Rockmelt gets $30M to double down on social browser

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 (s MSFT) (Internet Explorer), Google (s GOOG) (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox) and Apple (s AAPL) (Safari), Rockmelt will certainly need more than just a can-do attitude to make it big.