Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn is an American computer security specialist who is based in Colorado. His real name is Bryce Wilcox. He was born on May 13, 1974 in Phoenix, Arizona.
He is popular for the Tahoe Least-Authority File Store (or Tahoe-LAFS)— a secure, decentralized, fault-tolerant filesystem that was released under GPL and the TGPPL licenses. Wilcox-O'Hearn is the creator of the Transitive Grace Period Public Licence (TGPPL). He is the designer behind multiple network protocols that applies concepts like self-contained economies and secure reputation systems. He is part of the development team of ZRTP and the BLAKE2 cryptographic hash function.
He is the founder and CEO of Least Authority Enterprises in Boulder, Colorado. He was also the developer of the MojoNation P2P system and is also a developer at SimpleGeo.
He is also the founder and CEO of Zcash. The company changed their name from The Zcash Company to the Electric Coin Company in February 2019. The companies legal name remains Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, LLC.
Wilcox has talked about two major events which he felt shaped the way he continues to see the world. The first was the fall of the Berlin wall, in 1989, in which Wilcox saw the eradication of war and oppression and the hope of humanity flourishing. The second was 1992, the year Wilcox discovered the internet. The fall of the Berlin wall gave way to political freedom. The internet gave rise to information freedom.
In 1993, Wilcox discovered the concept of digital money while a computer science student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He came across a paper by David Chaum, a cryptography pioneer who developed Digicash, the first electric money startup. Wilcox dropped out of college in 1996 for an engineering position at Digicash.
In 2009, Wilcox blogged about Bitcoin on his blog Zooko's Hack Log in a post titled "Decentralized Money". Satoshi Nakamoto, the developer of bitcoin, linked to Wilcox's post in an addendum to a preliminary release of the Bitcoin software on Bitcoin.org. Wilcox was one of three people to receive an honorable mention in Bitcoin's related links section.
Matthew Green, a John Hopkins University cryptographer, approached Wilcox about leading the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company in 2014. Initially saying no, Wilcox changed his mind in 2015, and they were able to raise $720,000 in seed funding from Naval Ravikant, Pantera Capital and Fenbushi Capital. They raised a further $2 million and had Zcash up in 2016.
Through Wilcox's friendship with Amber Baldet, who at the time led JPMorgan's blockchain program, JPMorgan adopted Zcash's zk-SNARKs to mask the money moving on its permissioned, enterprise blockchain.
In July of 2018, Wilcox earned 2,033 ZEC, or $305,000 per month ($3.65 million annually) as CEO of Zcash. This is, in part, through the "founders reward" which is a portion of code allocating 20% of ZEC generated by mining to company stakeholders. Wilcox prefers to think of it as shared fate, in which developers and coin holders support Zcash.