The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is upon us! Hopefully this spells the last of companies you have never heard of desperately trying to get you to click a button in an email!
At Zamzar we aren’t interested in using your data as a marketing commodity, and we never have been. We wrote last month about the hard work we have been doing to extend the data protection measures we already take to add extra safeguards for your data.
Today we are pleased to announce that we have completed the steps necessary for full GDPR compliance.
What steps has Zamzar taken?
We have taken a number of measures to increase protection for your data – here’s a summary of the key points:
> Strengthened security for your data
We have taken a number of steps to further improve how we secure your data. At the start of the year we turned on secure HTTPS encryption for all users of the main Zamzar website, and more recently we have switched many of our internal services to encrypt your data when it is “at rest” (i.e. stored) within our infrastructure.
> Rigorously reviewed our 3rd party vendors We use a number of third party services to convert your files and have taken the opportunity to review each of their data practices to ensure they provide contractual guarantees for keeping your data safe.
> Dropped personalised advertising in the EU We have taken the decision to stop serving personalised advertising to anyone using Zamzar’s main website from the EU. Ads will still be served, but no personalised data will be shared with 3rd party advertisers.
> Updated Policies We have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policies to provide detailed information on how we access, process and handle your data, who we share it with it and what steps we take to secure it. We have also made our Cookie Policies clearer (see our Web and API versions).
> Made available a Data Processing Agreement (DPA)
We have put together a standard “Data Processing Agreement” (DPA) which you can sign if you use Zamzar’s services to process data for your own customers. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a copy of this agreement.
What does this mean for YOU?
The steps we have taken will ensure that when you use our services you will have even stronger guarantees that your data is protected. You can check to see what data we store, how long we store it for, who we share it with and crucially what your rights are in relation to it.
We have pro-actively applied most of these measures to all customers (not just EU citizens).
What do you need to do?
You don’t need to take any explicit actions to carry on using Zamzar, but should review our new Terms and Privacy policies so that you are aware of how we handle your data.
If you use Zamzar as a “Data Processor” If you use our services to process your own customer data the GDPR requires you to sign a “Data Processing Agreement” with us. If you signed up for an account to use our services before 25th May we provide a standard Addendum that you can sign – just email us at email@example.com to request a copy. If you signed up after that date check out our standard DPA agreements for the Web App and API.
Still have questions?
If you have any questions about Zamzar and GDPR do let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you.
This is just the beginning …
Protecting your data is a journey and it doesn’t end with an arbitrary deadline. Tomorrow we’ll be back working hard to provide you with amazing file conversion services and taking steps to continue keeping your data safe and secure.
If so, this is likely the result of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in less than four weeks time on 25th May 2018.
It provides long overdue protections for the data of EU citizens and places legally-enforceable responsibilities on businesses that process this data. Zamzarstrongly supports this new regulation since it will provide better transparency and protection for your data, values that are already at the centre of what we do.
What is GDPR?
Much ink has been spilled attempting to explain GDPR, but at a high-level:
GDPR is a new EU regulation that replaces national-level EU privacy and security laws with a single, all-encompassing EU-wide law. It regulates how businesses like ours gather, use, share and transfer personal data.
It is likely to affect most companies (hence your bulging inbox). The regulation is not limited to companies based in the EU, since it is concerned with where personal data comes from – if it originates from within the EU it is covered.
If you’d like to read more about the technicalities of GDPR there are handy overviews from both BBC news and Wired. The UK Information Commissioners Office (ICO) provides a meaty 162-page guide to GDPR and if you want to go direct to source you can read all 99 Articles of the GDPR directly on the main EU legal site.
What is Zamzar doing about GDPR?
Along with many other companies we are putting the finishing touches to our GDPR compliance, and will be publishing more information over the coming weeks.
In the meantime here is an overview of our plans:
We will be fully GDPR compliant by the implementation deadline of 24th May 2018.
We are currently working on updates to our terms and privacy policies which will be made available to users for review in the coming weeks.
We are reviewing relationships with 3rd party vendors to ensure that any Data Processors we use are fully GDPR compliant.
On our main file conversion website we are reviewing relationships with 3rd party advertisers to offer stronger protections for user data when serving advertising.
We are taking steps to further enhance internal security measures to provide even stronger protection for your data. For example we recently rolled out “at rest” encryption for files processed through our Developer API. We will be posting updates about these measures in coming weeks too.
Where a customer deems us to act as a “Data Processor” for their data we will be providing an extra “Data Processing Agreement/Addendum (DPA)” to ensure customers can meet their own GDPR commitments. If you would like to be provided with this agreement please contact us at email@example.com.
