Signal, formed through a merger of RedPhone and TextSecure, is the flagship app of the Signal Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to open-source privacy technology.
The software which underpins the Signal app has been imported onto WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Google Allo, although end-to-end encryption is not offered by default on these platforms.
It launched the Signal app in 2015 for iOS, Android and desktop, which came with end-to-end encrypted messaging. Signal has since added encrypted video calling, group chats and image, video and gif support, making it a feature-rich service without sacrificing the core benefit of privacy.
In response to a WhatsApp privacy update, which informed users that it would share data with its parent Facebook, millions of users shifted to Signal, considered best-in-class for encrypted messaging. The volume of new users caused Signal servers to crash on January 15 2021, and access was limited for two days afterwards.
Even with this influx, Signal is still quite a niche messaging platform, with much less usage than its end-to-end competitor, Telegram. It those few weeks, Signal did shoot past it in global downloads on both stores, however that has subsided in late 2021 and it is at normal levels of downloads in 2022.
Many celebrities have endorsed Signal as a messaging tool to avoid snooping governments and other bad actors. Edward Snowden and Elon Musk have both endrosed the app, and Black Lives Matter organizers also called for protesters to use the app during the summer protests.
In 2021, Signal announced it would be launching a “privacy-focused” cryptocurrency, integrating MobileCoin to the platform. This move was criticized by some for shifting focus away from privacy and security, and into areas which may cause the app to be targeted by authorities.
A few months after the announcement, founder and CEO Moxie Marlinspike confirmed he was leaving the company. WhatsApp co-founder and Signal investor Brian Acton took over as CEO.
We have collected data and statistics on Signal. Read on below to find out more.
Signal key statistics
- Signal had 40 million active users in 2021, most of which came from WhatsApp’s poorly received privacy update
- Signal was downloaded 125 million times in 2021, a 468% increase on the previous year
- It does not make revenue, but received a $50 million loan from Brian Acton, who is now the CEO of the company
Signal does not make any revenue, as a non-profit it receives donations from users and benefactors. Brian Acton invested $50 million into the company in 2017.
Signal had 40 million active users in 2021, which was when a lot of users switched from WhatsApp to it.
Signal annual users 2019 to 2021 (mm)
Sources: SimilarWeb, TechCrunch
Signal reached 125 million cumulative downloads in 2021, with the vast majority of downloads happening in January 2021.
Signal cumulative downloads 2019 to 2021 (mm)
Signal other key facts
What was Signal’s biggest month for downloads?
7.5 million users were added on Signal in the second week of January, 43 times more than the previous week (CNN)
What are Signal’s most popular countries?
Some of Signal’s most popular countries include Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (SimilarWeb)