There is no doubt that Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox attract the majority of browser users. But despite this dominance, smaller browser companies are trying to carve out a niche and even charge users for features. London-based SigmaOS is one such startup, building a Mac browser for productivity nerds.
The company has raised $4 million in seed funding led by LocalGlobe and participation from Y Combinator, 7percent Ventures, Moonfire Ventures, Shine VC, TrueSight Ventures, Pioneer Fund and Venture Together. Angel investors like Cocoa Ventures partner Carmen Alfonso Rico and EightSleep founder Matteo Franceschetti have also joined the round.
Along with this, the startup is also releasing SigmaOS 1.0 after being in beta for over a year, with features like collaboration and focus mode.
The company was established by Mahyad Ghassemibouyaghchi, Ali Attar and Saurav Mitra in 2021. Mahyad, who is diagnosed with ADHD, said that switching between tabs and windows in old browsers was mentally heavy. So he wanted to create a browser that lets you do things from one place.
“Context switching is very mentally heavy, and having the segmentation that our browser provides, and being able to do everything from one place, really helps. Our idea is that you focus on your best work, while we’ll keep you organized and focused,” he said in a written statement. Shortly after building its first prototype, the team joined Y Combinator’s summer 2021 cohort.
At first glance, the browser is different from Chrome and Safari because it stores tabs in a vertical format. When you configure SigmaOS, you will be asked to create a new workspace or choose a workspace template like writing, analysis, work chat, developer tools, and reading. Workspaces – which are like tab groups or tab folders – are at the heart of the SigmaOS experience.
The app treats these workspaces as toolboxes where you will have theme-related tabs permanently open. And you can open some of them on the fly.
The browser treats tabs like an email: most tabs are persistent, you can jump between them without closing any, and you can put them on hold and mark them as done (to close them).
To navigate this interface, you can always tap the lazy search bar, which allows you to search for currently open tabs in the browser or perform a search. You can also quickly switch from a tab to a split-screen view if you want to view some information while doing another task like writing.
With the new version, the company also introduces a focus mode, which removes all toolbars and expands the current tab view to full screen mode.
There’s also a new collaboration mode available with SigmaOS 1.0, which lets you share a workspace with friends or colleagues where you can all see shared tabs. This is useful when working on new ideas with your team or planning a trip with friends. The workspace also has a private tab space for you. Notably, Apple this year introduced a shared tabs feature for Safari.
All of these features and more are easily accessible through numerous shortcuts. However, if your workflow only has a few tabs or you’re not a productivity fanatic, the number of features and interface navigation may overwhelm you. Even for experienced macOS users, it takes time to get used to the quirks and flows of SigmaOS. In some ways, you may need to change the way you work in a browser to get information to you quickly.
To ease the transition between Safari and Chrome, the browser allows you to easily import all data, including passwords. The company is also testing support for Chrome extensions as a beta feature. It currently has a built-in extension store with limited apps, and it lets you import extensions from Chrome. If they don’t work with SigmaOS, you can quickly report it to the team to enable support for that.
SigmaOS is built on WebKit and uses SwiftUI for its interface. This allows the browser to let users keep multiple tabs “open” without overloading system resources. Mahyad told TechCrunch that many of his users keep hundreds of tabs open in the background.
The road ahead
The free version of the browser gives you three workspaces, split-screen functionality, and a built-in ad blocker. Users can pay $10 per month (or $96 per year) to get unlimited workspaces and cross-device syncing. Teams can pay $15 per month (or $144 per year) for unlimited shared workspaces.
Mahyad told TechCrunch that the company is focused on bringing more features to the browser and growing in numbers. He did not specify the number of users, but said the app has several thousand users and more than 30% of them are paying customers.
Probably the closest competitor to SigmaOS is Amsterdam-based browser Stack, which raised $2.5 million from Lunar Ventures, Wayra X, Zemu Venture Capital, Peak Capital and Charles Songhurst in July. There’s also The Browser Company, which builds the Arc browser. But whereas Stack focuses on being a browser-aware, SigmaOS focuses on catering to startup founders, college students, and productivity nerds.
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