ZeroEx Pathways (ZRX PATH)
Point of contact:
Nikita and SHA are seasoned community members who have contributed to the improvement and adoption of 0x Protocol consistently for several years, including developing frontend applications; operating staking pools; moderating Discord, Snapshot, and the governance & research forum; creating and curating various types of content; providing staking, developer, and integration support; serving as bootstrap delegates; shepherding experiments and initiatives; incubating a grant program; and helping to evolve governance. Our experience and learnings from these activities inform this proposal, which aims to decentralize core protocol development with the goal of making the protocol more performant, innovative, and sustainable.
Other sources of funding and approximate amounts (grants, VC, etc.):
NA - This will be a new project
Describe the problem being solved:
The 0x Protocol is modern software that enables the ubiquitous exchange of tokenized value. The protocol’s open-source contracts are designed to be extensible. In theory, one of the benefits of open-source extensibility is a flourishing of developer contributions. However, after six years, there have been no ecosystem-based developer contributions to the core protocol contracts.
We believe that the lack of contributions from independent developers representing diverse needs and priorities puts the protocol’s future viability at risk, making it the protocol’s most critical unmet need. We also believe it is fair to deduce that protocol capabilities have already been effectively constrained by this condition, negatively impacting usage, adoption and innovation.
As real-world examples, there have been consistent inquiries from application developers regarding various features that existed in previous versions of the protocol that are not available in the current version. Specifically, the ability to trade bundles (multi-asset swaps) for both ERC20s and NFTs is highly sought after by application developers looking to build novel, customer-facing products. NFT-to-NFT trades, advanced trading features, and more types of signature support (such as EIP1271 support for ERC20s), are also in high demand, as are new features that would differentiate the protocol and the products built on it via innovation. Some projects have chosen to build on other protocols due to capabilities not being available or well-documented.
Compounding the problem, independent developers generally don’t have the knowledge and experience with the core protocol contracts to work on them on their own, nor has there been a reliable pathway for collaboration or coordination with 0x, so opportunities to improve the protocol have stalled or fizzled out. Many of the researchers and engineers who worked on the core protocol contracts are no longer involved, reducing the availability of and access to historical knowledge regarding design, logic, architecture, and functionality. Protocol documentation has become stale and confusing to navigate, hindering its usefulness.
While there has been significant success related to adoption at the 0x API level, meaning that many applications have integrated and are using the 0x APIs, this success has not extended to the core protocol level, meaning that the 0x APIs remain the main integration point to the protocol, and 0x is the only protocol developer.
We believe this is an urgent and growing problem that must be addressed. Access to grant money alone is an insufficient catalyst to motivate and drive meaningfully positive outcomes.
Recently, 0x announced several initiatives aimed at decentralizing key components of the protocol and its governance. Resourcing a community-led tiger team to establish pathways for core protocol development is critical to jumpstarting and de-risking ecosystem-based contributions.
Explain how the funding will be used:
Our hypothesis is that formalizing structures and pathways to enable core protocol contributors will generate more developer interest, engagement, and confidence than would otherwise happen organically, leading to positive outcomes with measurable benefits to the protocol. In contrast, continuing the status quo will result in increasing risk to the protocol and negative outcomes, including the slowing of innovation and deterioration of technical relevance in a rapidly changing and competitive developer mindshare environment.
Our primary priority will be to develop enabling structures and actionable pathways that empower and de-risk independent contributors building core protocol capabilities (such as features, functions, methods, libraries, and transformers), with a secondary priority to do the same for capabilities that interact directly with the core protocol contracts (such as APIs and SDKs).
Aspirationally, these pathways will form the basis of an innovation pipeline that not only improves the protocol’s sustainability, but also serves to manifest and harden the protocol’s autonomous, permissionless, and censorship-resistant properties.
Broadly, we aim to improve the core contributor experience and enable protocol improvements. This will require cross-disciplinary expertise and experimentation including the following:
- strategy development and execution
- experimentation and innovation
- software development and maintenance
- product management
- developer advocacy and support
- content generation and curation
More specifically, to deliver the outcomes identified above, we may perform activities such as:
- improving core protocol documentation
- providing timely developer support
- experimenting with GPT and AI tools
- prioritizing needs and resources
- researching emerging standards and network/chain-specific opportunities
- capturing best practices and lessons learned
- helping protocol contributors obtain grant funding
- coordinating with auditing organizations
- triaging technical issues
- refreshing the ZEIP framework and assisting with ZEIPs
Keeping in mind that quality and impact are more important than quantity, some metrics for tracking success could be:
- [#] of new core protocol contributors
- [#] and type of Github pull requests and commits
- [#] of new protocol features, functions, transformers, libraries, APIs, and SDKs implemented
- [#] of ZEIPs submitted, approved, and deployed
- [#] and type of new ecosystem integrations
- contributor surveys
- developer-focused analytics
Our high-level execution plan provides enough time and runway to 1) build the baseline components; 2) conduct experiments; 3) assess, iterate, and refactor; and 4) recommend and initiate appropriate future actions based on evidence, data, and learnings.
Indicate whether your solution/product will integrate directly with the 0x Protocol contracts (such as the 0x Exchange Proxy) or via APIs. If APIs, please list them (if known):
This effort will drive improvement of the core 0x Protocol contracts, including, but not limited to, the 0x Exchange Proxy and associated smart contracts.
List any critical milestones and dependencies (if applicable):
See execution plan, above.
Describe how the solution/product benefits the 0x Protocol Ecosystem:
As described above, improvements at the protocol level benefit the entire ecosystem.
Do you agree to tag your solution/product for visibility in [0x Explorer]:
What are the actual and/or target usage metrics (such as users and volume) for your solution/product:
See execution plan, above.
Provide links to any of the following for the project (if available):
Grant amount requested (in fiat):
In exchange for delivering the capabilities and outcomes described in this proposal, we request funding of $270k from the treasury.
The rate is comparable to similar protocol DAO core contributors with similar expertise and experience; delivering capabilities of similar complexity, criticality and impact; and in similar situations, i.e., no benefits, equity, or employment contracts, along with the risks of price volatility associated with crypto assets in a bear market and a hostile regulatory environment. The conversion rate from USD to ZRX will be determined using the 30-day EMA from Trading View (Coinbase) as of [date of submission for vote]. Funding will be deposited into LlamaPay escrow contracts to distribute monthly payments.
References for contributor comparables:
- Rook ($325k/yr)
- Aave ($150/hr, 30 hr/wk)
- Uniswap ($150/hr, 30 hr/wk)
Grant amount by token (ratio of tokens):
100% in ZRX
Receiving address and chain:
We have identified a problem and proposed a solution. There is significant risk if the problem is not addressed and mitigated. The cost is reasonable, and there is minimal risk associated with our ability and motivation to execute the plan we propose. The benefits for the protocol are positive and measurable.