Why this browser is valued at $1.3 billion

The Island browser.
(Image credit: Island)

A Dallas-based tech startup called Island, whose product is a security-focused web browser quietly released in February, is now being valued at an astonishing $1.3 billion. The valuation comes from a Series B funding round that raised $115 million (thanks, TechRadar), and probably leaves you wondering whether this browser cooks dinner and cleans the house while you're surfing the internet.

Nope! The pitch that has proven so attractive to investors is that the Island Enterprise Browser is one companies can trust—Island argues that browsers like Chrome and Edge are consumer-facing in their approach, which makes them unsuitable for use in a business context.

"The most widely deployed app in the enterprise is the browser, but it’s a consumer-based design," Island CEO Mike Fey told TechCrunch in February. "A consumer wants to have infinite freedom; they want to be able to install anything they want, go anywhere they want, and do who knows what with their browser without any issues."

Most companies, so the theory goes, do not want their employees doing these things with a browser. The bet being made is that the Island browser's offer of what Fey calls "security, productivity, and IT efficiency" will have corporate America lining up to subscribe.

The browser was in development for two years prior to its recent launch, and is based on the open-source project Chromium (which also lies behind Chrome and Edge). Its feature list is designed to give any IT team who has to deal with chumps like me the warm fuzzies: safe browsing, web filtering, exploit prevention, smart network routing, zero-trust access, and the ability to intervene with what Island calls "last mile" actions like uploading and downloading.

"Think of it as a browser with infinite last-mile control for enterprises," said Fey. "We’ve done things to harden the environment, to encrypt items and to provide more control. We’re not necessarily removing the hacker, we’re removing the victory. The reality is that the data they want to access isn’t sitting on your endpoint for them to steal it."

So yes: you may not have heard of the Island Enterprise Browser. But there's now a lot of money behind making this some sort of workplace standard, so it may be a familiar sight before too long. Cybersecurity is an increasingly acute worry for companies large and small, and attackers only get more numerous and more sophisticated. If the Island browser can deliver what it claims, then that $1.3 billion valuation may not be as absurd as it first looked.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."