Zoom acquires Keybase (or, why companies buy companies)

There was an interesting Quora question recently, about why companies sometimes buy other companies, only to “shut them down”. Zoom just acquired Keybase (a startup, launched in 2014, to create a directory for public encryption keys). They performed such acquisition in order to solve their end-to-end encryption problem. These sound like different things. In fact, a senior security researcher friend of mine Tweeted “My hot take: Zoom buying Keybase makes zero technical sense, and demonstrates that Zoom management either doesn’t understand its security issues or is looking for a quick PR hit to make people think they’re being addressed. Anyone have a counterargument?” This is not an unreasonable first take. But the response came back, “Let’s say you wanted to implement end-to-end encryption in a segment where nobody else has done so (enterprise video conference, up to 1,000 people per meeting). How long do you think it would take to assemble the right team?” Acquiring Keybase (and its team of 25 cryptography experts) was a brilliant solution to this problem by Zoom. Could well have taken years to otherwise assemble a team capable of working on solving the problem.

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