The Identity Layer of the Internet is Getting a Makeover: Our $50M Series B Investment into Persona

by Mark Goldberg

Persona co-founders Rick Song (left) and Charles Yeh (right)

In this post: Persona

Trust underpins every interaction on the internet. And yet, the entire paradigm for identity has barely evolved since the days of Web 1.0. How many times have you been asked to verify yourself by entering the last four digits of your Social Security number, providing a physical address, or responding to a security question? When every person in the world now has a smartphone with biometric superpowers and cameras that can record 3D face scans, there are better, more secure ways to do this. As more and more of the economy moves online, the stakes for businesses to get trust right have never been higher.

"It's not often you hear someone use the word 'delight' in the same sentence as 'my identity provider' and yet over and over again we heard how much customers loved Persona."
— Mark Goldberg, Index Ventures

When we asked our portfolio companies and friends in the ecosystem how they managed user identities, we noticed that one company emerged in countless conversations: Persona. It's not often you hear someone use the word "delight" in the same sentence as "my identity provider" and yet over and over again we heard how much customers loved Persona. From neobanks, cryptos and marketplaces to food delivery services, users gushed about Persona's flexibility, performance and power. With Persona, businesses create a 'fast lane' for legitimate users while keeping bad actors away.

The origin story for Persona, like many great companies, starts with firsthand experience of the problem the founders set out to solve. As leaders of identity teams at Square and Dropbox respectively, Rick and Charles started the company to build the product they wished already existed in the market. Peers immediately began to follow them in the new venture. I've written previously about the power of Talent Vortexes, and as I, together with my colleagues Shardul and Kyle, dug into the Persona team it was clear they were attracting the best and brightest from their strong, technical networks. Hire the best people, and you will build the best products.

"Trust — while eroded in so much of our public discourse — is more important now than ever. As the world moves online, Persona is helping it get there safely."
— Mark Goldberg, Index Ventures

A better identity experience is something all of us should care about — for a small business owner, perhaps it means getting access to a PPP loan in time to make the next payroll (Square has used Persona to quickly distribute $1B in government loans). For a consumer, perhaps it means knowing the person delivering your food or babysitting your kids is someone you can trust (both Postmates and UrbanSitter are early customers). The impact of a transformative identity tool will be felt in ways hard to fathom at this early stage but is certain to make life better for millions of people.

We're thrilled to be announcing our lead role in Persona's $50M Series B to support the company's mission to become the identity layer of the internet. Trust — while eroded in so much of our public discourse — is more important now than ever. As the world moves online, Persona is helping it get there safely.

Published — May 4, 2021