In a post-Snowden world, Southland startup competitor Enigmedia wants to restore consumer faith in the Internet
Enigmedia wants to make people trust the Internet again -- no small feat, given the revelation of National Security Agency programs meant to spy on anyone with an Internet connection, critical bugs that left two-thirds of the Internet vulnerable to attacks, and bad implementations of proven security tools in products used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
"I think the Internet has come a ridiculously long way given the fact that it's insecure and broken," said Evernote CEO Phil Libin, the company's mentor at the Southland startup competition. "But the recent loss of trust has been exponential and is really threatening to undermine a lot of the progress that we have made." The problem is that many of the solutions to these problems rely on frustrating products that many consumers don't want to use, he said.
Enigmedia plans to build that trust by offering secure communications products that don't require complicated installations or frustrate users with convoluted interfaces. It is currently focused on video communications and offers a secure video calling service that can be used through a mobile application and a plug-and-play product. The company claims it can be installed in less than a minute, but it plans to expand to other categories at some point in the near future.
Chief executive Iker Hernandez said today that the company's products are used by seven of Spain's largest companies, and that it has grown from a three-person startup formed after its founder wrote a research paper to a 23-person startup looking to move to the United States. It is currently seeking funding to do just that and continue to develop its products and services.
Libin explained his excitement about Enigmedia by saying that some company is going to end up making the Internet more secure, and that company is going to ultimately "be worth a billion dollars and rule the world." But that might also be the company's biggest problem: the competition in this space has started to really heat up in the wake of this year of urgent crises.
Silent Circle offers a variety of services and is developing a smartphone to capitalize on the idea that people want to secure their communications. FreedomPop developed its own phone, which can be paid for with Bitcoin, for much the same reason. Other companies like Wickr, Gryphn, and countless others are offering secure messaging services to do the same thing. This market might as well be called, as I suggested in March, the post-Edward Snowden gold rush.
There's no denying the fact that our faith in the Internet needs to be restored. But with so many options, it's easy to see how consumers might be overwhelmed and decide to forego these services altogether in favor of either leaving their communications insecure or just abandoning some of these digital tools altogether. Enigmedia, Libin, and many others don't think that this will be the case, but as of right now, the security market is still too complex.
[illustration by Ted Rall for Pando]