WhatsApp founder gives $50M to fund future development of Signal messenger

Signal has announced that WhatsApp c0founder Brian Acton is providing $50M in funding for future development of the secure messaging app …

Signal said in a blog post that it has been challenging to develop the service with the limited resources of an open-source organization, but it had always resisted commercial funding.

We’ve always wanted to do much more, and our limitations have often been challenging. Over the lifetime of the project, there have only been an average of 2.3 full-time software developers, and the entire Signal team has never been more than 7 people. With three client platforms to develop, a service to build and run, a growing list of integrations to assist with, and millions of users to support, that has often left us wanting.

Even so, Signal has never taken VC funding or sought investment, because we felt that putting profit first would be incompatible with building a sustainable project that put users first. As a consequence, Signal has sometimes suffered from our lack of resources or capacity in the short term, but we’ve always felt those values would lead to the best possible experience in the long term.

The team yesterday created a non-profit which it said was made possible by Acton, who is offering his expertise as well as his money.

In case you missed it, Brian left WhatsApp and Facebook last year, and has been thinking about how to best focus his future time and energy on building nonprofit technology for public good.

Starting with an initial $50,000,000 in funding, we can now increase the size of our team, our capacity, and our ambitions. This means reduced uncertainty on the path to sustainability, and the strengthening of our long-term goals and values. Perhaps most significantly, the addition of Brian brings an incredibly talented engineer and visionary with decades of experience building successful products to our team.

Acton said he was excited to be working with Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike on developing ‘multiple offerings that align with our core vision.’

Moxie and his team have built something very special in Signal Messenger and I am thrilled to join their effort to provide the most trusted communications experience on the planet. I first met Moxie in 2013 when I was at WhatsApp and we were working on a joint effort to add end-to-end encryption to the app. I was blown away by his technical ability and admired his passion and absolute commitment to data protection and personal privacy. Moxie will continue to serve as CEO of the newly created Signal Messenger nonprofit organization, and I will serve as Executive Chairman of the Signal Foundation where I will take an active, daily role in operations and product development. After over 20 years of working for some of the largest technology companies in the world, I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity to build an organization at the intersection of technology and the nonprofit world.

Signal is the preferred messaging app of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, other security experts echoing his view that peer review of the open-source code makes it the most trustworthy choice. Apple hired one of Signal’s developers to work on its CoreOS security team back in 2016.

Signal is a free download from the App Store.

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