Signal CEO steps down, WhatsApp co-founder becomes interim headVish Gainon January 11, 2022 at 09:10 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic


The chief executive of messaging app Signal is stepping down from his role after four years at the helm, with co-founder and entrepreneur Brian Acton stepping in as interim CEO.

Moxie Marlinspike, who co-founded Signal in 2018 with Acton, made the announcement in a Signal blog post yesterday (10 January). He said after working on Signal for almost a decade, and as CEO for four years, “it’s a good time to replace myself”.

The Whatsapp and Telegram competitor is a free and open source instant messaging service that can be used on smartphones and desktops. First officially named Signal in 2015, the app got its current form in 2018 after a $50m funding from Acton helped the two launch the Signal Foundation.

Acton had previously co-founded WhatsApp which went on to be acquired by Meta (then Facebook) in February 2014 for more than $19bn. After leaving WhatsApp in 2017 to start the Signal Foundation, Acton became the executive chairman in 2018 – a role he has held since.

Marlinspike said that it was always his goal for Signal to grow and sustain beyond his decade-long involvement in developing and running the app, an idea “that still would not have been possible” four years ago because he was responsible for writing code, taking calls and managing everything in the company’s initial stages.

“I couldn’t ever leave cell service, had to take my laptop with me everywhere in case of emergencies, and occasionally found myself sitting alone on the sidewalk in the rain late at night trying to diagnose a service degradation,” he wrote in the blog post.

Signal now has 30 employees across engineering, design and support staff, as well as “a very accomplished and committed leadership team” that honours “the values and the mission that Signal was built on”, Marlinspike went on.

Concerns around some of Meta-owned WhatsApp’s privacy policy updates, which gave the parent company access to increasing amounts of user data, partly led to the rise in popularity of alternative messaging services such as Telegram and Signal.

As of January last year, Signal had around 40m users worldwide and had been downloaded more than 105m times.

However, Signal’s relatively trusted end-to-end encryption may be at risk, according to The Verge, after the messaging app’s intention to introduce an integration with in-app crypto payments, exposing its strong data privacy to regulators around the world trying to end end-to-end encryption.

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