Wire CEO sees secure messaging surge as working patterns change

Morten Brøgger believes his company's time is coming as companies seek new ways to work.

‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,' goes the old wisdom: in other words, make the most out of unpromisingly sour ingredients and you can do rather well. It's been proven true in business: Dell grew exponentially at the time of the 1990/91 US recession, for example, because companies couldn't afford to pay a premium for IBM or Compaq personal computers. 

The COVID-19 crisis, like any crisis, will see some companies benefit as knowledge workers learn to operate virtually, holding more video calls, collaborating more online, working from a convenient space and using cloud services to process and store files. Little wonder that conferencing companies such as Zoom have seen share prices rocket.

Another company that is seeing a boost by some indicators is Wire, the maker of a collaboration suite noted for its high level of security, as firms understandably seek the tools to communicate safely. 

"The future has arrived," says Morten Brøgger the company's Danish CEO, when we chat via his company's software on the fourth week of lockdown for him in San Francisco and for me in London. "We're one of those fortunate companies that's actually benefiting."

Brøgger says Wire scored 200 new paying customers in its calendar first quarter, "some of them very, very large", a big bump that took its total audience to 800 with sales that were up 407 per cent year on year. The company usually has 2,000-2,400 free trials taking place at any moment in time; now, it's about 8,000.

The reason for that uptick is fairly simple. "The majority of other players in collaboration … 98, 99 per cent of them use old-school encryption," Brøgger says. This leaves them open to so-called "man in the middle" attacks where attackers can intercept conversations. Wire's architecture sees new encryption keys used for each conversation and most processing and storage handled on the device and even Wire's own techies don't have any access to the messages, subscribers send.

"I can get subpoenaed, but I can't give the keys. I can get hacked, but they can't get the keys," Brøgger says. "If you have $1m and you find the best safe, there will still be criminals who make a business case for trying to break into it based on effort versus profit. But if you have a million different safes with $1 in each, that's different."

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