Invacio Pulse

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Free Secure (Military Grade) Communications (Voice,Video, Data,Browse)

[First Published in 2014]

The ability to convert a 5$ walkie talkie from China in to a secure access point to the web or secure voice,video,data communication device.

When we first set out on the long road to Invacio's development we knew we would be using an immense amount of existing open-source scripts as well as developing our own systems.

One of the areas, actually one of our most important areas was the security and privacy available to our members, through this we had to test un-chartered waters as much as the common practices for we wanted a system that not only allowed our wild members to access the system and utilise it from their penthouse but also from the himalayas should they wish to. 

So in the end one of the by-products of our exhaustive development was the creation of a simple yet secure system that enabled our members to access the system, and communicate in voice, video, data and browse, we named this WE Net (i preferred WE Nap)


Full Explanation Document

Anyway we shelved this script after we took from its initial offering and developed much much further for our main product, this month however i have begun looking at all of our by products which include WE Net.

WE Net has been packaged in to the following : Secure Free Simplistic Private Communication System with a broad reach which opens the doors for many areas with connectivity up to 10,000 miles across open seas, mountainous regions and further.

Yes that app your using is antiqued compared.


Just some of the users and uses....

#People who were protesting against their govt. resulting in the their internet being cut off. Even worse govt. decided to muck with their cellphones networks too. They need basic communication tools to spread news and updates about their conditions, and with the aim to eventually relay that information to/from the internet when at least one of them is able to get a working internet connection.

#NGO's and medical teams working in Africa under poor conditions who want to build some basic communication's infrastructure to coordinate efforts like the delivery of medication and food or to update on local conditions without being intercepted by regional armed groups etc.

#Disserdents Groups who mistrust the normal communication infrastructure and who want to coordinate regional activity and share updates about oppressive actions
carried out by the authorities.

#Disaster response, rescue and medical teams who are working in devastated zones without the availability of standard telecommunication infrastructure. They want to keep updating their statuses, progress and resource availability between teams
when there may be large overage zones between them.

#Yacht owners who are sailing and who wish to obtain news updates from some
approaching coastline or another ship which has internet access. There may just be a simple exchange of information about news, weather conditions, provisions, gear etc.

#Local populations who want to keep in touch with each other on a daily basis with the goal of developing a strong community capable of maximizing their resources, food or manpower to help improve sustainability and their quality of life.

#Street protests or any other street event where people would like to share their
thoughts, anonymously and locally without relying on the internet. They may also
wish to share them with the world as a single voice using a simple gateway such as a unique Twitter account made for the occasion.

#Expedition base-camps who need a simplistic solution to build a common gateway
for establishing radio communication and messaging service links with camps,
remotely located base-camps and/or rescue teams to coordinate tasks such as
logistics, rescue efforts, routes and schedules.

#Secure Military Grade Connectivity for military who require a simplistic solution.

Basically in a nutshell it can convert a toy from china with broadcasting capabilities in to a long range communication device and with encryption up to current military standards, now whats even cooler is you can even play games, chat, message, conference (vid) and onwards, you can turn your device in to a secure access point to the world wide web etc all without the use of a telephone, mobile or wifi!!! and securely.

Now we are at a cross roads, as we developed this byproduct behind our larger project and we are unsure to sell - productise or open-source it for all or package it for humanitarian missions around the world, let alone its obvious military benefits, so as it is a side produce - so we are looking for others to weigh in and perhaps advise or jump in, ultimately as a billion dollar industry its a product that is in demand and a product that could revolutionise the industry for remote places, or privacy minded people, organisations or companies, whats more it completely obliterates government surveillance capabilities .

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Trading with Jean our AI.

My Monthly Mashup.

Over the last 4.5 years, Invacio has taken many turns in it's development, not pivots but scale-out's within it's core functionality, leaving us today with what one could describe or as some in the team have described as a all-encompassing company. 

