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8/14/2009
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Netscape Founder Andreessen Backs New Browser

The developer turned financier is backing RockMeIt, a mysterious startup staffed by two of his close associates, according to reports.

Marc Andreessen, who developed the Netscape browser that brought the Internet to millions of people in the 1990s, is reportedly backing a startup that believes it has a better browser.

Netscape lost the browser and Web server market to Microsoft. Now, the developer-turned-financier is backing RockMelt, which is staffed by two of Andreessen's close associates, The New York Times reported Thursday, quoting people knowledgeable with his investment.

Very little is known about RockMelt's technology. The company's Web site offers no information, but people can submit their e-mail to stay abreast of future updates.

In an interview with the Times earlier in the summer, Andreessen said that today Web has become a network of complex Web sites that need a new kind of browser to effectively deliver services to end users. "There are all kinds of things that you would do differently if you are building a browser from scratch," Andreessen told the Times.

RockMelt was co-founded by Eric Vishria and Tim Howes, former executives of Opsware, which Andresseen co-founded and later sold to Hewlett-Packard, the newspaper said. Howes also worked at Netscape with Andreessen.

If RockMelt enters the browser market, then it would face stiff competition from market leader Microsoft, second-place Firefox, Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome and others. Also, Flock, for example, offers what it calls a "social Web browser" that acts as a single interface to the largest social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on why businesses shouldn't shrug off Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).

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