DocuSign is facing a new competitive challenge today as one of the company’s biggest rivals, EchoSign, was just gobbled up by Adobe. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but this new alliance could alter the electronic signature market.

Seattle-based DocuSign, which raised a whopping $27 million in venture capital financing last December, is no stranger to the competition. In fact, DocuSign co-founder Tom Gosner addressed the challenge of Adobe last year after the software giant unveiled its own electronic signature technology.

At the time, Gosner said that Adobe’s entry validated the market. But he also chastised Adobe — asking what took them so long to enter the e-signature arena — and indicated that the maker of Photoshop was missing the mark with its  e-signature product.

“If you compare our service to the new Adobe service, it is immediately obvious that we have a sizable product lead also,” Gosner said in a statement at the time. “DocuSign provides much more than just a signature. We also provide authentication, workflow, data collection and collaboration—all critical components of a business-class e-signature platform. The Adobe service has none of this.”

With the EchoSign purchase, Adobe may have acquired some that functionality, strengthening its position in the growing market.

Founded in 2003, DocuSign has helped professionals in real estate, banking and retail execute more than 70 million electronic signatures and processed more than half a billion pages of documents. (We’ve reached out to the folks at DocuSign and we will update this post as we hear more).

Adobe plans to offer EchoSign as part of its online document exchange services platform.

“By adding electronic signature capabilities to Adobe’s document exchange services platform, we will be addressing the need to provide better customer experiences by significantly reducing the time, cost and complexity associated with having a document signed,” said Adobe’s Kevin Lynch in a statement.

Of course, it is not certain that Adobe will be able to integrate the EchoSign technology, with ZDNET’s Phil Wainewright wondering if Adobe will “wreck” the newly-acquired company.

Backed by Storm Capital and Emergence Capital, Palo Alto, California-based EchoSign boasts more than three million customers. New customers include Citrix, Groupon, Comcast Spotlight and Time Warner Cable.

Interestingly, DocuSign is set to release an upgrade to its product this week.

UPDATE: In remarks to GeekWire, Gosner said that DocuSign invented cloud-based electronic signatures “when the whole world was trying to figure out how to use complex digital certificates with PDF.” Since then, he said that the company has obtained 80 percent software-as-a-service market share.

“Now that Adobe has validated the way DocuSign works as the best way, it will help our mission to get the world DocuSigning,” said Gosner.

He continued:

“DocuSign is  the only electronic signature provider with a Secure Global Network dedicated to managing the electronic signature process, and we are not aligned with only one technology or platform. We are not distracted with video software, online office suites and hundreds of other products. We feel that as a neutral best-of-class provider of electronic contracting we are more able to span the market than an electronic signature component tied only to one technology.”

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/EitanSaban Eitan

    Game Over Guys . It’s simple – The world sign with EchoSign . Period – ask Google, Facebook, Groupon all use EchoSign and now ask ADOBE.

    • SMRTRTHANU

      looks like you were wrong:(

  • http://twitter.com/torreyjrussell Torrey Russell

    DocuSign was actually started in 1998 as Docutouch by Mir Hajmiragha , formerly of Microsoft.  I was the one in 2000 that trademarked the word DocuSign as one of the marks we planned on using.  The company was then spun off to a Real Estate software company during the 2000 crash from weak-kneed VCs… http://www.linkedin.com/in/hajmiragha

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