A handful of Silicon Valley’s notable figures are backing a software startup looking to challenge Google Chrome’s dominance.
The startup, called The Browser Company, is led by Joshua Miller, who previously served as the Obama White House’s Director of Product and is currently an investor at Thrive Capital, an investment firm founded by Josh Kushner.
The New York startup has raised just north of $5 million in funding, a source familiar tells TechCrunch. The company’s backers include LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, Medium’s Ev Williams, Figma’s Dylan Field, Notion’s Akshay Kothari and GitHub’s Jason Warner.
The startup has been pretty vague in public about what exactly they’re working on. They’re building a new browser that seems to reject bare bones simplicity and embrace some of the more flexible interfaces of modern web apps. The browser’s backend is built, in part, on the bones of Chrome, utilizing open source Chromium which allows the upstart product to boast seamless support with broader web standards at launch.
“We love the internet, but it can be overwhelming,” the startup’s site reads. “What if a browser could help us make sense of it all?”
In a phone call, Miller wasn’t much more illuminating on what exactly the eventual release might look like.
“I’m going to be a little cagey just because we do have competitors that have more engineers and more money than we do,” Miller said in response to a question regarding product capabilities.
The Browser Company’s team of six isn’t the only young startup aiming to challenge Chrome’s one-size-fits-all approach to the browser market. For Extra Crunch, I dug into a number of the young browser startups that investors are backing. (Subscription required.)
Google’s Chrome flat-out dominates the browser market. In 2016, Google detailed that they had about 2 billion active installs of the application. Since then, as users of competitors like Firefox and Internet Explorer have dropped off significantly, the product has only cemented its lead.
Google’s efforts to build a version of Chrome suited for billions of people across the globe has led to a safe product that Miller says isn’t very “opinionated” about how people should use it. The Browser Company isn’t aiming to replace Chrome, he says, but is looking to find a subset of Chrome users whose needs it can better meet.
“I think one of the reasons that web browsers have remained somewhat stagnant in terms of their functionality is that the business model is built on top of is one of search ad revenue,” Miller says. “I think of Chrome and Safari as Toyotas or Hondas. They’re reliable, they’re affordable, they’re accessible and they’re simple. We’re trying to build the Tesla of web browsers.”
Miller says The Browser Company is hoping to start bringing on users to beta test the software later this year.