Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electric Coin Company. I’m putting this out in the hopes of continuing constructive discourse.
ZEC is stale. You can agree or disagree and in this open-source project and ecosystem we should all feel free and feel safe to be able to share our thoughts. Now, having said that, let me use an analogy - baseball! Hopefully everyone has seen or maybe even played a baseball or softball game at some point in their life. Maybe you even saw the movie “Field of Dreams”. “If you build it, they will come” sounds like the refrain I’ve heard in the Zcash ecosystem over the last two years. Unfortunately, we built it, but no one came.
Back to the baseball analogy.
Back in 2016, some folks got together and built a brand new, never-before-seen type of baseball stadium. It was a state-of-the-art facility and provided something that wasn’t available anywhere else. The game itself was still baseball, but the offerings that this stadium added made it special. Over the years, two teams played a majority of the games at this stadium. The crowds were decent, but the place was never sold out. Every couple of games, a few new faces would show up, buy a ticket, maybe some food, but they wouldn’t come back again. Over the years, the stadium continued to invest in itself, adding cool new features like a big LED screen, real-time game statistics, the best food and drinks in the area. But the same problems persisted, aside from those two teams, a few other teams might come to play a few games and a few new faces would show up, but overall, the same crowd was there for every game and the stadium never quite sold out.
What happened? Well, for one, the stadium was out in the middle of nowhere, with no decent public transportation options available. In addition, the people that came to the games got tired of seeing the same thing over and over and ticket sales started to drop. This put pressure on the teams to cut back their spending and the problem only got worse. What was missing? Was it the stadium? The teams? The gameplay? Something else? Maybe a little bit of everything.
I feel like Zcash is this stadium. We’re at a point where the discussions in this forum and some of the Zcon conversation is about Zcash’s identity. What is it? What do we want it to be? If we can’t figure out what the product is, how will we ever figure out how to effectively market it. It feels like a tipping point is quickly approaching. ZK tech was the hot thing, but now there are other options besides Zcash. What makes us unique? What makes us interesting beyond the cypher punk crowd? What makes someone on the outside want to pay for a ticket to the game? And even more importantly, what are we doing to make sure they want to keep coming back and spending more of their money on our game at our stadium?
Maybe it’s time to reinvent the stadium, with a fresh overlay. Take a pause on trying to make the best technological features and focus on the simple basics things, a clean and straightforward product and then market it to solve a problem. Maybe that problem is in a specific country only or a specific demographic only. That’s ok… focus on that one area and dominate that market… then rinse and repeat. We built it, they stopped coming… building it again the same way and expecting different results isn’t a strategy for success.