Identity management used to mean making sure you had your driver’s license when you left the house, but these days it’s not so easy: Identity fundamentally underpins how we engage with the digital world, and identity services can take on many forms (and abuses). Now things are getting even more interesting: The big advances we’re seeing in areas like AI are raising big questions and challenges around how to prove we are who we say we are, and catch bad actors exploiting vulnerable situations.
On today’s episode of TechCrunch Live — May 10, at 12 pm Pacific time — we’ll be talking about this and more with Rick Song, the CEO and co-founder of Persona, one of the big unicorn startups that has capitalized on that evolution; and Index Ventures’ Mark Goldberg, a star investor who made an early bet on Persona and has thoughts on how the verification game is evolving, from a market and investment perspective.
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As Song sees it, most digital businesses are not experts, and nor do they want to be, when it comes to ID management. There are too many moving pieces for it to be a core competency in even the biggest tech businesses on the planet; and often sending the process of verification to a third party dedicated to the work is a preferred route to take regardless.
“Most of them say, ‘Get this out of my hands,’” Song says of the task of verification. “They need and would prefer someone else to handle it.”
That opens the door for businesses like Persona to take on and handle that work. Starting out with an API to verify identity, it’s more recently expanded into a wider platform that covers not only this, but also a variety of other verification and identity management solutions, such as tools for its customers to handle in sensitive data as part of their wider service flow, to run fraud detection or risk assessments, and more.
That bigger trajectory — and the major customers that Persona has been signing on, which include some of the very biggest names in retail and other consumer services — helped to catapult the company to a $1.5 billion valuation in its last funding round.
That was back in 2021, before the business of technology finance took a nosedive. But there’s an argument that companies like Persona may well prove to be more resilient than others: Identity and malicious activity around identity continue to be major themes in tech, and there is still a lot to play for in this market.
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