Web browser

Web browser “Sidekick Browser” that has become a “working OS” after refining productivity

The paradox of connected computing is how much information is available with just a few clicks and taps. But at the same time, it is often overwhelmed by the sea of ​​available data that the amount of information makes it difficult to find the information you are looking for.

There is no denying how great a web browser is in the world of knowledge labor. However, working across multiple browser tabs and windows can feel like a tedious and frustrating worst-case situation.

This is the problem Sidekick Browser is trying to solve by adding a productivity-focused layer on top of Chromium. The company calls this a “working operating system.”

If multiple tabs are unpleasant, Sidekick’s answer is to allow you to work from within the app within your browser, rather than spanning multiple windows or tabs.

Apps like Slack, Skype, and WhatsApp can be pinned to the sidebar and lined up vertically for easy search and switching. It also supports multiple logins, fine-grained notification controls, and allows you to search for these third-party apps directly from your browser (currently “hundreds” are available, but “like bookmarks”. “Working” custom additions are possible).

And the tab that opens every time you browse the Internet has a “session” feature that allows you to save them all together for easy organization, and you can revisit them with a click later.

Built-in search also applies to these sessions, eliminating the need to manually scroll through your browser’s search history to find out where you’ve seen relevant information that you happened to see before.

“Search all apps, tabs and workspaces in seconds” is Sidekick’s solution.

“We are also working to improve productivity on the technical side, and have provided an “AI-based tab stop” function with browser-based lag in mind. This feature is designed to improve the mechanism by which Google’s Chrome browser consumes RAM by predicting and removing tabs that users don’t use from memory.”

“Sidekick is the fastest browser made for work,” the company claims.

It also focuses on collaboration and has functions to increase the productivity of the knowledge labor team. Includes various session and app sidebars for projects and clients, custom workspaces to support tab settings, team role settings, and more.

It also has a remote configuration tool for device security. In addition to a built-in password manager that enhances the convenience of teams who need to share passwords, there is also a built-in video chat platform that allows team chats in a browser-based workspace.

Sidekick is equipped with its own ad blocker and anti-fingerprint technology, which not only protects privacy but also improves processing speed (improves page load time).

In terms of privacy, the startup has stated that it “never sells user data” (which includes “search, browsing history, and other personal information”).

The business models are currently SaaS and B2C, but Sidekick is also focusing on B2B, and plans to develop business-friendly functions in the future.

And, of course, Chrome extensions are also supported.

Sidekick announced that it has raised $2 million in a seed round led by KPCB and attended by Remote First Capital and other angel investors.

Founder Dmitry Pushkarev has participated in and won startup games in several areas. It was acquired by Illumina shortly after establishing the DNA sequencing company Moleculo in 2011.

After that, he launched ClusterK as a separate business in 2013, focusing on optimizing cloud computing resources across multiple cloud providers. It was acquired by Amazon in 2016, and after staying there for several years, Pushkarev has reestablished his founding position.

While searching for a future job as a visiting entrepreneur (EIR) at Kleiner Perkins, Sidekick’s ideas sprouted.

The tool got a lot of attention on Product Hunt a few months ago. Chris Messina has been one of the fans since then, combining “the vast number of elements essential to productivity as a modern knowledge worker” and arguing that the team has shaken the world of browsers. I admire you.

Pushkarev cautiously explained to Messina that he wasn’t developing a full-featured browser to compete with Chrome itself (or any other Internet browser).

“We are not going to compete with the browser and consider it as an option for browsing. Our goal is to improve the browsing experience for work and productivity. Unfortunately this is not possible with browsers.” That’s what he says.

According to the San Francisco-based startup, the company’s service is currently being used by teams such as Microsoft, Dropbox, Slack, and Lyft. According to Pushkarev, it currently has about 30,000 users months after its launch in November 2020, and the team is primarily focused on products (“activation, retention, vitality”) in this early stages. It is said that it is doing.

“The average user is a knowledge worker, used by product managers, engineers, marketers, and quite a few students. Basically, they do more productive work than just browsing online. I’m a pro-shooter who uses communication tools, ” he told TechCrunch.

“During the EIR at KPCB, we were thinking a lot about the future of our work, and what was striking was that today’s knowledge workers spend most of their time in the browser, or browsing. He was working with a designed tool,” recalls the origin of Sidekick’s idea.

“There is a particularly important difference between browsing and working. Knowledge workers work in web applications, use documents, use communication tools, access multiple accounts, huge numbers of documents and I spend a lot of time working on projects, etc. It’s very different from browsing, which is mostly search-based information consumption.”

“These are clearly different use cases, but the companies that make browsers today can’t invest to make their browsers workable because of their business model. They can’t invest in Google or search. We’re paid by Microsoft, and as UX becomes more complex, millions of users will use simpler browsers and lose search revenue.”

“With the unprecedented situation of 200 million professionals not having access to specialized tools, and the industry being extremely reluctant to make such tools, we have changed that and a new category of software. I decided to develop Browser for Work as a company. Internally, I call it Work OS. ”

So what kind of work / worker is Sidekick made for? “Working online can handle web applications, numerous documents, communications applications, multiple accounts, and different workloads. It’s designed for prosumers and isn’t the best choice if it’s just for browsing. Other browsers are better, “he said.

Although focused on work and productivity, Sidekick users can create multiple environments within the software, allowing them to create off-time spaces that can be used outside of work. Is.

Browsers also have shortcuts and a variety of features to make them more convenient, but according to Pushkarev, the general browser business model is too focused on search advertising (in the case of Google Chrome), or simply it needs to be a comprehensive tool for web browsing, so it can’t provide a good working environment like Sidekick, he said.

In Pushkarev’s view, Sidekick is a “standalone business” that is different from the mere enhancements that can be achieved with existing browsers.

“Unfortunately, extending other browsers isn’t a viable path right now. To build a comprehensive solution, go deep into Chrome’s codebase, performance, memory optimization, security, We need to rethink multi-account support and privacy,” he points out.

One example of what the company’s service probably can’t or doesn’t do in a browser is support built for “hundreds” of third-party apps.

“We built this support to provide better integration, including displaying and controlling badges and notifications, integrating with search, supporting multiple accounts, and adding useful extensions,” he explained.

Pushkarev also mentions the “New Tab Page”. It will be open to all users by the end of March 2021 and will show “all documents, sorted by type, with easy-to-read titles and instantly searchable.”

“Without deep integration with these apps, we wouldn’t have been able to provide this experience and would only have been able to see a browser history that was barely usable,” he said.

Pushkarev is confident that SaaS will work in terms of business models, and Sidekick argues that it doesn’t need to be monetized (that is, “through data and search”) like other browsers. “We are creating tools that can potentially save the time of millions of knowledge workers.”

“The other thing we’re focusing on is the B2B business we’re currently building, as I mentioned earlier. It’s still in early beta, but in B2B the product browser is like a company-provided remote workstation. You can set it up remotely or ensure security depending on your role,” he added.

“At the moment, most of the revenue comes from here, but in March we will try to monetize B2C for the first time by offering a subscription.”

Rachel Maga
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life's biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.