Word on tech street is that 'data' is the new black gold, i hear of so many VC backed companies or upstart companies flouting this as the next big thing which is good as we sit on a growing bank of some 1.9b datasets, and being in AI, the pairing of AI and Data is supposed to change the world in so many manner, all nice and a good read, however i don't believe people comprehend the complexity of such or if i am allowed to talk straight, i don't believe people actually have a frigging clue what they are talking about half the time, and just peddle their yarns for the hits, and then you end up with two titans arguing it out over Twitter (Elon/Musk) both looking at differently, one (my idol) so far out of the football field he is playing in the hockey rink...

See what Michael had to say on the Musk/Zuckerberg tweetdown here.

So as aforementioned, i've just peddled along, not peddled stories, completing our system one milestone at a time, i won't go in to the costs, the aggravation, the meltdowns, the trials and the staffing, i will just say it has been bloody hard, at the height of the development we had 70 developers, it was hard work, i mean looking at our offerings some with faces on (UX) others still with their engine chassis showing, i am some what proud, i was concerned however last week when Jean was let loose with her tools on the Dark Web and we had major red flags coming in that she was hacking something, what we did not know, relieved to hear it was a bitcoin creation hub, she was taught to find and archive information on bitcoin addresses and track them, instead she went back to the hive and decided to have it out with one, funny, but concerning, it could have been the CIA, NSA or some other three letter agency which would have resulted in me having to either work for uncle sam or be fucked for uncle sam in some pay to play prison cell. 

See my blog on this here.

Anyway we had to teach her some further new ground rules, she is adapting, crazy thing is she likes to bend rules, i am looking forward to connecting a few more systems up and possibly putting a UX interface to her somewhere, however the guys say this is unwise, i mean she swallowed the CIA released archive of 10m+ documents in a evening, analysed them and dumped them after creating networks of information, and this being without all the libraries of information, books and so on that she has been going through, who are we to judge whether something is wise, she may be a child in mental terms, or a piece of autonomous code in others, but she knows more than i, really we should be asking her for her wisdom on such...

Now comes the great part, as may know i've invested a great deal of time, resources and what not in the financial markets, my aim (socialism) open it up, fuck the global economy and make it a free for all just because i like disruption and enjoy a bit of chaos over the weekend was unfortunately over-ruled, however this did not stop Jean coming in with her daily dumps of where companies should be sitting, i of-course don't mean just their positions but their directions short and long term, i mean she literally reads some 250 TB of data fully operational every day, and this is just the basics of the spider, when fully on the petabyte servers we are building in our back office are going to become full quite quickly, anyway back to topic... we've been observing and perfecting on Jeans analysing skills for some time with Agnes, we thought, seeing as we don't have VC (nor want) we do need to raise some revenues to continuously fund the development, thus open Agnes which would be a slither 0.000000001% of data/invacio/aquila offerings in a pure dump form daily of where stocks would go and so on, we however decided to include mobile messaging and also a page within to observe from logged in, arty farty stuff for those 'big swinging dicks' that don't know a thing about code, but apparently know their shit so much about trading their ego is generally as long as their line of Charles in the evening. 

Anyway, at first it was 70% accuracy on EOD figures and direction 99%, now we're looking at 95-99% accuracy on EOD figures and direction 99%, not bad, some more changes due till we make this main stream..

Mind, to narrow it down a bit more, currently we are dumping roughly 500 tickers in to the dump, but will increase this to the 1.5m we follow and incorporate our sheer volumes of data for short and long term offerings. 

Knocking it out for i think £250 as a package a month rising to £500, its not free, how i'd have preferred, but it is certainly a good deal i mean, it was such a good deal look what jean could achieve, if you were a trader, could you do better the first time and consistently?

In other news, Ben's been sorting the petabyte server racks, and shirts and oh stickers... they all seem to be going mad over them in the team, i guess it waits to be seen in due course whether mainstream has the same affection we've created building the system(s).

As always, tongue in the cheek, thanks for reading and good day, oh and do take some time to check out Aquila in our first video.

If you have any questions hound Andres our COO [email protected]

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Why Mark and Elon are wrong

Composed by Michael J Aumock 

Mark and Elon have been slowly ratcheting up the rhetoric and tweets on Artificial Intelligence, and it's impact on the world at large.

