Auth0, a startup offering what it calls “identity-as-a-service”, is announcing that it has raised $2.4 million in seed funding.
CEO Jon Gelsey told me that Auth0 (for those of you who have the same question I did: It’s pronounced “auth-zero”) is trying to solve a problem that team members faced themselves when they worked as developers, namely that it’s “really painful to integrate identity into a new version of my application.”
With Auth0, if a developer wants to allow users on the web or on mobile to log into Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms, they can just integrate with Auth0, which will allow the application to use multiple identity systems, while the developer doesn’t have to worry about the underlying infrastructure.
Auth0 says it has 8,000 customers, including both large enterprises and startups. On the enterprise end of the spectrum, customers include energy management company Schneider Electric, collaboration company MindJet, security service Allegion, and Berkshire Hathaway’s travel insurance division Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
Gelsey acknowledged that there are competing services out there (other social login/identity tools include Janrain and Gigya), but he said that Auth0 is different because it’s “by developers, for developers.”
As a non-developer, I was also curious about why this is an issue at all — isn’t it in the interest of the big social platforms to make it as easy to integrate as possible? Gelsey responded that for many customers, when they try to handle the integrations themselves, they end up with “a complex and brittle environment, filled with edge cases,” which requires a lot of maintenance work and presents a significant security risk.
Gelsey also suggested that the challenge comes, in part, from current approaches to application development, where apps are “assembled rather than written.”
“That’s not to say that there’s not a lot of coding, but developers have to use best-of-breed components and not reinvent the wheel,” he added. “Part of that involves having to authenticate disparate resources with disparate identity providers.”
The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with investment from K9 Ventures, Portland Seed Fund, and NXTP Labs. In the funding release, Bessemer partner David Cowan compared Auth0’s approach to Twilio (which was also backed by Bessemer): “In the same way Twilio democratized access to SMS and voice communications, Auth0 developed an identity service to eliminate the growing complexity of authentication and authorization for developers.”