ECC is transitioning from an engineering-led to a market-led product strategy. This blog provides a summary of what that means and outlines our current priorities.
ZEC is at the center of our mission to empower economic freedom for everyone. It’s the product, and our focus is to improve it. We aren’t the only ones doing this work, but our focus is to help make it better alongside the rest of the community.
We’re starting with users
We recently began capturing user feedback, evaluating impact, assessing team skill, evaluating timelines, and designing and prioritizing features. At every juncture, we consider what will deliver the most value for the most amount of ZEC holders. In this case, value is broadly defined and may vary based on the type of user (persona) and use case. We weigh everything against where we believe the market is heading and various considerations, such as the regulatory environment, geographic reach and other factors.
Based on user and market research, and unless the Zcash community redirects us, our priorities are Zcash Shielded Assets (ZSAs) and Proof of Stake (PoS). Last month, we wrote about our work with George Mason University regarding ZSAs, and just last week, Zooko posted a rationale for the exploration of switching from proof of work to proof of stake. We’ve begun research into different approaches and intend to post ideas as early as next week.
While different R&D priorities may require different types of research (economic modeling for ZSAs, for example), all R&D priorities will include User Experience (UX) and scalability research. For example, how might someone use a ZSA? What is the experience of minting or redeeming an asset? In this case, it may require a potential asset issuer to help design how this might work so that we can model it within the ECC Reference Wallet. Likewise, we will spend time thinking about the scale needed should it prove to be amazingly successful. We’ll be conducting similar research for PoS.
Bundling features into product releases
For any Zcash protocol changes, ECC works with the community to coordinate updates coming from our team and others. These may be minor releases or as significant as a network upgrade. The next Zcash network upgrade is anticipated to activate mid- to late-November.
ECC may choose to also release a set of Zcash-related products either independent of, or in concert with, a network upgrade or other release. These are ECC products that provide some function outside of the Zcash protocol, such as the ECC Reference Wallet, Mobile SDK, etc. Our next product release is a suite of tools called Halo Arc and will include the zcashd consensus node software we built and support.
Building the organization to support it
This shift has resulted in organizational changes that are currently underway.
I (Josh Swihart) am now leading the product strategy function in addition to overseeing the Growth and Regulatory Relations team. My responsibility now includes working with ECC and community stakeholders to assess the market and prioritize our work.
In addition to leading all engineering functions, Steven Smith now has responsibility for product management. That responsibility includes coordinating the execution and rollout of our products.
We have also formed a Product Strategy team that includes Zooko Wilcox, Nathan Wilcox, Steven Smith and me for strategic planning, ideation and coordination. This is also supported by our Scientific Advisory Group.
We believe this new approach and structure will prove incredibly valuable for the ZEC users we seek to serve, the community that we build alongside, and the employees of ECC.