This article originally appeared on the Washington Post and can be found here.
Signing into web pages is almost universally known as one of the most annoying parts of the Internet.
Most people either have keep a separate list of every password needed to log into each different platform, or use one or two passwords for everything, something that security experts say emboldens identity thieves.
A number of gigantic technology companies are trying to find a simpler way.
Companies like Facebook and Google let users log into multiple products with the same username and password. And a growing pool of companies is gunning to create a system that works across numerous products. Providing this sort of identity verification across various web pages requires certain certifications, attracting a limited pool of mostly large technology companies including Verizon and Symantec.
But alongside these big companies, a little start-up called ID.me is betting on the the idea of an all-encompassing electronic sign-in. Originally founded as a sort of military-focused daily deals company, then named TroopSwap, the company now has a $19 million war chest to focus singularly on managing people’s identities.
“We think it’s a fundamental problem that digital identity is in the hands of two advertising companies, Facebook and Google. That clearly is not OK,” said chief executive Blake Hall.
“What we really want to do is create a ubiquitous ID network whether its ID.me or somebody else.”
ID.Me said Wednesday it has raised $19 million from FTV Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, with another $21 million planned for later. Financial details were not disclosed, but Hall says the company making the investment would not have a controlling stake in the business.
Blake’s company is building an online network where people — or the businesses that ID.me contracts with — can upload specific forms of credentials needed to identify an individual for a specific purpose. For most problems, that involves a relatively limited pool of identifying factors, minimizing the amount of sensitive data that might be exposed.
ID.me embarked on this new line of business in 2013 after experimenting with other business models in its early days. After the TroopSwap daily deals business sputtered, the company re-branded as TroopID, with a new plan to make it easier for troops to identify themselves online to claim things like medical benefits.
That toe-hold in the market for online authentication services preceded the broader market the company is now targeting.
Hall says the new funding will be used to build out a sales and marketing force that went largely ignored in the company’s early days.
The young company has 253 customers, most of whom are large e-commerce sites that use ID.me’s technology to identify millions of users. Hall declined to disclose financial details, but said the company’s revenue more than quadrupled last year and is projected to be “in the eight figures for sure.”