Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn

Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn is an American computer scientist, cryptographer, cypherpunk, and creator of Zcash.

Zooko has more than 20 years of experience in open, decentralized systems, cryptography and information security, and startups. 

Wilcox-O'Hearn is an accomplished designer of multiple network protocols that include self-contained economies and secure reputation systems. He played a key role in the development of ZRTP and the BLAKE2 cryptographic hash function. Zooko has worked as a developer on various P2P systems, including MojoNation and Mnet, and as a developer at SimpleGeo.

Wilcox-O'Hearn has been involved in the development of several cryptocurrency projects, including working with David Chaum on the first cryptocurrency, DigiCash, in 1996. He is also a founding member of the anonymous cryptocurrency Zcash, and currently serves as the CEO of the Electric Coin Company, an affiliated company. Wilcox-O'Hearn commissioned a study by the Rand Corporation to investigate whether anonymous coins were more frequently involved in criminal transactions; the study found no evidence to support this claim.

Additionally, Wilcox-O'Hearn co-created Blake3, a cryptographic hash function. He was the founder and CEO of Least Authority Enterprises, and currently serves as an advisor to the company.

He is recognized for his work on DigiCash, Mojo Nation, ZRTP, “Zooko's Triangle”, Tahoe-LAFS, BLAKE2, and SPHINCS. He is also the Founder of Least Authority. He sometimes blogs about health science. 


Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn is an American computer scientist and entrepreneur, best known as the founder of Zcash, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency. He was born on January 13, 1974, in the United States.

Zooko's passion for computer science and cryptography began at an early age. He was intrigued by the potential of cryptographic systems to secure data and protect privacy. He pursued his interests further, earning a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In the late 1990s, Zooko co-authored the Tahoe-LAFS distributed secure file system, which aimed to provide secure and decentralized storage. This project was a stepping stone for his future endeavors in the field of privacy and security.

In 2013, Zooko founded Zcash (originally called Zerocoin Electric Coin Company), a groundbreaking cryptocurrency that prioritizes privacy and anonymity. Zcash utilizes advanced cryptographic techniques, such as zero-knowledge proofs, to enable shielded transactions, where the sender, receiver, and transaction amount are all kept confidential.

Zooko's vision for Zcash was to create a digital currency that combined the decentralized nature of Bitcoin with robust privacy features. By implementing zero-knowledge proofs, Zcash allows users to conduct transactions without revealing their identities or the details of their transactions to the public.

Under Zooko's leadership, Zcash gained significant attention within the blockchain and cryptocurrency community. The project received support from notable investors and attracted a dedicated team of developers and researchers. Zcash's successful launch in 2016 marked a significant milestone in the evolution of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies.

Beyond Zcash, Zooko has been actively involved in promoting and advocating for privacy and security in digital systems. He has contributed to various projects and initiatives related to decentralization, cryptography, and internet privacy.

Zooko's work in the field of cryptocurrency and privacy has earned him recognition and respect from his peers. His expertise and insights have made him a sought-after speaker at conferences and industry events. He continues to contribute to the advancement of cryptographic technologies and the exploration of new approaches to privacy in the digital age.

Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn's entrepreneurial spirit, technical expertise, and dedication to privacy have made him a key figure in the cryptocurrency space. Through his innovations and contributions, he has paved the way for a more secure and private digital future.


Zooko's vision is to create secure and decentralized systems that prioritize privacy, self-sovereignty, and user control. 

He has been involved in the development of several secure and decentralized systems, including Tahoe-LAFS and Zcash, which are designed to protect user privacy and security. Zooko's work on cryptographic protocols and hash functions also demonstrates a commitment to developing technologies that are resistant to attacks and can provide users with more control over their data

In addition, his contributions to the development of network protocols that incorporate self-contained economies and secure reputation systems suggest a vision of decentralized systems that are more equitable and resistant to corruption.

Recognition and Awards
Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn is a prominent computer security specialist and cryptocurrency expert, known for his contributions to the development of decentralized and secure computer systems. He is best known for his work on the Tahoe Least-Authority File Store (Tahoe-LAFS), a secure and decentralized file system, which he released under the GPL and TGPPL licenses. The Tahoe-LAFS system uses a least-authority security model to provide a high level of data security and privacy. Zooko is also the creator of the Transitive Grace Period Public License (TGPPL), a software license that allows users to use and distribute software freely for a certain period of time, after which they are required to purchase a license. This innovative licensing scheme has been widely adopted in the software industry and is considered a major contribution to the development of open-source software.

Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn
Computer security specialist, cypherpunk, entrepreneur
Known for
Tahoe Least-Authority File Store (Founder and CEO)
DigiCash, Mojo Nation, ZRTP, “Zooko's Triangle”, Tahoe-LAFS, BLAKE2, SPHINCS
Social Media
Sat Mar 02 2024

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