$8.5M to accelerate Matrix, polish Riot and expand Modular!

October 10, 2019

The need for decentralised encrypted communication is becoming critical, as the pressure mounts on the big centralised communication silos to insert backdoors into their encryption, and we see ever more erratic behaviour emerging.

Meanwhile more and more players are realising that fragmenting communication is counterproductive and are trying to back-pedal (e.g. Slack’s efforts to link their workspaces into some kind of network; Facebook’s attempts to bridge WhatsApp/Instagram/Messenger). We are closer than ever to the realisation that today’s communication services would be stronger if there was a common global fabric to connect them - much like the email providers of the 1980s eventually appreciated the transformative power of open interoperability.  Imagine if today’s communication silos existed inside a matrix of some kind...

New Vector has been working on Matrix for more than 5 years now, taking it from a crazy moonshot idea to an 11M user network spanning more than 40,000 deployments. Matrix now powers the communication within governments, like France, public agencies, like the Department of Emergency Management in the US, academia in several countries of Europe, but also many small and medium businesses, open source projects, like Wikimedia and KDE, and of course individuals, friends and family.

But while we are accelerating, we are still far from being a successor to email or the phone network, and we need to pour fuel on the fire in order to get to the point where anyone with a smartphone or a computer can select who hosts their conversations, while still being able to get in touch with anyone else in the world.

We need more glossy Matrix apps, and for Riot to be more accessible to WhatsApp and Slack users; we need more people getting their own servers, and Modular (our commercial hosting platform) to be more featureful for admins; we need more efficient servers, a super-slick UX for end-to-end encryption (that works for those who deeply care about privacy without compromising simplicity).  We need an even more decentralised architecture which can go peer-to-peer if needed. We need tools which let users filter out abuse on their own terms (rather than via some autocratic algorithm) and help create a Matrix which is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

As of today we are closer than ever to these goals: we are proud to announce that New Vector has raised an additional $8.5M of funding from a trio of incredible partners to support us on this journey. Understanding the ambition, scale and potential of Matrix takes big-picture perspective, technical aptitude, and belief in the limitless value of an open ecosystem - we feel very lucky to have found a team of investors who fit the bill!  We genuinely believe these teams will help us make New Vector (and by extension Matrix) successful.

So first, Notion, who, as the team behind MessageLabs, built one of the leading SaaS businesses on top of email, and are as such probably the best placed to understand the potential of Matrix. Notion are also regarded as top SaaS experts in London and we are expecting to unashamedly plunder their experience in helping ensure Modular is successful. Read their thoughts on Matrix and New Vector on their blog.

Then, FirstMinute was created by the founding team of Lastminute.com, and have an incredibly wide-reaching network of contacts across many industries: the ideal audience when trying to spread the word on something as ambitious and industry-changing as Matrix. Check out why they invested in New Vector and Matrix on their blog.

And finally Dawn's extensive fund and portfolio covers several companies who are seriously engaged with governments, with whom we can compare notes and share resources - as well as high profile open source projects such as Neo4J. Read why they believe communications of the future will be open and secure (leading them to us) on their blog.

We are incredibly excited to work with all of them and benefit from their wisdom to help push Matrix to the next level!

The last funding round in Jan 2017 from Status allowed us to stabilise Matrix into the big 1.0 release, set up the Matrix.org Foundation as a neutral custodian for the standard; redesign Riot’s user interface thanks to our new full-time professional UI/UX designer; stabilise and optimise Synapse; significantly progress the huge amount of encryption work required to turn on E2EE by default (cross-signing, key backups, device verification, E2EE search, the pantalaimon E2EE daemon etc); create RiotX/Android; and launch the Modular.im hosting platform.

With today’s new funding, our priorities as New Vector will be:

  • A whole new wave of UX improvements to Riot (particularly around onboarding and first time user experience), see the Riot blog for more details
  • Making Modular hosting as polished and powerful as possible.
  • Creating a whole new set of next-generation Modular integrations.

Meanwhile on the Matrix side, New Vector will as ever support the development and specification of the most critical features, like:

  • Turning on end-to-end encryption by default for private conversations
  • Much better support for grouping rooms into Communities
  • More anti-abuse/anti-spam mechanisms
  • Shrinking Synapse (and/or finishing Dendrite)
  • Canonical DMs (having one DM per user, and have them feel clearly distinct from ‘rooms’)
  • Extensible Profiles
  • Decentralised accounts
  • Threading
  • ...and furthering development on P2P Matrix, so users can have full control of their communications without having to run or trust a server.