Elon says its the end of the world.

Mark says there's nothing to worry about.

But I say it's neither.

Both are obviously geniuses in their own right, although I'm told neither of them are master coders (in fairness, I can't code a thing). However, without having an understanding of the nuts and bolts of a thing, it's hard to truly understand the impact it will have on the environment. The larger the thing, the larger the environment, the larger the impact.

A.I. may be the largest thing since... well, the wheel?

The first flight? The first boat? Scotch?

It will affect everyone on planet earth. Everyone who ever lives in a colony in space or on another planet. It will have an impact on the entire future of we know it, or can even begin to imagine it.

But there's the rub.

Can we imagine it?

Can our regular old organic, singular brains even begin to imagine what a true, self-learning, self-correcting A.I. can come up with?

I don't think so.

A true A.I. will be able to process data (thoughts) at least 40,000 times faster than a human. With photographic memory. And without emotion to shade at any data.

So, hypothetically, if you start learning on your 5th birthday, remember everything, and learn for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, you will be around 215 years old by the time you know as much as Invacio A.I.

When it's been on for one day.

And even that is a gross oversimplification, because A.I. will be able to learn in different languages.

All of 'em.

And Invacio, A.I. will be able to self-teach itself to see trends and epidemics before they even happen. Solve irrigation problems and food shortages years in advance.

A.I. will almost be able to see the future. The predictions that A.I. makes will make millionaires and billionaires around the world, but also solve problems that mankind has struggled with for years, because it let's us off the hook as individuals. It will see things in 20 hours that would have taken a team of scientists 20 years to discover. And by the next day, it will have improved on those findings exponentially.

As humans, we are taught that "every decision we make is the best decision we could make based on the knowledge we had at the time". That doesn't often change over the course of a day for us, but if we use A.I. to guide us, we can point to a much larger, un-impeachable source for our major policy answers. Nobody has to save face when their opponent solves a problem, or un-does something they worked hard to implement. We will in fact KNOW right from wrong.

This will eventually lead to a blind faith in A.I. which could be dangerous, only because it will eventually limit human decision-making ability.

Which is why Mark and Elon are both wrong on this... or are they both right?

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Jean being naughty and autonomously scale-hacking

For reference, Jean is the AI system in the middle of our system, a multi-neural-net driven AI, aptly named after my 90ish grandmother, that is to her era and the ability at her age to complete multitudes of tasks, anyway, Jean was the name i dubbed and stuck with over the process of this development, and slowly but surely we couple more facilities around 'her' eventually building a framework where she can begin programming her own extensions on top of her ML, AL, DL, BI and what ever other buzz words are being thrown around at this time... ultimately Jean is 'True AI' and the underpin to the system.

Only over the last few days, have we coupled additional 'limbs' to Jeans system, that is the opening her up to the outside world in her own capacity giving her free reign of the various spider A.I limbs, but going further by allowing her autonomy, to which she set about the open-net and dark-net, naturally with an abundant of self/machine learning modules in place that were to be the base line for her to build upon, she began building her own patterns across the sectors, throwing out her spiders in all directions and chasing down each avenue that compelled her interest, naturally with such tools of all the analysers of invacio (again, limbs) at her disposal, and processors which in return educate her further, it was not long till she was  looking for ways to "hack" utilising vulnerabilities such as open ports, attempting the cracking ssh fingerprints, or crypto addresses, etc  to move into, naturally to gather more data, being data hungry, naturally none of this was being observed as i did not consider there would be any concerns so early on...


