Letters from the afterlife: An Interview with SafeBeyond’s Moran Zur

Attention: SafeBeyond is going to be offline soon (German).
(Note: This is the English version of this interview. For a German translation see here.)

Letters from the deceased might sound scary at first. Still, this is one of the main services SafeBeyond, an Israel based startup, provides – and promotes:

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Moran Zur, CEO and Founder of SafeBeyond, answered some questions about the service and the idea behind it.

Hi Moran, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! First and foremost: Who are you, what is SafeBeyond and how did you get into contact with digital legacy?


Moran Zur (c) privat
Moran Zur (c) privat

The concept behind SafeBeyond came from a place of need, after I lost my father to cancer back in 2002. A few years later, when my wedding day came along, the absence of my father was felt more than ever. This experience led me to seek a sustainable solution that will allow people to remain in their loved one’s lives after their death, particularly at the most significant events and places in the future. However, my idea was not realized at the time, as technology was not as advanced ten years ago as it is today.
In 2012, my wife, Hila, was diagnosed with GBM – stage 4 brain cancer.
This event led me to leave my position in one of the biggest investment houses in Israel, as the CEO of their brokerage company in order to create SafeBeyond.

Digital inheritance will be a big topic in the future. How long will it take – in your opinion – until a majority of people takes care of their digital identity and how to handle it after their death?

I believe that this is already happening now and in no time, this will be a common behavior.
SafeBeyond is taking advantage of an ongoing shift that is already happening – Facebook acknowledge the need, recently launched „legacy contact“ and Metlife insurance, created Metlife infinity.
They just do it poorly, while we got it right!

Do you plan versions for other countries and languages? Do you see different approaches to digital inheritance in different parts of the world and different cultures?

The answer is absolutely yes. By next year our platform will be offered in a few more languages. At this stage, most of our users come from English speaking countries – US, Canada, UK, Australia and India.

As for the adoption of our service in different cultures, we seem to get a lot on interest from countries in the east – India, China and Japan – and it seems that their cultures are more open to this discussion around death. Saying that, we are positively surprised by the rate of adoption of our service, among the western societies where we have launched so far.

How do you ensure that you will be able to handle digital assets in 50 or 90 years? For the younger users this is quite important.

For this reason we have chosen to store all the content on the Amazon cloud and not on our servers. We allow you to download any of your content whenever you chose to do so. It’s yours. On top of that, we instruct you to appoint trustees for your account (and preferably more than 1) that will be able to monitor that message delivery happens after you are gone. Our service will make it easier for those left behind to cope with some of the tasks they will need to do anyway after a close person dies. We all own a lot of digital content and identities these days, and we just simplify the process. It’s much safer than keeping it on your computer – we do all the backups, we take care of the delivery, so we provide you peace of mind.

How do you react to people being afraid of „notes from the afterlife“?

The way our platform was designed ensures that at the end of the day, it’s the recipient’s sole decision whether to open the message sent to him or discard it.
In addition, they need to remember that if this to become a common behavior, their kids will feel less loved… what I can recommend is to start with leaving your digital assets, before start recording these future personalized messages and maybe start with an obvious one – a farewell letter or a song to be played on your funeral (my choice by the way is Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way”).

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