Why Are We Competing with Phone Makers, Skype and Telecom Carriers – All in the Same Week?

It’s simple: because we believe that technology should be a force for good. As a result, we’re developing technologies and products that disrupt the industries we’ve rapidly come to accept as “traditional” industries – telcos, tech companies, phone makers. Why – because those industries have ended up as a raw deal for people.

The result is we offer better value and a more secure communication ecosystem for enterprises and individuals seeking privacy and security. And we’re only just getting started.

Last week we shipped our Blackphone. Selected as one of the Top 10 Devices of the Year at Mobile World Congress as well as one of the Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2014 by MIT Technology Review.

Today, we launched the world’s first Global Encrypted Calling Plan. The first of its kind, a pink unicorn that is the brainchild of my co-founders Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas. This unique innovation is already causing serious concern among major telecom companies around the world. We are not only exploiting massive holes in the market, we are attacking them. Our newly expanded Global Encrypted Calling Plans are up to 50% less expensive than many of the telecom’s existing plans, but our coverage offers about 45 more countries than they do; and oh, by the way it’s encrypted to the public switch telephone network. That is something no other company offers in the marketplace today. We are literally saving businesses tens-of-thousands of dollars a month.

With each of our products, we are doing things that no one else does. Individually they are best-in-class. In combination, it’s a new approach to communication. It’s as simple as that.

The Skype Disruption

Now lets talk about Skype. The wiretap-friendly communication tool that started out with great intentions, and was a real breakthrough many years ago. Today, Skype is banned from being used in many of the Fortune 1000 companies and shunned by anyone expecting some level of privacy. I don’t necessarily fault Microsoft, as prior to the summer of Snowden every major technology company was capitulating on some level to its host-country intelligence service – in almost every country. Things are different now. The world now understands that a Skype call is not private between users and if you are fine with that, well I see no reason to fault you. Businesses understand that their intellectual property and competitive edge can be destroyed literally overnight by a communication leak.


Today, we take on Skype, Viber, Ring Central and others as well. Not only by providing a secure alternative but also in price and reach. Skype’s website lists it’s premier global plan as covering 8 countries mobile and 63 landline for $13.99 per month. Our encrypted calling is secure to a country’s PSTN network, covers 41 Mobile and 79 landline countries, allows you to choose a phone number from 26 countries, receive calls from anywhere, anytime and you can choose 100, 250, 500 or 1000 global minutes. Oh, we also give you all three of our secure apps with the plan, so you can call, text or video-chat completely end-to-end encrypted. Skype? Uh no.

A True Virtual Operator – Disrupting the Telecoms

If there was one industry that is ripe for disruption – I would choose the telecommunications industry. In some countries and regions, the evil “roaming charge” represents up to 30% of a Telecom’s EBIDA. In Europe alone, one of the top expenses for a business or consumer is simply roaming and long distance charges. One of my good friends, Beat Geissler, is a Swiss native, former Swisscom executive, entrepreneur and investor who lives now in Berlin. He spends upwards of 2,500 CHF on roaming and long distance calls – a month! Now as a member of Silent Circle, its just $40 a month. One of our Fortune 100 customers in Zurich has estimated they will save over $38,000 a month AND be secure using Silent Phone. That is real disruption, not just a stupid word that gets tossed around management meetings.

We are now becoming a “Secure Virtual Operator” in the truest sense. We can challenge phone makers and telecoms from our office and network in Switzerland. We do not incur the billions of dollars of CAPEX and expenses that Telecoms spend on infrastructure a year – instead we utilize that infrastructure to send encrypted voice, video, text, files, conference calls and secure-to-PSTN calls over the world’s existing backbone, less expense and more secure than any telecom can.

There are however a few unique and innovative Telecom leaders out there. Carlos Slim at América Movíl, Eelco Block at KPN, Olaf Swantee at EE and Augie Fabela at Vimpelcom are the real visionaries who look beyond each quarter result and try to embrace the future while helping shape it. They get it. The others? Well, so far – no. These innovators have embraced Blackphone, our Global Encrypted Calling Plans and our Software-as-a Service to stay ahead of disruption and shape their future markets. They also see things that others are too slow to react to. They actually do things “FOR” the customer, not “TO” the customer. Eventually, we will handle every facet of operations – virtually. We will not need 10,000 customer service reps in Bangladesh or confusing options and massive CAPEX expenses. All of it end-to-end encrypted or secure to the PSTN network.

Becoming The Enterprise Device of Choice

Many of the prognosticators and pundits did not see this global shift coming. Only two of the phone makers are making money, Apple and Samsung. Those two also happen to be squeezing the Telecoms by taking a percentage of their data plans sold and forcing things on them. The rest of the pack (LG, Nokia, Sony, Motorola, Blackberry, etc.) have been losing billions. Some have decided to give up on chasing Apple and Samsung and instead have chosen to chase the $100-phone emerging markets; others are still in limbo trying to figure out what they will do next. We snuck in the back door, by offering the most secure commercial device system on the market. We don’t want to sell 100 million phones, we simply want to own the secure enterprise and prosumer market. It’s a journey for us and will take time, but it’s already happening. Come join us for the ride.

Mike Janke

CEO, Silent Circle.

About the author

Mike Janke

Co-Founder of Silent Circle and Board Member of Blackphone is a former Navy SEAL, Privacy Advocate, and a best-selling author. Mike is passionate about bringing secure communications to Human rights groups, Global corporations, small businesses, deployed military and pushing back against the tide of surveillance.

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