Element raises $30M as Matrix explodes
Element, the flagship secure collaboration and messaging app for Matrix, has raised $30M in Series B funding from Protocol Labs (the creators of libp2p, IPFS, Filecoin and more) and Metaplanet (the investment fund set up by Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype). Automattic and Notion are also participating in the round, increasing their investments in Element from Series A funding which also included firstminute Capital and Dawn Capital.
Element recently renewed its contract with the French government, providing collaboration and messaging targeting 5.5M civil servants throughout France. It has also signed new contracts with Dataport, which sees widespread use of Element in Germany’s education and public administration systems – and with BWI, supplying the official secure communication system for the entirety of the German armed forces. Element’s work with the US and UK governments also continues to grow, and Element has more than 10 engagements in progress with other governments.
In addition to consulting and services for multiple large-scale on-premise systems, revenue from Element’s cloud-based platform, the option most private-sector customers choose, has grown 300% in the last 12 months.
“We’re delighted to have been in a position to choose two more mission-driven investors who back companies that will improve the internet to benefit humankind,” says Amandine Le Pape, COO, Element and Co-Founder of Matrix. “Protocol Labs and Metaplanet invest in the long-term, and truly believe in open source and the decentralised web.”
Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, who leads Metaplanet, adds:
“When communication is centralised it becomes a very appealing target for abuse; whether that’s through propaganda, surveillance, censorship or worse. Consumers need rescuing from surveillance capitalism, and organisations need a secure neutral way to communicate. Matrix is the most advanced platform to provide that missing communication layer.”
Juan Benet, CEO, Protocol Labs, says:
“Internet communication protocols have become fundamental for humanity. Today, most messaging happens over fickle proprietary centralized walled gardens who hold us hostage to their short-term business outlook. Matrix is a beacon of hope: an open network for secure, decentralised communication, built with sound internet infrastructure principles. Element — both product and company — empowers organizations with control, ownership, and a great user experience for all their conversations.”
Element was founded by the team that developed Matrix, the open standard for real time communications. Matrix is an open source project that provides a layer of interoperability for end-to-end encrypted communications.
Matrix has grown 190% in the last 12 months, and now has more than 35M addressable users and over 75,000 deployments.
Element’s Series B closely follows the news that Germany’s entire healthcare system will adopt Matrix-based real time communications, which will see more than 150,000 organisations and over 80 million German citizens using Matrix.
“Element’s funding means there’s continued significant investment in the Matrix protocol, which hugely benefits the entire Matrix ecosystem,” says Matthew Hodgson, CEO of Element and Technical Co-Founder of Matrix.
“Matrix is completely disruptive – it’s the communication layer of the open web. Matrix will do for communications what the web did for information sharing. And just like the web, it’s an open standard, decentralised, and universal.”
Matrix is now a category in its own right – there is a competitive ecosystem of open source and commercial offerings based on the Matrix standard.
Element is at the forefront of those companies and projects, but it’s a hugely vibrant ecosystem with many other commercially successful Matrix-based companies. There are now more than 150 Matrix-based apps on the radar – ranging from open source to commercial proprietary solutions. There is also a series of Matrix-based startups, such as Famedly and Beeper. Consulting and services companies including Thales, Ericsson, Dataport and Sopra Steria have also set up units focused specifically on Matrix-based solutions.
“Right now the early adopters of Matrix are governments, security conscious businesses and privacy-aware consumers,” says Hodgson. “The additional investment in Matrix will see development that’ll attract the mainstream. We see Matrix being the universal foundation for all future communications.”
Investing for growth
“We didn’t have to take new investment, but with Matrix exploding we want to accelerate development of the Element app so it’s ready for mainstream consumers,” says Le Pape.
Element will also increase its focus on enterprises, maturing its Matrix-hosting business and ensuring Element is ready for peer-to-peer Matrix. Perhaps most important, it also means more Matrix development, including peer-to-peer, a decentralised reputation system, encrypted VoIP and refining end-to-end encryption.
Decentralisation is in the ascendant.
The success of Element and Matrix is heavily related to the increasing demand for online privacy and interoperability. The pandemic has shown that remote collaboration is an existential requirement, and mission critical. The misadventures of the centralised Big Tech services show that they cannot be trusted to respect their users’ privacy.
Much as the web swung from its original decentralised roots to become controlled by a handful of gigantic advertising companies such as Google and Facebook, the pendulum is now swinging back again as the mainstream audience realises that surveillance capitalism is not their friend.
Even more importantly, governments have woken up to the risks too – with the USA’s ACCESS Act and the EU’s Digital Markets Act paving the way to mandating decentralisation and interoperability to avoid the monopolistic risks of centralised incumbents.
Element is leading the charge back to digital sovereignty: letting users and organisations choose who they trust with the most valuable data of all – how they communicate.
Notes to editors
Metaplanet is an early-stage investment firm making long-term bets on contrarians. It backs mission-driven founders working on positively disruptive deep technologies.
About Protocol Labs
Protocol Labs invests in companies building the next generation of the internet. It is a fully distributed, open-source organization with a mission to drive breakthroughs in computing to push humanity forward.