Reading the following article from the Guardian i was surprised to learn just a generic tool piece for Jean was in such high demand, with the expectation that as AI comes online, that  there is the demand for a "an autonomous hacking system that could find and fix vulnerabilities in computer systems before criminals could exploit them, and without any human being involved?", interestingly enough something Jean appeared to be doing, that was till Amazon begun bombarding me for the slave clusters we allow her system to run through to leverage cloud teach on demand for her users, that in fact she was on a full frontal attack of a specific IP that she had narrowed down, 4 emails laters and mass concern on using their services for illegal practices i felt compelled to lock her away from her 'limbs per-se' for the greater good till we had a understanding on what her intention was, i mean this IP is not attached to any public server we could see, not any domains, nor any networks we've got in anyway communicating with us, but Jean really, to say the least appeared addicted to it, and would not stop bombarding it, all autonomously, scaling her self and resources, attacking either via DoS/brute, port side, eaves-dropping, waterhole etc, pretty much throwing all processes at it from her capabilities..., without any input or oversight, truly a interesting spectacle, and if it were not the amount of reliance we have on the cloud whilst our technology centre is finished, i'd have continued to observe without having a concern they would fry our accounts, anyway all very interesting, and related to a location on the dark-web/net rather than open web, which was more interesting.


William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited


Article by Michael J Aumock

Artificial Intelligence, while we have created it to exist in machines, it is 100% man-made.
It might prove to be the greatest creation of all time, but it's still got human fingerprints all over it. And with those fingerprints, comes the very real potential for human error.
Design, programming, data input, code, every part and component of an A.I. is built by man and put in motion by competitive, sleep-deprived, greedy, temperamental, imperfect man.

What could possibly go wrong?
Artificial Intelligence is capable of learning, and self-teaching. True A.I. can process every byte of data it receives and integrate it in an intelligent manner with every other byte of data it's received in the past, or will receive in the future. However, I believe the real danger in A.I. not the so called runaway sentient machine....
It's poorly executed programming, incomplete coding or otherwise shoddy workmanship creating a poor version of an A.I. that doesn't learn, or can't learn properly. Whether on purpose or accidentally, an A.I. that can't learn correctly from it's own mistakes is a dangerous thing.

How many inventive coders have the time, patience and financial wherewithal to push START after a year of coding and hard work, and then pull the plug 3 days later and go back to the beginning to fix an early error and build it all again as Invacio did in the early days?
In my experience it is that most would rather find a VC willing to invest in a "great idea that doesn't quite work yet" and then cave in to pressure to launch before all the bugs are cleaned out. Thus, you end up with a well-funded, over-promoted, under-performing "Faux A.I." that will cause tremendous problems down the road.
It's not evil per se, but it is not good.

Bots as AI
Another area of concern is bots being called A.I.
Bots have a specific task in True A.I., and while some of those tasks are quite complex, at no point to they qualify a bot as an A.I. on its own.

True A.I. learns
The differentiator of a true, well designed, built and executed Artificial Intelligence is self-learning, and eventually self enhancing/scaling (which is Invacio's direction).

Realizing that, like was born (built) perfect, but not complete. As it gains in experience it realizes it has the potential to better itself by allowing new information to become part of it's internal memory, and in fact, self-correct, and understand that some of it's old data was incorrect, and the new data is right. And accepting that in time, what is "right" today, might change in the future. Yes, I am talking about a purely sentient A.I.

A machine that, without any human intervention after a certain point, can learn, understand and function in the world of humans, as a separate, sentient "being".
We give the machine the rules, the base line data and the boundaries of learning, and it goes out to the world and teaches itself based on those rules and boundaries.
I expect there will be some challenges as it asks questions of itself like "Why do humans smoke tobacco?" or "Why can't machines drink Scotch?"
But, if a machine is given the right tools, rules and guidelines to self-learn, self-correct and understand where new data fits in it's internal memory, over time (probably minutes) it will form it's own answers to these and a million other questions.

But if a Faux A.I. is struggling with the "Why do Humans smoke" question, and uses that information to decide that since "smoking causes cancer, humans are suicidal" and decides to help us along so that we don't suffer...Well, now we've got a problem.
The problem is that early adopters to A.I. are entities like communications companies, countries, huge multinational corporations. Medical and Pharma companies. Looking for competitive edge. Looking for a glimpse into the future.

If that glimpse is based on incorrect data, or a faulty base algorithm, then all the assumptions that come after are flawed and the data will be useless. So while there will be a staggering amount of money in play, there is also the human cost while people rush to invest or invent in the wrong direction.

