Beyond Identity: The End of Authentication Frustration

by Forest Baskett, PhDApr 14, 2020

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We’ve all experienced the speed bumps and roadblocks that result from attempts to keep online accounts secure. Average users have a total of 90 online accounts—which means 90 passwords to keep track of, plus the added friction associated with 2FA (two-factor authentication) and MFA (multi factor authentication). It is a lot to manage, and when accounts are difficult to access—can be quite frustrating and counterproductive. Beyond Identity is about to change all that!

NEA has a broad portfolio and a storied history of partnering with revolutionary enterprise security companies—from Cloudflare securing the world’s content delivery networks and Hacker-One building the largest network of ethical hackers, to Expanse empowering organizations with real-time security data to drive informed decisions and Bitglass delivering total data protection for our cloud applications and remote devices—we are drawn to companies solving difficult problems for massive markets. And, online security is more important than ever right now.

Recently, we all began to experience an unpredictable and unprecedented disruption of our personal, recreational, and work lives. Even people fortunate enough to not fall sick with the COVID-19 virus during the duration of the pandemic have most certainly been affected by its ramifications. A recent study published by MIT indicates that nearly half of the American workforce is now working from home—a sharp catalyst to the already growing trend of remote work. Unfortunately, with increased virtual work environments, comes increased vulnerabilities and opportunities for black hat hacking. 80% of hacking-related security breaches are a direct result of compromised or weak credentials, making our partnership with Beyond Identity timelier than we could have ever imagined.

Our connection to Beyond Identity founders and serial entrepreneurs Jim Clark and Tom “TJ” Jermoluk dates back to 1982, when I worked alongside them at Silicon Graphics (SGI). After co-founding SGI, Jim went on to found Netscape, Healtheon/WebMD, and myCFO. TJ’s post SGI career includes serving as CEO of @Home Network, and as a General Partner at venture firm KPCB. As if their resumes didn’t speak for themselves, we knew first hand what tremendous technologists and excellent company builders Jim and TJ were, so when Jim said they were once again joining forces to tackle the complex issues associated with authentication, we were all ears!

Beyond Identity’s platform aims to eliminate passwords by providing users with open access to their applications based on their ability to unlock their devices. The clever concept of a “personal certificate authority” and leveraging “self-signed” X.509 certificates to replace passwords is both novel and immediately intuitive. Unlocking your device becomes your Single Sign On and extends to your corporate assets and even beyond. This insight and concept has been rapidly developed by this experienced team that has demonstrated how to build successful products and execute in the market in the past.

We are thrilled to lead Beyond Identity’s Series A financing alongside co-lead investor KDT. With the new normal of remote work and its potential for security vulnerabilities and authentication frustration we are humbled to partner with Jim, TJ, and the team to be part of their mission to eliminate passwords and drive a new level of identity management security for organizations around the world.