible to submit per Wikipedia’s policy.
  • ZCG announced that Ziga resigned as an ambassador and 2 new ambassadors joined: Chidi (Nigeria) & Jake Feldman (US).
  • ZCG noted that they approved ambassador Michae2xl (ZcashBrasil) promotional merchandise and conference attendance request.
  • ZCG mentioned that they are in the initial stages of discussing the Zapa RFI, which is a cryptocurrency that combines Zcash privacy with Avalanche Proof of Stake. Some members expressed reservations about this and some viewed it as a great research opportunity.
  • Aditya updated the committee that he heard back from the contact at BitPay and the engineers are currently occupied but he will keep checking back for getting Zcash added to the BitPay network.
  • ZCG members stated that they contribute more than the stated 15 hours a month and expressed their desire for the monthly compensation to be increased. Jack asked the committee what the Zcash Foundation (ZF) can take off their plate so they can reduce their monthly hours to less than 15 as ZF wants to support the committee as independent decision makers.
  • ZCG and ZF discussed average grant processing time (2-3 meetings) and policies for overdue milestones and grants that have not begun.

Notes:

Zcon3

  • Jason noted that he left Zcon3 feeling invigorated. Everyone on the call agreed that Zcon3 was a success and they are inspired.

Open Grant Proposals

  • Accelerating Zcash on FPGA Clusters
    • Jason summarized that this grant is for scalable deployment of FPGAs for $130K USD.
    • Aditya shared that he had reached out to ZF and ECC but haven’t been able to collect enough feedback. Jason explained that the committee has decided to shift gears and reject the grant; they encourage the applicant to solicit feedback in an Arborist call and resubmit an application.
    • Aditya specified that the applicant should get feedback from the broader community as well as ZF and ECC to demonstrate the benefits of funding a FPGA based project.
  • Arti: A project to re-write Tor in Rust
    • Jason shared that the grant is for $666,656.40 USD; he said that Aditya had spoken with Al Smith at The Tor Project during Def Con and his mindset shifted so the next step is to have a conversation with Tor.
    • Aditya expanded: he had a good conversation with Isabella at Zcon3 and Al Smith at DefCon, he learned more about how network level privacy-focused infrastructure & Zcash can work together. Brian agreed that he would like to be better educated on how this grant for Tor will benefit the community before deciding on Arti.
    • Jason summarized that they will leave it open for now then follow up.
  • Qenetex & Zcash (Meta cross-chain DeFi exchange)
    • Jason summarized that this grant proposes to develop cross-chains so blockchains can communicate with one another.
    • ZCG unanimously decided to reject this grant because they are not clear on what it is or how it will benefit zcash; additionally, it seems like there is not much interest from the community.
  • YWallet & Warp Sync
    • Jason explained that the applicant is requesting $500K USD; the majority is a retroactive grant and most of the rest is to implement Warp Sync into librustzcash so that other wallet developers can use it.
    • Jason disclosed that he reached out to Hanh in mid-July to encourage him to submit a grant; he thanked Hanh for all his hard work while many of Zcash’s wallets have been experiencing issues, including being very supportive on Telegram and the Forum helping people troubleshoot issues or get started with YWallet, and told Hanh that the video explainers and tutorials he made on YouTube are an invaluable resource. Hanh brought up the idea for a retroactive grant and Jason said he supports the idea of retroactive funding and thinks YWallet presents a perfect case for delivering quality and being rewarded later. Jason told Hanh he would support the grant application and encourage other committee members to support it as well so long as the amount was fair and reasonable based on the work Hanh has put in and the value YWallet has brought to the community. Jason said he very much supports this grant; although the amount is a bit higher than he expected, he said he’s open to hearing how Hanh arrived at that amount and is optimistic they will work something out that everyone will be happy with. Jason said YWallet has proven itself an asset to the Zcash ecosystem; it is now featured on the z.cash website, it received a number of shout outs at Zcon3, and it has earned the respect of the community, which is very long overdue because YWallet is such a great tool. Jason said it’s good to have a diverse mix of developers developing wallets with different underlying technology; the community should have optionality. The next step is to set up a call between Hanh and ZCG.
    • Brian shared that he appreciates Hahn as a developer in the ecosystem; wallet diversity and diversity in the underlying sync method should be encouraged; he wants to better understand how he came to the price and look at ways to better organize milestones in the grant, especially if ECC is not interested in using Warp Sync.
