The Zcash Foundation has been announced with its initial board of directors, and an endowment of 273,000 coins, worth almost $13m (£10.5m) at today's prices.

Zooko Wilcox, founder and CEO of Zcash, said in an email: "It is well funded with an endowment out of the Zcash Founders' Reward. I personally donated half of my past and future Founders' Reward to it! The endowment for the Zcash Foundation is 273,000 ZEC, spread out over the first four years of mining.

"And, the foundation is being formed by a stellar four-person board of directors who are really credible, widely-trusted people. This is a shift of power in the Zcash ecosystem because I have no power over the foundation."

The Zcash project began life at the San Jose Bitcoin Conference in 2013. It was a formative moment starting with the Zerocoin design, which was the first scientific proposal for a cryptocurrency with strong privacy properties. At the same time some other scientists came up with improved mathematical techniques for zero knowledge proofs – nowadays called ZK-SNARKS – which can confirm that transactions are valid without any other details about them being released.

Having started out as a science project, the Zcash blockchain went live on 28 October last year, following much anticipation and interest from the cryptocurrency community and beyond.

The Zcash Foundation initial board of directors will include:

  • Andrew Miller (chair, president), an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an associate director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts.
  • Peter Van Valkenburgh (secretary), the director of research at Coin Center, a non-profit organization focused on research, education, and advocacy on topics involving policy and cryptocurrencies.
  • Matthew Green, an assistant professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, and one of the authors of the original Zerocash research paper.
  • Naval Ravikant, the founder and CEO of AngelList, and one of the venture capital investors behind Zcash.

"I anticipate that eventually the foundation will become the central focal point for new protocol developments/upgrades, which will make Zcash governance clearer and more efficient than Bitcoin governance is," added Wilcox.