Tim Berners-Lee’s startup, Inrupt, has raised about $30 million in its Series A financing round, a source familiar with the matter said.
Forte Ventures led Inrupt’s new round, the two said Thursday, but both declined to disclose the size of the deal. The round saw participation from “all existing investors,” including Akamai Technologies and Glasswing Ventures, as well as new investors Allstate and the Minderoo Foundation’s Frontier Technology Initiative.
Inrupt — founded by the creator of the standards of the world wide web, Berners-Lee, and technologist John Bruce — is attempting to “reshape the internet” by building a platform that gives users control of their data. The Inrupt team includes cryptography expert Bruce Schneier.
“Business transformation is hampered by different parts of one’s life being managed by different silos, each of which looks after one vertical slice of life,” said Berners-Lee in a statement. “Meanwhile, that data is exploited by the silo in question, leading to increasing, very reasonable, public skepticism about how personal data is being misused.”
Inrupt’s platform enables users to store their personal data in something called a POD (Personal Online Datastores). These PODs are interoperable with decentrealized applications and can be decoupled whenever the user prefers to do so. Inrupt believes, it said in an investor pitch obtained by TechCrunch, that it is attempting to emulate the core infrastructure of companies such as Visa for credit card processing and Verisign, which commercialized the DNS standard.
“This approach allows consumers to take control of their data while giving governments and companies — and their app developers — a more seamless transition into a new internet era and regulatory regime (e.g., GDPR),” wrote Hunter Hartwell, principal at Forte Ventures, in a blog post.
“Our thesis for the investment in Inrupt is a simple one: consumers, governments, and many companies are eager to move towards a truly open and collaborative web (aka Web3), and Inrupt’s enterprise Solid server (ESS) represents the most technically advanced and commercially viable path to realizing that future. Embedded in our thesis is the belief that this top-tier team is uniquely qualified to meet the requirements and expectations of government and corporate partners, as well as the broader public,” he added.
Inrupt’s customers include governments and enterprises. The startup has signed contracts with governments of Sweden, Argentina and Basque, TechCrunch reported earlier. It generated $225,000 in revenue last year, and $200,000 in revenue in September, the report said.
The startup will deploy the funds to “expand its global footprint of Solid deployments in both the government sector and the commercial sector,” said Hartwell.