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The Impressive Rise of DocuSign


The world's leading electronic signature technology firm is DocuSign, a San Francisco based company that has revolutionized the way that people do business both online and in person. Once the ESIGN Act set specific rules and regulations regarding digital signatures, DocuSign stepped up to not only surpass those guidelines but set standards in the authentication services and user identity management arenas. Today DocuSign is used all over the world for capturing signatures, workflow automation, and a variety of other tasks. Here's a look at how DocuSign became such a powerful force in the industry.


DocuSign was founded by Tom Gonser in 2003 as a result of him leaving NetUpdate, another technology company that he had launched in 1998. After stepping down as NetUpdate’s CEO and deciding to start a new venture, he turned his focus to developing an electronic signature startup firm that his former company had acquired. This firm, DocuTouch, was based in Seattle and first launched by entrepreneur Mir Hajmiragha.

Though DocuTouch didn’t have any revenue, it did hold several patents for online based digital collaboration and electronic signature systems. To turn the firm into a success, Gonser bought DocuTouch’s assets after leaving NetUpdate and from that he created DocuSign. At the start of the revamped venture, Gonser appointed Eric Ranft to be the company’s VP of engineering and CTO, and Court Lorenzini became the designated CEO.

DocuSign started making its first sales in 2005, which is when zipLogix became one of the company’s first customers. After proving the legal admissibility of forms signed with DocuSign and testing the veracity of the service’s encryption, more companies started using the service.

Though first headquartered in Seattle, DocuSign opened an office in San Francisco in 2011 which became its global base. That same year the company opened its London office, and it has plans to expand its operations to other areas around the world.

The leadership of DocuSign has remained steady throughout the years, and Keith Krach become the company's board chairman in early 2010. By August 2011, Krach was DocuSign's CEO. He's been in that position since, but Keith Krach did announce that he planned to step down in October 2015. As part of his succession plan, he has said he will remain on as chairman for three years following the appointment of a successor CEO.

Products and Services

DocuSign’s services are now offered in a variety of formats. Most customers either pay a subscription or use it for free as a digital app. Encryption is used for all documents and signatures that go through the service, and hashes are also used to test for tampering and to ensure no data is compromised.

The company’s mobile app, Docusign was released in late 2011 and is available on Windows, Android, and iOS devices for free. Users can annotate and sign documents by storing their signature and then attaching it. Signature options include those captured from taking a photo of your handwritten signature from your mobile device, uploading a jpeg or gif image of your signature, or typing your name into the system and selecting from a number of available fonts.

Using DocuSign, signatures can be applied to word processing documents, photos and images, and PDF files. Once a signature has been applied and completed, the document is saved securely in the DocuSign cloud and available for all parties to access via log in. DocuSign has gained a huge following since its debut with more than 250,000 companies and more than 100 million users completing nearly one million transactions per day on the DocuSign Global Trust Network.

Another service called DocuSign Professional allows two parties that have agreed to conduct business electronically the ability to request and review uploaded documents, add signatures, get background checks, and obtain phone confirmation.

Key Focus

The company started out offering electronic signature and digital transaction services and software, and its focus has grown over the last decade. DocuSign is still the industry leader in electronic signature management, but it has added support for various types of devices including smartphones, iPad, and iPhone. DocuSign also offers phone based user authentication and payment services.

So far, DocuSign has partnered with Google Drive, Paypal, and to allow the customers of those companies to take advantage of the DocuSign Payment service. With it, users can capture their signatures while also making a payment in one convenient process. The company also has a partnership with Equifax that gives lenders the ability to use DocuSign for sending requests to those applying for loans. Together, Equifax and DocuSign also participated in a study about the feasibility of using electronic signatures for certain IRS tax forms.

At the 2016 Mortgage Bankers Association conference, DocuSign announced its new platform that's aimed at simplifying the electronic mortgage application process. Seeing as how the company has been focusing more on developing products aimed at the real estate industry, this is a strategic move.

DocuSign's influence in the tech, financial, and real estate industries is significant, as the company has a huge list of notable corporate clients. It’s estimated that approximately 90% of all Fortune 500 companies either currently use DocuSign or have at one point.

Venture Funding

Since DocuSign was founded in 2003, the company has raised $525 million to boost its operations. By May 2015, DocuSign was valued at an estimated $3 billion. It’s been highly successful at raising venture capital from a number of sources.

Frazier Technology Ventures contributed $4.6 million in 2004 during the company’s early days, and that was followed by another $30 million from other investors between 2006 and 2009. The latter allowed DocuSign to process nearly 50 million signatures and also enabled the company to market itself better to corporate clients.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers along with several other key investors contributed $56 million during a round of venture fund raising in mid 2012, and during that time venture capitalist Mary Meeker joined DocuSign’s Board of Directors. Soon after DocuSign was valued at $1.6 billion, and when they went for another funding round in March 2014 investors contributed an additional $85 million. One of DocuSign’s largest funding rounds to date was in 2015 when it raised a total of $233 million.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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