Proton Goes Nonprofit to Protect Users’ Interests

Proton Goes Nonprofit to Protect Users’ Interests

Todd Faulk Todd Faulk
Published on: June 21, 2024 Senior Editor

Proton, the Swiss company known for software products like Proton Mail and Proton VPN, has adopted a nonprofit structure to better protect its founding principles, according to a Proton blog post dated June 17.

The Proton Foundation, which is now the majority shareholder of the Proton business, “want[s] to remake the internet in a way that is private by default and serves the interests of all of society, not just the interests of a few Silicon Valley tech giants,” said Proton co-founder and CEO Andy Yen in the blog post.

Proton AG, the for-profit business entity, will still operate as before and still aim to make money, but now it will be protected from potential hostile takeovers and from investors more interested in quarterly returns than the interests of Proton users. The trustees of the Proton Foundation will serve only as a guiding force for the direction of the commercial operation.

Proton made the announcement of its structural change on the 10-year anniversary of the company’s founding. Proton obtained much of its initial capital by raising $500,000 from a crowdsourcing campaign. A team of former CERN scientists, including Yen, were concerned about growing “surveillance capitalism” in the cybersecurity industry, and decided to found their own “people first” cybersecurity company in 2014.

Proton has backed up its principles by donating millions of dollars in grants to organizations that aim to protect internet freedom. It has also worked to make a free internet more accessible to people living in censorship-heavy countries like Russia and Iran.

In 2022, Proton AG had accumulated revenue of $70 million, employed nearly 500 people, and had approximately 100 million customers for its range of products.[1] It rejects funding from corporations, donors, and governments and instead has been funded in part by the European Commission and technology incubators.


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