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Summary:

RockMelt has raised $30 million in a series B funding round led by Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Although Rockmelt has already seen interest from potential acquirers, the social browser company has opted to “double down” on the opportunity to grow independently.

rockmelt logo feature

RockMelt said Tuesday it has raised $30 million in a series B funding round led by Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures and existing investor Andreessen Horowitz.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup plans to put the money toward building out its flagship product, a web browser with built-in social features, CEO and co-founder Eric Vishria told me in an interview this week. As part of the new funding, Accel’s Jim Breyer and Khosla Ventures’ Vinod Khosla are joining Rockmelt’s board of directors. This round brings the company’s total venture capital investment to approximately $40 million.

Today, Rockmelt has about 40 full-time employees, and the company plans to double its staff in the next year, Vishria said. Just nine months after its private beta launch, Rockmelt’s browser is available on the desktop and iOS mobile devices, and currently has several hundred thousand active users and over a million installs.

Rockmelt has not started generating revenue, however — and the company does not have any immediate plans to focus on doing so. “We are entirely focused on building a great product and on distribution right now,” said Vishria. But the company does have an idea of how it will eventually bring in cash: namely, search. “Over time, we’ll make money through search, just like other browsers. And as we build in commerce and gaming features, that will bring in revenue as well,” the CEO said.

While Rockmelt has already seen interest from larger potential acquirers, Vishria said the company has decided to “double down” on the opportunity to grow independently. “We’ve been clear from the beginning we’re here to build a big company,” he said. “You can look at any company at any stage and you won’t see a board like this. I don’t feel it as pressure; I feel it as opportunity.”

The money and heavy-hitting board members will likely come in handy. It bears mentioning that such startups as Flock have tried — and failed — to shake up the web browser space with social offerings before. As a newcomer in a field currently dominated by big players such as Microsoft (Internet Explorer), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox) and Apple (Safari), Rockmelt will certainly need more than just a can-do attitude to make it big.

  1. Lucian Armasu Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    I smell an acquisition by Facebook. I doubt they did this investment because Rockmelt was doing so well.

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    1. Colleen Taylor Wednesday, June 29, 2011

      That is a reasonable conclusion, Lucian– it crossed my mind too. But I’m not sure why these VCs– many of whom are big investors with Facebook– would pitch in this much more cash if they’re just planning on folding the two together. Wouldn’t they just cut their losses now and push for an acqui-hire if that were the case?

      I think this investment shows that Rockmelt and its investors are aiming big, and hope to have a few more exit options in the future.

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