Ping Plucks $8.5M

Startup is looking to boost its core software with Series B funding

June 24, 2005

3 Min Read
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Security startup Ping Identity Corp. has clinched $8.5 million in Series B funding to advance its position as a specialist in identity management software.

The round adds SAP Ventures to Ping's existing backers, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, General Catalyst Partners, and Fidelity Ventures.

The startup got $5.8 million in Series A financing in April 2004, as well as an undisclosed sum of seed financing shortly after its launch in January 2002.

Ping's software product, PingFederate, enables single sign-on, removing the need for end-users to re-key passwords and user names as they move across an organizations systems. It supports the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), an emerging standard that lets users employ a single log-on for related, but separate, Websites.

Other vendors in identity management support single sign-on and SAML, including Trustgenix Inc. and RSA Security Inc. (Nasdaq: RSAS). Startup Trustgenix has signed an OEM agreement with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ). (See HP Signs Up Security Startup and HP OEMs Trustgenix Techology.)Ping aims to extend its speciality in SAML as a differentiator. However, at this stage PingFederate only supports version 1.1 of SAML. Much of the Series B financing will be spent on bringing PingFederate in line with the SAML 2.0, which offers greater control over specific data held in different systems. A more sophisticated PingFederate, for example, could enable users to link up separate 401K accounts or different parts of a supply chain.

This is an extremely important goal, according to Eric Norlin, Ping Identity’s vice president of corporate marketing. “With the M&A activity that is going on at the moment, this allows users of different IT systems to access common information without having to rebuild their systems,” he asserts.

Overhauling PingFederate to support the SAML enhancements won't be easy. Norlin acknowledges that much of tne new funding will go to building software adapters that can link up with different databases, directory stores, and application servers. Still, he thinks the work should be done in time for an enhanced PingFederate to ship in the fourth quarter.

Ping also faces other challenges, such as conforming with another emerging identity management protocol, WS-Federation. No plans are in place for that yet, however.

So far, Ping has managed to rack up around 12 customers, according to Norlin, including American Express and Accenture. The Washington Post has deployed Ping’s software as part of a proof-of-concept test to link its print edition with its online business.Ping also has snuggled up to IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), making its software interoperable with the Tivoli management products (see Ping Identity Joins Forces With IBM). Norlin is hoping that new investor SAP Ventures, which is a division of SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP), will also open doors. “You will see us work with SAP Ventures around collaborations with SAP proper,” he says.

Ping was founded by Andre Durand and Bryan Field-Elliot. Both execs also set up Durand Communications, a developer of online collaboration tools, which was sold to Webb Interactive Services Inc. for $10 million in 1998. Durand is now Ping’s CEO and Field-Elliot works in the office of the company’s CTO.

Despite the cash influx, Norlin says that Ping does not have any specific plans to expand its 40-employee workforce or move into new markets. “I think that you will see us focus more deeply on the markets we are involved in,” he says. “That’s financial services, healthcare, and government.”

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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