Proton Enhances its Privacy Portfolio with Acquisition of Standard Notes

Switzerland-based Proton, the privacy-focused firm behind end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) webmail ProtonMail and other apps, has acquired Standard Notes, a note-taking app founded back in 2017. By adding Standard Notes to its portfolio of apps, Proton will deepen its reach with an engaged community of pro-privacy users, layering on additional cross-selling opportunities as well as boosting the utility of its app ecosystem. And while there is some usage overlap, a Proton spokesperson said that less than a quarter of Standard Notes users are already Proton users. Proton said the Standard Notes app, which is available for both mobile and desktop, will remain “open source, freely available and fully supported”. Commenting in a statement, Mo Bitar, founder and CEO of Standard Notes, talked up the sense of shared mission.

Switzerland-based Proton, the privacy-focused firm behind end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) webmail ProtonMail and other apps, has officially acquired Standard Notes, a popular note-taking app that was founded in 2017. With a shared commitment to privacy, the merger has been deemed a strategic move by Proton as they continue to expand their product offerings and user base.

“At Standard Notes, over the past seven years we have sought to create a place where people are free to think and write without the worry that someone is looking over their shoulder. That freedom is incredibly rare on the internet today, and something that we want to safeguard forever.”

– Mo Bitar, founder and CEO of Standard Notes

Like Proton, Standard Notes also offers powerful end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to its community of over 300,000 users, ensuring the utmost privacy and security for their notes. This common bond of secure technology and commitment to open-source principles has solidified the partnership between the two companies.

Unlike many tech companies that rely on venture capital funding, both Proton and Standard Notes have taken a different route to growth, prioritizing their values and community over external financial support.

E2EE has established itself as the gold standard for secure technology, as service providers do not have access to encryption keys, making it impossible for them to decrypt user data. This “zero knowledge” architecture means that users do not have to place their trust in the service provider to protect their information.

By adding Standard Notes to their range of apps, Proton is expanding their reach and connecting with even more privacy-conscious users. As they continue to cross-sell their products and build a stronger community, the partnership with Standard Notes fills a gap in Proton’s existing lineup.

“The objective cannot be short-term or even mid-term financial outcomes, as those are likely to be challenging to achieve. Instead, you need to be mission-driven enough to survive the brutally difficult long game.”

– Andy Yen, Founder and CEO of Proton

Proton offers a suite of products, including email, a calendar, and cloud storage, all backed by their flagship E2EE promise. They also have a VPN service and recently launched a CAPTCHA service focused on privacy and anti-censorship measures. With the acquisition of Standard Notes, Proton now adds a dedicated note-taking app to their arsenal, further solidifying their position as a leader in privacy-focused technology.

One of the shared values between Proton and Standard Notes is their “community-focused” approach, which includes a freemium model that allows for wider access to their products. Premium (paying) users effectively subsidize the use of the apps for free users. While there is some overlap in user demographics, less than a quarter of Standard Notes users are already Proton users, leaving room for growth and cross-selling opportunities.

The Standard Notes app, available for both mobile and desktop, will remain open source, freely available, and fully supported. There will also be no changes to pricing, with existing subscriptions being honored.

Proton has confirmed that the apps currently use different encryption schemes, but they are exploring the possibility of future interoperability so that users with a Proton account can also access Standard Notes and vice versa.

As Proton continues to build on their first acquisition of email alias startup SimpleLogin, and the recent launch of their password manager app Proton Pass, it is evident that they are open to growth opportunities that align with their values and mission. By bringing Standard Notes into their ecosystem, Proton hopes to work together to create and improve their range of products, all with the goal of providing secure, easy-to-use, and private solutions for users.

Ultimately, the acquisition of Standard Notes is a strategic move for Proton, as both companies share a mission to protect privacy and build a better internet. With the long-term goal of making privacy the default, Proton is determined to compete with the likes of Big Tech and make a lasting impact. While this may be a daunting task, they believe that staying true to their mission and values will be the key to success.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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