Steve Newcomb and Mark Lu had hit a wall. The co-founders had raised $1.1 million for their startup -- "sort of Pinterest meets About.me meets Facebook," says Newcomb. They'd been toiling long hours to build everything in HTML5, lured by the advantages of maintaining a single code base across all platforms.
Newcomb was the grizzled startup veteran whose most successful company, the natural-language search venture Powerset, had sold to Microsoft for $100 million to become part of Bing. Lu was a full stack engineer who, being just 21 years old, didn't mind attempting "things that would be Crazy Town for other people," as Newcomb puts it.
"Facebook is right. HTML5 isn't ready," sighed Newcomb.
"The fact is, it's the wrong tool," said Lu, referring to the renderer within the browser. "We're years away from this being fixed."
"Hmm. Yeah. Hmm. Why can't we do that?"
"That should give us a big advantage. How big?"
Lu did some quick calculations. "Possibly an order of magnitude."
Newcomb's jaw dropped. "That's ... really good. But how do we circumvent the browser's renderer without a plug-in?"
"We use the CSS3 primitive -webkit-transform: matrix3d, which lets us compute the composite matrix and skip the browser's renderer. No plug-in, no download, no hack. By appending this to each DIV, we can render the composite matrix and go straight to the GPU."
"Um, that sounds like really hard stuff."
"Not really. I'll have it done by tomorrow."