It pays to know you: Interest graph master Gravity gets $10.6M

Gravity, the company whose interest graph technology powers delivery of personalized for a number of prominent web publishers, has raised a $10.6 million Series B round. The new funding comes fromĀ GRP Partners, as well existing investors Redpoint Ventures and August Capital. If personalization is the future of web content, there are worse bets to make than Gravity.

As I explained in March when, Gravity has built a semantic-analysis engine that tries to gauge a site visitor’s interest by looking at more than the articles that person reads. Thanks to an expansive database of topics and a hybrid man-machine machine learning system that takes into account behavior as well as content, Gravity can determine other topics that might be of interest even if those connections aren’t visible to the naked eye. The result of this analysis is called an interest graph, which is like a social graph only that’s concerned with interests rather than people.

Currently, Gravity claims its total body of graph data exceeds 18 million megabytes, or 18 terabytes. The company says the new money will help it expand operations in the United States and even deploy its own content-marketing platform.

Of course, interest graphs are useful for more than just automatically presenting visitors with the news content they’re interested in. Gravity also has a product for advertisers to better target potential customers, and an analytics service so publishers can get in-depth visualizations of who’s reading their content and what content works better than other content.

However, the obvious elephant in the room when talking about interest graphs is privacy and how to collect and analyze user data without crossing any ethical guidelines. This will become even more of an issue as web platforms try to share data across services in order to create a more unified browsing experience in which interest graphs follow users around the web to inform personalization algorithms at every step. And as we’ll discuss later this month at our Structure: Europe conference in Amsterdam, some governments take user privacy much more seriously than others, which can make businesses based on that data a little trickier to operate.

Here’s Gravity Co-Founder and CTO Jim Benedetto, along with privacy attorney Ashlie Beringer, discussing the issue with me at our Structure: Data conference last March.