Skiff is shutting Down

· 5 min read
Skiff is shutting Down

Privacy-focused email service Skiff announced on Feb. 9, 2024 that it is shutting down after being acquired by work collaboration platform Notion. The news came as a shock to Skiff's user base and the wider privacy community.

What is Skiff?

Founded in 2020 and launched publicly in 2021, Skiff offered encrypted email, cloud storage, and document collaboration tools with a focus on privacy and security. As an open source platform, transparency was key and Skiff positioned itself as an ethical alternative to services from big tech companies.

Why Are People Upset About the Notion Acquisition?

Many Skiff users feel betrayed that the service they trusted to protect their data has now been acquired by a closed source, VC-funded company with a questionable privacy record. Notion does not offer email services, so there is no clear migration path for Skiff users. To say the least, Skiff just got everything wrong with the shutdown!

The Skiff Privacy Fiasco, or How not to Shutdown Your Startup
On February 9th, 2024 Skiff Privacy discontinued its services. In this blog post, I want to do an informal case study of how Skiff shut down its operation and what they could have done better.

The reliance on email for identity and authentication also makes migration incredibly inconvenient. Skiff users cannot simply transfer accounts over - they need to manually export data and change login credentials across potentially hundreds of accounts.

What it Means For Skiff Users

Skiff has said it will operate for another 6 months. Users must manually export their inboxes and data before then. Notion has announced no concrete plans for the acquisition, so accounts will not carry over.

The shutdown underscores the importance of owning your online identity and not relying too heavily on any single service, especially newer ones. Custom email addresses make switching providers much easier.

Lessons For the Privacy Community

While Skiff's story elicits frustration over "just another privacy startup" failing users, their trajectory offers learnings as encrypted services battle mainstream growth.

All online services have risks

No matter how long a company has been around or how trusted they seem, there’s always a possibility they will cease operations, get acquired, or experience events that compromise user data and privacy. Skiff email users now struggling to export data and change login credentials everywhere are experiencing this painful reality first-hand.

There is a problem with using company-owned email addresses

Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, ProtonMail or another provider, relying on email addresses tied to their domain means over-trusting that company. If they go away, your identity goes with them. However, owning a custom domain gives you control and portability over your online identity for the long-haul.

Recommendations For Skiff Users and All of Us

  1. Skiff users should export data ASAP and move to a tried-and-true provider like ProtonMail.
  2. If possible, everyone should buy a custom email domain to control your identity long-term, which you can use with any major provider.
  3. Have patience with the maturation of new privacy services before betting everything on them. And slowly transition use cases over time.

Why Long-Standing Services Deserve Appreciation

Situations like Skiff shutting down can scare people away from trying privacy tools. But many services like ProtonMail have upheld commitments to user privacy for over a decade. This history and track record is meaningful when evaluating services.

The alluring hype around new startups makes it easy to abandon reliable tools that have focused on basics for years. My advice is to lean gradually towards emerging options only after they’ve demonstrated sustainability. Be cautious of new services and slow to adopt. Wait to see if business models prove sustainable.

Platforms Come and Go, But Our Values Must Endure

While disappointing, we should learn important lessons from Skiff’s abrupt closure without letting it shake confidence in the wider privacy tech ecosystem. There are many ethical teams building exceptional alternatives that respect user rights.

When taking ownership over our online identities and slowly integrating new tools, we can embody resilience in the face of an unpredictable technology landscape. Our destiny lies in living the values we want to see in the world. Though individual companies stumble, our commitment to privacy and human rights persists regardless. Users must channel frustration into supporting the viable services pushing this vision ahead against all odds. Progress is gradual - we must take the long view.

Building sustainable privacy businesses is extremely difficult

Building a sustainable business requires gaining millions of paying users to cover high security costs most people don't understand. Market of education remains slow. Venture capital can help launch privacy startups, but pressure for quick returns leaves users vulnerable if business models stall. That is why it is extremely important to create awareness about privacy tools in the market

What are the alternatives?

Skiff shutting down does not mean an end to encrypted main and other products. Here are the alternatives to Skiff:


An email service with a focus on privacy, encryption, security, and ease of use. They have been in operation since 2013. Proton AG is based in Genève, Switzerland. They have a free plan with accounts starting with 500 MB and more features, including custom domains in their paid plans.

They also offer a suite of other tools including VPNs, Drive, Calendar and Password Manager. Proton Mail released an article detailing how you can do the migration to their platform

How to migrate your data from Skiff to Proton | Proton
With Skiff shutting down, you may be wondering how to migrate your emails from Skiff to Proton Mail. This article explains how.

You can check out the full analysis of their platform on PrivacyGuides.

Encrypted Private Email Recommendations - Privacy Guides
These email providers offer a great place to store your emails securely, and many offer interoperable OpenPGP encryption with other providers.


Tuta, formerly Tutanota, is another popular end-to-end encrypted email app and a freemium secure email service. The service is advertisement-free; it relies on donations and premium subscriptions. While it has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons recently, it is considered a good alternative for those who need an end-to-end encrypted email provider. They have also published an article on what to do next if you consider joining their platform.

Skiff is shutting down - but your emails can stay private!
Skiff announced it is shutting down: All Skiff services will be closed six months from now as the company joins Notion.


The Skiff shutdown is undoubtedly a blow, but an opportunity to highlight services that have been around for years and show no signs of going anywhere. Our digital rights should not rely on startups still establishing themselves. As adopters, we must apply critical analysis before jumping onboard the latest privacy fad.

## Convertkit Newsletter