Proton Creates the Non-Profit Proton Foundation

Proton has made a major change to its structure, creating the non-profit Proton Foundation to "act in the best interests of the Proton community in perpetuity."...
Proton Creates the Non-Profit Proton Foundation
Written by Matt Milano
  • Proton has made a major change to its structure, creating the non-profit Proton Foundation to “act in the best interests of the Proton community in perpetuity.”

    Proton is a company that make a popular—and ever-growing—suite of security and privacy-focused applications. It started as a secure email platform, but has since grown to include a VPN, notes app, and more. While Proton itself is—and will remain—a for-profit corporation, the Proton Foundation was formed “to ensure that Proton does not deviate from our mission to build a better internet that serves the interests of all of society.”

    To achieve that goal, the Proton Foundation is now Proton’s primary shareholder, giving it the ability to control the direction the company takes. What’s more, because the foundation has no shareholders, it has the freedom to act in the best interests of its customers and community without the pressure to meet financial or quarterly goals. Proton will also allocate 1% of its “revenues to the Foundation’s charitable activities whenever financial conditions allow.”

    Founder Dr. Andy Yen emphasized Proton’s unique approach within the tech industry:

    Proton’s mission has always been unique. Most companies are created to be sold, and they achieve that by placing profit above all other considerations. For most businesses providing “services” to the masses, the easiest way to profit has been to misuse user data and engage in surveillance capitalism to the detriment of society and democracy. At Proton, we have intentionally taken a different path to achieve a more difficult mission. We want to remake the internet in a way that is private by default and serves the interests of all of society, not just the interests of a few Silicon Valley tech giants. In short, we want to create an internet that is able and willing to defend freedom, no matter the cost.

    Dr. Yen emphasizes that being a for-profit corporation has not stopped Proton from being faithful to its original goals. Nonetheless, creating the foundation offers a number of significant advantages:

    However, adopting a Swiss non-profit structure provides additional security, which a corporation cannot achieve. Because Proton has no venture capital investors, we can take this additional step to secure the future. Swiss foundations do not have shareholders, so Proton will no longer be dependent upon the goodwill of any particular person or group of persons. Instead, Swiss foundations and their board of trustees are legally obligated to act in accordance with the purpose for which they were established, which, in this case, is to defend Proton’s original mission. As the largest voting shareholder of Proton, no change of control can occur without the consent of the foundation, allowing it to block hostile takeovers of Proton, thereby ensuring permanent adherence to the mission.

    The announcement is good news for Proton users and should provide peace of mind that the company’s products will continue to serve its customers in a private and secure way for many years to come.

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