Ping Identity CEO Opens Up About $44M Series F Round, Potential IPO

7/16/13Follow @MichaelXBD

Sign up Ping Identity in the race to become the preeminent company in identity access management. The Denver-based company announced Tuesday it has closed a $44 million Series F round that CEO Andre Durand said lays the groundwork for an IPO that could come next year, and helps Ping Identity stay in “pole position” in its fast growing market.

Also put it near the top of the list for Colorado companies on the brink of making it big.

Ping Identity develops software for identity access management, which controls who can access a network and what they are able to do. The emergence of “identity” as a key part—maybe the key part—of the next generation of security has been one of the driving factors behind Ping Identity’s steady growth and emergence as “a 10- or 12-year overnight success,” Durand said.

The company has raised a total of $90 million since Durand and Bryan Field-Elliot cofounded it in a spare office in downtown Denver in 2002. Ping Identity now has 330 employees worldwide, about 100 based in Denver and large offices in San Francisco and Boston.

More than 1,000 companies use Ping Identity, including about half the Fortune 100 and several government clients.

Durand said Ping Identity provides those companies with services that include unobtrusive single sign on capability for employees on internal networks or customers trying to log on to pay bills or check bank balances.

The company’s success has helped it gain a strong position in a market that’s being transformed, as many Internet users struggle to manage dozens of passwords for different accounts, and companies continue to strive for more secure ways of allowing access to their networks.

“We’re right on the cusp of a moment where everyone is going to rethink identity management in the new era. It’s been done a certain way in the last 20 years. It was all about managing your users in your network behind your firewall. Now it’s about managing your users in the cloud on their mobile device,” Durand said.

Ping Identity cited a study by IDC predicting the $4.6 billion market for identity access management will grow by $1.5 billion in the next three years.

The money raised in the round will go toward international expansion. Ping Identity wants to boost its presence in Europe, where it has several offices, and its small presence in Asia. It also prepares Ping Identity for the push toward an IPO, Durand said.

“I’ve been pretty vocal that my aspirations were to build a substantial, independent identity security company. The path to do that from a capital markets point of view steers you in one direction,” Durand said.

“There are certain things we need to get done pre-IPO, and this financing certainly secures our ability to achieve that,” Durand said.

W Capital Partners and DFJ Growth led the equity round, which was worth $29 million. Existing investors General Catalyst Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Volition Capital, Triangle Peak Partners, SAP Ventures, and Appian Ventures also participated. Silicon Valley Bank provided $15 million in debt financing.

Ping Identity does not disclose details about revenue or profitability, but Durand said it has been growing at a steady rate of 50 percent each year.

The realization of the software-as-a-service model and emergence of the cloud helped fuel the growth. The early years of explaining how Ping Identity worked to potential clients feel like a distant memory, Durand said.

“It felt like for maybe the first eight or nine years we were pushing a rock uphill, and the pace of the industry was really directly reflective of how hard we pushed. Now I feel like we’re chasing a rock downhill,” Durand said.

That also means more competition. Rivals in identity access management have been closing large rounds or have been acquired in large deals. The race is on to see who will be the industry leader.

“We have yet to see a multibillion dollar identity company, while we have several multibillion dollar security companies. That’s going to change in the next two or three years,” Durand said.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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