Investors shovel another $10m of 'fuel' onto the SkyFire
Whose side are you on? Server side?
Cloud-optimised browsing company SkyFire has landed another $10m investment, on top of the $30m it has already spent, to push its mobile browsing solution into Europe and Asia.
Mobile browsing optimisation company SkyFire has raised another $10m from investors, on top of the $30.5m that has already been poured into the company since 2007 when it started providing server-side interpretation of internet content. These days SkyFire is all about video, making it easier and cheaper to watch on the move, and we're told that this money will fund the expansion of that effort into Europe and Asia.
The cash comes from Panorama Capital, which is new to the table and joins existing investors Matrix Partners, Trinity, Verizon Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The first two of those have been putting money in steadily since the beginning, with LightSpeed joining them in 2008 and Verizon arriving when the company raised another $8m in January this year.
That round of funding was to pay running costs and fund expansion into European and Asian markets, so the press release carefully states that this round will be used to "fuel" the expansion, which we're obliged to assume is already well underway.
In common with most of the alternative mobile browsers, SkyFire processes content before delivery, proudly pointing out its ability to deliver Flash video to iOS devices, among other things. SkyFire used to give away its browser, but the cost of running the servers is considerable and in 2010 the company had to scale back operations considerably by shutting down some of those servers.
These days the mobile browser will cost you, and though the £3.17 is hardly bank-breaking, it has to compete with Opera Mobile – which provides comparable functionality for free. So what SkyFire really wants to do is make money selling the technology to network operators.
The idea is to get the operators to host (and pay for) the servers, providing a better user experience while reducing the cost of transmission. It's a compelling proposition, so compelling that a host of companies are already proposing it, and soon SkyFire will have to complete with them too. ®
Not the best browser experience by a long chalk
I used Skyfire for a bit when I had an Arm v6 phone. It was really slow, full of nasty `social` features and toolbars i didnt want and a lot of the video streams either didnt work properly (bbc iplayer, pretty much any video site not on their predefined list) or just informed me `video is not available at your location`.
I really cant express how slow and laggy browsing on it was, It was practically unusable.
When the flash video streaming worked, it was actually pretty good, but even then, I think there was a limit on how much you could watch before it shut you out and the sound would gradually go out of sync with the video.
I suspect all that lag was either due to data mining/snooping or them really skimping on the servers as no other browser I used on that phone lagged and stuttered like that.
Opera demonstrated how to do this the right way (although it doesnt do video) ,was really nippy and rendered the pages nicely. Skyfire was actually painful to use.
If instagr.am is "worth" $1bn, and Facebook is "worth" $100bn, I'm sure there is some idiot somewhere who will buy it off them for at least $500m.
... bad investment, anyone from those investors groups will be pretty pissed off in another few months to a year when the company folds no doubt. I'll also bet there's a larger chunk of the investment being spent on high management wages than server infrastructure.
I'm just guessing though, I mean it's not like this sort of thing has been done before with a tech company... um... no wait a sec...