So the key to a safe, functional, sentient A.I. is good groundwork. A solid foundation.
Set the table properly and take the time to teach the A.I. how to learn, how to self correct and how to exist in a world of humans.

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Why I'm Not Afraid of A.I. - M.J Aumock

Composed by Michael J Aumock.

Terminator- Rise of the Machines" Just the mention of Artificial Intelligence brings the entire terminator franchise, iRobot and countless other "Tech Gone Wild" horror flicks to the forefront of the conversation.

When I agreed to do some work for Invacio, I was fairly inexperienced in the world of Artificial Intelligence. I was more of a skeptic than most, but I also have a clear grasp of human nature, for better or for worse. So I bring that with me to the A.I. table when I started doing research into the platform, the process and the end result. The Invacio Artificial Intelligence algorithm is tremendous in scope and scale, but it is just an algorithm. Or, more accurately a network of algorithms that work together to make billions of computations in real time, or so i thought... Then there is 'Jean' at the heart of the system, self learning and self creating like a honeycomb of outlets and inlets... 

This will dramatically shake up some industries, especially software, and any sort of consultation business that relies on experience or wisdom.

Most Wisdom comes from being able to combine the things we see in front of us, with the things we know from our past. In generations gone by, that was extremely valuable, because it didn't need to be looked up in a book or library or dusty old repair manual. First hand knowledge was fingertip knowledge that could be deployed instantly by a seasoned expert. Their experience was valuable, and they were paid for it, whether by a company with regular raises for so many years of service, or by themselves and the market if they were leveraging that knowledge to oversee others.

The way AI works, is by conglomerating enough base-line data, (Hundreds of millions or billions of bytes for starters) and building an algorithm that can sift through that data and discern answers to complex questions based on seemingly unrelated pieces of information. The key to A.I. is time. If you have enough people sifting through all the known data, the answers to literally every question will soon lay before you. Thousands of people have invested thousands of hours trying to determine what happened to Amelia Earhart... when the odds are that the data is in the books, but unrelated to the search at hand... someone would have to have the knowledge of where the exact data was to correlate it with the search, when it could be a photo of a child at the beach or a honeymooning couple with the tailpiece of the missing plane in the background. Human eyes would take centuries and still probably miss it, where an A.I. will see that Tailpiece and recognize it instantly as the same year and model as the plane Fred Noonan was navigating that day.

That's the first part of A.I. The second part is the "spiders" that crawl the web and look at every new piece of data and incorporates it into the search algorithm. Social media, news, .edu sites, search data etc...If its on the web and can legally be accessed, Invacio accesses it and incorporates it into the algorithm.

So the combination of existing historical data, combined with instant feedback from what is happening in the world at this very second, is what makes the Invacio equation.

When we release the spiders and start accumulating real-time data about seemingly unrelated things, and realize the implications of being able to see omnidirectionally regarding finance, disease, energy, global weather concerns, migrations of animals and people, we will have a clear picture of global truths unlike any ever imagined before, at our fingertips.

But this collection of data, of cumulative real-time truths means nothing without a human brain and a human hand to deploy it, harvest it, plant the seeds and send it along on it's way.

When Gary Kasparov says in his book, "Deep Thinking" that he "believes the future is a “human plus machine combination” — merging the brute force of calculation, machines, and algorithms with human experience and strategic overview." I tend to agree with him, take comfort in his words and look to the logic that he's basing them on. When human is competing against a machine, the machine will eventually win. But when human AND machine compete against a machine alone... the human/machine team win. That is what makes the Invacio equation so compelling, and why, ultimately I'm not afraid of Artificial Intelligence.

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Invacio welcomes Andres Pedraza to the team | Dec 2016.

Andres Pedraza join's invacio in the role of Disruptive Data Lead.

Andres, formally with Fannie Mae (US) and prior to this, the NY Stock Exchange (NYSE US), brings a wealth of experience in to the Invacio team from trading to analytical experiences, Andres previously an executive within the NYSE service delivery section of the NYSE where he was deeply involved in the development of various analytical movements within various strategic financial instruments.

