1Password acquires Texas-based Passage to fuel push into passkeys

1Password envisions a future beyond passwords.

Toronto password management firm 1Password has acquired Austin, Texas-based Passage to build a passwordless authentication platform for enterprise customers.

The financial terms of the deal, through which 1Password has acquired Passage’s technology and employees, were not disclosed. The company has tasked Passage’s team with developing passkey-first authentication for consumer-facing businesses—which 1Password plans to roll out in beta early next year.

1Password has tasked Passage’s team with developing passkey-first authentication for consumer-facing businesses.

The move comes as competition in the online authentication space has been heating up. Recently, attention has shifted away from traditional passwords towards ‘passkeys’—also known as passwordless sign-in. In May, tech giants Apple, Microsoft, and Google announced plans to build support for passkeys across all of the mobile, desktop, and browser platforms they control, implementing the FIDO standard (for its part, 1Password joined the FIDO Alliance in June).

Speaking with BetaKit in June, 1Password CEO Jeff Shiner said that while he sees Apple as a competitor, he isn’t concerned by its move into passkeys, noting that 1Password sees a surge in interest anytime a major brand focuses on passwords. “Every time they’ve introduced something our business has gone up significantly as a result of that,” he said.

An alternative to passwords, passkeys are a biometric sign-in standard that some believe has the potential to kill the pesky password altogether. As The Verge reports, passkeys enable users to log into apps or websites with just their username and pre-authenticated device, using a cryptographic token instead of a password or text message code that could be phished or compromised in some other fashion.

Passage is a passwordless authentication startup that “takes a developer-first and biometric-first approach” to online security. The startup leverages the built-in hardware and capabilities of most smartphone devices available today, enabling users to log in to web applications using Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID, and Windows Hello.

As Shiner puts it, passkeys offer users a “more secure and seamless” experience by eliminating the pain of forgotten passwords and reducing exposure to phishing attacks. On the business side of the equation, passkeys have the potential to reduce customer log-in and sign-up friction.

“With today’s Passage acquisition, we are committing to giving businesses and end users what they want and deserve: the convenience of passwordless without compromising security,” said Shiner.

RELATED: 1Password shuffles C-suite with CPO replaced and CMO to depart

Passage’s acquisition by 1Password comes a mere eight months after the startup launched its public beta and announced $4 million USD in funding from LiveOak Venture Partners, Next Coast Ventures, Tau Ventures, and Secure Octane. The startup was founded last year by CEO Cole Hecht and CTO Anna Pobletts, who both previously worked at Austin cybersecurity firm Praetorian and are joining 1Password as part of the deal.

According to Hecht, “1Password’s market leadership and human-centric mission make them a natural fit to achieve [Passage’s] shared vision of a secure, user-friendly experience that enables businesses to deliver a frictionless and safe experience to users on any device—no QR codes required.”

The acquisition caps what has been a busy year for 1Password. In January, 1Password announced that it had closed a $744 million CAD Series C round at a $6.8 billion valuation in one of the largest venture funding raises by a Canadian firm to date.

Over the past year, 1Password has made a number of additions to its C-suite, adding former Shopify VP and assistant general counsel Erin Zipes as chief legal officer, SSENSE alum Katya Laviolette as chief people officer, and former Facebook VP of security and engineering Pedro Canahuati as chief technology officer.

In recent months, 1Password shuffled its leadership ranks, as chief marketing officer Raj Sarkar left the company and the firm replaced its chief product officer Akshay Bhargava with Duo Security and Cisco alum Steve Won. As BetaKit previously reported, these moves came as 1Password had been tracking slightly below its aggressive revenue growth targets.

RELATED: As Apple moves to kill the password, 1Password CEO says he’s not concerned

One of Canada’s most valuable tech companies, 17-year-old 1Password aims to ease the tension between online security and convenience with its password management and credentials security platform for individuals and businesses. 1Password caters to millions of individuals and families across the world, and serves over 100,000 companies, from Shopify to IBM, Slack, Snowflake, and Under Armour.

1Password, which directly competes with firms like LastPass and NordPass, got its start as a consumer password management app before expanding into serving businesses. Compared to other large players in the space, the firm views its platform-agnostic software as a key differentiator.

Historically, 1Password has focused on helping users manage their passwords. Going forward, 1Password is betting that the future of passwords will include universal sign-on. The company’s vision involves a world where its password management features supplement multi-factor authentication (MFA) products like Duo and single sign-on (SSO) products like Okta to provide enterprise-level security for businesses of all sizes.

With its acquisition of Passage and decision to join the FIDO Alliance, it’s clear that 1Password also considers passkeys a part of that future.

With files from Meagan Simpson.

Feature image courtesy 1Password.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories, tracking Canada’s innovation economy and the people and companies building it, and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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