WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is pouring $50m into secure messaging app Signal

The move will also see him serve as executive chairman of the firm’s new Signal Foundation

Text messaging

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is pouring $50 million into secure messaging app Signal and stepping up as executive chairman of the firm's new Signal Foundation.

Designed to keep prying eyes out of instant messages, Signal's tech, known as The Signal Protocol, is used in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Skype, among many other messaging apps, including the standalone Signal Messenger.

Signal has never taken VC funding or sought investment, and as a result as suffered from a lack of resource.

However, the firm said that by launching the non-profit Signal Foundation, headed by Acton, the firm will be able to "support, accelerate, and broaden Signal's mission of making private communication accessible and ubiquitous".

The foundation said it will focus on improving Signal Messenger to develop open source privacy technology that protects free expression and enables secure global communication, and may one day roll out other privacy-oriented technologies.

"Starting with an initial $50,000,000 in funding, we can now increase the size of our team, our capacity, and our ambitions," Signal Protocol's co-author Moxie Marlinspike said in a blog post.

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"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 left WhatsApp and Facebook last year and according to Signal, has been thinking about how to best focus his future time and energy on building nonprofit technology for public good.

"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 commoditisation of personal data," Acton said.

"Signal has always been a collaborative project with a strong community, and we will continue to learn from our users and experiment together." 

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