Zcash to sovereign rollup

I’m not making interpretations. I’m talking about what is happening in reality in 2024, and what reality has shown us in the past few years (both on-chain, and off-chain).

People Buy and Hold Bitcoin with one primary purpose. To store value over time, and then when desired they recapture that value (+coverage of inflation, and some additional capital interest).

Hearkening back to the White Paper and the oldest bitcointalk forum themes about making a decentralized fiat-like digital currency doesn’t square into the reality of today.

Amazon started as a Book seller, Look at it Today. It is more than selling books now.

Bitcoin is the exact same, it has grown completely beyond the oldest themes that helped it grow from 0 to 1.


hi @john-light - thank you so much for the thoughtful response! I’ll reply this evening to a few items here

@zmanian is on the bootstrap board :slight_smile:

Also waiting to hear back from @Dodger on what he meant by “zk-rollup based architecture” in a recent comment re Zcash’s future design. I think the distinction (if there is one) would be helpful!

Excellent share from Paul Graham.

This portion speaks concisely to the Zcash crisis/ mindset of today and years past:

The reason I want to know first whether a startup is default alive or default dead is that the rest of the conversation depends on the answer. If the company is default alive, we can talk about ambitious new things they could do. If it’s default dead, we probably need to talk about how to save it. We know the current trajectory ends badly. How can they get off that trajectory?

Why do so few founders know whether they’re default alive or default dead? Mainly, I think, because they’re not used to asking that. It’s not a question that makes sense to ask early on, any more than it makes sense to ask a 3 year old how he plans to support himself. But as the company grows older, the question switches from meaningless to critical. That kind of switch often takes people by surprise.

I propose the following solution: instead of starting to ask too late whether you’re default alive or default dead, start asking too early. It’s hard to say precisely when the question switches polarity. But it’s probably not that dangerous to start worrying too early that you’re default dead, whereas it’s very dangerous to start worrying too late.

The reason is a phenomenon I wrote about earlier: the fatal pinch. The fatal pinch is default dead + slow growth + not enough time to fix it. And the way founders end up in it is by not realizing that’s where they’re headed.

There is another reason founders don’t ask themselves whether they’re default alive or default dead: they assume it will be easy to raise more money. But that assumption is often false, and worse still, the more you depend on it, the falser it becomes.


In my opinion, If ECC, ZF, ZCG are struggling then we need to know and be open to ideas on how to support them.

Not change trajectory.

“There’s no plan B for your A game”.

Thanks again for the response @john-light. I completely agree with the first point you made on “building an app and competing with other apps”. In a recent thread, I asked a question on which ecosystem Zcash should align with (e.g. Ethereum, Celestia, Bitcoin, Cosmos) and have been thinking about the advantages/disadvantages to each.

Re the point above, I’ll make an edit to the original post. Thanks for the further clarification :slight_smile:

This point is really interesting. When I thought through this originally, I was simply thinking how to make a future multi-asset shielded pool (MASP) available to other rollup protocols, and not prioritize a single chain (and its native asset/tokens). Therefore, a trustless bridge between L1 and L2 wasn’t (particularly) necessary.

E.g. Say we transition Zcash to a smart contract rollup on Bitcoin, but want to have any number of assets interact with the MASP. This means that assets not native to Bitcoin would have some trust assumption when interacting with the MASP, even if their transfer between L1 and L2 is trustless. The ETH that exists in the MASP still has some trust assumption tied to it because ETH is not a native token to Bitcoin. So even if the bETH transfer is trustless, bETH still has trust assumptions because the bridge between Bitcoin and Ethereum has trust assumptions.

Is that line of thinking incorrect?

I agree with this, although I’ve become more open to the idea of PoS recently. But, I still refer to this blog from Lane Rettig as to why I’m not a fan of PoS and think other Zcash community members should read it!

The reason I leaned into “recommending” something like Celestia for DA is two fold. First, IIRC, Zcash isn’t prioritizing a high validator count in a future PoS, so using a Celestia-like chain wouldn’t be a concern in terms of validator decentralization. Plus, I think there’s a chance that a number of successful protocols use a Celestia-like chain, and that it might be good to have some form of interoperability with them through shared sequencing.

Another design I thought about is if Zcash became a validium on Bitcoin, you could build a “Bitcoin fallback” mechanism that ensures L2 users can still transact and access their funds in the event that the DA layer went down. I’m curious if this design could also be applicable to sovereign rollups.

Second, while I mention potentially using Bitcoin as a DA layer in the OP, and am very enthusiastic about the Bitcoin rollups design space, I don’t believe the Zcash community (both developer and broader communities) would go for this. While there are technical reasons that the teams here would argue for, I do think a lot of it is cultural as well.

From the cultural side, I think (most) of the Zcash community believes that Bitcoin can not be credibly neutral money because if its transparency. Therefore, becoming a rollup on top of Bitcoin would be a complete shift in this positioning, and also be an admission that the original vision of Zcash was incorrect. But, I don’t think this argument is strong because of the current state of Zcash’s usage between transparent and shielded addresses.

