Proton, the Geneva, Switzerland-based startup behind the eponymous E2E encrypted webmail service ProtonMailacquired the French startup SimpleLoginwhich offers a freemium and open source service to create email aliases to allow users to protect their real email address when signing up for digital services.
Paris-based SimpleLogin was founded in 2019 and works as a browser extension, web app, and mobile app – also giving users a dashboard where they can disable aliases (for example, if one starts to be spammed) and manage multiple real email addresses (i.e. if they have a number of email accounts from which they want to be able to send aliased emails).
The startup has grown to over 100,000 users, with over 2 million email aliases created to date. We are also told that its monthly growth rate is in the double digits.
There is already a fair amount of service overlap between SimpleLogin and Proton, with around a quarter of SimpleLogin users also being ProtonMail users, according to a Proton spokesperson, who speaks of “strong synergies between us”.
Commenting on its acquisition in a statement, Son Nguyen Kim, Founder and CEO of SimpleLogin, added, “SimpleLogin’s mission is to protect your online identity… We love Proton’s mission, transparency, open source nature and culture. user-oriented. It’s exciting to know what we can do with Proton’s experience and resources.
Financial terms of the acquisition are not disclosed.
In a blog post Announcing the acquisition, Proton Founder and CEO Andy Yen also flagged the overlap, writing, “We have been following SimpleLogin closely for a long time as many ProtonMail users use it to prevent their ProtonMail addresses from being leaked to spammers.
“SimpleLogin is an add-on service to ProtonMail,” he adds. “ProtonMail protects the privacy of your data with encryption, while SimpleLogin prevents malicious actors from discovering your real email address by obfuscating your email address.”
Proton’s plan is to integrate SimpleLogin functionality deeper into ProtonMail, which means its larger user base will be able to mask their email addresses using SimpleLogin without having to sign up for it separately. service.
Proton will also maintain SimpleLogin as a separate service, per Yen.
“If you’re already using SimpleLogin with ProtonMail, things will continue to work as before,” he says. “SimpleLogin will continue to operate as a separate service, and the SimpleLogin team will continue to build new features and add functionality, but now with the benefits of Proton’s security engineering infrastructure and capabilities.”
The SimpleLogin team will continue to operate from Paris, from where Yen says Proton will now actively seek recruitment while continuing to grow the business, adding that his hope is to create “dozens” of jobs in the years to come.
The acquisition marks a further expansion of Proton’s suite of services – which, along with E2E webmail for home and business users, includes a proprietary VPN, calendar product and cloud storage (aka Proton Drive).
Maintaining a privacy-driven business model that does not rely on data mining users to generate revenue encourages expansion into additional, aligned service areas to maximize cross-selling opportunities. As a result, we’ve also seen the no-track browser, DuckDuckGo, gain a number of additional services in recent years as competition intensifies for privacy-centric services.
Most pertinently, DuckDuckGo has launched an email protection service last summer, which offers an email protection feature quite similar to SimpleLogin – providing users with a free @duck.com personal email address (albeit just to forward emails to the usual inbox of the user; DuckDuckGo claims that it does not log your emails and is not [as yet] offering a similar webmail service).
It is clear that increasing competition in the privacy space is leading to previously very distinct services to expand further and begin to overlap territorially. For users, the result is more comprehensive privacy products that promise to protect more of their online activity from prying eyes.