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Funding for startups

Upstart Instart Logic Aims for Akamai

Instart Logic, a startup publicly launching Thursday, is taking on Akamai Technologies Inc. and others with a different way to do content and application delivery networks (CDNs/ADNs). By streaming resource-rich Web pages and applications to client devices as a series of independent fragments, Instart's cloud-based service supposedly makes those pages and apps initially usable at least twice as fast than traditional CDNs are able to do. Instart says the scheme works equally well on wired and wireless networks. Don't get your hopes up for smoother movie and TV watching, though. For now, Instart CEO Manav Mital said, the service doesn't accelerate the delivery of videos. What's required is for publishers to load their pages into Instart's servers and redirect page requests accordingly, but no changes are needed to the content and there's no need for a client app. Instart's code automatically analyzes the content, including JavaScript code, and slices it into pieces whose sequence of delivery gets determined by how each user decides to interact with it. In a simple demo, Instart was shown to deliver a fully rendered page containing dozens of photographs in 14 seconds, versus 30 seconds when delivered by the Amazon Cloudfront CDN. The firm has raised US$26 million venture funding in two rounds, supplied by Andreesen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and various individuals. Manav Mital co-founded Instart in 2010 with two former colleagues at Aster Data, a data warehousing company later acquired by Teradata. Their original plan was to create an online gaming community, but the content-streaming technology they decided to develop soon took center stage. The company has fleshed out its team with hires from Akamai, Citrix Systems Inc., Facebook, Google, Mozilla and Qualcomm Inc. Based in Mountain View, Calif., Instart plans to run its own servers as well as rent additional resources from Amazon Web Services LLC, Rackspace Hosting, and other cloud-computing providers to handle "spillover," Mital says. "We don't need to get into real estate," he says, pointing to first-generation CDNs that had to build out multitudes of POPs to gain global coverage. The service began testing last summer. Customers include Disruptor Beam, makers of an online game based on the Game of Thrones television series, and luxury retailer Bonfaire. Pricing is "in the same ballpark" as competing services, Mital says. Customers will pay a monthly fee based on the type of content they're publishing, the location of their users, and other factors. — John Verity, contributing editor, special to Light Reading
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