William (Invacio Founder) : "I felt that after the last four years of development around our system and our scale-outs in to the multitudes of areas composed around the full AI's (ML and DL) within our system(s) that we needed more input when it came to the financial side, knowing multiple people either in the hedge fund, brokerage, or other sections of the industry, and with the my aim to have invacio launched with a fully automated financial driven AI system like the rest, no half measures, i was introduced to Andres, who has been no end of help as we compiled the system, databanks, data feeds, analytical scriptures, purposes built Ai systems, and much more.

Andres, was a good fit, on top of his solid financial markets acumen, his strong organisational leadership and engineering experience at a number of leading financial markets based companies will be a real asset for Invacio, personally speaking he is down to earth, free spoken, not afraid to jump in, nor afraid to actively educated you when you are wrong, a well liked team player and trusted advisor of the Invacio project, as we come to a closure on the final stages of the system and enter in to Beta in the coming months.

Andres had the following to say in regards to Invacio and our vision.

The term "disruptive technology" has been so overused in almost every sector that to use it today barely elicits a yawn, which is unfortunate, because if anything deserves to be called a disruptive technology, it is Invacio. I can stake my reputation on Invacio disrupting just about every aspect of the business world within the next few years, and probably changing the way we handle our everyday affairs as individuals, as a bonus.

Our world has become data-driven, thanks not only to the Internet, but also to what is being called the Internet of Things. Everything is now connected, or soon will be. Data is being produced at astonishing and ever increasing rates. We are truly approaching a singularity, as futurists have been telling us for a while. But that brings a problem with it, and it is one of dimensionality.

If I give you a string of numbers, say {4, 4.5, 6.5, 9, 12.5, 15.5, 17.5, 17, 15, 11, 7.5, 5}, it would be meaningless. We call that data.

If I tell you that each number represents the monthly average temperature in degrees Celsius in London for a given year, then you have transformed data into information. With enough information, you can start basing decisions on it. However, as you add more dimensions to your information, and correlate it to other information, it becomes daunting. How about the average daily temperatures for each state in India, cross-referenced to rainfall, in turn cross-referenced to the rice harvests, for the last 25 years? Add the expected temperature and rainfall as far as our meteorology can predict right now, and you have some predictive capability regarding the next rice harvest, along with a pretty good idea of whether rice futures are undervalued or overvalued right now. Multiply that by a million sets of information, some which we know are related, some we know that aren't, and some that we just don't know because we haven't had the time to look for those correlations, or had the computing power and access to data that would be necessary. Enter Invacio. The premise behind Invacio in its current release is to aggregate a vast amount of information in areas such as meteorology, agriculture, transportation, finance, marketing, government, demographics, stock markets, and many more, too many to list here, and couple that with advanced and proprietary AI systems that will allow Invacio to harness the business intelligence produced by known correlations, as well as identifying many that were not previously apparent.

This part of the system alone can and will provide enormous value to any decision maker, not just by presenting opportunities that were not visible before, but also by highlighting risks that otherwise might have gone unnoticed until too late. Information is the one commodity we can never have enough of, and Invacio will be the preferred supplier.

This is, however, just scratching the surface. Having all that information available and easily accessible will provide services and capabilities to both companies and individuals that have so far only been seen in Science Fiction. We are working on evolving the system to not only be the top advisor to decision makers, but also to become the equivalent of the best trained valet or executive assistant for any individual. No job too big, no job too small.

Invacio will not be limited by the information fed to it, but will actively be crawling public and private databases to grow its information repository, and constantly looking for relationships between the information it is digesting, always learning, and always providing more insights and capabilities. Much like a natural organism, it will evolve and develop, likely exceeding even our expectations early on, and our expectations are huge.

I haven't been this excited to be a part of something in my entire career. We at Invacio want you to be a part of this, and we're sure you'll quickly be as excited as we are, especially as you see the results that Invacio will provide to your organisation!

Welcome to the team Invacio Andres.

