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Standard Notes is acquired by Proton to expand its pro-privacy offering.

Switzerland-based Proton, a firm known for its commitment to privacy, has recently acquired Standard Notes, a note-taking app that was founded in 2017. It employs end-to-end encryption to provide a strong privacy guarantee to its 300,000+ users.

In a press release announcing the move, Proton highlighted the pair’s alignment in terms of values, such as the implementation of E2EE, a dedication to open source technology, and their independent growth without relying on venture capital.

Widely recognized as the highest level of security technology, E2EE ensures that service providers do not retain encryption keys. This signifies their technical incapacity to decrypt user data, guaranteeing the protection of users’ content through a “zero knowledge” architecture. In other words, there is no need to rely on the service provider to refrain from snooping.

With the inclusion of Standard Notes in its collection of apps, Proton is expanding its presence among a dedicated community of privacy-conscious users. This move not only opens up more possibilities for cross-selling but also enhances the overall usefulness of its app ecosystem.

The note-taking app addresses a clear need in Proton’s existing lineup.

Proton extends its commitment to strong security across a range of products, encompassing email, calendar, and cloud storage. In addition, it provides a VPN service. Last year, it introduced its own CAPTCHA service focused on privacy and anti-censorship, expanding its range of services. However, it did not have a dedicated note-taking app until now.

An important aspect of their approach is a strategy that focuses on the community and aims to provide wider access to the product. They achieve this by allowing premium users to effectively subsidize free users through a freemium model. According to a Proton spokesperson, only a small percentage of Standard Notes users are currently using Proton. There is ample opportunity for cross-selling and fostering stronger community connections.

Proton assured that the Standard Notes app will continue to be open source, freely available, and receive full support. It is accessible on both mobile and desktop platforms.

Furthermore, there will be no changes to the prices of Standard Notes. The press release explicitly guarantees the “respect” of current five-year subscriptions.

“Standard Notes will continue to operate as an independent product, and in the future, both companies will allow their users to access each other’s products,” Proton stated.

In a statement, Mo Bitar, founder and CEO of Standard Notes, emphasized the importance of a shared mission. Standard Notes has dedicated itself for the past seven years to providing a space where individuals can think and write without any privacy concerns. The preservation of such freedom is exceedingly uncommon in today’s online landscape, and it is a cause that we are committed to protecting indefinitely,” he expressed.

To achieve this, we are delighted to collaborate with Proton, an organization that shares our values and is committed to its mission. Proton’s commitment to open source, sustainability, and community is truly inspiring.” In Proton, we have discovered a partner who shares our unwavering commitment to safeguarding privacy.

Standard Notes is just the second company that Proton has acquired since its establishment in 2014. Instead, the company primarily focuses on developing its own products to broaden its offerings and increase its user base (it announced surpassing 100 million users a year ago). This involves expanding on its initial acquisition—email alias startup SimpleLogin, which it purchased in 2022—as well as creating and releasing a comprehensive password manager app called Proton Pass in June.

In that case, Proton relied heavily on the expertise of the SimpleLogin team it acquired for the majority of the product development. It is clear that the company is open to user acquisition and other growth opportunities that align with its philosophy and allow for further technical development.

Proton is poised to replicate its success. Proton anticipates that the Standard Notes team will play a crucial role in enhancing and expanding Proton’s range of current and upcoming offerings. The broader objective is advancing the common “mission” of “creating an improved internet where privacy is the default,” as stated in its public relations statement.

According to Proton, the deal is a strategic decision aimed at providing users with secure, user-friendly, and private products that are accessible to everyone. “Standard Notes and Proton engineers will collaborate right away to maximize their expertise and deliver valuable results to users at the earliest opportunity.”

The founder and CEO of Proton, Andy Yen, has confirmed that the apps utilize distinct encryption schemes. “However, that is not an issue for integration, as it is a separate app,” he informed Eltrys. “In the future, we might enable compatibility between Proton accounts and Standard Notes, allowing users to log in to both platforms interchangeably, similar to what we have done with SimpleLogin.”

When questioned about the viability of privacy-focused business models that don’t depend on exploiting user data, despite the prevailing trend of mainstream tech companies going in the opposite direction of data mining, Yen stressed the importance of privacy startups adopting a long-term perspective. Yen also emphasized the importance of summoning bravery when necessary.

“Competing with large technology companies is undoubtedly one of the most formidable business challenges in today’s landscape, given the unjust and manipulative tactics employed by these industry giants to impede competition,” he said. Although it may take a considerable amount of time, recent developments, such as the EU’s Digital Markets Act and the DOJ lawsuit against Apple, have the potential to bring about fairer competition in the long run. This is a crucial step in the right direction, although its impact may not be immediate.

It takes a certain level of determination to take on this challenge today, and the key to long-term success is having the right motivations. The objective should focus on long-term goals rather than immediate or near-term financial results, as those may prove difficult to attain. Instead, one must possess a strong sense of purpose to endure the challenges of the demanding journey ahead.

We are keeping the financial details of the acquisition confidential.

Juliet P.
Author: Juliet P.

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