Proving there’s money in privacy these days, secure communications firm Silent Circle has announced a $30 million funding round from investors including Ross Perot Jr. and Cain Capital. What’s more, Perot and Sir Peter Bonfield, once upon a time the head of British Telecom, have joined Silent Circle’s advisory board.
Silent Circle is most notable for the Blackphone, a privacy-centric handset, produced alongside manufacturer Geeksphone, that uses an Android(s goog) fork called PrivatOS and comes loaded with all sorts of security tools including Silent Circle’s encrypted voice and text communications tools. The much-anticipated device will start shipping in June, probably mostly to enterprise and government customers.
The firm is also working with shuttered secure email service Lavabit on “Email 3.0”, which will supposedly be both secure and easy to use, and leak less metadata than today’s encrypted email protocols.
According to a statement on Wednesday, co-founder Mike Janke said the cash gave Silent Circle “the resources to meet the demand for our encrypted mobile voice, video, secure file transfer and international secure calling plans.” He said the firm could already boast 23 of the Fortune 50 companies, along with 11 national governments, as customers.
As part of the announcement, Silent Circle said it was relocating its headquarters from Nevis (a Caribbean island) to Switzerland, which is neutral and has very strong privacy laws. SGP Technologies, the joint venture of Silent Circle and Geeksphone, is also headquartered in Switzerland.
The outfit also said it had appointed former Dell exec Anurag Jain – also Perot’s partner in the new Perot Jain tech fund – as vice chairman of its board. In the statement, Jain pointed out that it was rare for a firm to release “multiple uniquely disruptive technologies” with such good timing. He also said, correctly, that there were many markets outside the U.S. where “demand for private communications solutions is fueled by strong privacy cultures, intrusive surveillance and censorship.”
Silent Circle would no doubt be doing well anyway, with all-star founders such as PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, but last year’s NSA revelations were certainly instrumental to the company’s current momentum. Best of luck to them, I say – the more money flows into privacy-first business models, the more development of those models we’ll see.