Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists spot the winds of change for a living, and they appear to be of the belief that WhatsApp position as India’s ‘default’ messaging app might be under threat.
The movement to switch to Signal had begun after Elon Musk, who’s now the richest man in the world, had laconically endorsed the service. “Use Signal,” he’d simply tweeted on 7th January. Musk’s tweet had been retweeted 52,000 times, and had briefly caused Signal’s OTP service to crash as it struggled to onboard the influx of new users.
Other voices in tech have also endorsed Signal. Silicon Valley VC and former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said that he would no longer be available on WhatsApp, and was switching to Signal. “Starting in Feb, WhatsApp will begin sharing all kinds of data with Facebook. They just killed their best feature – privacy. Please no longer text me on WhatsApp. Download Signal,” he tweeted.
Signal also was endorsed by Naval Ravikant, who’s rapidly attaining cult guru status in the tech community. “Use Signal. Learn about privacy coins. Insist on working remotely. Embrace open source. Practice online anonymity. Decentralize your life,” he tweeted.
Closer home, several entrepreneurs also said that they were making the switch from WhatsApp to Signal. Among them was Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who has an old axe to grind with Facebook — he’s previously called Facbeook the most evil company in the world over WhatsApp’s UPI implementation. “They say, market has power. We are the largest market. Here in India WhatsApp / Facebook are abusing their monopoly & taking away millions of users’ privacy for granted. We should move on to @signalapp NOW. It is upto us to become victim or reject such moves,” he tweeted.
Sharma’s views were echoed by Mobikwik CEO Bipin Preet Singh, who said he was moving to Signal. “Moving to Signal (personal/professional) and Google chat ( for work),” he tweeted.
And yet another CEO of an Indian fintech company also endorsed Signal, and even said that his team was making the switch. “Moved 1000+ @PhonePe-rs to Signal. Recreated all my work groups.
Moved my family groups. Seamlessly. Zero switching cost. Just retain ur WA acct (like ur old 90s Hotmail account) to reference old threads…,” tweeted PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam.
This time is diff. Product wise, Signal has arrived!
Moved 1000+ @PhonePe-rs to Signal. Recreated all my work groups.
Moved my family groups. Seamlessly.
Zero switching cost. Just retain ur WA acct (like ur old 90s Hotmail account) to reference old threads…
— Sameer.Nigam (@_sameernigam) January 11, 2021
And it’s not only the tech world that seems to be moving to Signal — lots of other users are joining in the exodus too. Sensor Tower data suggests that between 1st Jan and 9th Jan, Signal saw 1.8 million downloads in India, vs just 14,000 in the previous 9 days. WhatsApp, on the other hand, saw its new downloads fall over the same period from 3 million from 3.4 million earlier. WhatsApp is still netting more downloads than Signal at this point in India, but if enough people move, and then get their contacts to make the switch leading to network effects kicking in, Signal has a real chance of making it really big in India’s messaging space.