Signal’s Brian Acton talks about exploding growth, monetization and WhatsApp data-sharing outrage – TechCrunch

Brian Acton is crossing paths again with Facebook. In more than a decade of creating and operating WhatsApp, the company’s co-founder competed first and then Sold his instant messaging app to Social Juggler. A few years ago he Part ways with the company This made him a billionaire Bitter division over messaging and privacy.

Now Acton says that the resentment Facebook has expressed over the messaging service that it helped build is motivating people for their latest project – Signal. Acton, who serves as executive chairman of the privacy-conscious messaging app’s holding company, told TechCrunch in an interview that Signal’s user base has “exploded” in recent weeks.

Acton said on a video call, “The smallest incidents helped trigger the largest share of the results.” “We are also excited that we are having conversations about online privacy and digital security and people are turning to Signal as the answer to those questions.”

“This is a great opportunity to shine the signal and give people a choice and choice. It was a slow burn for three years and then a huge explosion. Now the rocket is going, ”he said.

The incident that Acton is referring to is Recent changes In Data-sharing policy stated by whatsapp, An app that Serves over 2 billion users Whole world.

Through in-app alerts, WhatsApp has in recent times asked users to agree to new terms of conditions that allow the app to share its personal data with Facebook. According to the warning, users will have to agree to these conditions until February 8 if they wish to continue using the app.

Acton said that WhatsApp is struggling to incorporate demonetization facilities while protecting people’s privacy. And its new “complicated policy” has forced WhatsApp and the media Scramble for clarification And “everyone is confused.”

Acton did not disclose how many users the signal has reached in recent weeks, but added that the app currently tops the App Store in 40 countries and on the Google Play Store in 18 countries. (Signal is not the only app users have discovered in recent days as their new home. Telegram said Tuesday afternoon that more than 25 million users joined the platform in the last 72 hours. The app now has more than 525 million There are monthly active users.)

According to mobile insights firm App Annie, an industry executive shared data with TechCrunch, Signal had about 20 million monthly active users globally at the end of December 2020. According to Sensor Tower, the app was downloaded over 7.5 million times between January 6 and January 10.

Since its inception in 2018, Signal has promised that it will not sell its users’ data and will not show ads to its users. In 2018, Acton Invested $ 50 million in Signal Foundation, He said that a check said helped to get the ball rolling. But how does the messaging app work in the future?

He said that today Signal also relies on donations to control the business – and more users mean more donors. “If one billion users receive the signal, then it is one billion donors. All we have to do is you are so excited about the signal that you want to give us a dollar or 50 rupees. The idea is that we want to earn that donation. The only way to earn is by donating an innovative and delightful product. In my opinion it is a better relationship.

Acton said the model worked for the business, employing a small staff below 50. Between its frugal spending and the massive scale of the foundation, Signal still has some money in the bank.

The Signal Foundation has also previously stated that Messenger is its first product, and like Mozilla and Wikimedia Foundation, it intends to expand into more categories. Acton said that in the coming years, the team would consider whether they wanted to work on email and storage products, but added that the current focus remains on the messaging app.

Even Acton has publicly urged users Get off facebook, In our conversation he did not suggest that people should stop using WhatsApp. In contrast, Acton said that it relied on people relying on the signal to interact with their family and close friends and to use WhatsApp for other chats. “I have no desire to do all the things of WhatsApp. My desire is to give people a choice, ”he said. “Otherwise, you are locked into something where you have no choice. This is not a strictly winning scenario.”

One of the frequent criticisms of WhatsApp is that it is not enough to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform, resulting in Real life casualties. I asked Acton what is Signal, which also protects its users’ interactions with end-to-end encryption, if people start using their app for a similar purpose. Acton said that this is a tough challenge and that technology and the platform have their share of responsibilities, they can only do so particularly when you cannot see the content of the conversation.

“You should teach your children good digital responsibility. Just do not take the information you received immediately. Understand its source. Understand who are reliable sources. As a society, teach every member how it works, ”he said, pointing to the old days of the Internet, when email scams were rampant and with time and education people recognized them Had learned