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22 Feb 2018

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton invests $50mn in messaging app Signal

WhatsApp co-founder joins non-profit for boosting encrypted messaging

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton has invested $50 million in encrypted instant messaging app Signal.

The app is known for providing encrypted communication services as it does not access or store any of its users' data.

With the help of the funding, the company has launched a non-profit organization called the 'Signal Foundation' to boost the next generation of open-source privacy technology.

In context

WhatsApp co-founder joins non-profit for boosting encrypted messaging

Acton to become executive chairman of Signal Foundation

While Acton will become the executive chairman of the non-profit foundation, Marlinspike will remain CEO of Signal Messenger, which is also a non-profit under the umbrella of the 'Signal Foundation.'

Rooting for user privacy, Signal has never sought VC funding

Purpose

Rooting for user privacy, Signal has never sought VC funding

Moxie Marlinspike, the founder Open Whisper System, the organization under which Signal was developed, said the foundation aims to "broaden Signal's mission of making private communication accessible and ubiquitous" and at the same time reduce Signal's "uncertainty on the path to sustainability."

Notably, the app has never sought investment, because it "felt that putting profit first would be incompatible with building a sustainable project."

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Acton supports technology that does not commoditize personal data

Acton, who left WhatsApp in September last year, said, "We believe there is an opportunity to act in the public interest and make a meaningful contribution to society by building sustainable technology that respects users and does not rely on the commoditization of personal data."

Signal

The end-to-end encrypted app is also backed by Edward Snowden

In the four years after its launch, Signal has become a popular app for surveillance-resistant communications and is widely used by journalists, activists, and others in the security community.

Its end-to-end encryption protocol is used by big tech platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and renowned cryptographer Matt Green of Johns Hopkins University are some of its other endorsers.

Why did Brian Acton leave WhatsApp?

Acton left WhatsApp in September 2017. His departure came just as WhatsApp was about to monetize for the first time with the launch of WhatsApp Business. Acton was reportedly not on-board with Facebook, that bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, wanting to monetize the app.

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