In short, GDPR helps us to build on top of practices that have been at the core of what we do since we started Zamzar over 10 years ago. Our business prospers when we can competently, securely, quickly and professionally assist with your file conversion needs. We don’t need or want to trade your personal data to stay in business, nor have we ever sought to do so.
When will I hear more from Zamzar?
We will be posting further updates here on our blog and our Twitter and Facebook pages over the coming 4 weeks. In the meantime if you have any further questions related to our GDPR compliance please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re pleased to announce that we just launched support across the entire Zamzar website for HTTPS for all users.
Effective immediately this means that the entire site is now secured with the familiar green padlock:
All files uploaded to or downloaded from the website will automatically be protected from prying eyes, enabling you to be safe in the knowledge that your file conversions are being protected by industry standard secure encryption.
In June 2013 Edward Snowden first revealed the full extent of government spying on their citizens via the Internet and the extent to which Internet connections were actively mined for data. HTTPS helps to protect against this snooping and gives you assurances that your data cannot be seen or tampered with. It does this by scrambling the data sent between your computer and the secured website into indecipherable characters, so that it is not possible to snoop on it.
Here at Zamzar we have long been supporters of efforts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to fight for privacy protection online, and we’re proud to continue supporting the efforts being made to make the web a more secure place to be.
The iPhone didn’t exist yet (WAT!) – all the cool kids were using Motorola Razr’s. The, er, not-so-cool ones had Palm Treo 700’s.
Dropbox was about to get flamed on Hacker News as“not very viral or income-generating” and Facebook’s only users were Mark and his mum .
ICanHasCheezburger hadn’t been invented (NO LOLCATS !), and the most popular meme of the year was a sneezing panda:
It was into this primordial Internet soup that Zamzar was born. Most of the 9 months of intensive development time for such a key pillar of the Internet was spent on logo design (obviously the key facet for any budding “web 2.0” service).
We’ve included the best of the bunch for your delectation – extra marks for spotting the malformed sheep motif. Graphic design was not our strongest asset at the time.
The vogue for launching “web 2.0” applications into (seemingly perpetual) beta at the time led Zamzar to be included in the Museum of Modern Betas a fascinating historical record of every-man-and-his-dog’s attempt to jump on the web 2.0 bandwagon.
The “museum” is still charting new beta launches to this day, and Zamzar has the privilege of rating as number 2 on the list of most popular betas of all time (just behind Flickr).
Launching Zamzar was primarily an exercise in “scratching our own itch” in developing software which allowed us to view, edit and save files in as wide a variety of formats as possible, without needing to have every version of every application ever made. We’re thrilled that this turned out to be a useful solution for others too.
We’re proud to have run Zamzar as a bootstrapped and profitable web business for 10 years now. If time on the Internet was calculated in dog years (which it should be) we’d be 65 years old.
During that time we’ve:
Converted over 300 million files
Worked with Vint Cerf on tackling digital preservation
Served users in every country on the planet (including Antarctica)
Our plan is to keep building products and services which you will love. Products that make handling and using file formats easier for everyone, whether they are new to the world of computers or a seasoned developer.
We recently launched a file conversion API capable of converting thousands of different file formats right from the command line or inside your own mobile or web application.
We’ll be making this service even better, improving the design and features on our main file conversion website, integrating with a whole bunch of other file-related services, building out some exciting new products (including a self-driving car powered by Word Doc macros) and much more.
If you’ve used Zamzar over these last 10 years then *thankyou*. It has been an honour and a privilege to convert your files.
Here’s to the next 10 years!
Chris & Mike Whyley,
Co-Founders @ Zamzar.
 Almost. Actually Facebook had 12 million users, but most were probably Mark’s shell accounts.
This is part three of a series of stories by Robert Gaskins who helped invent PowerPoint at Forethought Inc. in 1984 (see part one and part two). It was the first significant acquisition made by Microsoft. We spoke to Robert about the process of building a startup in the 1980s and what life was like negotiating with, and working for Microsoft. After the sale Robert reported directly to Bill Gates, heading up Microsoft’s business unit in Silicon Valley. He managed the growth of PowerPoint to $100 million in annual sales before his retirement in 1993.
This post looks at what it was like working with Bill Gates, including being grilled by him in an pre-acquisition interview, working closely with him, and the insights Gates bought to running Microsoft in the early days of its’ existence.
Here’s Gaskins in his own words…
One of the explicit conditions of the Microsoft offer to acquire Forethought was that I had to pass a full-blown interview by Bill Gates (I was the only person singled out in this way). So when the acquisition discussions were under way, I went up to Redmond alone, and met with Bill in his office, one-on-one, for a couple of hours. We had had a number of business meetings before, so we knew each other slightly.
Even so, it certainly concentrates the mind to be personally interviewed by Bill, with the whole $14 million acquisition and the best chance of liquidity for our investors and financial reward for our employees all riding on his evaluation.
