The Inventor of the World Wide Web Plans to Start a New Internet to Take on Google and Facebook

Tim Berners-Lee
Computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee attends the PHD Worldwide seminar as part of Cannes Lions International Festival of creativity on June 23, 2015 in Cannes, France. Berners-Lee is launching a new startup that he hopes will rival Internet giants Google and Facebook. Francois G. Durand/Getty Images

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is launching a startup that seeks to rival Facebook, Amazon and Google.

The technology legend's latest project, Inrupt, is a company that builds off of Berners-Lee's open source platform Solid. Solid allows users to choose where their data is stored and what people are allowed to have access to what information.

In an exclusive interview with Fast Company, Berners-Lee joked that the intent behind Inrupt is "world domination."

"We have to do it now," he said of the startup. "It's a historical moment."

The app uses Solid's technology to allow people to create their own "personal online data store" or a POD. It can contain contact lists, to-do lists, calendar, music library and other personal and professional tools. It's like Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack and Spotify are all available on one browser and all at the same time.

What's unique about the personal online data store is that it is completely up to the user who can access what kind of information. The company calls it "personal empowerment through data."

The idea for Inrupt, according to the company's CEO John Bruce, is for the company to bring resources, process and appropriate skills to help make Solid available to everyone. The company currently consists of Berners-Lee, Bruce, a security platform bought by IBM, some on-staff developers contracted to work on the project, and a community of volunteer coders.

Starting this week, technology developers around the world could create their own decentralized apps using the tools available on the Inrupt website.

Berners-Lee said that he and his team are not talking to "Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission."

In a post on Medium published on Saturday, Berners-Lee wrote that Inrupt's "mission is to provide commercial energy and an ecosystem to help protect the integrity and quality of the new web built on Solid."

In 1994, Berners-Lee transformed the Internet when he established the World Wide Web Consortium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In recent months, Berners-Lee has been an influential voice in the net neutrality debate.

Even while launching Inrupt, Berners-Lee will remain the Founder and Director of World Wide Web Consortium, the Web Foundation and the Open Data Institute.

"I'm incredibly optimistic for this next era of the web," Berners-Lee added.