Nov 3, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: 1Password acquires Passage, will offer new passkey tools

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

1Password is preparing for a password-less future by acquiring Austin-based ID authentication startup Passage, the company first told Axios.

Why it matters: The acquisition, which will be announced later today, allows the widely-used password management platform to build tools for consumers and businesses to manage passkeys, a popular alternative to phrase-based passwords.

The big picture: The cybersecurity industry has been doubling down in recent years on ways to ditch passwords. 82% of data breaches start because of human error, like poor password hygiene, according to Verizon.

  • Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google have started supporting passkey logins, which allows people to login to their accounts using biometric data or device PINs tied to their phones or laptops.
  • Tying login credentials to devices adds another layer to fend off hackers who can easily guess people's passwords, or find them on the dark web after a data breach.

Details: Passage builds tools that allows developers or businesses to build passkey capabilities on their websites or applications. It has about 1,000 clients using its tools now who will carry over to 1Password.

  • 1Password CEO Jeff Shiner told Axios his company had been looking to acquire a passkey company for the better part of the last year. He said 1Password landed on Passage because of the startup's hyper-focus on web authentication technology, which powers passkeys.

Moving forward, the companies plan to bring Passage's enterprise authentication tools into 1Password's offerings.

  • Passage co-founder Cole Hecht said the companies have "some exciting plans" for developing the product further in the future, but declined to share specifics.
  • The companies did not disclose how much 1Password is paying for the acquisition. Passage just emerged from stealth mode in February with $4 million in funding.

What they're saying: "We believe that passkeys or passwordless is that next evolution of staying safe online," Shiner said. "Not only do we want to allow passwordless to become a part of our future, we want to actively drive and help both businesses and consumers into that passwordless world."

  • "1Password does a really good job of being a platform-agnostic service for all of their users, and that's something that we really care about," said Passage co-founder Anna Pobletts.

Between the lines: Passage's team will join 1Password's engineering team under chief technology officer, Pedro Canahuati.

  • Shiner declined to say how many employees Passage has, but a LinkedIn search suggests there are as many as 20 people who currently work at the company.
  • Hecht and Pobletts will continue to lead their team when they join 1Password.

The intrigue: 1Password is making this acquisition ahead of a predicted economic downturn, but Shiner said he still expects client interest in purchasing their identity management tools to remain high.

Catch up quick: 1Password acquired another company, SecretHub, last year to help the company expand beyond password management and into providing extra layers of security for high-value company secrets, such as source codes.

  • The company was also last valued at $6.8 billion during their latest funding round earlier this year, which was backed by Iconiq Growth, Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global and Accel.

What's next: Passage isn't likely to be the last acquisition or expansion that 1Password makes, Shiner added.

  • "If we look at, it in terms of the tough economic times, that does mean there are some opportunities that may not have been there when we look at some of the valuations of last year," he told Axios. "So we're continuing to always keep our eye open for those opportunities to really expand what we do."

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