Instart Logic hopes to profit from speeding up Web sites

With technology that speeds communications between Web browsers and Web servers, a Silicon Valley startup wants to win customers away from Net giants such as Akamai.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
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Instart Logic says its JavaScript "nanovisor" and its understanding of Web page elements lets it load important parts of a Web page first for a fast response.
Instart Logic says its JavaScript "nanovisor" and its understanding of Web page elements lets it load important parts of a Web page first for a fast response. Instart Logic

Everybody knows we all need faster Web sites: speedy load times and responsive pages means that people stay on a site longer, look at more photos, see more ads, and buy more stuff. Much of the work to speed things up has happened in the browser, but a startup called Instart Logic hopes to profit by changing what happens on the server, too.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company came out of stealth mode Thursday, describing how its technology works and touting customers including Game of Thrones Ascent, GameStop, Bonfaire, and Kitchit.

"We generally drop people's load time in half," boasted Peter Blum, vice president of product management, in a concise description of the the company's promised benefit. "We've figured out how to stream the modern Web to Web browsers."

To get it, customers must pay to use Instart Logic's servers, which are located at 30 locations around the world to bring data closer on the network to the browsers that request it. That means Instart is competing directly with content delivery network giants such as Akamai or Limelight Networks, though customers can switch just part of their Web traffic from another CDN to try things out.

Also like Akamai, customers pay monthly to use the service, Blum said. "We charge a fee based on how much data they're sending into our system. The bigger their population of users, or the size of of their Web site, the more they pay us," he said.

The technology works by breaking Web sites down into a sequence of assets that are delivered piece by piece in a stream. Through use of a 40KB JavaScript program that Instart calls a nanovisor, the Web page fetches high-priority elements soonest.

Instart Logic logo

"We make intelligent decisions about what we to send up-front vs. immediately after," he said, based on how the technology assesses Web page content types such as image formats, Flash elements, and Web page code written in HTML and JavaScript. "We started with Flash, then images, then HTML, and now we're working on JavaScript," he said.

Customers don't need to rewrite their Web sites to use the technology, he said.

The technology works with both mobile devices and personal computers, he added. Speeding mobile Web sites is a particularly important challenge given the constraints of slow unreliable networks and feebler processors on one hand and explosive growth in usage on the other.

Instart Logic was founded in 2010, has 44 employees and 18 patents, and and raised $17 million in April in a second round of funding. It's raised $26 million in total so far from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners Sutter Hill Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and individuals in Silicon Valley.

Instart Logic's diagram of how its technology works.
Instart Logic's diagram of how its technology works. Instart Logic