Three decades ago, Tim Berners-Lee created WorldWideWeb, the first public road to the internet. For the first time, text docs were linked over a public network — a web as we have come to call it — and accessible to all who could get a hold of a NeXT computer. While WorldWideWeb did not come without its limitations, it shone an exceptionally bright light on the potential of an open internet. Seamless global communication and unrestricted access of the world’s information.
New entrants in the browser space followed, and in 1993, Mosaic was born. Mosaic was GUI-based, easy-to-use and ran on Windows, giving anyone with a PC access to web pages, chat rooms and image libraries. It was the killer app for the internet. It felt magical.
Behind Mosaic were Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen — the Andreessen now notable for co-founding a16z. The two saw the opportunity in capitalizing on the emerging web, and a year later, released Netscape Navigator, an improved version of Mosaic. Needless to say, it took off. By 1995, over 15m people were plugged into the web with Netscape controlling 70% of the growing browser market. A mere 16 months post launch, Netscape went public at a valuation north of $2.9bn, making it the largest tech IPO at the time. The idea that money could be made on the back of the internet became widespread and the browser wars commenced.
What followed was intense competition:
- Microsoft developed Internet Explorer and quickly gained market dominance after bundling it into its Windows OS in 1997
- Netscape died out but the company’s codebase was open sourced and resurrected as Firefox under the non-for-profit Mozilla
- Apple entered the market via Safari in 2003, while Google launched Chrome in 2008. Many others gave it a go.
Internet adoption skyrocketed to the billions, while market shares fluctuated. Browsers have become commoditised. What started off as a space rooted in innovation, turned to be one infamous for its incremental innovation cycles. Soaring global demand for internet access meant browsers doubled down on user acquisition, not on product differentiation. Distribution became the goal. The end result was complacency — players failed to evolve in line with changing user needs.
They say a picture tells a 1000 words. Well, here are three:
Internet Explorer in 2000 looked no different to Netscape Navigator in ’97, which honestly does not look too different to Chrome today. Sure, underlying performance has gotten better, UI has gotten cleaner, extensions are now a thing… but the fundamentals have persisted.
Thirty years since Tim Berners-Lee’s release of WorldWideWeb, browsers’ core utility remains to be predominately search. Meanwhile, the world has moved on. The internet has strayed from its hypertext roots and now consists of an endless ocean of interactive experiences. Software, as we very well know, has moved to the cloud. We work, socialize, play, create, learn etc all inside of our browser. It has become our digital home — an OS within an OS.
Average time spent per day on the internet is now more than six hours. Given eight hours of sleep, we are talking close to 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 net is that our web browsers are the single piece of software we use most — they are our gateway to all that we do online.
Ironically though, we do not think of them proactively. We have come to accept browsers as they are, despite their many shortcomings. As designed today, browsers leave us buried in a sea of tabs and web apps, constantly losing context, always a click away from distraction. They provide their core 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 the widespread complacency in the category. SigmaOS is rethinking the browser experience from first principles, designing every millimeter of the product with genuine empathy for the end user. The company is building a new type of web browser, one that makes you faster and more productive. One that tailors itself to your needs. One designed for the 21st century.
It is keyboard powered, supports powerful contextual search, enables easy, split-screen multitasking, turns tabs into organized workspaces, offers cross-device syncing, delivers performance and security on par with Safari, and is beautifully designed. SigmaOS personalizes itself to the user, it puts content front and centre, it brings order to chaos… it just works.
Behind the magic are Mahyad, Ali and Saurav, three software engineers with a deep appreciation for the art of product design. The trio strongly believes in building opinionated software. Buttons need a purpose, features need a reason to exist. Nothing should be implemented for the sake of it. Where many other players over-index on shipping as many features as they can, Mahyad, Ali and Saurav believe in the philosophy of less is more. They build what needs to exist, not nice-to-haves. Every incremental feature released on SigmaOS has a reason to be there — to make browsing the web wonderfully productive.
Today, we are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with the three of them on their journey to rebuild the road to the internet, a browser for the 21st century. We are incredibly excited to be leading 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 Team LG