20. Element

Element is an end-to-end encrypted messaging and collaboration app that gives users ownership and control of their data. In other words, it’s secure. Very, very secure.

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Founders: Matthew Hodgson and Amandine Le Pape
Founded: 2017
Website: element.io/

Times have changed. Post-pandemic, our personal and professional lives have moved online, whether that’s via our home wifi, office network, or the local coffee shop’s internet connection. For businesses, this means that cyber-security is more important than ever.

And that’s where Element comes in. Element is an innovative secure messaging and collaboration platform, built on the Matrix. The Matrix is an open standard and communication protocol for real-time communication.

It’s decentralised, which enables Element users to have complete ownership and control of their data. In effect, they get to choose how and where their service is hosted – on-premise, self-hosted in the cloud, or fully-managed and hosted by Element.

Because Matrix is an open standard, there is no vendor lock-in and Element interoperates with any other Matrix-based app. Element also offers a range of bridging services to create gateways through the walled gardens of traditional collaboration and messaging apps. This means an Element user can pretty much communicate with anyone from their Element app, regardless of the app others are using. 

Ok that’s the complicated bit. The good news? Element is more secure than traditional collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack because it is end-to-end encrypted. Plus, unlike WhatsApp and other end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, Element doesn’t expose the user’s phone number, and offers a wide range of business functionality.

Element users to have complete ownership and control of their data.

So far, the startup has had some pretty impressive customers. “Element’s defining moment was when the French government reached out wanting to develop a nationwide secure comms platform targeting 5.5 million civil servants,” the founders explain. 

At this point, the company's own staffing was just 15 people – the Element team has since scaled up massively as demand has increased.

“We’ve since seen the US, UK and German governments adopt Element, along with enterprise customers. Demand has resulted in 24x global revenue growth over the past four years. We’re now more than 170 people spanning 22 countries, speaking over 15 languages.”

With key investors including Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinnâ’s Metaplanet, and WordPress.com parent company Automattic, we have every confidence that Element will soon be in their element – zooming to the top of the list for secure messaging and collaboration apps.

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