In a move that's bound to turn heads and raise a few eyebrows, Kape Technologies announced on Monday that it has acquired veteran VPN provider ExpressVPN in a deal valued at approximately $936 million. It's not necessarily the dollar amount that's turning heads here, but rather Kape's history in the ad-tech space that's cause for concern for many.
Even though ExpressVPN will reportedly remain a separate entity and operate independently from Kape and its family of brands, there's still bound to be a certain degree of skepticism surrounding the acquisition.
ExpressVPN is just the latest VPN acquisition for Kape Technologies – the company also owns CyberGhost VPN, ZenMate, and Private Internet Access. When the company acquired CyberGhost VPN in 2017, Kape Technologies was known as Crossrider, a company specializing in bundling adware into various software applications downloaded by internet users online. Shortly after the CyberGhost acquisition, Crossrider became Kape Technologies and effectively ditched any and all of the ad-tech activity it used to engage in – and upon which it essentially built its business.
The name change and the 180 from ad-tech to digital privacy are both still relatively fresh, so it may take some time for the skepticism surrounding Kape Technologies to subside. Nevertheless, both Kape and ExpressVPN appear to be dedicated to a continued commitment to digital privacy and are expressing optimism for the future of privacy and security on the internet.
"We've been impressed by Kape's clear commitment to protecting the privacy of users", ExpressVPN stated in a blog post, adding that Kape Technologies' "track record with upholding the exacting privacy practices and policies of other privacy protection services under the Kape umbrella is a strong testament to how seriously they take their responsibility to respect user privacy and rights".
We are thrilled that ExpressVPN will be joining Kape and believe that this transaction is testament to the strength of our existing business and growth strategy. This acquisition is directly in line with our mission to provide a privacy-first end-to-end suite of services capable of capturing the increasing demand in the digital privacy market. With the quality of ExpressVPN's people and products, combined with the scale of their business, this transaction ideally positions Kape to continue to expand our global footprint and product portfolio at a time when digital security and privacy has never been more important.
"With the infusion of Kape's support," says ExpressVPN co-founder Dan Pomerantz, "we're excited to be able to accelerate our product development, deliver even more innovation to our users, and protect them from a wider range of threats".
Though the deal may nonetheless raise some questions, ExpressVPN remains confident in Kape's commitment to privacy and security and pledges to remain true to its own established commitments and privacy standards. In a statement to ProPrivacy, a representative from ExpressVPN said:
Ensuring that user privacy and security will not be compromised was our top consideration and absolutely non-negotiable in our due diligence process...
The representative also pointed to how previous Kape acquisitions CyberGhost and Private Internet Access have steadfastly maintained their commitments to privacy and security over the years under the Kape umbrella as evidence of how congruous and effective such partnerships can be.
In reassuring users, ExpressVPN's representative told ProPrivacy that "we'll continue maintaining our rigorous standards as well, and we will continue proving that through independent third-party audits and security assessments like we've done in the past. ExpressVPN will continue to be an independent service, run by our existing team, with our own infrastructure and product roadmap".