“It’s been 11 years since we launched Hypothesis. It’s gone by so fast. During this time, we’ve accomplished many things: We defined a vision for open web annotation, we built an open source framework to implement it, we helped form and lead the working group that shipped the W3C standard, and we launched a service that’s now used by over a million people around the world who have made nearly 40 million annotations. In higher education, more than 1,200 colleges and universities use Hypothesis. And we’ve grown from a handful of people into a team of more than 35 passionate web builders. We’re not stopping here.
We’ve always had our sights set on the bigger idea: that this still-nascent effort can blossom into a true network of interoperable services — a rich ecosystem of collaboration, conversation and community over all knowledge. We believe that when incentives are aligned toward quality and away from monetizing attention, we can produce something of profound social importance. A utility layer for humanity. Since launch, the Hypothesis Project has been incorporated as a nonprofit. And while our nonprofit was an excellent home for our mission, it also limited us to grants and donations. Though we were beginning to provide services that we could charge for, we still needed capital to expand. Frustratingly, while our needs were growing, several of the key funding sources we’d relied on were no longer available to us as they shuttered programs or changed strategies. In 2019, we and others formed Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI), an “initiative to dramatically increase the amount of funding available to open scholarly infrastructure.” We recruited Kaitlin Thaney to that effort, and she has been doing a terrific job laying the foundation for this. But all this would take time we didn’t have.
In response, and to better position us to achieve our long-held mission, we’ve formed Anno, a public benefit corporation (aka “Annotation Unlimited, PBC”) that shares the Hypothesis mission as well as its team. We’ve done this so that we can take investment in a mission aligned way and scale the Hypothesis service to meet the opportunity in front of us. Anno is funded by a $14M seed round that includes a $2.5M investment from ITHAKA, the nonprofit provider of JSTOR, a digital library that serves more than 13,000 education institutions around the world, providing access to more than 12 million journal articles, books, images and primary sources in 75 disciplines. Also participating in the round are At.inc, Triage Ventures, Esther Dyson, Mark Pincus and others. ITHAKA’s president, Kevin Guthrie, has joined Anno’s board as an observer….”