March 24, 2023

Signal officially has a new president.

For the newly created position, the company behind the encrypted messaging app has hired former Google manager and AI Now Institute co-founder Meredith Whittaker.

Whittaker made the announcement himself Post on the Signal Blogwhere she outlines the strategic nature of the role that guides organizations towards long-term sustainability.

“As president, I am committed to helping Signal build a long taproot that will allow it to grow and thrive in a changing climate,” Whitaker wrote. “In this role, I will work with Signal’s chief The executive and leadership work together with a particular focus on guiding Signal’s strategy, ensuring our financial sustainability, enhancing and expanding Signal’s public communications, and any other work needed to strengthen the application and organization.”

Whittaker, a technology researcher best known as one of the organizers of a massive Google walkout in 2018, to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against executives. Inside Google, she is also known for her advocacy for ethical AI, and co-founded the AI ​​Now Institute at New York University, while still employed by the company.

In 2019, Whitaker leaves Google, became one of many strike coordinators who have claimed retaliation for their internal activism. Most recently, she was recognized for her depth of knowledge and ethical framework when she joined the FTC in November 2021 as a Senior Advisor on Artificial Intelligence.

As president, Whitaker will join Signal during the company’s transition period. In the same year that Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike stepped down as CEO, she took over the role — which remains vacant — at a time when there were still questions about the overall sustainability of the project.

The company is also the developer of Signal Protocol, an open-source encryption protocol for end-to-end encrypted messages that has been Incorporated into WhatsApp since 2016As a standalone app, Signal has around 40 million users — a fraction of WhatsApp’s roughly 2 billion users, but enough to make it a significant player in the messaging space.

Employees were told last year that in order for Signal to be self-sustaining, the app needed to reach about 100 million users. Although the user base has experienced a period of rapid growth in recent years, the company’s employees have expressed concern about the lack of sufficient resources to deal with the potential abusive use of the app.

in the comments give This Washington post, Whitaker appeared to hint that she would push more users to pay for the app. It costs “tens of millions of dollars a year” to develop and maintain, and making up for those costs without collecting data will be a huge challenge, Whittaker said.

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