Encrypted messaging company Skiff wants you to sign out of Google Workspace forever

“Google, Amazon and Facebook have somehow turned the private human experience into the raw material of the digital economy,” says Jason Ginsberg, CTO of Skiff.

Jhe world needs an alternative workspace suite to Google, says Dan Guido, a longtime user of Skiff, a private, end-to-end encrypted email provider. Today, Skiff is taking a big step towards becoming a more private and secure replacement for the G Suite by adding end-to-end encrypted Calendar and Drive products to its suite, which also includes email and collaborative documents. called Skiff Pages.

“Google can see everything you write in documents,” says Guido, CEO of cybersecurity firm Trail Of Bits. “They can read all the emails you put into Google. They do machine learning there. They put it into a giant model that they calculate to produce ads. But Skiff can’t do any of that.

Although it cannot guarantee users complete immunity from hackers or surveillance, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of securing communications by encrypting data before it is transferred from one device to another. It ensures that no one except the sender and receiver can access or view the data while it is in transit. The list of consumer services using E2EE is growing rapidly, with tech giants like Apple and Meta (the parent company of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp) adopting it as the default for instant messaging, and businesses concerned Signal privacy, Telegram and ProtonMail are gaining more popularity. In 2021, Proton surpassed 50 million users, Signal had 40 million active users, and Telegram had over 500 million users.

Despite widespread interest in E2EE communication applications, the security method has come under scrutiny and criticism from government entities and law enforcement agencies for masking criminal and illicit activity. While other companies have focused on building email and messaging platforms, Skiff is one of the few working on an E2EE collaboration platform. While Skiff lacks some flagship features and products like its own encrypted messaging service, the startup has onboarded 300,000 users in the past six months.

Founded in April 2020 and launched in May 2022 by 25-year-old co-founders Andrew Milich and Jason Ginsberg, Skiff offers productivity tools like Pages, Email, Calendar, and Drive for free and through paid plans for additional perks like storage. Users can pay $8 per month for 100 GB of storage or $12 per month for 1 TB of storage. The co-founders, who are Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni, met while hosting a hackathon at Stanford University. The duo lead a team of 15 employees based around the world in places like Egypt and Israel. Backed by Sequoia Capital, Skiff has raised $23 million in funding and is advised by privacy leaders including Signal CTO Ehren Kret.

A major challenge in creating an encrypted version of Google Workspace is the complexity of encrypting different types of information. “Cryptography is a very fragile thing. Like, when it works, it’s great. But it may have a minor flaw that can render the whole system non-functional,” Guido explains.

Skiff has yet to roll out some essential email features, such as automatic filtering that can sort out promotional emails and declutter the inbox. While users can create labels and folders for emails, Skiff does not allow users to create a feature that automatically sends certain emails to a specific folder.

Simplistic in design and user experience, Skiff also has a unique data storage method: users can choose to store their data in the cloud or use a decentralized method of data storage. “If you store data on the decentralized network, we will use a network called IPFS or InterPlanetary File System, which has servers all over the world from which you can access your data,” says CEO Andrew Milich, who learned programming at age 5.

Skiff’s product suite is used by a wide range of consumers: cybersecurity professionals, journalists, Ukrainians and even 14-year-olds. The San Francisco-based startup aims to protect sensitive content such as medical records and financial information from surveillance by tech giants like Google and Microsoft.

“Google, Amazon and Facebook have somehow turned the private human experience into the raw material of the digital economy,” says Jason Ginsberg, CTO of Skiff. “At any time, these services can essentially sniff, produce and process your emails, documents, images and private messages.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *