September 28, 2022

Signal makes Google strike organizer Meredith Whittaker its first president

Privacy-focused messaging app Signal has hired former Google executive and tech critic Meredith Whittaker as its first president, it announced in a blog post. She is already on the board, alongside WhatsApp founder, interim CEO and Facebook critic Brian Acton and former crypto CEO/evangelist Moxie Marlinspike. She will focus, she says, on strategy, communications and the long-term financial health of the foundation.

“I will work with the CEO and management of Signal, with a particular focus on guiding Signal’s strategy, ensuring our financial viability, improving and expanding Signal’s public communications, and all that is needed to strengthen enforcement and organization,” she said. Whittaker will also help in the search for a permanent CEO to replace Acton.

Whittaker rose to prominence as the founder of Google’s Open Research Group and organizer of a walkout after it emerged that Google had paid executives accused of sexual harassment, including Andy Rubin. She left the search giant in 2019and later formed the AI ​​Now Institute at NYU, with the goal of “ensuring that AI systems are accountable to the communities and contexts in which they are applied,” according to his mission statement. She is also a Senior AI Advisor at the Federal Trade Commission and joined the Signal Foundation Board of Directors in 2020.

Signal currently has more than 140 million users after receiving a significant boost following a backlash against changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy Last year. Along with Firefox, Signal is one of the few apps devoted to privacy rather than earning through data collection. To that end, Whittaker plans to focus on keeping the company healthy via small donations from millions of users who are “stepping in a bit,” she said. The Washington Post. “We have growth goals, but they are driven by our mission, not a desire for profit,” she added.

Updated 09/07/2022 11:48 a.m. ET: The post has been updated with the correct spelling of Meredith Whittaker’s name. Our apologies for the error.