I’d be interested in hearing future roadmap plans that would deprecated t-addrs in the Zcash protocol that make the argument above stronger.

We already know that they’re struggling.

  1. loss of talent over the past years
  2. hiring freeze (at ECC)
  3. cash reserves drawing down
  4. reductions in monthly operating expenses
  5. reduction of team size(s) and scope(s)
  6. technical challenges per Wallet Sync/ spam attack/ zcashd → zebra
  7. PoW miner centralization issues
  8. CEX listings removed/ under threat of removal
  9. ZCG grants product deliveries being delayed
  10. general brand perception of Zcash dropping (relative to crypto peers)
  11. financial issues related to ZEC going down in value for prolonged time
  12. negative perception of ECC/ ZF operating as shadow crypto hedge funds, rather than non-profits working to grow the Zcash project
  1. an inability to commercialize privacy

for some reason its OK to invest in projects that are
not private to help them even though they support and build products that allow for government surveillance and regulatory compliance; ETH, BTC, BLD (?), Starkware (?) and others. but it’s not ok to develop products ourselves that would improve privacy but might not be as private at the extreme even though it would help us grow and survive. we need an spectrum of products to succeed. and on that spectrum would be a privacy-lite version of total privacy. it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing. A privacy lite would be more like a bank account and writing a check. it’s private to the outside world. but i have the ability to enable sharing my ledger to be compliant. Decentralized Compliance.

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I am not super educated about this topic, but I don’t think making Zcash a L2 is the right direction. Privacy coins have a much more adversarial environment than other coins. We can’t rely on transparent L1s who are willing to throw us under the bus to preserve the value of their surveillance coin. All Zcash infrastructure must be privacy aligned to be resilient imo. Also I never understood how L2s helped scaling. It always just seemed like a game of hot potato to me, just yeeting the scaling problem to another layer. It also seems to me that it would be much more novel work than creating bridges to other L1s.


My understanding is the L2 pays a fee to the L1 for every transaction. So the more L2s you have, the lower the fees can be for the L1 because the L2 scales on top of the L1 with more transactions. The more transactions the lower the fees. So its a race to scale up… More L2s make the L1 valuable and decentralizes development. And with the fees, the L1 pays the miners and in the case of ETH it also burns coins with excess fees, which makes ETH go higher. In the case of ETH, when the burn is greater than issuance its a simple way for people to know the ecosystem is creating value.

This is the beginning of the end of my zcash journey. What are we talking about?
Becoming an L2 layer to fix scalability issues adds massive risks. Btw, we are below 5k transaction/day.

A very verbose post (with probably good intentions but a poor analytical approach) that kills zcash as L1 dream.

Proposal on a public forum ≠ implementation on Zcash


:100: dis wat forums were made for. discussion.


i agree. i believe the solution is more assets on zcash blockchain where zcash becomes the blockchain of money. the blockchain seems to have good
privacey. it’s lacking money as most people think about and accept as money. josh’s vision of stablecoins and ZSA/UDAs helps us to scale up Zcash as a later 1. the main question is do we have the technical expertise, ideology needed for creating trusted and useful money, , and is the zcash blockchain a solid foundation upon which to build on???

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thank you for saying this.

Exactly ZSA is exactly what we need. Not to become the L2 of some poorly battletested protocol.

fwiw this kind of move is not unprecedented. See this thread about the cLabs proposal to turn Celo from an independent L1 into an Ethereum L2. So far it seems like most of their community has been positive about it.

That is correct. In that scenario only BTC and other assets native to bitcoin and bitcoin rollups could be transferred trustlessly within the bitcoin “cluster”. Which, imo, is a lot better than no non-rollup-native assets being trustless.

Worth considering if the UX benefits of using Celestia for DA/consensus and sharing a sequencer with Celestia rollups is worth not having a trustless BTC bridge. Also, would it be possible to share sequencers if bitcoin is used for settlement but Celestia is used for DA a la Blobstream? Or do chains using a shared sequencer setup all have to use the same settlement layer?

Yes, sovereign rollups can switch DA layers at-will. Full nodes just need a deterministic way to know where to look to get the data so they can remain in consensus about the current canonical chain.

Even if every tx in Zcash were “supposed” to be shielded, miners could still decide to exclude any txs that don’t include view keys. Censorship resistance is primarily defended by decentralization, not cryptography, and even then, only if the majority of block producers support censorship resistance (or see the value of fees as outweighing demands on them to exclude certain txs). Empirically speaking, bitcoin has passed the censorship resistance test and I see no reason to think this will change any time in the foreseeable future. That said, I also agree that Zcash’s use of t-addrs makes any arguments against building on bitcoin even more incoherent/inconsistent than they otherwise would be.

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Right, so what does it seem to you is the Zcash community sentiment on Bitcoin? On independence?

Do you maybe see some difference between Celo, a blockchain ecosystem focused on increasing cryptocurrency adoption among smartphone users, and Zcash an attempt at making Bitcoin the way Satoshi envisioned it?

One is not like the other; if you don’t see it, take a closer look.

What we could do though, is have Bitcoin as a sovereigh rollup to Zcash.

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