Andy Yen is the CEO of Proton Technologies, the firm behind Protonmail. According to this site, Andy has a degree in Economics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard. He has advocated privacy rights for many years. His company has turned into a success several years after Yen and his co-founders launched the encrypted email application as an alternative to the services that tech giants such as Microsoft and Google offer. The increasing privacy concerns about encrypted email apps are driving many consumers to the firm’s platform. The following are 10 things you didn’t know about Andy Yen.
1. His company has over 50 million registered users
Protonmail has millions of users, up from around twenty million at the end of 2019. Even though many people do not know about it yet, the rapid growth is a sign of the rising influence of big tech critics such as Yen who says that the company’s huge market power and tracking of the data of personal users poses a threat to democratic values.
2. He is a prominent tech CEO
The outsize influence is evident is the way Google and Apple manage their app stores. Some other prominent tech CEOs include Tim Sweeny of Epic Games and Daniel Ek of Spotify. The commissions that his company charges are lower than those of Google and Apple.
3. He was once a research physicist
Yen held an interview with The Information at his home in Geneva. He claimed that Proton Technologies and similar companies will always face a competitive disadvantage if applications are obliged to use payment systems that Google or Apple operate. Firms such as Google and Apple play a major role in the success of every technology company. If a company has a particular level of dominance over the distribution of apps, it has specific regulations and rules that it needs to comply with.
4. His company has played a role in the encryption surge
Once he obtained his Ph.D. in physics, he moved to Geneva to research particle physics at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). After he was disappointed with his research path, he focused on his interest in encryption. Yen and Wei Sun, a software developer and CERN colleague, and Jason Stockman launched ProtonMail mainly as an experiment. Since then, it has become the best email service for people who prioritize privacy. Proton now employs more than 300 employees, largely is Switzerland where Yen sad the firm is based because of the stringent privacy laws in the nation.
5. ProtonMail is available for free for those who can subscribe to monthly plans
ProtonMail’s monthly plans begin at about $7.50. The firm currently has file storage apps and a beta testing calendar. The firm eventually wants to add messaging, document editing, and other services. Yen did not disclose the firm’s revenue but stated that it is profitable and that the rise in income has tracked the increase in users easily.
6. He took a large loan to establish his business
Yen borrowed $550,000 to establish his company and he obtained some of the funds from investors like Steve Wozniak. Early on, the firm also received several million dollars in venture capital from firms such as Charles River Ventures. However, the people who invested later sold their stakes. These days, Proton is owned by employees almost 100%, along with individual users who have bought its shares in the secondary market. Yen stated that Proton is open to outside funding, but only from investors who want to prioritize making a great impact on society over garnering the best possible returns.
7. He is frustrated over the fees his company pays to Google
Protonmail relies on subscription revenue and that is why it fights against Google and Apple. Both companies take a thirty percent cut of a majority of in-app purchases and a fifteen percent cut of recurring subscription revenue. Yen said that it is unfair to pay your competition thirty percent. Many companies even lack a thirty percent margin. Therefore, it is evident that it ruins innovation and it is evident that it creates a tilted playing field. Google and Apple did not comment directly on Yen’s remarks. Apple supported previous statements that its application store has generated billions of dollars for developers and its commissions are essential for keeping the App store profitable and secure. Spotify, Proton, and Epic state that Android phones and iPhones are vital means for reaching consumers, and the control of Google and Apple over distribution, including their role as the main payment processors, enables them to take a disproportionate cut of the revenue of application sponsors.
8. His firm seeks to advance internet security
According to this site, Protonmail is seeking to advance internet security and protect online privacy rights by allowing anyone to add encryption in the way they communicate every day.
9. He considers ethical aspects when asked for cooperation in criminal investigations
When running an operation in any country, one has to follow all the rules of the country. Almost all nations need companies to help in a certain way in criminal investigations. Yen chose Switzerland because they have selected a jurisdiction where they believe there is a strong intuitional and cultural respect for privacy that extends both to the behavior and laws of the court as well as law enforcement. Therefore, in the example that you bring up with an activist or journalist, it is a bit daunting to obtain a Swiss Court to label such a person a criminal. In every case, his legal team reviews every request and fights certain requests that they believe are improper. If the court order becomes approved, they are quite limited in what it can offer given their policy of gathering as little information as possible about users.
10. He prefers to release things when they are ready
When asked about the future plans for proton key and protondrive, Yen commented that he finds it better to release things when they are ideal and up to the company’s standards. He says that ProtonDrive development is already underway and there is a team based in their Zurich office that is beginning to work on that.