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Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee raises $30 million for privacy startup

Inrupt could allow consumers to better control personal data online.

Tim Berners-Lee, Inrupt Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder.Handout (Custom credit)

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s latest startup, Inrupt, has raised $30 million to further develop its data privacy technology, according to data from PitchBook.

Venture capital firm Forte Ventures led the deal, which also included Akamai, Allstate, Glasswing Ventures, and the Minderoo Foundation’s Frontier Technology Initiative. The Boston startup had previously raised more than $10 million of seed funding.

Inrupt is making software applications based on an open-source standard for protecting and sharing digital data called Solid that Berners-Lee created at MIT.

The idea is that a person or company could stash important personal or business data in a digital space, kind of like an online locker which Inrupt calls a “Personal Online Datastore,” or POD. The data could include anything from medical records to a shopping history.


Then the owner of the POD can give permission to others to access specific data for a limited amount of time. That should keep the data more secure and avoid the kind of privacy nightmares that happened when companies leaked their customers’ personal information.

“Users may come for the privacy,” Berners-Lee told the Globe last year. “They will stay because of the personal empowerment, when all the data in their life is available for new, cool, powerful apps.”

Berners-Lee teamed up with experienced tech executive John Bruce to form Inrupt in 2018 to commercialize use of the Solid standards. Berners-Lee serves as chief technology officer and Bruce is CEO.

The pair and their team have already “generated significant customer momentum and are in various deployment stages with multiple world governments and Fortune 500 companies,” Forte Ventures principal Hunter Hartwell wrote on a blog post on Thursday announcing the deal.

Aaron Pressman can be reached at Follow him @ampressman.