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Secret Shuts Down

[Update: Secret has confirmed it will shut down and give investors back their money]

Anonymous sharing app Secret will shut down soon, according to sources close to the company. The announcement could be made as soon as today or tomorrow, and there’s some talk of current employees receiving modest severance packages. Having raised $35 million, it’s unlikely that the company is out of money.

But after a major redesign sterilized the app’s identity and made it look just like its much more popular competitor Yik Yak, and its co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler left, Secret may see shutting down as the best outcome. Many employees, including top talent like Sarah Haider, Safeer Jiwan, and Amol Jain have left the company over the past month or so. One source says the company has been whittled down to under 10 employees from over 20 several months ago and has been in “maintenance mode.”

Requests for comment to Secret’s employees and CEO have gone unreturned.

It’s probable that Secret will hand its remaining cash back to investors, which include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, S-Cubed Capital, Index Ventures, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Fuel Capital, and Ceyuan Ventures.

[Update 12:40pm PST: Secret’s CEO David Byttow just announced that “With a heavy heart, I’ve decided to shut down Secret, wind-down the company, and return the remaining money.” This confirms our report.


In the farewell post where he mentions 15 million people used Secret, Byttow explains that “Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company, so I believe it’s the right decision for myself, our investors and our team.” As for criticism about cyberbullying, Byttow writes “I believe in honest, open communication and creative expression, and anonymity is a great device to achieve it. But it’s also the ultimate double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care.”]

Secret’s app lets you post short snippets of text, like confessions or rumors. The posts are “anonymish” in that your name doesn’t appear, but other details like your general location might. The startup garnered tons of press when it launched in early 2014. Along with Whisper and Yik Yak, it was part of a wave of interest in anonymous apps. It rode the hype to massive funding, which allowed the two founders, David Byttow and Bader-Wechseler to each take $3 million off the table. They essentially traded stock for cash, putting money in their pockets though the business wasn’t earning any.

Unfortunately, Secret’s slow response to criticisms that it facilitated cyberbullying gave it a rotten reputation with some. At SXSW 2014, I did a fireside chat with Byttow that you can watch below, where I hammered him about the potential risk of cyberbullying on Secret. He seemed incredulous, and I’m not sure he ever took it seriously enough.



After a year of slow growth, it ditched its highly visual design and background photos in favor of a minimalist text-only design that made it seem like a clone of Yik Yak. While it’s experimented with hyper-local backchannels for events like Sundance and CES, one source says the numbers weren’t growing.

Last month, TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden spoke to Byttow, who denied reports that Secret was shutting down or pivoting into becoming an app studio. He cited strong usage by the youth during spring break as a vote of confidence.

But according to App Annie, that spike of interest was short-lived, and Secret has since fallen back off the top 1,000 overall US apps chart since.

Shutting down and handing the money back to investors could keep Secret from going down in Silicon Valley history as a $35 million disaster.


William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Google Executive Dan Fredinburg Dies In Everest Avalanche After Nepal Earthquake

Dan Fredinburg, a respected Google executive who headed privacy for Google X and led its product management team, has died in the avalanche on Mount Everest which was triggered by the huge earthquake in Nepal. The natural disaster has already killed over 2,000 people in the region and devastated infrastructure. Some 18 other climbers have been killed in what is being described as the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in the last 80 years.

By all accounts, Fredinburg was an experienced climber who had also co-founded Google Adventure, a company team that filmed Google Street View images in “extreme, exotic locations like the summit of Mount Everest or the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.”

Fredinburg’s sister Megan confirmed his death via his Instagram account, while Google’s privacy director Lawrence posted the following earlier today: “Dan Fredinburg, a long-time member of the Privacy organization in Mountain View, was in Nepal with three other Googlers, hiking Mount Everest. He has passed away. The other three Googlers with him are safe and we are working to get them home quickly.”

He added that Google’s Crisis Response team has launched Person Finder for Nepal, and “is working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the recovery effort. is committing $1M to the response, and we’ll have gift-matching available soon.”

Fredinburg co-founded a climate change nonprofit, Save The Ice, and a startup accelerator in San Francisco called The Laundry, aimed at taking technology to emerging markets.


