Tim Berners-Lee’s start-up secures Series A funding for data-focused tech

A start-up co-founded by world wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee has secured Series A funding for its aim of creating a “web that works better for us all”.

Inrupt’s fresh financing round was led by US firm Forté Ventures. It also included participation from existing investors Hearst Ventures, Octopus Ventures and Akamai, as well as new backers Allstate and the Minderoo Foundation’s Frontier Technology Initiative.

This was confirmed in a blog post yesterday (9 December) written by Forté principal Hunter Hartwell, but the size of the deal was not disclosed.

According to TechCrunch, sources familiar with the matter said Inrupt has raised around $30m in Series A funding.

Solid idea

Berners-Lee and tech veteran John Bruce founded Inrupt in 2017 with the goal of redesigning the web as we know it and giving more power to individuals when it comes to their data.

The start-up has developed Solid, a set of open-source standards and protocols that allow decentralised applications to be interoperable with, and decoupled from, personal data stores.

The aim of this technology is to give web users a choice about where their data is stored and help control which entities and apps can use their data.

“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, who is CTO of the venture.

“Meanwhile, that data is exploited by the silo in question, leading to increasing, very reasonable, public scepticism about how personal data is being misused.”

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Last year, Inrupt bolstered its team with hires such as security expert Bruce Schneier and said that high-profile clients had signed up to its pilot programmes, including the BBC, NatWest Bank, the NHS and the Flanders government.

In yesterday’s blog post, Hartwell wrote that the latest funding will help Inrupt expand its footprint with further Solid deployments in both the government sector and the commercial sector.

“Our thesis for the investment in Inrupt is a simple one,” he added. “Consumers, governments and many companies are eager to move towards a truly open and collaborative web (aka Web3), and Inrupt’s enterprise Solid server represents the most technically advanced and commercially viable path to realising that future.”

Inrupt CEO Bruce said in a statement that the momentum behind the company from governments and corporations is “gathering at an exciting pace”.

“It’s proving the potency of Solid to make a web that works better for us all,” he said. “Forté Ventures leading this funding round is critical to our next phase of growth, and we’re delighted to have them with us.”

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