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Identity & Access

Descope Targets Customer Identity Market with Massive $53M Seed Round

Descope raises an abnormally large $53 million seed-stage funding round for technology in the customer identity and authentication space.

Rishi Bhargava and the team of entrepreneurs behind Demisto’s $560 million exit are back at it with a new startup jostling for space in the red-hot customer identity market.

The new company, called Descope, emerged from stealth Wednesday with an abnormally large $53 million seed-stage funding round and ambitious plans to take on Okta’s Auth0 and a wave of rivals big and small in the customer identity and authentication space.

Descope, based in Los Altos, Calif., is building technology that lets developers add authentication, user management, and authorization capabilities to consumer and business applications with only a few lines of code. 

In an interview with SecurityWeek, Bhargava said the platform offers different integration flavors based on developer preferences — from no/low code to SDKs and APIs — to make it easier to deploy, maintain, and update user journeys across the application lifecycle.

“This is a big category,” Bhargava said of the complex identity and access management (IAM) category, noting that Descope will focus on the customer identity market and compete with the likes of ForgeRock, IBM and Ping Identity for the attention of software developers.

He said Descope would focus on small- to mid-market software development teams that are looking to outsource the authentication and user management workloads to third-party vendors.

Bhargava’s pitch is that organizations can use the Descope authentication and user management platform to improve user adoption and conversion, accelerate time to market, reduce login fraud, and save developer time.

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He said the $53 million seed round, which was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and GGV Capital, gives the Descope team a 24-36 month runway to bring its new platform to market.

Bhargava previously raised $69 million in multiple rounds while building Demisto into a security automation play before selling the company to Palo Alto Networks in 2019 for $560 million.

Bhargava said the 30-employee startup already has paying customers and big plans to    “de-scope” authentication from every app developer’s daily work.

The Descope platform offers an outsourced operation to create authentication flows and user-facing screens using a visual workflow designer, add passwordless authentication methods to apps such as magic links, biometrics (based on WebAuthn), authenticator apps, and social logins, and validate, merge, and manage identities across the user journey.

Bhargava said it can also be used to get business apps enterprise-ready with single sign-on (SSO), access control, tenant management, and automated user provisioning.

Related: Beyond Identity Becomes Unicorn With $100 Million Series C

Related: Palo Alto to Buy Demisto for $560 Million 

Related: Strata Raises $26 Million for Multi-Cloud Identity Management Platform

Related: Investors Bet $31 Million on Sphere for Identity Hygiene Tech

Written By

Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. He is a security community engagement expert who has built programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and GReAT. Ryan is a founding-director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world.

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