Amazon’s cloud services giant, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is entering the industry of encrypted messaging. The company has just announced that it has acquired the secure communications service Wickr, a messaging application that has focused on providing services to government and military groups and businesses. It claims to be the only “collaboration service” that meets the security criteria set by the NSA.
AWS will continue to operate Wickr as is and will offer its services to AWS customers, “effective immediately,” notes a blog post by Stephen Schmidt, AWS vice president and CISO, announcing the news.
Financial terms were not disclosed in the brief announcement. Wickr had raised just under $ 60 million in funding, according to data from PitchBook (he also notes a valuation of less than $ 30 million, but that seems like a very old estimate). Meanwhile, Amazon’s cloud and enterprise division, AWS, has been a heavyweight for the e-commerce and services giant. AWS reported $ 13.5 billion in revenue last quarter, up 32% year-over-year, with net income of $ 8.1 billion.
Amazon’s purchase of a messaging product to provide secure services to government agencies comes at a time when the company continues to be embroiled in a dispute over the JEDI contract, a $ 10 billion deal to deliver services in the United States that Microsoft obtained during the Trump administration.
It’s unclear whether this is part of Amazon’s efforts to develop more infrastructure and services to flesh out its own offerings, or just a sign that it will continue to woo this market, with or without JEDI in its pocket.
The move also suggests that Amazon might consider making a bigger push into the messaging space – some might say a long-awaited move by the company.
The AWS division currently offers the Chime Communication Service, which enables organizations to meet, chat, and make business calls. But it’s a little-known product that hasn’t had the impact of competing services Slack or Microsoft Teams, and it doesn’t focus on end-to-end encryption like Wickr does.
Amazon reportedly worked on a messaging product as early as 2017, although it appears to be aimed more at consumers. The company also owns a number of social media patents.
Fast forward to 2021, and there are a million other messaging considerations that wouldn’t have been key factors in 2017, like encryption and other privacy features. And messaging in general has become more and more sophisticated.
There are four areas in particular where Amazon might be interested in playing here: (1) offering Wickr as a commercial service, continuing how it is used today; (2) create “messaging as a service” that other companies can use in their applications much like other AWS services; (3) build a consumer messaging application on top of the Wickr infrastructure; (4) more services connected to Echo, extending more functionality around greater social commerce / interactive play. Or all of the above.
Commenting on the acquisition, Stephen Schmidt, AWS CISO, said: “The need for this type of secure communications is accelerating. With the shift to hybrid work environments, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses and government agencies increasingly want to protect their communications at many remote locations. Wickr’s secure communications solutions are helping businesses and government organizations adapt to this shift in their workforce and are a welcome addition to the growing set of collaboration and productivity services that AWS offers to its customers and partners. .
In a notice posted on its website, Wickr said, “Since our founding ten years ago, we have grown to serve organizations in a wide range of industries, all over the world. With AWS, we look forward to taking our solutions to the next level for our customers and partners. “
Wickr, which was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco, describes itself as the “most secure” video conferencing and collaboration platform. Unlike other collaboration tools, which encrypt messages as they travel between a user’s device and a company’s servers but store those communications in an unencrypted state, Wickr uses end-to-end encryption. , which means that only people on either end of a conversation can decrypt and read messages.
Wickr also offers users an ephemeral messaging feature, which allows users to set self-destruct timers as short as a few seconds.
The company recently made a big leap forward in the business following the massive shift to online communications. In February of this year, Wickr launched the “World Federation,” a feature that enables businesses and government entities to communicate securely using end-to-end encryption with critical partners outside of their home. network.