Signal Reveals $50 Million Annual Costs for Secure Messaging Operations by 2025

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Signal Reveals $50 Million Annual Costs for Secure Messaging Operations by 2025
(Image: Jakub Porzycki via Reuters Connect)

The encrypted messenger Signal took an unusual step for such services by publicly disclosing its costs. The team anticipates around $50 million in annual expenses by 2025 to operate the service, as stated in a blog post on Thursday.

Presently, salaries and other personnel expenditures for approximately 50 full-time employees amount to $19 million. The necessary bandwidth for data transmission alone costs $2.8 million annually.

Signal consistently emphasizes end-to-end encryption, ensuring communication content remains visible only to the participants. Consequently, messages are temporarily stored on the cloud servers utilized by the operators solely for transmission purposes, which already incurs an annual cost of $1.3 million. However, the largest expense in infrastructure costs lies in user registration fees, totaling $6 million, where verification codes are sent via SMS.

The encryption technology initiated by Signal is utilized by messaging app WhatsApp, now under Meta, Facebook’s parent company. Nearly a decade ago, the service actively collaborated with Signal co-founder Moxie Marlinspike for this technology. Furthermore, the protocol, wholly or partially, incorporates its cryptographic primitives and ideas into other chat applications.

Signal operates as a non-profit entity under a foundation. Similar to Mozilla’s model, the actual development is managed through a formally separate subsidiary. The service aims to sustain itself in the long term by relying on a broad base of donors, as mentioned by foundation chair Meredith Whittaker in the blog post.

Signal has received a multimillion-dollar donation from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who received a portion of the over $20 billion Facebook paid for WhatsApp and subsequently became one of Signal Foundation’s co-founders. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey also supports Signal with a substantial annual donation. Additionally, the team relies on contributions from its numerous users.

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Ronald Peart
As an AI and machine learning aficionado, Ronald Peart unravels the complexities of artificial intelligence, offering comprehensive insights and updates on the tech landscape.