Bill had a normal conversation with me, probing me about technical details of our software and the Mac platform, about marketing positioning and plans, about business numbers and ratios, and about individual employees. It went very well, since I had all those areas at my fingertips. I had just written my history of the company’s restart in the prior two weeks, I prepared all the business plans, I lived and breathed the technical details, and I had had six weeks to recover from the first customer ship.
I didn’t expect anything different, but just for the record, Bill did not ask me:
Why manhole covers are round
How many gas stations there are in the U.S.
Whether I could code FizzBuzz in a language of my choice on the whiteboard.
We just had a perfectly normal and pleasant conversation, all of it at the enhanced level of intellectual intensity characteristic of Bill. I came away feeling that things had gone very well.
By Monday, two days later, word came in a telephone call that Bill had approved me and was in agreement with the deal, but was leaving the details of that deal to others.
Working with Bill Gates
After the acquisition, I worked a lot with Bill. For the first year after the acquisition, I reported directly to Bill, in his role of Acting VP of Applications. Then Bill hired the great Mike Maples to replace Bill VP of Apps, but I still saw Bill and talked with him often.
Bill very often came down to Silicon Valley to review PowerPoint progress, because he considered it an important product, and because (since we were the only development group outside of the Redmond campus) he heard less about us in hallway conversations.
We would go over every detail of the code and of the business plan with Bill, and he would give us feedback on everything. This was extremely valuable; there was virtually never a time when Bill had an opinion that we thought was wrong. And Bill had in mind every detail of all the other Microsoft applications, of all of our competitors’ applications, of the various operating systems (Mac, Windows, OS/2), of all the personal computer hardware shipping or forthcoming, and of how actual customers were using all of these, so he could offer informed opinions and specific facts that were invaluable in our planning.
Bill especially was a perfect master of judging when a piece of software was adequate to ship.
He would personally review our specs, try our builds, and try our competitors, and tell us very frankly whether he thought the product concept was adequate and whether the implementation was sound enough to ship. He didn’t try to make the decision for me, but there was no one whose opinion we took more seriously.
In short, Bill Gates was just the perfect hands-on technical guru to be my boss. Things got even better when he hired Mike Maples, because Mike also knew how to manage thousands of people in a deep multi-level organization and get things done. The combination of Bill and Mike, during the first years after the acquisition, was an ideal context for success.
Part of Bill’s secret was that he had a healthy respect for decentralized knowledge. He had a strong opinion on everything, but he didn’t ignore other opinions. At the Apps Division’s executive staff retreat in early April 1989, there was a discussion of the outcome of having reorganized the division into business units the preceding September. There were still some authoritarians who thought it was too messy to have all these independent units doing different things in their own ways.
Bill had the right comeback, immediately:
“We don’t lack the power to enforce our decisions; we lack the information about what we should require.”
The Microsoft system of the time allowed our group to make repeated course corrections and get to the right final result for our product, while other products at the same time made different calls.
Gates’ belief in PowerPoint
The first breakthrough version of Windows was version 3.0, shipped in May of 1990; PowerPoint’s new version 2.0 shipped the same day, and Bill Gates used PowerPoint to demonstrate what the new Windows could do. Both Windows and PowerPoint started flying off the shelves.
Two years later, in April 1992, the next version of Windows (version 3.1) introduced proper typography and TrueType fonts. PowerPoint had contributed a great deal to that, and again a new version 3.0 of PowerPoint was shipped on the same day as the new Windows, again Bill Gates used PowerPoint to demonstrate the huge improvements in Windows and again sales blew away all expectations.
With these two versions of Windows and of PowerPoint, Windows PCs began to outsell Macintoshes by large multiples: from ten times as many (1992) to twenty-five times as many (1997) to fifty times as many Windows machines as Macintosh machines sold (2003). The success of Windows was crucial to PowerPoint, but the success of PowerPoint was also crucial to Windows.
Bill Gates was my direct boss for the first year after the acquisition, so we saw a lot of each other. It was a great experience.
We’re excited to announce that we just launched three new applications which allow you to convert files right on your desktop !
Dropbox Converter – Convert files to various formats directly within your Dropbox account.
Hot Folders – Monitor folders on your desktop & automatically convert files to other formats.
Zamzar Bash – Convert files directly from the command line.
Using the Zamzar API
These apps all build on top of our powerful file conversion API which allows you to bake file conversion into your application using a tiny amount of code and a simple REST API. Our API supports the conversion of 100’s of formats and is cloud-based to scale with your needs, whether you’re converting 1 file or 100,000.
We have made the source code for all these applications publicly available, so you can grab it, and build your own apps and tools on top of it (for both commercial and personal use).