Proxy: Digital Identity in the Physical World

Alexander Niehenke discusses Scale’s lead investment in Proxy’s $42M Series B financing round.

I’m excited to announce that Scale is leading the $42M Series B for Proxy, the provider of digital identities for the physical world. At the heart of their product is the identity signal, emitted from a smartphone, that gives users frictionless access to any space or device. Think of it as a universal sign-on for the physical world. Proxy is growing quickly in commercial real estate today, but their identity signal has potential in markets from ride-sharing and transportation to hospitality and entertainment. 

To share how we got here, I want to rewind the clock to look at Scale’s prior investments in digital identity solutions. Identity is a fundamental human problem. How do I prove who I am? How do I prevent others from pretending to be me? How do we solve these challenges while minimizing friction and maximizing security? In the traditional offline world, people long ago relinquished proof of identity to governments and corporations. We have driver’s licenses issued by the states, passports from the Federal government, ID cards from employers, and membership cards from affiliated clubs. Security, too, was easier in physical environments before the Internet came along and fractured that paradigm. 

Scale has spent the past decade plus investing in companies restoring trust to digital identity. We were early investors in pioneers like DocuSign, which enables legally binding digital signatures; OneLogin, which allows secure access to corporate applications; and Socure, which gives institutions nearly instantaneous identity verification at “day zero”. 

Scale leads the latest funding round from Proxy

All of this experience made our first meeting with Proxy particularly kismet. Proxy co-founders Denis Mars and Simon Ratner talked about the digital identity transition in terms that were very familiar to us, then went on to describe a significant new challenge: as our digital identities become an ever-increasing part of our lives, how do we bring that identity back into the physical world? 

Proxy is starting to solve that problem with its initial identity signal application that provides mobile access in corporate environments. We have all experienced frustration with badge cards that we leave at home, on our desk, or in our car. The enterprises that issue badges often hate them because they provide poor security, are expensive to administer and replace, and lack the flexibility to work with other systems that we’re accustomed to in the API-centric digital realm. Proxy moved the access functionality of the badge card to the user’s phone or Bluetooth-enabled device, giving enterprises the flexibility to digitally provision and deprovision users as well as dynamically adjust access based on digital variables. 

Physical security solutions have generally lagged the overall transition from on-premise to cloud-based offerings. Proxy is a frictionless way for businesses to begin embracing that transition, providing clear advantages in functionality, cost, maintainability, and user experience. Several large enterprises and property management companies are already using Proxy to enable the mobile access experience for thousands of employees.

And Proxy is just getting started. One way you can tell is by watching its customers, who are starting to explore the possibilities of what digital representation can mean in the physical environment. Imagine a future where you no longer have to log in to your computer, a conference room recognizes you when you walk through the door, or a transaction occurs without ever pulling anything out of your pocket. That’s where Proxy is heading, and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of that journey. 

Sam Baker contributed to this article.

Originally published March 16, 2020.