Facebook Backer Accel Joins $30 Million Venture Investment in RockMelt
RockMelt Inc., the Web-browser startup backed by Netscape Communications Corp. founder Marc Andreessen, raised an additional $30 million as it seeks to challenge browsers from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Mozilla Corp.
Venture capitalists Accel Partners and Khosla Ventures joined existing investors -- including Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz LLC -- in the funding. Vinod Khosla and Accel’s Jim Breyer, a member of Facebook Inc.’s board, will become advisors to RockMelt’s board.
Founded in 2008, RockMelt developed a browser that lets users access social-networking services such as Facebook and Twitter Inc. while surfing the Internet. Breyer and Accel bring RockMelt one step closer to Facebook, which already forged a partnership with the browser earlier this month to help it add more social features.
“The Web and social have changed patterns so dramatically that a new browser experience could become very fundamental,” said Breyer, who is based in Palo Alto, California. “Companies that are building deep technologies on top of and around Facebook have significant upside potential.”
RockMelt, based in Mountain View, California, plans to almost double its staff of 38 by the end of the year, adding marketing and business-development people to complement its workforce of mostly engineers. The capital will also be put toward building new capabilities for the browser, such as search features, music and gaming, said Eric Vishria, RockMelt’s co- founder and chief executive officer.
“We want to build all the services people use every day into the browser,” Vishria said.
The software has been downloaded by 1 million people and is used regularly by hundreds of thousands, the company said. RockMelt previously raised $10 million in 2009 from investors such as Andreessen and Intuit Inc. chairman Bill Campbell.
In May, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was used by 54 percent of Web surfers, according to data tracker Net Applications. Mozilla’s Firefox had 22 percent, while Google’s Chrome browser had 13 percent.
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.
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