Three decades ago, Tim Berners-Lee created WorldWideWeb, the first public route to the Internet. For the first time, textual documents were linked over a public network – a Web as we call it – and accessible to anyone who could get their hands on a NeXT computer. Although WorldWideWeb was not limitless, it did shine a light on the potential of an open Internet. Transparent global communication and unlimited access to global information.
New entrants into the browser space followed and in 1993 Mosaic was born. Mosaic was GUI-based, easy to use, and ran on Windows, allowing anyone with a PC to access web pages, chat rooms, and image libraries. It was the killer app for the internet. It was magical.
Behind Mosaic were Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen — the Andreessen now notable for co-founding a16z. The two saw the opportunity to capitalize on the emerging web and, a year later, launched Netscape Navigator, an improved version of Mosaic. Needless to say it took off. By 1995, more than 15 million people were connected to the Web, with Netscape controlling 70% of the growing browser market. Just 16 months after launch, Netscape went public at a valuation north of $2.9 billion, making it the biggest tech IPO at the time. The idea that money could be made through the Internet spread and the browser wars began.
What followed was intense competition:
- Microsoft developed Internet Explorer and quickly gained market dominance after integrating it into its Windows operating system in 1997.
- Netscape died out but the company’s codebase was open source and resurrected as Firefox under the nonprofit Mozilla
- Apple entered the market through Safari in 2003, while Google launched Chrome in 2008. Many others have tried.
Internet adoption soared into the billions, while market share fluctuated. Browsers have become commonplace. What started as a space steeped in innovation has morphed into a space infamous for its incremental innovation cycles. Growing global demand for internet access means browsers have doubled down on user acquisition, not product differentiation. Distribution became the goal. The end result was complacency – players didn’t evolve with changing user needs.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words. Well, here are three:
Internet Explorer in 2000 was no different from Netscape Navigator in 1997, which honestly doesn’t look too different from Chrome today. Sure, the underlying performance has improved, the UI has gotten cleaner, extensions are now a thing…but the fundamentals have persisted.
Thirty years after the release of WorldWideWeb by Tim Berners-Lee, the main utility of browsers remains mainly search. During this time, the world has evolved. The Internet has moved away from its hypertext roots and now consists of an endless ocean of interactive experiences. Software, as we know very well, has moved to the cloud. We work, socialize, play, create, learn, etc. inside our browser. It has become our digital home – an operating system within an operating system.
The average time spent per day on the Internet is now over six hours. With eight hours of sleep, we are talking about almost 40% of our waking hours spent on the web. For 16-24 year olds, the figure is well over seven hours… and growing. The net is that our web browsers are the software we use the most – they are our gateway to everything we do online.
Ironically, we don’t think about them proactively. We have come to accept browsers as they are, despite their many flaws. As designed today, browsers leave us buried in a sea of web tabs and apps, constantly losing context, always a click away from distraction. They provide their basic utility without offering much more. They are what they are because no one has challenged them to be better…until today.
Enter SigmaOS, a company looking to end widespread category complacency. SigmaOS redesigns the browser experience from first principles, designing every millimeter of the product with true empathy for the end user. The company is developing a new kind of web browser, which makes you faster and more productive. The one that suits your needs. One designed for the 21st century.
It’s keyboard-powered, supports powerful in-context search, enables easy split-screen multitasking, turns tabs into organized workspaces, offers cross-device syncing, offers Safari-like performance and security, and is beautifully designed. SigmaOS personalizes to the user, it puts content first, it brings order to chaos…it works.
Behind the magic are Mahyad, Ali and Saurav, three software engineers who have a deep appreciation for the art of product design. The trio believe deeply in creating hard-nosed software. Buttons need a purpose, features need a reason to exist. Nothing should be done for fun. Where many other players over-clock on sending as many features as they can, Mahyad, Ali and Saurav believe in the philosophy of less is more. They build what must exist, no nice to have. Every incremental feature released on SigmaOS has a reason for being there – to make web browsing wonderfully productive.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’re joining the three of them on their journey to rebuild the road to the Internet, a browser for the 21st century. We are extremely excited to lead the SigmaOS seed round alongside a phenomenal group of investors including Moonfire, Shine VC, TrueSight Ventures, 7Percent, Pioneer Fund, Y Combinator, Ventures Together and others.
– Ziv and the LG team
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