SIGNAL: How did this “DARK HORSE” come about??

by Shoubhik Sen
Signal App

WhatsApp’s recent privacy guidelines have created quite a stir, raising questions on the safety of the data of billions subscribed to this platform. With more and more people wanting to opt out of WhatsApp, the search for equally effective alternate platforms has begun. One that genuinely offers the encryption that most platforms promise.
The dark horse however, that emerged from among this whole fiasco, is SIGNAL. A name hitherto unheard of at least in India, the Signal App has seen an 18-fold increase in downloads from last week (acc. to Apptopia). More than 8 lakh people downloaded this app since Sunday. Signal in fact, found it difficult to follow up with verification messages due this sudden surge of downloads.

This overnight success has made SIGNAL a much sought after platform. Along with downloads, there has been an increasing interest in this platform. So here, we’ll cover the journey of SIGNAL, till it’s recent success


All great ideas today were once just those…….Ideas!! Signal too was an idea in the minds of Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson. This was a mobile security software start-up called WHISPER SYSTEMS co-founded by both in 2010. They came up with 2 platforms namely TextSecure(for messaging) and RedPhone(for calling), that provided end-to-end encrypted communication. These offered guaranteed privacy and that too for free.

This was what attracted social media giant Twitter. It ended up acquiring Whisper Systems in 2011. Marlinspike became the “Head of Cyber Security”. Under him, Twitter launched or rather re-launched these services as open source apps. Marlinspike however, left the company in 2013 and eventually went on to create his own separate company.


The company that Marlinspike ended up creating was named OPEN WHISPER SYSTEMS. Along with Trevor Perrin, he started development of the Signal protocol, that enables such end-to-end encryption. He continued work on TextSecure and RedPhone, which were powered by this very protocol.

Both of eventually released in 2015, as the very app we know today i.e SIGNAL. Signal was available for Windows, Linux as well as Mac by 2017.


In 2018, Marlinspike partnered with WhatsApp creator Brian Acton to form the non profit organization called SIGNAL FOUNDATION, with an initial funding of $50 million by Acton. Marlinspike stayed as CEO and Acton became the executive chairman. As it does not run ads, SIGNAL runs totally on donations. In fact, this was the reason for disagreements between Brian Acton and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Said disagreements were reportedly over the monetization of WhatsApp. Zuckerberg had plans to monetize the platform (ads, commercial messaging etc) while Acton wanted to stick to his motto of “no ads, no games, no gimmicks”. Therefore, SIGNAL ensures the required privacy, integrity and secrecy that would keep up it’s promise of authentic end-to-end encryption.

SIGNAL Messenger has turned out to be the best alternative to Whatsapp. It guarantees the privacy and confidentiality in individual as well group chats. It also does not obtain your messages, contacts or even profile information. Messages on Signal automatically disappear after after a period of time. All in all, this platform solves all your privacy related problems. It upholds Acton’s idea of non monetization of data.

SIGNAL has all the potential to become the most trusted messaging platform in the near future.