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Maxthon Is A Cloud-Based Browser For Power Users

By Catherine Shu

Maxthon may not have the name recognition of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, but the cloud browser has gained a global following of more than 100 million unique visitors per month in 140 countries. Karl Mattson, the company’s vice president, says Maxthon’s growth has been driven in large part by Web developers and gamers who appreciate its built-in memory management, Flash, GPU acceleration and HTML5 support.

“We really see a lot of confidence in HTML5 and want to do everything we can in a browser to make it easy for developers and other people who are doing the heavy lifting in HTML5 right now building games that can run on it,” says Mattson.

The Beijing-based company, which has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Shanghai, was founded in 2006 by engineer Jeff Chen while working at the National University of Singapore. Chen had taken over the job of coding MyIE from its founder, eventually cultivating a community of six million users. The first version of Maxthon was developed using their feedback. The current version is based on Chromium and compatible with Chrome extensions.

Mattson says Maxthon emphasizes three things: performance, portability and out-of-box experience.

The browser works across all platforms, making it convenient for people who use both Mac and Windows or different mobile operating systems to keep their data in sync across devices with a Maxthon Passport account.

The company leverages its international reach by localizing for each market. For example Maxthon teamed up with Yandex, Russia’s largest Internet search engine, to produce an all-Russian version of its browser, while the Chinese version of Maxthon for Mac is pre-installed with Alipay, the country’s largest third-party payment services provider.

While its built-in features mean users don’t have to deal with most plug-ins and installs, they have the option of customizing their browsers with Maxthon extensions.

Another boon is Maxthon’s focus on security and privacy, especially in light of the NSA’s surveillance activities. The browser uses AES 256 encryption.

“Even if we were ever subpoenaed by government agencies that wanted some kind of information from users, it wouldn’t be found anywhere,” says Mattson. “The short answer is that it would be technologically impossible for us to deliver. Privacy is so encrypted and secured that we could literally hand over our disk and it would just be a big bunch of mush.”

Maxthon’s received funding venture capital firms WI Harper, Charles River Ventures and early Skype investor Morten Lund. The company earns revenue through the sale of premium services.