    • Aditya said that the ZCG has received feedback from wallet developers about the potential of incorporating warp-sync in other wallets, and it turns out there is no interest. The Zcash wallet developers are working towards implementing DAG-sync; it would have been beneficial if the applicant had collaborated with wallet developers to upstream Sapling focussed Warp-Sync last year but now we need a solution to work with Orchard; in his opinion, the price is too high for something already out there.
    • Michael commented that it’s a bummer there’s not much future potential. In general, he is happy to reward some retro work, otherwise ZCG would be incentivizing concealed work; some reward is warranted; he doesn’t want to put all their eggs in DAGsync’s basket.
    • Burns said he is interested in talking to Hanh and would like to see if another multicoin wallet wants to use Warp Sync.
    • Jason asked about timing. Michael replied, maybe a year but that seems optimistic. Aditya said he thought it was a few weeks to months.
    • Jason asked about Hanh’s timeline. Aditya said Warp Sync is for Sapling so they need to ask what his plans are for Orchard.
  • ZK Bootcamp & Hackathon
    • Jason explained that this is a 5 week bootcamp to learn about ZK proof theory and how to use it while building for $13,700; it’s a virtual event, which, in his opinion, seems like a lot especially since they would only mention Zcash a few times during the event; He announced that ZCG would like to reject with the standard notice; the applicant did post the grant application on the forum.
    • Dan shared that he had reached out to them to post on the forum but they did not respond; he can contact them to inform them of the rejection.
    • Cody added that it’s online so there’s no swag; it’s a big price tag for a picture.
    • Jason said that they could not copy and paste the grant to the forum because they didn’t know the applicant’s username. Brian added that they need to be present on the forum so they can respond to questions on behalf of the community so ZCG should not be posting on behalf of applicants.
  • Zingo! Implement Orchard
    • Jason explained that this grant is to create an Orchard/wallet implementation with a rust library for $227,500 USD. ZCG plans to set up a call this week or early next week. They have several questions including if it’s a desktop wallet, the long-term vision, and how they came to the price.
    • Aditya also added that they have questions about the team, the target users, the experience of the team, and the target users of the application; there aren’t any diagrams or UI and one would expect that from a proposal with an end-user application.
    • Burns commented that he would want to see more implementation; he is generally supportive but he wants to learn more about the team.
    • Michael asked what the niche is for the wallet; Zecwallet, Nighthawk, and Ywallet all have niches so he wants to better understand what makes it unique like a voting or messaging application; he’s not super thrilled about a slightly optimized ZecWallet.
    • Brian shared that he’s excited about a self organized group of developers and wants to learn more.
  • One Time Enhancement to Zcash Wikipedia page
    • Jason explained that this grant is for technical writing, with the end product to be an accurate wikipedia page for $1,200.
    • Burns said it’s a one-time entry and it’s about what they pay for an ambassador for a month and it will be comprehensive; he’s supportive.
    • Brian was also supportive; the applicant will be working on it over the course of the year so they will be able to give feedback on the content; he approved.
    • Aditya said it is low-hanging fruit and it’s good to see someone take initiative.
    • Jason stated that he’s disappointed that there has to be a grant app to get this done and is surprised it was not on the radar of ZF and ECC as Wikipedia can control the narrative for Zcash; assuming the moderators allow it to be posted, he approves; he also noted that it has not been on the forum for 7 days and that they want to allow sufficient time for community feedback so if the committee approves, it will be an off-cycle approval or at the next meeting…
    • Jack shared that Wikipedia has a conflict of interest policy; it should not be ECC or ZF; it should be by people independent of the project. Michael asked if it precludes grantees. Jack replied that he’s not sure.

Global Ambassador Program

  • Ziga resignation / Chidi & Jake Feldman join program
    • Jason announced that Ziga resigned as an ambassador and 2 new ambassadors joined.
    • Chidi is from Nigeria and has significant experience community building for other crypto projects. Jake Feldman, in the US, created a video that went viral about how to use the spend app to buy food at Chipotle; they are very energetic.
  • Michae2xl(ZcashBrasil) promotional merch request
    • Jason shared that ZCG had approved a merchandise request from Michae2xl for him and his team to attend a conference in Brazil; the amount that has been approved and sent pays for attendance and to give merchandise out and promote Zcash at the event.

