Evon Ho, a first year Computer Science student at Southern New Hampshire University, asked us a few questions about Purism. Todd Weaver, Purism’s founder and CEO, answered them, and Evon wrote the following essay:
Purism: A Privacy Based Computer Company
It all started when Todd Weaver, Founder and CEO of Purism, realized Big Tech could not be trusted as moral guardians of his and his children’s data. The current paradigm of corporations data hoarding is, as Todd describes it, built on “a tech-stack of exploitation”–and not by accident, but by design. Companies such as Google and Microsoft–and especially Facebook–intentionally collect, store and share user data to whomever they see fit. In recent events, the California Consumer Privacy Act, which becomes effective on January 1, 2020, will make residents of California able to know what personal data is being collected about them, know whether their personal data is sold or disclosed and to whom, say no to the sale of personal data, access their personal data, request a business delete any personal data information about a consumer collected from that consumer and not be discriminated against for exercising their privacy rights. This sounds good, and it is, but not according to Big Tech. Big Tech such as Facebook hired a firm to run ads that said things like “Your next click could cost you $5! Say no to the California Consumer Privacy Act”. Big Tech does not care about privacy, they care about their bottom line. This is where Purism comes in.
Purism is a privacy focused company. Their devices, the Librem5, Librem13 and Librem15 run PureOS–a GNU/Linux distribution that puts privacy, security and freedom first, by design. It includes popular privacy-respecting software such as PureBrowser. The OS helps you “Surf the web safely without being tracked by advertisers or marketers” and allows you to easily encrypt your entire OS and data with your own encryption keys. This is huge, especially if you understand how much of your “private” data is actually being shared.
I e-mailed the company asking questions about the entrepreneurial aspects of running a computer company, expecting an employee to send over a typical pre-written list of information. To my surprise and excitement, the CEO and Founder Todd Weaver e-mailed me himself, and answered my questions. This was very inspiring.
There are quite a few entrepreneurial aspects of running a computer company. You must manufacture your own computers and design your own software. Because the software in PureOS is free software, there exists a community of paid and volunteer developers who maintain it. This is beneficial in many ways, such as it allows the code to be freely auditable and if there’s a bug it’s usually fixed fairly quickly. There are some challenges that one must overcome as well, such as delays in manufacturing and the management of growth based on cash flow–this is crucial. With dedication and perseverance, these challenges are easily overcome, and one can move onto the designing process.
To design a computer from scratch, you must have a goal in mind. Purism’s goal is to give consumers “a computer that you fully own and control”. This goal then allows them to list all the reasons why current laptops and phones cannot meet such a goal. They then look to solve each reason of incompatibility to produce a new and improved device that allows one to fully own and control their device. To fund such a company, one needs an investment of capital. Founder and CEO Todd Weaver invested his own money into the company initially, then ran crowd-funding to bring the first product to market.
Purism’s goals for the future include continuing to improve and expand their products to offer a convenient alternative that respects people and their digital lives. This is a noble and respectable goal, and I for one would love to use a Librem when I graduate Southern New Hampshire University and work as a software developer.
In conclusion, if one has a worthy goal in mind such as Purism’s privacy-first approach, nothing is impossible–not even running a successful computer company.
Thank you, Evon–we loved it, and are very proud that you chose us. Keep up the good work!