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Subjects: PDT, VEN


Tech Founders Raise nearly $7M in Funding to Create a New Infrastructure that Allows AI Bots and Data Scrapers to Efficiently Pay for Website Content

TollBit will Benefit Publishing Industry, Tech Companies, and Consumers by Boosting Content Revenue, Protecting Quality Information, and Reducing Legal Uncertainty

NEW YORK, March 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- TollBit founders Olivia Joslin and Toshit Panigrahi today announced the company has raised $7M for their new platform aimed at addressing the shifting economics of web content in the age of AI. TollBit allows AI bots and data scrapers to pay websites directly to license their content. The technology allows websites to monetize data and content, monitor bot traffic to sites, and easily onboard AI and LLM partners. By providing a tech infrastructure,TollBit helps to establish clear guardrails to reduce the legal uncertainty of scraping. The system relies on tokens that are issued and validated by the platform to ensure every scrape is authorized and logged.

"We are seeing a fundamental shift in the economics of the Internet: as more consumers turn to AI to meet their needs, less eyeballs will reach websites. This trend inadvertently undercuts the financial health of the publishers and websites that reliable AI needs to thrive. AI agents and LLMs are only as good as the information they can access so this poses a massive threat to the entire ecosystem. TollBit is building the infrastructure to help power the Internet in this new era by ensuring publishers and content creators can be fairly paid for their work," said Joslin and Panigrahi.

TollBit has raised initial funding from top investors with ties across digital media, tech, and AI. The round was led by Sunflower Capital and includes participation from AIX, Lerer Hippeau, Operator Collective, and Liquid 2 Ventures. Among other things, the funding will be used for the continued expansion of TollBit's tech team.

Researchers have already raised concerns that AI companies may be running out of high quality content and data and many publishers see language models and web-enabled AI tools as an existential threat to website traffic.

"Modern AI agents rely on a steady stream of fresh and high-quality content and data to provide users with trustworthy and timely answers. We believe TollBit will be a key part of the future AI stack, providing a mechanism to incentivize and compensate publishers for the content and data they produce," said Anthony Goldbloom, Partner at AIX.

"This disruption is coming for every industry. Any company that relies on traffic to a website or app will need to rethink their approach. User-generated and aggregated content sites will soon be impacted as AI products begin to be able to take actions on end-users' behalf," added Liu Jiang, Founder of Sunflower Capital.

"Our fund and leadership have spent decades managing and investing in legacy and digital media businesses, so we've seen the enormous impact technology has had on the sector," said Ben Lerer, Managing Partner at Lerer Hippeau. "The incredible power of AI promises tremendous benefits to society, but we need to act swiftly to coalesce around a sustainable content model that satisfies both the supply and demand sides of the market. If we fail to establish systems-wide guardrails and incentivize rich content creation, the entire system will collapse - it's the start of a sinkhole and we're all at risk of falling in. TollBit's solution benefits all parties, protecting world-class journalism, creative content, accurate data, and LLMs' ability to mature and improve."

TollBit is currently onboarding publishers to the platform. Learn more at https://tollbit.com/

About TollBit
TollBit offers AI bots and data scrapers an easy and compliant way to compensate websites directly for content. The platform seeks to address the new economics of content creation in the AI era by reducing the legal uncertainties of scraping and protecting the health of the entire content ecosystem.

About Sunflower
Sunflower Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm that partners with foundational infrastructure companies building for the modern enterprise. We specialize in B2B products with technical moats in categories like data and machine learning, developer tooling, cybersecurity, frontier tech, and more. Sunflower was founded by solo GP Liu Jiang, who has invested in companies including Athelas, Clay, DBT, Hadrian, Retool, Semgrep, Temporal, Vercel, Verkada and Warp.

About AIX
AIX Ventures is an AI-native, early-stage venture capital firm, founded in 2021 by Richard Socher and Shaun Johnson, that includes some of the world's top AI practitioners: Pieter Abbeel, Anthony Goldbloom, and Christopher Manning. AIX Ventures invests in founders who are developing industry-changing AI technologies. Its portfolio includes HuggingFace, Perplexity, Weights & Biases, You.com, Chroma, and others. AIX Ventures is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

About Lerer Hippeau
Lerer Hippeau is an early-stage venture capital firm founded and operated in New York City. Our portfolio includes more than 400 leading enterprise and consumer businesses including Zipline, Guideline, MIRROR, Blockdaemon, K Health, Warby Parker, and ZenBusiness. We're experienced operators who invest early and stay in our founders' corners as they build iconic companies. Learn more at lererhippeau.com.

About Liquid 2
Liquid 2 is building the most valuable ecosystem at seed.  Founded in 2016 by Joe Montana, our ecosystem is defined by a network of deeply rooted connections with our founding advisors (Ron Conway, Jessica Livingston, Paul Graham), top-tier co-investors, and a portfolio of over 800 technology companies representing over $100B of combined enterprise value.  Liquid 2 invests $250K - $1M in pre-seed and seed rounds and our portfolio includes Gitlab, Rippling, Jasper AI, Retool, Anduril, Applied Intuition, Remote, Solugen, Astranis, Stoke Space, Rappi, WhatNot, Modern Treasury, Athelas and many more.

About Operator Collective
Operator Collective is an early-stage B2B venture firm and community backed by tech's most exceptional operators and top-tier institutions. OpCo brings together leaders who are critical to a startup's success but largely absent from the venture ecosystem - senior operating executives from diverse backgrounds who have built the world's most admired tech companies. Our proprietary platform enables portfolio founders to efficiently tap into 200+ active Operator LPs to help companies as they build and scale, reach potential customers, and connect with talent networks for potential executives, board members, and industry leaders.

For more information contact: press@tollbit.com


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