Moxie Marlinspike, CEO of encrypted instant messaging service Signal, announced Monday that he will step down from his position. Brian Acton, co-founder of messaging service WhatsApp, will take over as interim CEO of the company.
Marlinspike, who started working on Signal almost a decade ago, said in a post on the company's website that it has been a goal for it to "sustain beyond [his] involvement." Marlinspike will remain on Signal's board of directors.
The company has been talking with candidates to replace Marlinspike over the past few months. Acton, who will transition into the interim role over the next month, also helped co-found Signal Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to develop open-source privacy technology, with a $50 million loan in 2018.
"It’s difficult to overstate how important Signal is to me, but I now feel very comfortable replacing myself as CEO based on the team we have, and also believe that it is an important step for expanding on Signal’s success," Marlinspike said in the post.
Launched in 2015, Signal has poised itself as a leader in privacy. It's reportedly gained more than 40 million users over the past six years and is often a go-to messaging service for journalists, lawyers and activists. Its next leader could pave the way for increased privacy in consumer messaging as the service continues to grow.
The announcement comes days after Wired reported Signal has been quietly working to broaden its anonymous, encrypted payment feature since November, a move which could draw scrutiny from regulators, anonymous Signal employees told the Verge.