MLS & AssociationsTechnology

Distil Networks, a ‘bad bot’ fighter for real estate websites, gets lots of ammo

Data scraping is a growing problem in online real estate
  • Distil Networks Inc., which blocks 'bad bots' from encumbering websites, has raised an additional $21 million in a Series C funding round.
  • Bad bots have recently taken online real estate by storm, even as their activity has diminished somewhat overall.
  • The growth in real estate startups may be driving the increase in bad bod activity on real estate websites.

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As real estate websites grapple with data scrapers, a firm that's dedicated to battling "bad bots" -- sometimes on the behalf of multiple listing services (MLSs) -- has filled its war chest with an additional $21 million. Distil Network Inc.'s cloud-based, automated “bot blocking solution” acts as a shield between a website and end users, identifying “bad bots” (programs that scrape data) and only letting through legitimate traffic, including “good bots” like search engines. In 2013, the firm launched what it hoped would be an "industrywide intelligence network" to identify and thwart those who scrape real estate listing data without permission. At the time, Distil said it had found that up to 60 percent of Web traffic on public-facing MLS websites comes from data scrapers. That much activity puts significant stress on a website’s bandwidth, Rami Essaid, co-founder and CEO of Distil Networks, told Inman. Dozens of MLSs, MLS vendors and real estate compa...