Zcash Strategy Update, November 2018


The Zcash Company strategic priorities are as follows:

  1. Drive adoption while maintaining quality
  2. Invest in our team
  3. Increase openness and collaboration



When the Zcash Company team came together at Zcon0 in Montreal back in June, we published a roadmap that publicly communicated our priorities going forward. Since that time, the team has been heads down, focusing on a major network upgrade called Sapling.

The team is ecstatic that the Sapling upgrade successfully activated last month. Sapling radically increases the performance of the magical zero-knowledge proofs (known as zk-SNARKs). Why should anybody care? Well, this improvement means that the private transactions that are Zcash’s raison d’être are now performant enough to work on mobile devices and hardware wallets.

With that major product and engineering work now live on the mainnet, it’s time to turn our attention to communicating publicly about our strategy for the balance of 2018 and 2019. We’ve managed to distill the five priorities coming out of Zcon0 down to three.


Priority #1: Drive adoption while maintaining quality

Zcash is amazing science that’s now been productionized. However, it’s admittedly been very difficult to use. An analogy that one of our founding scientists, Matthew Green, likes to use is that at Zcash we’ve “built a flying car,” but until recently the car had no doors.

The team’s focus since inception has been building highly-stable and secure back-end code to support a robust protocol, while leaving the development of front-end, user application code to the broader ecosystem. To date, this has left Zcash enthusiasts in a situation where they can either use the Linux command line interface, or use a community-supported GUI application — both of which depend on the user operating a “full node” and keeping the full Zcash blockchain synchronized locally. Neither of these options are viable for driving adoption in a mobile-first world.

Recognizing that we need to “put some doors on the flying car,” after Zcon0 we created a “Reference Wallet Team” that has focused on building a reference open source mobile wallet. It  implements both design and privacy best-practices and gives ecosystem developers the tools they need to build Zcash wallets for a variety of platforms. This team will also be releasing a “light client protocol” specification and reference implementation, which will make it easy for developers to create Zcash wallet applications that provide robust privacy without requiring that the user maintain a local copy of the entire blockchain.

The Zcash Foundation (independent of Zcash Company) is also working to drive adoption, supporting developers who are creating both desktop wallet applications and mobile applications that support private Zcash transactions. The Foundation recently announced winners of the 2018Q2 grant program, which includes a shielded transaction-capable Electron Zcash wallet.

The team is also spending lots of time engaging with our ecosystem partners, to ensure that exchanges and wallet providers are able to support their customers and drive adoption.

All this work to put “doors on the flying car” is gaining momentum, and we expect that by Q2 2019, it will be easier to securely transact with Zcash than it is to insecurely transact with other cryptocurrencies.

The second piece of this strategic pillar is to “maintain quality and security.”  Quality has always been a priority at the Zcash Company. We have developed an integrated set of security practices which includes scientific peer review, code review, unit tests, migrating to Rust away from C++, and information sharing with other projects. We target a conservative rate of change, refusing to add options and features unnecessarily. We complemented our already-robust audit practice by hiring a full-time director of product security and an information security engineer in early Q3.


Priority #2: Invest in the team

The Zcash Company team has grown significantly since its inception back in 2015. While we aspire to protect our startup roots and avoid unnecessary “corporatization,” we recognize that with growth comes change. For a long time, we’ve provided competitive compensation and benefits to our employees, and we’re now complementing those core programs with flexible PTO, a performance management process, and a more formal mentoring program so that our newer engineers can learn from our seniors.

We realize that our people are our greatest asset, and as such, we are committed to helping our employees chart a course — to realize their career aspirations and to understand where they are strong and where they have room to grow.

We are a distributed company, and the vast majority of our collaboration occurs over the internet. That said, we do appreciate the value of face-to-face time, and we will continue to bring everybody together at least twice a year to align on strategy while building connective tissue as an organization.


Priority #3: Increase openness and collaboration

Zcash is an open source, permissionless cryptocurrency. Anybody can run a Zcash node and participate in the network. Likewise, anybody can see, hack on and contribute to the Zcash source code. We are very pleased to see that the Zcash Foundation has entered into a partnership with Parity to create a completely independent (from the Zcash Company) full node implementation of the Zcash software in the Rust programming language.

Going forward, we want to encourage the open source community to engage with the Zcash ecosystem and to contribute to the project. There are a variety of ways to engage with Zcash today, including participating in the Zcash Community Chat, which allows for direct interaction with Zcash core contributors. We also have lively interactions with our community on Twitter, our blog, Reddit, etc.  Looking ahead, we are considering a revamp of the chat infrastructure to provide even more transparency and engagement between our core developers and the community.

We recognize that the mining community plays an important role in maintaining the decentralization and security of the Zcash cryptocurrency. Equihash, the proof-of-work algorithm that powers the Zcash protocol was intended to be ASIC-resistant, meaning that it would be profitable to mine Zcash using commodity GPU hardware. However, as Zcash increased in value over time, hardware manufacturers like Bitmain and Innosilicon brought products to market that mine Zcash more efficiently than GPUs. We recognize that this development is an inevitable effect of the rising value of Zcash and believe that long term, “ASIC resistance” is unsustainable. ASIC mining also helps protect the security and stability of the Zcash network, so we don’t want to stamp it out entirely. We do believe, however, that a diverse mining community consisting of both ASIC miners and GPU miners is desirable, and as such will be making changes to our proof of work to encourage miners from both camps to participate.



The Zcash Company strategic priorities are as follows:

  1. Drive adoption while maintaining quality
  2. Invest in our team
  3. Increase openness and collaboration

To put this strategy into action, we have created an operating plan, which we will be sharing with the world here shortly. Stay tuned.


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