Check out more details from the Matrix point of view over on the Matrix.org Blog.

You’ll find a copy below of the official press release. We’re beginning a new chapter and are looking forward to see how far we can take New Vector and Matrix in returning power over communication back to the people!

Amandine, Matthew and the team(P.S. we're hiring!)

New Vector raises $8.5M to fuel adoption of Matrix, the open standard for secure, decentralised communication

  • New Vector provides applications and services to support adoption of Matrix, the leading open standard for decentralised, secure communication
  • The Matrix protocol supports a global interoperable communications network, enabling users to collaborate securely via end-to-end encrypted messaging applications such as Riot.IM, as an alternative to WhatsApp, Telegram or Slack
  • The Matrix network has expanded rapidly during 2019 to more than 11M users and 40k deployments and is being used by French Government, US Government, Wikimedia, KDE, RedHat and more
  • Investment from enterprise tech specialists: Notion Capital, Dawn and firstminute
  • $8.5m Series A funding will support acceleration of Matrix development and the growth of commercial services at New Vector

New Vector today announces $8.5M of new funding to accelerate growth of its commercial services and ongoing development of the Matrix protocol, to make it the natural successor to today’s instant messaging services.

The Matrix protocol is an open standard that supports a secure and decentralised global communications network. It allows users to collaborate securely via interoperable instant messaging and VoIP applications while retaining ownership and control of their data. For businesses and consumers, it provides a genuine alternative to centralised proprietary services such as Slack and WhatsApp. With Matrix, users choose who they trust to host their communications data while still participating in the larger network.

New Vector was founded by the creators of Matrix to support development of the protocol and is now the leading provider of commercial Matrix services and applications. The team have developed Riot.IM, the flagship client for secure collaboration on the Matrix network, and provide the leading Matrix hosting platform.

New Vector’s services have seen swift adoption among governments and organisations who take their privacy seriously. The French Government have chosen Matrix as their official communications platform and have worked with New Vector to roll it out across all 16 ministries to 5.5M users. New Vector are also working with US Government departments, as well as the NHS, Mozilla and other high profile public sector organisations and enterprises.

Today’s $8.5m Series A investment follows $5M in 2018, which New Vector used to deliver over 400% growth in Daily Active Users. New Vector expects to see a similar leap forward with this new injection of capital, targeting businesses and  governments globally. The funding will be used to scale the hosting platform, enhance the Riot application and further improve Matrix as an open protocol and network for the benefit of all.

New Vector CEO and Matrix Co-founder Matthew Hodgson believes this is a catalyst for further adoption:

“Ensuring there are Matrix apps out there which provide a credible alternative to Slack and WhatsApp will make it the natural successor to today’s instant messaging applications. New funding will allow New Vector to keep investing in Matrix products and services that will fuel growth of the network.”

Jos White, Partner at Notion Capital said:

"With a digital platform that was both open and independent, the Internet heralded an exciting new era in communications. And yet over the last few years it feels like we have gone backwards with communication platforms like Slack and WhatsApp that are walled gardens where users have very understandable concerns over whether their data is secure and how it is being used."

"At last the market has an alternative with the New Vector services that are based off the Matrix protocol offering open standards and delivering complete data ownership and security. It feels like the full power and promise of the Internet is being returned to its rightful place - the user - and we couldn't be more excited about the potential for this exceptional team."

Henry Mason, Principal at Dawn Capital, said:

“Historically, organisations have had to balance their desire to embrace consumer-grade apps against concerns over security and compliance. For instant messaging, New Vector offers a compelling alternative: the Matrix code base is open for anyone to inspect, and organisations can retain full ownership and control of their data. With this funding New Vector can capitalise on the significant inbound interest already received from governments and security-conscious enterprises.”

Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder & General Partner at firstminute capital and former Co-Founder & CEO of lastminute.com said:

"Slack and WhatsApp have shown just how important instant messaging is for workplace productivity, but combining this convenience with total sovereignty and security over data is more valuable than ever.”

“The French Government has already deployed New Vector’s apps, with other governments and large corporates currently being onboarded. The US has seen its fair share of successful messaging platforms - we are excited to back the first European-led team in this space since Skype."

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