E-voting firm Scytl receives $40 million from Paul Allen's Vulcan Capital to continue election modernization efforts. Defense Department among its customers.

Elena Malykhina, Technology Journalist

April 9, 2014

3 Min Read
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

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Online voting got a boost this week when Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen invested $40 million in e-voting company Scytl.

Barcelona-based Scytl specializes in secure electronic voting, election management, and election modernization. Since its founding in 2001, Scytl has managed more than 100,000 electoral events electronically all over the world, including the US, according to company officials. The firm's suite of products includes everything from training poll workers to holding elections online.

Scytl is backed by various investors, including Balderton Capital, Nauta Capital, and Spinnaker Invest. The new funding comes from Vulcan Capital's Silicon Valley-based growth equity fund, which focuses on making investments -- ranging from $10 million to $100 million -- in Internet and technology companies. Vulcan Capital is the multibillion-dollar investment arm of Vulcan Inc., founded by Allen.

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Abhishek Agrawal, who heads all growth equity investments for Vulcan Capital and will now join Scytl's board of directors, said Scytl is at the forefront of enabling online voting. "Scytl is playing a pivotal role in helping governments worldwide to further embrace technology-driven modernization in their election processes, an area which will continue to undergo massive transformation in the coming years," Agrawal said in a news release.

According to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), 14 countries have used or are using Internet voting, mostly to target specific categories of voters, such as expatriates, military personnel posted overseas, and people with disabilities. Estonia and the United Arab Emirates use online voting nationwide, and five other counties allow it in some parts. The US is among the countries that have piloted online voting and decided not to continue its use, said IFES, which is based in Washington, D.C.

Concerns over security have halted widespread adoption of online voting. Scytl said it's offering a way for governments to modernize their voting systems without compromising security. Scytl products incorporate cryptographic protocols and end-to-end encryption for privacy and confidentiality during the voting process.

In 2010, Scytl was selected by the US Defense Department to provide online ballot delivery and onscreen marking systems as part of the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The program was created to support overseas military and civilian voters for the 2010 election cycle and beyond. Nine states agreed to participate in the program: New York, Washington, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Indiana.

Scytl said it will use proceeds from the latest round of financing to fund its research-and-development efforts and strategic acquisitions. In the past two years Scytl has acquired two US firms specializing in election modernization. SOE Software is the creator of the e-Election Platform, which covers the full election cycle like pre-election, election day, and post-election, with tailored tasks for each cycle. The other firm, Maxim, provides voter registration technology.

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About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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