A was created to ensure open and free access to the Internet, snowflake The number of users increased significantly during the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, and has increased even more since then. Originally an open-source project by Serene (her name is used for privacy reasons), Snowflake started as a pluggable transport for Tor and has since been revamped snowstormnow promises faster connections and can run as a standalone software outside of Tor.
Snowstorm announced today that it has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Seed Club Ventures, with participation from Cabrit Capital, Keppel Capital, EchoVC and Matt Devost. It also launched a public beta of Snowstorm.
Snowflake started eight years ago as an open source project with the goal of keeping the Internet free. Serene taught herself how to code at the age of nine and was hired by Google as a teenager. She eventually became the first engineer at Google Ideas (now called Google Jigsaw), and used her time there to find ways to use large-scale infrastructure to help the Internet.
Part of Serene’s interest in keeping the internet free is that she had a difficult childhood and the internet was her refuge. “I also know the internet doesn’t say that, especially as things have changed over the past few decades and censorship has definitely escalated,” she said. Serene left Google as a top expert in WebRTC, an open source project that adds real-time communication capabilities to web browsers and mobile applications. She sees it as useful for a new kind of decentralized tool that could keep the internet free. So she prototyped Snowflake and integrated it into the Tor Browser.
“Essentially at the end of the day, when you connect to the internet, you’re connecting to other computers. Your ISP, your ISP, is also the computer that’s connected to the rest of the internet, and you’re connected to the rest of the internet through them. If people have issues with their ISP or they want privacy, usually before connecting to the rest of the internet, a traditional VPN is someone’s computer,” she explained, meaning the VPN can be monitored and easily bypassed.
Snowflake, on the other hand, is decentralized and deployed as a pluggable transport for Tor. It doesn’t trust centralized systems or VPNs that can be blocked, and instead consists of about 100,000 people from around the world who improvise using their computers to act as brokers, masquerading through domain fronting so they appear to be from unrestricted services. Users and brokers connect via WebRTC. “It’s basically a two-way user base,” Serene said. “Some people need help connecting to the Internet, and some people can help others connect to the Internet.”
Millions of sessions are established every day, and things started last year during the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, when users needed to circumvent internet censorship.
Serene says Blizzard is an upgrade for all levels. She rewrote Snowflake in Rust, partly for speed and partly to help it be cross-platform and system-wide, rather than just relying on Tor. One of the challenges Snowflake faced was that it was being used much more than expected and had hit a bottleneck. “The project itself was a lot of interesting, talented people coming together to make it happen. I just happened to be the original creator of the project, understand the architecture and where it was going.” So when Snowflake hit a bottleneck, Serene made improvements so that Snowstorm, for example, could run system-wide and fast enough to stream video.
Serene will use the new funds to continue building Snowstorm, but said she doesn’t want to get involved in marketing tactics such as YouTube ads. “I’d rather focus on building something that actually works, and build even less with the few resources I’ve raised through Snowstorm.”
Tranquility is also a prolific concert pianistFocus on music after leaving Google. She will travel to Europe this month to play the Rachminov Concerto No. 2, which has been endorsed by Bossendorferm. Austrian piano manufacturer.
“It’s interesting that being a musician makes me a better technologist, and being a technologist makes me a better musician. I find the connection is very strong. Music gives me the energy to do all the things I need to do.” Serene added that during the fundraising process, some investors asked her how she could run a company with a music career. “My answer is, it’s some combination of someone exercising every morning to keep fit. You tell them, where do you have time? So I happen to pay to go to concerts, which keep me very fit and energized.”