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How Does Signal Make Money?

Privacy is amongst the most sensitive subjects of our modern era. Every now and then we hear news about security violations and breaches due in no small part to flaws in the applications as well as backdoor deals with investors and data miners. Chances are, there is hardly an app on your phone that is not in some way compromising your data privacy.

Whatsapp, the world’s most popular messaging app, revealed a change in its terms of privacy policy last week in a sneaky, easily glossed over in-app notice, that allows it effectively share your data with Facebook. This unconscionable move has only resulted in drawing the collective ire of users from around the globe, especially in these trying times.

It is of little wonder then that users would be quick to switch to apps such as Signal that respect our data privacy and won’t trade it in to make money. So, how do they make money and cover their operational costs? Here, we take a look at the Signal messenger and find out how they generate revenue.

Related: Who Owns Signal App?

The Signal Foundation: A Non-Profit Organization

The Signal messenger app is the brainchild of the Signal Foundation, formerly known as the Open Whispers System. The focus of the foundation has been the development of its messenger app and protocol of the same name. 

The Signal Messenger, LLC, software organization – a subset of the Signal Foundation – is an open-source project and as such, doesn’t operate the way a regular software company does. That means developers can offer patches and solutions to improve Signal’s features and security protocols without it amassing a huge bill. Also, being a non-profit organization, Signal doesn’t have to rely on generating profits and running after the buck. Whatever operational and upgrade costs they do have are taken care of by donations and grants. 

Donations and Grants

So who are these angel donors that have been generous enough to facilitate Signal’s rise over the years? Here’s a list of the foundations that have kept Signal afloat in its initial days and help it come up as a viable alternative to Whatsapp (and other messaging services that we’re used to having).

Initial Grants (2013-2016)

The Open Whispers System, as the Signal Technology Foundation was previously known, received grants from a number of foundations between 2013 and 2016. The most notable of them included the likes of the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the US-government sponsored Open Technology Fund which provided almost $3 million during this time. 

Brian Acton – Founder of Signal Technology Foundation

In 2017, Brian Acton took up a loan of $50 million to help the Signal Foundation find its ground. This came soon after he had left Whatsapp, the company he had cofounded, and its parent company Facebook over disputes regarding the latter’s plans to monetize Whatsapp. 

That loan of $50 million increased to $105 million in 2018 and helped Signal accelerate and broaden its mission, develop further, and bolster its security protocols. This is a 0% interest loan, due to be repaid in February 2068. It appears people and organizations are very optimistic about Signal’s ambitious plans for the future, as are we. 

Freedom of the Press Foundation

The Freedom of the Press Foundation is another non-profit organization that had been Signal’s fiscal sponsor over the years, helping it secure millions in donations big and small. These donations helped Signal cover its developmental costs while its 501(c)(3) non-profit status was pending. 

Now that the Signal Technology Foundation has received its 501(c)(3) status, the crowdfunding efforts have wound down. 

Elon Musk

Tesla founder and world’s richest man was reportedly quite upset at Whatsapp’s new terms of services and privacy policies and had called all his followers to switch to Signal. 

In another recent tweet, he mentioned that he had donated to Signal a year ago, and will be donating more. 

As if this wasn’t enough, his recommendation led to a staggering 1,100% rise in Signal’s stocks. Many more are following suit and giving their goodwill to Signal.

Signal’s fundings and donations are only expected to rise in the future, as is their use on multiple platforms. Being a non-profit organization, Signal’s focus on keeping user data secure goes beyond the cheap schemes that companies like Whatsapp employ which changes its privacy policies depending on where the money is, for securing people’s privacy isn’t just a matter of money, it’s a whole philosophy that Signal operates on, and people appreciate it greatly.

If you’re looking to make the switch, you can download Signal for Android and iOS, and take back control of your data. 

What do you think of Signal? Will you be switching to it anytime soon, or will you alright with WhatsApp as it is? Let us know in the comments below.

Related: How to transfer your Signal chat history to a new iPhone?