Moxie Marlinspike, creator and CEO of the popular encrypted chat application Signal, says that he will be stepping down as head of the company this year but plans to name a successor in the coming months.
Signal, which offers end-to-end encryption and is considered one of the most secure, privacy-oriented chat platforms available, was launched by Marlinspike (whose real name is Matthew Rosenfeld) as a free, open-source platform. Since its initial launch, the messenger service has become wildly popular — now claiming as many as 40 million users. The company, Signal Messenger LLC, subsists off of donations to the Signal Foundation, the non-profit of which it is a subsidiary.
Marlinspike, who has run the company since its launch, tweeted out the announcement about his transition on Monday, linking to a statement explaining his decision:
It's a new year! I've decided it's a good time to replace myself as the CEO of Signal: https://t.co/oX6yLebDhh
— Moxie Marlinspike (@moxie) January 10, 2022
Marlinspike says that he will be transitioning out of the role over the next month and will be immediately replaced by Signal Foundation board member Brian Acton, who will serve as interim CEO. Acton currently serves as the Executive Chairman of the Foundation and is also the co-founder of WhatsApp, the encrypted chat platform bought by Facebook (now Meta) in 2014. And while the association with a former member of the Facebook clan might cause some concern, Acton has been quite critical of the company since he left in 2017. Marlinspike said he has “have every confidence” in Acton’s “commitment to the mission and ability to facilitate the team for this time.” While Acton serves as a temporary leader, Marlinspike plans to search for a more permanent replacement.
It’s unclear exactly what Marlinspike plans to do next, though the developer has made it known that he will remain on Signal’s board and will stay “committed to helping manifest Signal’s mission from that role,” as he put it.
We’ve also recently seen Marlinspike show signs of interest in cryptocurrency and web3 tech through minor joke projects, a sceptical blog post surveying the industry, and perhaps most importantly, the global launch of crypto-payments through Signal.
“After a decade or more, it’s difficult to overstate how important Signal is to me, but I now feel very comfortable replacing myself as CEO based on the team we have, and also believe that it is an important step for expanding on Signal’s success,” Marlinspike said in a blog post on Monday. “I’ve been talking with candidates over the last few months, but want to open up the search with this announcement in order to help find the best person for the next decade of Signal. Please get in touch if that might be you!”
In other words, nobody is in line for the job yet but Marlinspike is clearly taking applications. If you’re looking to run one of the coolest privacy applications around, maybe try sliding into Marlinspike’s DMs? He probably wants to hear from you.