FBI phone hack is VC’s dream come true

People wear protective masks due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Pattaya, Thailand on March 27, 2020. Photo taken on March 27, 2020. REUTERS / Soe Zeya Tun – RC2LTF9SPJIZ

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ran a startup that would shame Silicon Valley. ANOM is a three-year know more joint venture with Australian Federal Police, 9,000 law enforcement officers from 17 countries and a drug smuggling smartphone developer turned informant.

It has tapped into the booming market for secure apps and devices. Just this Monday Apple (AAPL.O)boasted its “legacy of privacy leadership” by introducing new data protection features.

The crooked FBI punters paid $ 1,700 for an encrypted device with a bespoke messaging app and a six-month subscription. It’s the kind of hardware-software meeting business model that low-margin handset makers like China’s Xiaomi aspire to.

Word of mouth marketing would have reduced costs. Active ANOM users have tripled in just a few months, aided by the steady shutdown of competitors.

With tons of drugs seized, hundreds of people arrested and a wealth of criminal data, the FBI probably hit its performance targets – with some ESG kudos to get started. The only problem is that it is a difficult model to reproduce. (By Robyn Mak)

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