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A number of news and media publishers are already blocking AI web crawlers from accessing their sites, worried about the impact on traffic when all their work is swept up into AI chatbot experiences. However, a startup called Direqt believes publishers should embrace AI chatbots — just on their own terms.

The company, which has now raised its first outside capital of $4.5 million, offers media companies like ESPN, GQ, Wired, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and others their own customizable chatbot solutions that provide a direct connection to their audience, increased engagement with their own published content, as well as monetization via ads.

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