OkCupid Co-Founders Raise $10.8M for Crypto Service Keybase

Cryptography service startup Keybase has raised $10.8 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz, according to a blog post by founders Max Krohn and Chris Coyne.

Coyne and Krohn were two of the co-founders behind New York-based dating app and website OkCupid, which is now owned by Barry Diller’s IAC. The duo met fellow OkCupid co-founders Sam Yagan and Christian Rudder while all were students at Harvard University in the ’90s. They would collaborate to develop study-guide site SparkNotes, and later OkCupid. Yagan currently serves as CEO of The Match Group, heading up all of IAC’s dating websites, including OkCupid.

In Wednesday’s blog post, Coyne and Krohn said Keybase started out as a project for looking up someone’s encryption key—PGP (or Pretty Good Privacy) key—by using a username such as a Twitter handle.

Keybase has since evolved, they wrote, to develop “public key crypto” for everyone. Use cases could include logging into systems and access points without passwords, securely sharing medical data, and the ability to delete videos and photos from the Web by eliminating keys.

While the concept has been around for a while, Keybase said that confirmation of identity and management of encryption keys have been hurdles to advancing the technology. The proliferation of smartphones, though, has made it possible to verify a person’s identity by comparing two keys when two devices are in close proximity to one another, such as a smartphone and laptop.

Keybase is developing open source apps for mobile and desktop, the blog said, which will use existing crypto libraries. The plan is to build up a reputation for crypto services, and then take on work for other hosted services, such as team management and hosting public, signed files.

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