OpenID Has Big New Friends

Digital minimalists got a big lift this morning when Microsoft, Google, VeriSign and IBM all said they’d begin supporting OpenID, the open-source standard that seeks to enable consumers to use a single identity and password to log in to any web site on the Internet.

The idea of a universal ID to simplify consumer’s lives has been around for some time. But many companies have been unwilling to let go of that last connection to their end users, the one-off login required to access each site. With today’s endorsement, OpenID’s potential base has been pushed to nearly 1 billion users.

And OpenID is proving to be a huge windfall for at least one startup: Tulsa, Okla.-based Vidoop, which we introduced here in October. Vidoop’s consumer play, called MyVidoop, uses images rather than letters or numbers to create OpenID logins. The images are handy in one critical way: Vidoop sells them to advertisers.

Vidoop has been a huge supporter of OpenID from the start, if for no other reason than to enable MyVidoop users to go as many places as possible. Translation: bigger ad rates. Of the 10,005 web sites that currently support OpenID, Vidoop shares ad revenues with all of them. And Vidoop has hired the chairman of the OpenID Foundation, Scott Kveton, as its VP of open platforms.

I had dinner with Vidoop co-founder Luke Sontag last night. He was outspoken, as usual, on the virtues of OpenID, but also on how Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo makes today’s development even richer for him:

“For Vidoop, the Microsoft deal means one less potential partner that we have to explain the importance of ‘corporate grade authentication’ to,” he said. “I’ve always wondered why big companies get great access security, but the consumer companies give us no more protection than a measly password.

“A password that even Bill Gates has acknowledged is the weakest link in online security,” he said.