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Startup Spotlight: Auth0

Welcome to the first Startup Spotlight of 2020 introducing Auth0, the identity platform for application builders that provides thousands of enterprise customers with a Universal Identity Platform for their web, mobile, IoT, and internal applications. Just four years ago, Auth0 was a startup at the first KNOW Identity conference in Washington, DC. Today, securing more than 3B logins per month, Auth0 helps 9,000+ customers solve identity in new, innovative ways. With customers like Atlassian and Mozilla, Auth0 is the poster child for a successful identity startup, bringing innovative identity solutions to market that are shaping the future of identity. 

The KNOW Identity Startup Spotlight series is an opportunity for our audience to learn more about the identity community and understand how KNOW Identity supports the industry startups. Today, we’re helping you get to KNOW Auth0, a 2017 Startup Exhibitor and 2019 Gold KNOW Identity Sponsor. Learn more about identity management with our Q&A with Auth0 Principal Architect Vittorio Bertocci

Tell us about Auth0 and how Auth0 helps customers successfully navigate the complexities of identity management. 

Auth0 approaches identity management with a unique mix of simplicity and expressive power. Our identity-as-a-service product supports all the major use cases out of the box, making sure that application builders can achieve their identity management goals quickly, effectively, and with minimal integration effort. At the same time, we are well aware that real-life scenarios are rarely a perfect fit for out of the box features, and that every customer has individual policies, requirements, constraints, and unique opportunities. That’s the reason for which Auth0 places extensibility at the very core of its approach, making it possible to customize and hone the authentication, authorization, and user management process at levels that were simply unheard of before we appeared on the map.

The emphasis on extensibility and customization resonated well with developers – Auth0’s original audience – and continues to be a strong differentiator as we expand our focus to include all other roles contributing to application building. 

How did Auth0 get started?

Auth0 was founded in 2013 by Eugenio Pace and Matias Woloski, right when the cloud phenomenon was picking up steam and accelerating the adoption of the software as a service (SaaS) model, already well underway. Back in the day, the industry hadn’t yet come to terms with what we take for granted today: network boundaries were less and less viable as a security perimeter, unable to properly protect line of business applications deployed outside the company’s infrastructure and hosted in the cloud, or solutions delivered entirely as SaaS. All of this was taking place alongside other major trends, such as ubiquitous mobile devices and wireless broadband access, and the Cambrian explosion of developer technologies, practices, and communities.

As the old infrastructure features fell short of addressing those new scenarios, forcing developers to explicitly implement identity features, Auth0 presented itself as a developer-friendly identity service: a technology developers could use to free themselves of the burden of low level, menial and mission-critical aspects of identity management while retaining full freedom to tweak and customize. Finally, developers were able to get the unpleasant and dangerous parts of identity management out of their way, gaining more time to focus on what their app was meant to accomplish. The whole thing resonated well with the market, leading Auth0 to grow and refine its offering, and the rest is history.

Why is digital identity important to you? What is the digital identity future you’re building? 

No one can really function today without having some level of digital footprint. Boarding a plane, shopping, booking a parent-teacher conference, keeping in touch with friends and family, and exercising your rights as a citizen, are all activities that are harder and harder to perform without some form of digital identity. On the business side, there is an increasing pressure to provide personalized services and seamless integration with other services your customer uses, while offering solid guarantees of privacy-preserving practices and resilience against increasingly sophisticated attacks. 

To truly take full advantage of those opportunities, developers need to be able to rely on the best of breed of identity technologies and services, without being forced to become domain experts in security, identity, privacy, and all the other disciplines required to meet and exceed the high standards customers increasingly take for granted. Auth0 will continue to offer new and ever-improving ways of empowering application builders to easily handle the identity aspects in their solution, taking advantage of the new opportunities, features, and capabilities the industry evolution will bring.

How has Auth0 grown since attending KNOW Identity in 2017?  

So much has happened in the last three years! Auth0’s growth has been tremendous according to every metric. At the end of 2017 Auth0 had 259 employees – since then, we have more than doubled, now employing nearly 600 professionals across 33 countries. With about 55 percent of our team working remotely, we pride ourselves on being one of the most remote-friendly companies in the industry and give our team the option to work remote or in one of our offices. And speaking of offices, in 2017 Auth0 had two offices – one in Bellevue and one in Buenos Aires. Today, we have more than doubled the size of our Bellevue headquarters and expanded our global presence to six offices (additions including London, Sydney, Tokyo, and Singapore) as business has expanded at crazy pace – from a customer base of approximately 3,500 in 2017, today we serve more than 9,000 customers globally.   

Perhaps the most salient change of all is Auth0’s ascension to “Unicorn” status. In 2019, we closed a $103 million round of Series E funding, officially placing our valuation to $1 billion and earning us the coveted label.

What is Auth0’s biggest accomplishment in 2019? What are you looking forward to in 2020? 

As mentioned, becoming a unicorn was a big milestone for Auth0. It’s probably our defining moment for the year 2019.

For 2020 we plan to push forward at a fast pace, continuing to deliver innovation and customer success, and plan for another year of tremendous growth and expansion. In particular, we are all very excited for Auth0’s very own conference: Auth0 Assemble. Eugenio, our founder and CEO, dreamt of hosting a developer and customer conference since the day he co-founded Auth0 with Matias Woloski, our CTO (and my boss). Auth0 Assemble will take place in San Francisco on August 26-27, and we are already working hard to make it a historic event for attendees and our company!

What is your advice to other identity startups and how to gain traction in an increasingly competitive space? 

Focus on the customer experience before everything else. Think about what your customers want to accomplish and how you can help them succeed, without burdening them with low-level details if they are not actionable.

Identity is a complex domain, which requires significant investment to achieve mastery. In the process, it’s easy for us identity experts to lose sight of how non-experts approach problems and what’s important to them, leading to products and experiences that can be patronizing and hard to use. Never lose touch of what your customer needs, pour your genuine desire to help in everything you do, and your solutions will shine. 

Don’t miss Vittorio Bertocci at #KNOWIdentity 2020, where he’s giving a Master Class on Identity-Centric Product Design. Join Auth0 in Vegas to learn how there is no “one size fits all” solution and how to develop a customized security approach that will deal with even the most complex identity obstacles.