Onswipe, with New CEO Onboard, Rolls Out New Platform for More Devices

11/20/13Follow @jpruth

Change has come fast and furious at Onswipe. The New York-based company unveiled the new version of its platform today, less than a week after hiring Jonty Kelt as its new CEO.

Last Friday, Onswipe founder Jason Baptiste moved into the chief marketing officer position, clearing the way for the change. Kelt was CEO and co-founder of New York-based startup Group Commerce, an e-commerce platform for publishers. Group Commerce was acquired last May by NimbleCommerce in Santa Clara, CA.

The appointment of Kelt as Onswipe’s CEO emerged, in a manner of speaking, from the extended family. Onswipe, Group Commerce, and NimbleCommerce are all portfolio companies of Spark Capital.

The change at the top at Onswipe, a content publishing and advertising platform, comes as the company goes after more slices of the mobile market.

Originally available only on iOS, the new version of Onswipe promises to load content quickly and on different devices. The company previously offered support for non-Apple tablets, but Onswipe maintained its focus on iOS.

The new platform takes a “modular approach,” the company says, to bring content to more mobile systems. “We’re larger than Tumblr, WordPress.com, and Time Inc. on the iPad,” Baptiste says. “Now we’re expanding to the rest of the mobile Web.”

Onswipe, a Techstars NYC alum, has developed a cloud-based rendering engine that powers the new version of the platform. Baptiste says the company wants to take publishers beyond responsive design, a way of creating Web pages that can be read easily across different devices.

“Something better than Flipboard, something better than a native app,” he says. “That’s really hard to do in the browser.”

New platform serves more devices.

New platform serves more devices.

Baptiste also notes that Web browsers tend to be underpowered compared with native apps. “It doesn’t have the same capabilities so you’re handicapped,” he says.

Tablets and smartphones get more advanced with each generation, but Baptiste says these gadgets still lack the horsepower of desktop computers. Tackling the heavy lifting through cloud-based servers, though, frees up mobile devices to handle the lightweight work.

So about a year ago, Onswipe began rebuilding its platform to put the processing chores on the shoulders of servers in the cloud, rather than the devices. That way content can be published once, rendered, and made ready for any size screen.

Though browsers such as Amazon Silk and Opera have made inroads in this area, Baptiste says content publishing had yet to embrace server-side rendering. He believes that will change with Onswipe’s new platform. “The sites load so quickly,” he says. “We’re looking at a half a second to load everything.”

Baptiste expects the continued fragmentation of the mobile market will feed demand for Onswipe’s services. Publishers, he says, do not want to worry about tailoring content for each gadget. “Android is comprised of five top manufacturers,” he says. “Apple is pretty consistent but you still have new iOS [systems]. That’s never going to go away.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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