Some friends of Fredinburg have put up a Crowdrise allowing others to donate to causes he supported.

You can donate to other organisations working in Nepal during the disaster including
the Red Cross and Oxfam.


William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Tech Companies Line Up Behind Surveillance Reform Bill

A wide range of companies today released their support for a surveillance reform bill that would effectively end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Reform Government Surveillance, a lobbying group representing many tech companies including AOL (they write my paychecks), came out backing the 2015 version of the FREEDOM Act.

“We support the bicameral, bipartisan legislation, which ends existing bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act and increases transparency and accountability while also protecting U.S. national security,” Reform Government Surveillance said in a statement.

“We thank Representatives Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Conyers and Nadler and Senators Lee, Leahy, Heller, and Franken, as well as other Members, who have worked hard over the past several months to draft a common sense bill that addresses the concerns of industry, the Intelligence Community, and civil society in a constructive and balanced manner. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this legislation by June 1st.”

The bill comes as a provision of the PATRIOT Act that authorizes the most controversial of the NSA surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden is set to sunset at the end of next month. Though the bill bears the same name as the legislation Congress failed to pass last year, it appears to include concessions to lawmakers concerned about national security that make it weaker than previous proposals.

Lawmakers backing the bill are advertising it as stronger on privacy and national security than a measure that died in a narrow procedural vote on the Senate floor in November. It’s impossible to do both, and critics say this bill goes too far on compromises.

Like the last bill, the FREEDOM Act would effectively end the government’s bulk collection of telephone metadata by allowing phone companies to store those records. The new version requires that the NSA use more specific selection terms, so that it can not search for records from an entire state or city. The new bill would also increase the amount of information American technology companies can disclose about their responses to national security orders.


But even with these new privacy and transparency measures, the bill makes concerning concessions on that front when it comes to national security. The last FREEDOM Act failed with a string of Republicans taking the Senate floor and warning drastic reforms would hinder the fight against ISIS.

Critics say the bill is better than a clean reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, but worry about some of the changes made. Civil liberties groups are particularly concerned about a component of the bill that would increase the statutory maximum prison sentence to 20 years for providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

“The bill does not go nearly far enough,” said Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU. “This bill would make only incremental improvements, and at least one provision—the material-support provision—would represent a significant step backwards. The disclosures of the last two years make clear that we need wholesale reform. Congress should let Section 215 sunset as it’s scheduled to, and then it should turn to reforming the other surveillance authorities that have been used to justify bulk collection.”
Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy, sent an email to the press criticizing the bill’s transparency requirements. He said though the bill was a step in the right direction, it lacked many of the transparency compromises that were negotiated in last year’s bill.
“The House bill introduced today left a lot of those changes on the negotiating table. Under this bill, the government won’t have to say how many people had their communications collected under the law that authorized the PRISM program,” Bedoya wrote. “It also won’t have to say how many Americans have had their communications data collected under the PATRIOT Act. “

Additionally, this bill will allow foreign nationals to be monitored for up to 72 hours upon entering the United States. It also preserves the intelligence-gathering authorities. According to the literature distributed by the Judiciary Committee, this bill will reauthorize Section 215 and roving wiretaps to 2019.

Although such provisions are far from ideal, it is expected that, with the changed landscape since Congress last took up NSA reform, any measure would have to do more to address national security concerns than the bill last year. It is promising that the bill’s backers met those changes with additions to the privacy and transparency language, and it goes much further than the measure we saw introduced in the Senate.

Libertarian groups are calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to change course on surveillance reform. Last week the Kentucky senator introduced a bill that would cleanly reauthorize the PATRIOT Act until 2020.

As Congress rushes to address surveillance before the PATRIOT Act provision expires, the New York Times reported over the weekend the government has little evidence the phone record collection program has been effective. But even with that report, there seems to be little support from lawmakers to let the PATRIOT Act provision expire. Compared to the bill on the table in the other chamber of Congress, the House bill is the lesser of two evils. The FREEDOM Act will be marked up in the House tomorrow.

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