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Proton acquires Standard Notes to deepen its privacy-enabled portfolio

Switzerland-based Proton, a privacy-focused company that develops end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) webmail ProtonMail and other apps, has acquired Standard Notes, a note-taking app founded in 2017 . It offers the same strong privacy commitment also to its more than 300,000 users through the application E2EE.

In a press release announcing the move, Proton highlighted the parties’ “shared values,” including the use of E2EE; a commitment to open source technology; and the fact that neither relies on venture capital to drive growth.

E2EE is considered the gold standard in security technology because the service provider does not hold encryption keys. This means they are technically unable to decrypt user data, thereby protecting users’ content behind a so-called “zero-knowledge” architecture. In other words, you don’t have to trust your service provider not to snoop.

By adding Standard Notes to its app portfolio, Proton will deepen its ties with the privacy-friendly user community, add additional cross-selling opportunities, and increase the utility of its app ecosystem.

This note-taking app fills an obvious gap in Proton’s current product lineup.

Proton applies its flagship E2EE promise of strong security to a range of products, including email, calendaring and cloud storage. Additionally, it provides VPN services. It launched its own privacy- and anti-censorship CAPTCHA service last year to further complement its offerings, but so far it doesn’t have a dedicated note-taking app.

A key part of the duo’s “community-focused” approach is a freemium strategy, designed to support wider product access by effectively subsidizing free users with premium (paying) users. While there is some usage overlap, a Proton spokesperson said less than a quarter of Standard Notes users are already Proton users. So there’s room for cross-selling and further community building.

proton It said the standard note-taking app available for mobile and desktop will remain “open source, freely available and fully supported.”

It also indicated there would be no price change for standard notes; its press release noted that existing five-year subscriptions “will continue to be honored.”

“Standard Notes will remain a standalone product and, in due course, both companies will open access to their products to each other’s users,” Proton added.

Standard Note founder and CEO Mobita commented in a statement, speaking about a sense of shared purpose. “At Standard Notes, we’ve spent the past seven years working to create a place where people can think and write freely without fear of someone spying on them. This kind of freedom is very rare on today’s Internet, and it’s something we hope to always defend. ,” he wrote.

“To enable us to do this, we are delighted to partner with Proton, one of the few organizations that shares our ethos of not only being mission-driven, but also open source, self-sustaining and community-focused . In Proton, we have found a partner who shares our focus on protecting privacy.”

Proton was founded in 2014, but Standard Notes is only the second company it has acquired.On the contrary, itPrimarily focused on building the product in-house to expand its scope and increase usage (a year ago it Announce More than 100 million users). This includes building on its first acquisition, email alias startup SimpleLogin in 2022, and developing and launching full-fledged password management app Proton Pass in June.

In this case, Proton relies on its acquired SimpleLogin team for much of its product development. So the company is clearly not allergic to user acquisition and other integration-based growth opportunities, as it sees enough conceptual overlap and an opportunity to deepen its technology arsenal.

Proton aims to repeat this trick when it folds Standard Notes into its own deck, saying it expects the Standard Notes team to “make significant contributions to creating and improving the ecosystem of Proton’s existing and future products.” The broader goal is to advance a shared “mission,” as its PR puts it, to “build a better Internet where privacy is default.”

“This transaction is a strategic decision to benefit users by bringing to market a secure, easy-to-use private product that can be accessed by anyone,” Proton wrote. “Standard Notes and proton Engineers will begin working together immediately to ensure their combined skills and experience deliver results to users as quickly as possible. “

Proton founder and CEO Andy Yen confirmed that the respective apps use different encryption schemes. “But it’s not really an integration issue because it’s a separate application,” he told TechCrunch. “Later, we may make accounts interoperable so that proton Accounts can also be logged into Standard Notes and vice versa, just like we do with SimpleLogin. “

When asked about the sustainability of privacy-enabled business models that don’t rely on exploiting user data — when so much mainstream technology still continues to move in the opposite direction of data mining — Yen emphasized the need for long-term thinking Sexual privacy startup. And twist the courage to where it’s stuck.

“Competing with Big Tech is probably the toughest business challenge today, as the tech giants employ unfair and abusive tactics to hinder rivals,” he said. “While recent actions such as the EU’s Digital Markets Act or Justice The lawsuit against Apple may finally level the playing field, but it will take many years. It is a critical step in the right direction, but it will not have an immediate impact.”

“This means you have to be a little crazy to attempt this challenge today, and the only way to do it in the long run is to do it for the right reasons. The goals cannot be short-term or even medium-term financial results, as those goals may It’s difficult to achieve. Instead, you need to be mission-driven enough to survive in the brutal and difficult long-term game.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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