Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Stock Market Confusion and Massive Transformation Of Signal Messenger’s Fate- Power Of Elon Musk

The world has witnessed the power of Elon Musk’s Midas touch over the last decade. Everything the man touches, he turns it into gold. It’s Elon Musk’s aura that creates excitement and buzz about everything associated with him. Many believe that Tesla was a godsend for Musk and his fame. However, the truth is another way around. Something similar happened when Elon Musk tweeted to advise people to download the Signal app and abandon WhatsApp due to data privacy shortcomings. The signal became the buzzword of the internet; however, a huge confusion followed in the stock market.

On the 7th of January, 2021, Elon Musk tweeted to his followers two simple words – “Use Signal”. What was to follow is a misunderstanding of hilarious proportions.

What Elon Musk meant when he tweeted was to stop using Facebook’s messenger service WhatsApp and replace it with a more secure app called ‘Signal’. WhatsApp had recently changed its security policy much to the shock of its 2 billion users worldwide. The new policy changes how its parent company Facebook gains access to data, especially over WhatsApp for business. It recently did come out and clarify that personal messages are encrypted End-to-End and nothing changes as far as personal groups and chats are concerned. However, much still remains to be seen in that context.

The tweet, however, boosted the stock price of Signal Advance– a company traded on over-the-counter exchanges.

Elon Musk’s Tweet Hiked The Share Price of Signal Advance by 11,700%. Funny, Because It Wasn’t The Signal He Was Talking About

Signal Advance is actually a company that manufactures various detection devices. It offers medical detection devices that help detect epilepsy and other abnormalities in people, as well as other applications used in military vehicle controls. Whereas the Signal that Elon Musk mentioned is an open-source messaging app funded entirely by grants and donations. The conversations in Signal are encrypted end-to-end.

Signal Advance closed at $0.60 on 6 Jan 2020, having a total market capitalization of $6 Million. Post Musk’s tweet, the company’s share rose to $38.70 by 11 Jan 2020. A meteoric rise of 11,700%, amping up the market capitalization to $3 Billion.

In 2019, a similar situation occurred when many people bought shares of Zoom Technologies, mistaking it to be the video-calling service Zoom Video Communications –  which was rapidly gaining goodwill during the lockdown stages of the pandemic globally. Because of this confusion over its connection with Zoom Communications, the SEC had temporarily stopped the trading of Zoom Technologies.

This is not the first time Elon Musk’s tweets have caused massive stock movements. Musk has previously been at swords with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – the regulatory body for the securities market in the U.S. Notorious Musk struck again with this tweet, although the SEC surely won’t be knocking on his door for this mishap. A completely innocent tweet sent the wrong company’s stock soaring like a rocket.

What is the messaging service Signal and is it more secure?

Signal ‘Messenger’ is a Non-Profit organization under the name ‘Signal Foundation’. It is an encrypted cross-platform messaging service that has clear and easy to understand data and privacy policies. Initially released in 2014, the messaging app has received massive updates for both Android and iOS stores, as well as for its desktop application. What makes the platform special is that it runs entirely on grants and donations.

Signal hopes to ramp-up its hirings after the WhatsApp controversy and has already released statements on massive surges in new downloads and users globally- India included.

There couldn’t have been a better timing for the endorsement by the most influential entrepreneur in the world for Signal.

Musk has a Midas touch. And this time, he touched Signal Messenger app.

‘Use Signal’ just a two-word tweet from Elon Musk brought millions of users from around the globe to the messaging app launched in 2014. The tweet was sent on 7th January and by the evening of 8th January, the Signal app faced a global outage due to landslide visits. The issue still persists.

On January 15, Signal’s COO Aruna Harder sent a statement to Gadgets 360:

We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters, and we are working hard to restore service for them as quickly as possible.”

-Aruna Harder, COO of Signal Messenger

Currently, visitors on the messenger can see the notice the company has put up, explaining the technical issue and assuring that it will be resolved soon.

In the past week, Signal registered 62 fold rise in new users with 17.8 million new downloads after Musk’s tweet.

This also reflects increasing resentment of people against WhatsApp’s privacy policy where it openly conveyed its data sharing with Facebook while giving no choice that users can make. Perhaps, the upward trajectory of Zuckerberg’s career has erased a straight business fact from his mind- Customer is the King!

According to the tweet by Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike, the company’s in-house team is working late nights and even on weekend to fix the issues on the messenger and keep it running.

The event also helped another messenger offering encryption of conversation to its users- Telegram.

Rahul Sinha
Rahul is a B.Com(Hons) graduate from Delhi University and a CA final candidate. He is also the co-founder and CFO of a healthcare start-up based out of New Delhi, India. Rahul is an avid investor and holds a diverse portfolio. Having worked for 3+ years with Deloitte in Statutory Audit and then later in a tax profile, Rahul believes in understanding the bottom-up functioning of established businesses and leverages this very knowledge to create value through his company. His next challenge lies in Germany where he will soon be pursuing his masters degree in Finance.





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