"I never thought we'd get it."
That's Vinny Lingham, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain identity startup Civic, talking about the company's acquisition of "Identity.com" – a fitting web domain for a company built around the idea of putting personally identifiable data in the control of its owners.
To that point, Lingham said he had always thought Identity.com would be an ideal address from which to promote the platform he is building.
Civic raised $33 million in a token sale last year as part of an effort build a decentralized infrastructure for third parties to make attestations about individuals.
Even with those resources, the domain was valuable internet real estate. It was previously controlled by a company named Inflection, which dates back to 2006, according to Crunchbase.
At first, the domain seemed out of reach, given that it was controlled by an established business. But all that changed when Civic learned that the firm had made the decision to call it quits on that line of business.
"It was very opportunistic and we lucked out for sure," Lingham said.
As a condition of the sale, Lingham couldn't reveal any more about the negotiations or the amount Civic paid to acquire the address – Civic's tokens currently have a market capitalization of $65.9 million according to CoinMarketCap – but, as he put it:
At its heart, the Civic protocol is built around the idea that users control their own data: – "your information sits on your device, not on our servers," as Lingham explains it.
Identity.com will serve as a hub for businesses that have information and those that need it. So, rather than one company selling data about its users directly to another firm, the first company that can verify data would share that attestation with the user, who would then share it with the second firm that needs the information.
The blockchain allows the company receiving the information to verify that the attestation held by the consumer is legitimate.
Many different companies might be able to, for example, verify that a specific user has a valid driver's license, but other companies might have different levels of trust in each other.
So, Identity.com will be a place for companies to set up relationships and have a means to tell consumers whose attestations they will trust.
"The key thing here is it will run on CVC tokens," Lingham said.
The token will be the method by which requesting companies pay for validation from companies that have the information. Smart contracts are used to protect everyone during the transaction, ensuring that validators only get paid once requesting companies have received adequate information.
Many vendors, one market
Identity.com is expected to start directing traffic to a Civic-controlled website as of 22:00 UTC.
According to Lingham, the domain will play host to a business-to-business marketplace for companies looking to sell attestations about individuals and the companies seeking to verify information about their customers.
Citing the acquisition of a domain that will give their venture a higher profile, Civic has also decided to delay the launch of this marketplace to the fourth quarter of this year instead of the third quarter, as CoinDesk previously reported.
Civic will also make the software behind the marketplace open-source by the end of this year, in keeping with the industry-wide ethos of decentralization.
"We don't want to be the ones behind it," Lingham explained. "Initially we start off being a bit more stewards, but, over the long term — hopefully, we don't need to be."
Civic will be one of the companies in the Identity.com marketplace – but it hopes to be one of many.
"Civic will be like Stripe for identity," Lingham said, meaning it will be easy for sites that want to use its network to verify people to integrate it with an easy API call.
But the new site is bigger than Civic's part of it. Lingham positioned the domain acquisition as a major step for not just his company but the development of a "Web 3.0"
He told CoinDesk:
Vinny Lingham image via Shutterstock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.