There’s certainly a market for it, and it won’t stop growing any time soon – for a privacy-first alternative to Google Docs, that is, one that promises features like expiring links, secure workspaces, and password protection.
Skiff – founded in March 2020 – is reported to be one such alternative, touting end-to-end encryption as its selling point, just as more and more people are beginning to question the wisdom of allowing an ad business-driven and prone to political pressure behemoth like Google control every aspect of their online lives – from browsing, search, the most most popular video platform (YouTube), the most popular mobile OS (Android), all the way to the most widely used real-time collaboration platform (Google Docs).
The company behind Skiff and its co-founders Andrew Milich and Jason Ginsberg have shared with the media that they just managed to raise $3.7 million in early stage (“seed”) funding. The money came from Sequoia Capital venture firm, but also from some well-established names in the tech industry: ex-Yahoo CEO Jerry Young, Eventbrite co-founders Julia and Kevin Hartz – and, from Google parent company Alphabet’s chairman, John Henessy.
The promise of end-to-end encryption – which means that only people directly communicating have access to their data, excluding every third party, including the company that provides the service – is one thing, but convincing people it actually does exactly what it says on the tin is another. And so Skiff published a “white paper” – an explanatory but non-binding document aiming to describe the technology behind the service.
Skiff has just “begun to open-source parts of its code,” but it’s not yet clear what portion of the code has been made publicly available and auditable, why the product has not been open source from the beginning, whether it ever be fully open-sourced – and if so, what the time-frame may be.
The open source model is these days a key component in establishing trust between service providers and product manufacturers, and security and privacy-minded users; on its website, Skiff said that two of its libraries had just been open-sourced: the typed-AEAD envelopes, and UI components.