Is there a future for social browser startup RockMelt? Despite attracting only a few hundred thousand active users since its much-hyped launch, the company filled with ex-Netscape rockstars and backed by former Netscape founder Marc Andreessen just managed to raise another $30 million in a B round led by Accel Partners and Khosla Ventures, with Andreessen Horowitz, Ron Conway, Bill Campbell and Josh Kopelman also participating. Jim Breyetr of Accel and Vinod Khosla will be joining the board as observers. That’s some pretty serious money.
What do these investors see in RockMelt that most users don’t? Could it have anything to do with the special interest Facebook is showing towards the social browser? After all, both Marc Andreessen and Jim Breyer are now board members of both RockMelt and Facebook. Seems like an interesting coincidence.
In retrospect, Tesla may have been cleantech’s Netscape moment. It didn’t get off to the world’s greatest start, but like a few other venture-backed IPOs, lately it has been trading at nearly double its opening price.
Meanwhile, a few other cleantech companies have filed S-1s and several more are waiting in the wings, watching to see what the market does. To continue the Netscape analogy, 2011 could even see Elon Musk emerge as the new Jim Clark if one of his other companies SolarCity files as some expect.
Nat Goldhaber of the venture firm Claremont Creek Ventures argues that 2011 will be the year of the cleantech IPO, and it’s not just because of those handful of hot companies are finally ready for primetime and bankers are itching to take them out. Several factors are finally coming together including general improvement in the economy, soaring global demand for energy and a sense that more favorable cleantech regulation is inevitable, at least on a state level.
Goldhaber joined me by Skype to talk about what sectors and companies could lead next year’s IPO wave and which company in his portfolio has him the most excited. (There’s also talk of jetpacks and robot butlers…)
DrHeasley writes “Rockmelt, available for the first time Monday, is built on the premise that most online activity today revolves around socializing on Facebook, searching on Google, tweeting on Twitter and monitoring a handful of favorite websites. It tries to minimize the need to roam from one website to the next by corralling all vital information and favorite services in panes and drop-down windows. ‘This is a chance for us to build a browser all over again,’ Andreessen said. ‘These are all things we would have done (at Netscape) if we had known how people were going to use the Web.’”
harrymcc writes “Polaroid, Netscape, CompuServe, Westinghouse, Heathkit — these were once among the most respected names in the technology business. They’re still around, but what’s happened to them is just plain sad. I took a look at the tragic fates of a dozen mighty brands that have, in one way or another, fallen on hard times.”