It’s now been nearly nine years since 10,000 people came together to launch Proton through a public crowdfunding campaign. Today, as we pass another milestone with 100 million Proton Accounts, we want to take a moment to reflect on the journey so far and Proton’s promise for the future.
When we first created Proton in 2014 in the CERN cafeteria and launched Proton Mail, the world’s first end-to-end encrypted email service, the usefulness and longevity of online privacy were very much in doubt. From that perspective, we can perhaps view Proton’s historic crowdfunding success as a moment when the tide started to turn.
Nine years is a long time, particularly in tech, and this makes Proton a survivor. The reason we have come as far as we have is really because of the community. Through your encouragement, your opinions, and even your criticisms, the Proton community has held us to a high standard, and Proton services are better today because of this. While this has not always been easy, it has made us stronger and more resilient.
The trends of the world have also played their role. Today, the world is more skeptical than ever about Big Tech’s business models built upon surveillance and control, creating the need for alternatives like Proton that return power to the people. Signups to Proton VPN increased by 9,000% compared to our average in just a few days at the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Similarly, protests in Iran last October drove huge demand for Proton VPN as users sought to skirt online restrictions, with signups peaking at 5,000% above average. Around the world, in places that we often least expect, people turn to Proton services when freedom is under attack.
The success of the experiment we started together in 2014 has proven that there’s another way for companies to do business on the internet. You’ve helped prove that people are willing to pay for online services if those services treat you like a person, not a product. This has had perhaps irreversible consequences for the future of the internet.
Looking forward, many changes are coming. Your feedback and support have enabled us to add the services and features you want to the Proton ecosystem, allowing us to protect even more personal information. We started with Proton Mail, Proton VPN, and Proton Calendar, and we’re now bringing Proton Drive along the same journey. Look for Proton Drive to continue to develop and grow as our other services have, with the goal of eventually matching the capabilities of unencrypted cloud storage services.
Thanks to your feedback, we’re learning and finding ways to develop services at a much faster pace. We’ll also continue to create more services with a privacy-first philosophy, and the Proton privacy ecosystem will continue to grow so we can create even more value for the community.
What is more notable is perhaps what is not changing. We will always offer our services for free because everyone deserves privacy. We will also always make our services open source because we believe trust is earned, not given, and the best way for us to earn your trust is to show you exactly how our service works. And Proton itself will remain independent, neutral, and focused solely on serving the needs of our community. Your ongoing support means that Proton is not dependent on venture capital investment, and we only answer to the Proton community. And even though Proton products and services have expanded, we’re proud to have never made a price increase in nine years, and we hope to keep it this way despite high inflation.
The internet is at an inflection point — and while there’s much work to be done, it appears the internet of the future is one where your privacy will be respected. This is only possible thanks to the work and support of the Proton community, so keep your comments and suggestions (and criticisms) coming as we go forward to the internet of tomorrow together.
Everyone deserves an internet that’s free, open, and private, and we look forward to working with you to make this a reality.