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Wickr Splits in Two, With Founder Nico Sell to Head New Nonprofit Venture

Former investment banker Mark Fields will lead the commercial side of the secure messaging company.

Asa Mathat

Secure messaging app maker Wickr is splitting itself into two units — a for-profit company as well as a nonprofit arm that will focus on using the technology for human rights aims.

Founder Nico Sell will lead the newly established Wickr Foundation, while investor and former investment banker Mark Fields will lead the for-profit Wickr, with that unit aimed at applying the underlying technology in Wickr to solve problems for large businesses. Wickr will also continue to commercially develop the existing secure messaging app, Fields said.

 Wickr CEO Mark Fields
Wickr CEO Mark Fields

“There really seemed to be two distinct markets and missions that we were going after,” Sell said in an interview. “Both needed their own focus. This allows me to keep focusing on the things I am really passionate about — kids, human rights, etc.”

Fields, meanwhile, will focus on turning Wickr into a substantially larger revenue-generating entity. The company has dabbled in ways to commercialize its efforts, including a deal with Mexico’s Iusacell and efforts to license its technology to other messaging services.

“This is a way for us to fulfill the bigger vision of Wickr as quickly as we can,” said Fields, who previously was a managing director at CME Group, the parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. “We want to build a business that can scale.”

Fields (not to be confused with the Ford CEO of the same name) became an observer on Wickr’s board after CME Group invested in the company’s Series A and Series B funding rounds.

For more on Wickr, here is a video of Sell, speaking at last year’s Code/Mobile event.

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