As 2017 comes to a close, we’re all going through the same self-reflecting routine. We’re taking inventory, assessing what went right or wrong and figuring out where to go next.
At least, that’s the story at Washington, D.C. cybersecurity startup ID.me.
In March, the company closed a $19 million Series B round led by FTV Capital and since then, they’ve been investing more in sales and marketing efforts — and it shows as they land partnership deals with the likes of General Motors, Univision and the state of California.
Founded in 2010, ID.me creates a single-login system that connects an online identity with the user’s legal identity. CEO and Founder Blake Hall likes to think of their product as a “digital DMV.”
“If you think about identity, the way that we’re used to it is that we go to the DMV to drive,” Hall said. “We go through this miserable experience […] and then we walk away with these credentials from the DMV that shows other organizations that we are who we are claiming to be. But the world is changing.”
In one instance, ID.me works creates a secure way for people to use government services — like applying for Medicare and Medicaid.
“Forget about driving as the (way) you get your legal ID,” Hall said. “Our approach is that whatever entitlement benefits a citizen tries to access, credential them there and then make that single sign-on portable.”
In Hall’s world, he imagines corporations pushing away from credit reporting agencies, like Equifax or Experian, to do a deep identity check for secure online services. Instead, people will be using ID.me not only to access veteran’s benefits or healthcare or tax information, but also for simple library services online.
So, it makes sense that ID.me has been focused on bringing in big name partnerships to expand their membership base. In November, they closed a partnership with Univision NOW to offer free services to confirmed veterans. In December, General Motors came on as a partner to verify people signing up for their GM Military Discount Program. AARP plans to start using the ID.me platform in the first quarter of 2018.
“As an identity company that’s user centric, we don’t think it’s our right to tell people where they can and cannot use their identity,” Hall said. “As long as the organization is legitimate, we think that ultimately decisions to be identified to an organization or not is up to the individual.”
But Hall doesn’t underestimate the value of these partnerships. As they land new partnerships and customers, their reach expands. Simple as that.
“We’re really expanding the use of our credentials to organizations where there’s a lot of demand from Americans, and that’s really exciting,” Hall said. “Organizations want to see a lot of credentialed users, and credentialed users want to see a lot of organizations that accept those credentials.”
As the partnerships grow, so has the executive suite at ID.me. On Dec. 13, the company announced they had reached 5 million users on their platform. The same day, they named Michael Morrison as chief financial officer, Mike Brown as chief technology officer and Pardheep Sampath as vice president of product. ID.me now has 60 employees.
“We hit an inflection point of growth where you could just feel the organization growing at a really rapid rate where we needed to bring in really capable leaders to scale,” Hall said.
Each new hire has a varied background, but important ones for their new roles. Brown was a founding member of comScore, the now troubled audience measurement company in Reston. Sampath comes with 15 years of product management experience, including companies like Liquidity Services, OpenText and JDA Software. Morrison has held senior finance roles at companies such as American Express, Virgin Mobile USA, Sprint and XM Satellite Radio.
“We just don’t want to screw it up at this point now that the network effects are starting to build,” Hall said. “It’s humbling to have so many talented people in this company who wanted to dedicate a part of their life to our mission.”
So, although ID.me has spent a good amount of time heads down in 2017, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been mobilizing. Hall views their partnerships as a bigger network. With one login, users can access a flurry of online systems and benefits. Looking forward, ID.me wants to partner with all federal agencies and expand that into places like voter registration or driver’s license updates.
“In the same way that Facebook scaled from Harvard to the Ivy League students to the mass market, we’re taking the exact same approach,” Hall said. “One integration with us and you can ride our rails to all of these other automotive vendors, to all of these different retailers and to the government.”