There’s a lot of chatter these days about Web3 — a decentralized version of the internet that operates outside the confines and grips of social media and technology giants. The movement is creating a massive cascade of venture capital dollars, and now Seattle-based Evernym — an 8-year-old startup with roots in Salt Lake City — is taking advantage of the wave of activity by selling to cybersecurity and antivirus software company Avast.
“With Evernym’s underlying technology and the deep expertise that the team brings to Avast, we can accelerate our mission to reimagine how trust is established online through decentralized identity solutions,” Avast wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, and the company declined to disclose valuation or revenue figures. Evernym moved its headquarters to Seattle at the start of the pandemic, when it shifted to a remote-first approach. The majority of the company’s senior leadership resides in the Seattle area, including the company’s CEO, chief trust officer, and vice president of revenue.
Evernym describes itself as a leader in “self-sovereign identity.” The 30-person company has worked to create decentralized identifiers for open-source projects and efforts such as International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass. That pass is a digital credential that allows airlines and governments to verify travel and health documents, including COVID-19 test results.
The startup has also participated in projects like the Trust Over IP Foundation, the Decentralized Identity Foundation, and the Good Health Pass Collaborative.
In a blog post announcing the deal, Evernym CEO Steve Havas said that the company’s mission of “bringing more humanity to our digital interactions seems more important than ever.”
“Not a month goes by without news of a major hack or breach or another story about social media behemoths abusing their position of trust,” writes Havas, a former manager at Starbucks and Bank of America.
Evernym raised an $8 million round of funding in 2019, with backers including Barclays Ventures and Medici Ventures. At the time, the company said it was working with ATB Financial, Barclaycard, Deutsche Telekom, Novartis, CULedger, Irish Life, Telus and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Total backing stands at $18 million.
And Evernym isn’t the only identity-oriented startup making waves in the Seattle area. Earlier this year, identity tech startup Auth0 sold to Okta for $6.5 billion.
Evernym director of marketing Alex Andrade-Walz said they are very familiar with Auth0, contrasting Evernym’s approach with Auth0’s focus on authentication and log-ins.
“Our technology enables the secure and private sharing of any type of data,” Andrade-Walz said in an email to GeekWire. “This could be a log-in credential, but it could also be a vaccine record, diploma, hotel reservation, driver’s license, etc. We make digital data as portable and as trusted as the plastic ID cards we use in the physical world.”
Avast, which is based in Prague, also made an acquisition of Seattle startup Tenta in 2019.