Identity management startup ForgeRock snags $88 million Series D

Used to be when we thought about identity as it relates to computers and software, it involved a person logging into an application or service. Increasingly though, you also have machines and sensors attempting to authenticate as they access your systems.

That creates complications for identity management vendors because instead of managing thousands or tens of thousands of identities, it could require scaling to millions or even hundreds of millions logons. ForgeRock, a seven year old identity startup says it has built an identity platform with those kinds of scale requirements in mind.

The approach appears to be resonating with investors. Today, the company announced an $88 million Series D investment round led by Accel with participation from KKR, Meritech Capital Partners and Foundation Capital. Today’s investment brings the total to more than $140 million raised to-date.

CEO Mike Ellis sees his company’s approach to identity as a natural extension of what’s happening the industry. “The relationships between humans, devices, things and services is driving security,” he says. He believes it’s also driving new applications for identity and new business opportunities.

It’s something the company has been building towards from the earliest days, a platform than can scale to deal with identity from a variety of sources beyond just human users. “We believe you have to exist everywhere — at the device and gateway level like a connected car, but also on prem and in cloud,” he said.

Ellis admits that his company has flown under the radar compared with better-known identity companies like Ping Identity, which was sold last year for $600 million to Vista Equity and Okta, which went public in May. But he says the timing of the big round is not a coincidence.

He firmly believes as tech makes the shift to machine-to-machine and sensor-to-machine communications in massive numbers, it’s going to require a new kind of identity platform to deal with the volume that will entail. He also not surprisingly sees his company well positioned to take advantage of that shift.

He’s so confident in fact, he says that today’s investment is the first step toward an IPO. That tends to be information that startup CEOs keep close to the vest, but he is not bashful about saying that is his goal. He sees an IPO, not only bringing the next infusion of cash whenever it happens, but also giving the brand a push in the marketplace that only going public can bring.

The company has been doing well to this point with over $100 million in sales in FY2016. It currently has around 400 employees, but intends to add another 100-150 by the end of the year with the new capital. There are also plans to expand the product offering.

ForgeRock currently has about half of its customers inside the US with half outside, but it intends to continue international expansion with some special attention to China in the coming year, Ellis said.