Mobile privacy pioneer Silent Circle raises $50 million: Reuters

Silent Circle, a Geneva-based pioneer in the field of securing mobile communications, said on Friday that it has raised $50 million in a Series C financing round led by Santander Bank.

The firm, which was founded by well-known cryptologists in 2011, said it plans to use the funds to expand development of software products aimed at businesses, governments and law enforcement agencies, a shift from an early focus on individual consumers.

Silent Circle launched an app for encrypting mobile communications in 2012 and a highly secure device known as the Blackphone in 2013 to much fanfare from privacy advocates, but the products had limited commercial success.

Its problems were compounded as big consumer-focused technology companies including Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O) rolled out easy-to-use, free apps for encrypting mobile communications.

Silent Circle is now focused on developing software products that businesses can use to secure and manage mobile communications of employees, Silent Circle interim Chief Executive Matt Neiderman told Reuters. The software will include features that prevent outsiders from eavesdropping on employees, but allow businesses to monitor and archive those communications so they can comply with government regulations, he said.

Some proceeds from the round, which closed in late May, have already been used to retire the company’s debt, Neiderman said.

Silent Circle is searching for a new CEO following the departure of Bill Conner, whom the firm brought in to streamline operations and manage the shift toward business customers, Neiderman said.

Silent Circle is now looking for a more traditional, early-stage-company leader who will focus on building out the product and raising capital, he said.