If electronic signature has never been one of the sexier components of cloud computing and not attracted much media coverage, we’ve watched interest in it grow steadily over the past three years. The announcement by Google that it is investing in DocuSign suggests that e-signatures are about to become a lot more interesting.

Google, DocuSign

To be more precise, Google Venture, Google's investment arm,  is investing in DocuSign, which has launched a Series D funding round to continue its ongoing expansion.

DocuSign, if you're not familiar with it, is a San Francisco-based e-signature company that has been developing and marketing its products since 2003, and which now has offices in Seattle and London.

Clearly Google can sense a change in the air for electronic signing. It joins Accel Partners, Comcast Ventures and SAP Ventures in the funding round which has been led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. DocuSign says it has raised US$ 55.7 million so far, although it hasn't specified how much Google invested.

But let’s get back to electronic signatures and the cloud. While cloud development has attracted a great deal of attention in the past couple of years, so too have the concerns many companies have around cloud security.

Sometimes the fears were justified and sometimes they were built on a lack of understanding of how the cloud works and what the potential risks actually are.

The result is that many companies were reluctant to send sensitive documents into the cloud or complete business transactions there.

Cloud-based E-Signature

However, there is evidence that suggests this is changing. Companies are now happy to go the cloud route, even if it’s only because of the perceived lower costs of cloud-based software as opposed to on-premises software.

This is where electronic signature vendors are finding their niche: companies that want to go whole hog and do business in the cloud need legally verifiable signatures that can be sent through the cloud.

DocuSign has been building that business from the start and as cloud and social business become increasingly popular, so too will electronic signatures and the companies that provide that capability.

For DocuSign this has translated into considerable growth.

According to its own figures, 60,000 new users are joining the DocuSign Global Network every day, and 20 million users have DocuSigned more than 150 million documents in 188 countries.

DocuSign says it will use the cash to grow its SaaS platform, to accelerate international expansion and invest in more research.