Web4Sign: A signature addition to Start-Up NY

By GREGORY ZELLER //

Web4Sign Corp., an Italian import that’s looking to re-set the data security sector, expects to move into Stony Brook’s center for wireless and information tech sometime in December. January, maybe.

The firm, launched earlier this year by Raffaello Galli, is one of 15 new Start-Up NY companies announced in September, and Galli is eager to get moving on his promise of creating at least eight new jobs and investing $650,000 in the regional economy.

But the wait hasn’t stopped the firm from plowing ahead with plans to introduce its unique graphometric-signature technology, which changes the way data is secured.

At the end of the summer, Web4Sign entered into an agreement with NYC-based marketing and communications giant OmnicomGroup, a deal that puts Web4Sign’s tech in front of hundreds of potential customers.

galli

Raffaello Galli

Web4Sign software will be installed in OmnicomGroup data centers in Arizona and Georgia, Galli said, and immediately begin generating revenue in pay-per-click fashion – every time a data center customer uses the Web4Sign technology, Galli gets paid. But revenues generated through the deal are just the start: The real prize, according to Galli, are the other major-league clients in OmnicomGroup’s $7 billion orbit.

“They are a giant company,” he said. “We hope to enlarge our number of customers very quickly.”

Web4Sign focuses on the differences between the digital world’s prevailing electronic signatures. There are two basic technologies that record and compare how your John Hancock actually looks: digital signatures, which use dedicated algorithms and other mathematical schemes to guarantee authenticity, and graphometric signatures, which also consider biometric nuances – the angle of the user’s pen, the speed at which he loops his Ls, for example – to sniff out forgeries.

Graphometric systems don’t check to see that a signature is identical – “It’s very difficult to exactly replicate the same signature you wrote just 10 seconds ago,” Galli noted – but instead quantify a range of biometric data, using software that Galli helped create based on algorithms developed by Turkish researchers with decades of calligraphy expertise.

“Say you draw an X,” Galli explained. “You write it in a second or in 10 seconds. You can write it from right to left or left to right. In the end, the image is the same – but it’s not the same.

“Is it drawn with the same velocity? The same pressure? The same inclination of the pen?” he added. “Biometrics is a much higher level of identification.”

Although his development of the graphometric software dates back several years, Galli only incorporated Web4Sign in the United States in February. If he was launching a new type of pasta or olive oil, the entrepreneur noted, he might have stayed closer to home – but for new technologies, the world still looks to America first.

“When the German guy sees something coming from the United States, he knows it’s been approved, so to speak,” he said. “And we know that selling this in Italy, the revenues will be completely different than if we sell it in the United States.

“Nobody in the United States has anything like this,” Galli added. “The CIA has a subset of this – they use it for submarines or something. But commercially? Absolutely not.”

That will change within a month, when Web4Sign technology makes its way into those OmnicomGroup data centers. The plan is to use the deal as a combination revenue-generator/shakedown cruise/marketing springboard, fine-tuning the Web4Sign tech and establishing a domestic customer base before moving the product back to Europe, where electronic signatures have been in vogue for years and larger graphometrics markets await.

Web4Sign still has its offices in Italy, Galli noted, but is eager to move into its new CEWIT digs. Like Web4Sign’s foray into those busy data centers, Galli sees potential in CEWIT beyond immediate gains.

“We’re trying to use Stony Brook two ways,” he said. “Initially, the university and the state can use our technology. Second, there are multiple companies there that can work with us side-by-side in the same building.

“Obviously, the tax incentives are there and we’ll take them, but that’s not why we applied,” he added. “The opportunity to expand internally and work with other companies in that space is what really drove us. Stony Brook is a good name.”

Galli also sees the university as a potential source of quality employees, another cornerstone of a growth plan that ultimately focuses on big fish.

“I can’t just go to Bank of America and sell,” Galli said. “They won’t listen to me. But I can go to a big system integrator and show them how to apply this service in their data center, and then all of their customers – Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, whomever – can us it. OmnicomGroup is a great example.

“We don’t have to keep selling washing machines, one after another,” he added. “Once you’re in with a few customers, this will create automatically recurring revenues. So we’re looking for the big customers.”


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