Zapa

  • Jason explained that Zapa is a cryptocurrency that combines zcash privacy with avalanche Proof of Stake; they asked ZCG to fund a grant for a small amount and ZCG would receive Zapa tokens via airdrop; it sounds like an interesting arrangement worth consideration; ZCG doesn’t custody its own assets and asked if ZF could receive zapa tokens on ZCG’s behalf or if they should find another arrangement. Jack replied that he’s not sure; there’s a lot to unpack with this proposal; the principal would need to be discussed widely and ZF would need legal input.
  • Jason said that ZCG is only in the beginning of this conversation and he’s not sure how he feels about funding this type of thing; he doesn’t want them to rely on ZCG for continued funding if the project is unable to find other sources of funding.
  • Brian shared that he’s interested in it from a research aspect; he sees it as funding a project to launch Orchard code; he’s open to hearing out the proposal and seeing what the community response is.
  • Aditya said he is supportive of testing out Zcash-fork on Avalanche in a Proof-of-Stake form; it would be good to see how Zcash users(with an airdrop) would experiment with staking and rewards to learn how a Zcash transition to PoS would look like…
  • Burns stated that he’s torn; they could be funding a competitor. Michael said that in terms of curiosity, it is cool; he would be worried it would be a ETH funcing Cardano situation. Brian and Jason all shared the same hesitations that it could be a competitive chain. Aditya commented that this is more like ETH funding Polygon; it’s research that they can learn from. The dev is talented and they can deliver the implementation faster than Zcash transitioning to PoS.

BitPay integration

  • Aditya updated the committee that he heard back from BitPay and the engineers are currently occupied so they don’t have bandwidth right now but he will keep checking back for getting Zcash added to the BitPay network.

ZCG Committee Member Hours

  • Jason summarized that last year there was discussion about time commitment and compensation of the grants committee. It was updated from 5 hours and $500 per month to 15 hours and $1,500; ZCG thinks the time commitment and compensation is still too little; they probably do double that; everyone pulls their weight; there is a lot of work to do, and they haven’t even had time to do dev outreach; ZCG appreciates the assistance from ZF and ZCG, and both orgs work well together; they sincerely appreciate all ZF does and they couldn’t run as efficiently without ZF; there is a lot of work to get done that could benefit the zcash community and ecosystem; ZCG recommends ZF increase the required hours and compensation so that ZCG can attract high-quality committee members who will be incentivized to stick around for the long-term and won’t burned out.
  • Jack replied that he hears them, and asked what ZF can take off their plates; he noticed them talking about having many calls and, as a starting point; instead of ZCG taking all the calls; they can let ZF know their questions and then ZF can post the questions so they are all posted publicly, and the info is shared widely; it is a good idea to keep an little distance between grantees and the committee; ZF is happy to take things off their plate; ZF wants to support the committee as decision makers.
  • Brian replied that he sees point of having arms length with grant applicants but thinks it’s good to have direct conversations; as the convo goes along, they better understand them and new questions come up which allows them to accurately analyze an applicant; having the meeting and ZF take over all communication may hinder the committee’s ability to make a decision on a grant; they would have to wait for the combined meetings to take place and they would have to rely on notes from someone else, then discuss as a committee; he appreciates the idea and offer, but, personally, he would rather spend extra hours and not get paid than ZF take on those calls.
  • Aditya added that they spend less than 5 hrs a month on calls and they have been very beneficial. Most of the time is spent on studying the grant, outreach, and other initiatives, and they wouldn’t save much by offloading critical conversations to ZF resource.
  • Burns said he wouldn’t feel comfortable giving a million dollar grant without having a meeting; he would not want to keep them at arm’s length; getting to meet with real people is important and there isn’t much time dedicated to that part of it.
  • Jack replied that we should explore what is taking over the time; ZCG is a decision making committee; it was created to fund new entities, not be an independent entity; when the time expectation was increased to 15 hours a month, the goal was to decrease it as ZF improved its support for the committee so we should look at where ZF can help out; ZF can look at RFIs to get external people involved; the committee should remain as it’s intended to be.
  • Jason stated that, in terms of providing administrative and operational support, ZF can assist, but anything pertaining to researching or making decisions on grants, ZCG should do. It’s more efficient to have calls with grantees themselves; he asked Jack if he feels ZCG does things it was not intended to do. Jack replied that he does not think they have crossed any line, and believes that ZCG members have the best intentions; ZIP 1014 was carefully crafted following long negotiations between ECC and ZF, and the intention was that the grants committee would not be a separate entity but would instead approve grants that would attract new entities to the Zcash ecosystem; the expectation is that applications should stand at own merits and they should assess grants; the grant committee should not be a pseudo separate entity.
  • Aditya pointed out that the community expectations have increased and ZCG is here and capable of delivering. Jack agreed that people have expectations of the committee.
  • Jason mentioned that the last committee shared recommendations on how to improve right before they left, and that the current committee plans to share their opinion on what would make it run more smoothly a few months before the end of their term…
  • Jack reiterated if there is a way ZF can help ZCG save time, tell us; his ideal situation is for the committee to show up with a pre-prepared package that they can review in advance and if there are questions, ZF notes those and utilizes Dan as the point of contact so there is little that the committee needs to do beyond reading packet, discussing it, and make a decision; ZF is happy to take things on, but we need to know about them; for example if ZCG is writing RFPs, ZF can do it or hire someone to do it; we need to know where the time drains are before we can put in resources.
  • Jason replied that they will discuss as a committee and come back with areas to improve.
  • Jack stated that it should be an ongoing conversation about recommendations and it’s concerning that it’s getting up to 30 hours a month; there is independence from ZF in terms of decision making.
  • Aditya noted that he would find it difficult getting through some of the grants, going through Dan for all communication as it might add delay.
  • Jack commented that he sees the quality of grant applications as a problem; if ZCG needs a lot more info to make a decision, we should be looking at if we can prompt for that in the application form, or have a filter approach with a checklist so we can make sure grant application are as complete as they should be before getting to ZCG’s desk.
  • Aditya agreed that applicants should do a better job at providing more details in the grant proposal.
  • Brian noted that they are seeing applications that the previous committee hadn’t seen before and/or they are more challenging to wrap their heads around.

