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Fortmatic Is Now Magic, Reinventing Identity for a More Secure and Authentic Internet

We are thrilled to announce that Fortmatic has rebranded to Magic and is coming out of stealth with $4M in Seed funding secured last year to end the era of passwords and take down the identity silos owned and exploited by tech oligarchs.

Our seed round was led by Placeholder. Joining them are Lightspeed Ventures, SV Angel, Social Capital, Cherubic Ventures, Volt Capital, Refactor Capital, Unusual Ventures, Naval Ravikant, Guillermo Rauch (Vercel), and Roham Gharegozlou (Dapper Labs).

Since launching in February 2019, over 6,500 developers have signed up for our services, including renowned companies across a diverse set of industries, such as Animoca Brands, Democracy Earth, Zerion, and TokenSets.

With this announcement, we are also excited to share three major partnerships:

Vercel — The easiest way to develop and ship Jamstack applications with Vercel + Next.js and the easiest way to add authentication into applications with Magic form natural synergies. We’ll together make developing performant and powerful applications on top of Jamstack a mainstream phenomenon.

Max Planck Society — Magic will help to power identity and the bloxberg project, consisting of a consortium of over 50 leading scientific organizations such as Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Tech, UCL, and ETH Zurich. They’ll be changing the way research data, results, and publications are managed and improve the collaboration between scientists.

Dapper Labs — The creator of blockchain gaming sensations such as Cryptokitties and NBA Top Shot. Magic will be making authentication a breeze for users and developers building on top of their new powerful Flow blockchain.

With this funding, Magic will accelerate global adoption of passwordless authentication, while empowering developers to benefit from newer, more powerful Internet platforms.

Evolution of Internet Repeats Itself

Over the last 40 years, the Internet has gone through several major transformations.

Every one of them follows a similar shift in paradigm from closed, more costly, centralized systems to open, more efficient, decentralized systems. This began with the evolution from internetworking to the World Wide Web and more recently, from private clouds to public clouds over decades.

Today, we are on the verge of the next paradigm shift, and the need for it has never been greater.

Historically, two forces accelerated the end of one paradigm and the beginning of the next.:

  • Democratization, moving from siloed, centralized platforms to decentralized platforms that are distributed, highly scalable, and owned by everyone collectively.
  • Automation, enabling significant reductions in cost and complexity that make brand new business models possible.

Over the past 20 years, we all have witnessed a massive proliferation of new Internet platform companies that provide developers with essential services to rapidly build applications. Today, a developer can easily access services for compute, data storage, payment, and identity in ways that previous generations of developers could not.

That’s the good news.

Developers and Businesses Assume Excessive Risk

The bad news is what has happened as a result.

The overly centralized nature of these platforms has introduced “too big to fail” level risks for developers, businesses, and users alike. Like a teetering Jenga tower, if the wrong piece fails, the entire application stack, worse-the business- may completely collapse.

The millions of developers, businesses, and end-users that heavily depend on these platforms are sadly much more vulnerable than they realize. The number of threats is immeasurable. A company could go out of business, get hacked, restrict availability, unfairly increase pricing, abuse power resulting from their platform-lock-in status. As if that’s not enough, many companies face direct competition from the very platforms on which they rely. If all this sounds familiar, it is because it happens every day.

Decentralization Enables Paradigm Shifts

The arrival of cryptonetworks, however, signals the beginning of the end of the closed platform era. These distributed computer networks use consensus mechanisms (such as blockchains) to store state, to compute, and ensure availability.

Furthermore, the inherent strengths of decentralized economies, which use cryptographically secure tokens for incentives and punishments, provide an unprecedented level of security and protection for developers and businesses. In this paradigm, the integrity and honesty of network participants are significantly more dependable.

The result is that developers, businesses, and the customers they serve all now have a path to liberation from the potentially systemic risks they incur by relying on closed platform providers.

More than a decade after the launch of Bitcoin, the benefits of this innovation are now available and ready for global deployment — starting a count-down for centralized platform control.

New Paradigm Is Open Platforms

In these new cryptonetworks (such as Ethereum), developers benefit in many ways.

Since software code is deployed via “smart contracts”, like “permanent Lambda functions”, developers now have 100% confidence that a given line of code can serve as a trusted building block…forever.

The decentralized nature of these cryptonetworks also ensures that software functions are always available, even if its creator goes out of business.

In addition, developers have far greater assurances that the software or platforms running on cryptonetworks will perform as advertised. The openness, transparency by-default, and continuity of the cryptonetworks raise the level of accountability and honesty.

Not only developers can safely depend on and trust the platforms and data that resides on the network, they can also reduce the cost and complexity of application development. Today, developers can communicate with every one of these functions using standardized interfaces, without having to run any servers.

All of this sounds almost too good to be true, so why aren’t these types of applications commonplace yet?

What’s the hold-up?

Solving Identity and Key Management Challenges

The answer comes down to the challenges of key management.

Since all of the applications built on cryptonetworks (a.k.a. decentralized applications or dApps) are based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), users are forced to manage their own private keys.

In order to interact with these applications, users must go through an extremely cumbersome process, involving browser extensions, recording seed recovery phrases, and securing the information from theft or loss. The barriers were substantial and involved substantial risk. After all, the loss of a private key could lead to a compromised identity, erasing all benefits of a decentralized platform in addition to the loss of any funds.

The Future Is Magic

Magic removes all these barriers at once with a simple SDK.

Developers and end-users can gain all of the benefits of PKI without any of the risks or pains associated with key management. Magic handles all of that through a combination of security from the next paradigm and the simplest, most familiar authentication experience possible.

With Magic, all an end-user needs to do is input their email address and receive a verification link for log-in. Millions of people know this experience from having logged into applications like Slack and Medium. The friction of dApp user experience drops by orders of magnitude as no 3rd-party software is necessary at all. Developers can now customize the entire end-to-end user experience exactly the way they want.

Users’ identities are protected by Magic’s patent-pending, SOC 2 compliant, Delegated Key Management system built on hardware security modules (HSMs). In this innovative design, private keys are managed but never exposed to Magic or developers’ applications, significantly reducing the risk of compromise.

By solving identity for developers, Magic clears the path for exploring and tapping into the vast potential of cryptonetworks, making their applications less dependent on a handful of tech giants.

Simultaneously, the open and decentralized nature of cryptonetworks also allows users’ identity to be portable and self-sovereign, instead of having to trust centralized providers such as Facebook — giving developers the independence to build relationships directly with their users, rather than through a 3rd-party, while mitigating security risks and liabilities.

For once in the history of the Internet, developers can now easily leverage one-piece of technology to implement all functionalities across Identity, Finance, and Infrastructure.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Arthur C. Clarke

Learn More About Magic ✨

Website | Documentation | Security | GitHub | Twitter | Roadmap | Reddit




Auth is simpler on the blockchain. Let users access your Ethereum app from anywhere. No more browser extensions and seed phrases.

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Sean Li

Sean Li

ceo @magic_labs @fortmatic | ex-@docker @kitematic | @uwaterloo alumni

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