Mike Isaac

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Yahoo Acquires Social Browser Startup Rockmelt

Yahoo announced on Friday morning that it has acquired Rockmelt, a startup that aimed to reinvent the way users browse the Web through a host of social features.

Yahoo bought the company for $60 million to $70 million, as Kara Swisher reported, and plans to integrate the team and tech to jump-start Yahoo’s mobile and media properties.

“The parallels between Yahoo! and Rockmelt are obvious: we share a common goal to help people discover the best personalized content from around the web,” said Yahoo product heads Mike Kerns and Adam Cahan in a company blog post.

“The team has built a simple and beautiful technology that combines social, personalization and discovery to help you not only find what you’re looking for, but also stumble across some cool stuff along the way,” Kerns and Cahan wrote.

Rockmelt, the brainchild of ex-Netscape team member Tim Howes and former Opsware employee Eric Vishria, originally launched an entirely new desktop browser back in 2010, a standalone app that relied heavily on integration with Twitter and Facebook to help users navigate the Web. The philosophy was that people are increasingly moving toward an environment of navigating links and sites through the friends they’re connected with, thus the deep social integration with the browser was the next logical step.

It debuted with a bang, backed by Andreessen Horowitz — whose Marc Andreessen also hails from Netscape and the consumer Internet browsing world — with tens of millions in venture funding and a lofty challenge to dethrone the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, among others. The company raised a $30 million series B round of venture funding.

But the fledgling browser company seemed to face almost too many hurdles on all fronts, and failed to gain the widespread adoption in the browser market it had hoped for.

The company then pivoted to an entirely mobile-first (and eventually mobile-only) strategy earlier this year, rolling out an all-new experience for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

The acquisition likely means continued focus on Yahoo’s mobile efforts, according to sources, an area of increased interest for Yahoo under CEO Marissa Mayer’s regime.

Rockmelt plans to shut down its existing apps at the end of August.

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