Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The signal has a new president

The company behind the messaging app has hired a co-founder of the artificial intelligence institute.

Whittaker outlined the strategic nature of the role in guiding the organization in a post on the Signal.

Whittaker wrote that he would devote himself to helping Signal build a long tap root so it could grow and thrive in dynamic climates. I will be working with Signal's CEO and leadership, with a focus on guiding Signal's strategy, ensuring our financial viability, sharpening and broadening Signal's public communications, and whatever else is needed to strengthen the app and the org.

In protest of the company's handling of sexual harassment allegations against top executives, Whittaker organized a mass walk out at the company. She co-founded the Artificial Intelligence Now Institute at NYU while still working for the company.

Whittaker was one of many people who said they had been retaliated for their activism. She joined the FTC as a senior adviser on artificial intelligence in November 2021.

Whittaker will join Signal at a time of change. Moxie Marlinspike stepped down as CEO of Signal in the same year that she took up the role, and questions remain about the project's overall viability.

The company is the developer of the Signal Protocol, an open-source protocol for end-to-end secure communication. Despite being a small player in the messaging landscape, Signal has 40 million users, which makes it a significant player.

Employees were told last year that the app needed to reach 100 million users in order to be self-sufficient. Workers at the company have raised concerns over the lack of resources to deal with abusive uses of the app, despite the rapid growth of the user base.

Whittaker said that she would push for more users to pay for the app. Making up those costs without data collection will be an enormous challenge going forward.