Application Processing time and overdue milestone

  • Burns asked how long it takes for an applicant to receive a decision after submitting. Jason replied they have a response in about 2-3 meetings. Dan explained the process and agreed that it takes 2-3 meetings after they officially apply but much of that time is waiting on the applicant to respond and waiting for community feedback. Burns said it would be good for the applicants to know how long to expect.
  • Jack also pointed out that it depends on the size of grant; his advice is to consider being quicker to reject with a reason for rejection and state “if the grant were changed to be ‘XYZ’ we’d be happy to reconsider;” That way things can move quicker.
  • Burns asked, when do grants fall off? Dan replied that is something that should be discussed. Jason stated that with Cake the conversation has been contentious and it is questionable if the proposal will go forward; ZF hedged out the liability for that grant and is holding USD, but it might be a good opportunity to convert back to ZEC. Jack agreed they made a good point about hedging; in the meantime Dan can continue to reach out to the applicants.
  • Jason brought up that the past milestones email ZF sends is very helpful.
  • Burns asked what happens if someone misses a milestone. Jason replied that it’s somewhat expected, but that there should be communication if it’s late. Jack agreed and said that ZF can sync up internally and review that; we could have a policy that states that if a grant is X months overdue, we raise it to see if it should be terminated.
  • Alex noted that many overdue or yet to be started grants are on the old grant platform and we need to migrate those to the new platform. That move could spur action by the grantees to submit the required information or they may decide to withdraw their grants.
  • Jason replied that some groups can use it as leverage to walk away. Alex clarified that he was thinking of those that haven’t begun because they haven’t submitted the required information or they are uncommunicative; it would be good to have a policy. Jason agreed and stated that most want to finish the project.
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Please note that in exchange for a grant, existing holders (as well as ZCG) would receive Genesis Zapa tokens. There may also be a bridge that enables ZEC users to exchange ZEC for Zapa tokens in perpetuity.

You can read more about Zapa at the following links:

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My two zats on Zapa:

I agree with the hesitations on funding a potential future competitor. Assuming existing ZEC holders would receive a portion of Genesis Zapa token, would funding this specific project means ZCG could be used to fund chain forks? I’m generally supportive of this type of research grant but I wonder what precedent this could set for a future fork that could be funded by ZCG. (Of course, Network Upgrades also introduces forks and Zcash trademark is wholly controlled by Dev Fund recipients who decide which chain is called Zcash).

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