Nine years later, Napster repeats its feat of making MP3s widely available

Owen Thomas · 05/21/08 01:20PM

The celestial jukebox is back, far too late to matter. Napster is now selling a library of 6 million songs, from all four major labels, as MP3 files, a format which lacks copy protection and hence is compatible with any number of devices — most importantly, the iPod. In other words, the state of affairs that existed nine years ago at Napster's original launch, save for the 99-cent fee now charged per download. Egghead Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen notes the irony without explanation. For the slightly less brilliant among us, here it is: The record labels, having killed Napster once, have now rallied behind it, hoping to weaken Apple, a company whose iTunes store is already the dominant music retailer in the U.S.

HP-EDS merger to reunite Marc Andreessen's LoudCloud

Owen Thomas · 05/13/08 05:20PM

Hewlett-Packard has software to automate datacenters; EDS has datacenters which need automating. That's part of the logic behind HP's $13.9 billion acquisition of the tech-services business. The deal proves that Marc Andreessen is prescient. After he sold Netscape to AOL, Andreessen launched LoudCloud, a website-hosting business powered by advanced software. In the wake of the bust, Andreessen sold the hosting part of the business to EDS, and relaunched the company as Opsware, the name of its automation software. HP bought Opsware last year. While reuniting LoudCloud's constituent parts isn't the reason why Mark Hurd is doing the deal, he is proving that Andreessen's early vision of combining software and services was on the money. Timing is everything.

A is for Adelson, who cofounded Digg

Owen Thomas · 05/07/08 06:40PM

Digg cofounder Jay Adelson is now asked by the likes of Kara Swisher how he'd fix big media companies, as in this clip. But there was a time when he barely knew what to do with his own Internet startup, Equinix. That tale and more covers 54 out of 294 pages in Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good, Sarah Lacy's soon-to-be-released book about Web 2.0. The first page of the book's index, one of many to come:

Andreessen to stack Facebook board further in Zuckerberg's favor

Nicholas Carlson · 05/06/08 11:40AM

Netscape cofounder and propagator of porn social networks Marc Andreessen will join Facebook's board of directors, Kara Swisher reports. Andreessen will join current board members Accel Partners Jim Breyer, Clarium Capital's Peter Thiel, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Andreessen is the chairman of Ning, a company which sells tools for rolling your own social network. If your mom has an excellent visual memory, she will probably remembers him for appearing on the cover of Time magazine without shoes on. You can tell her that he dresses better now, but only slightly. Why Andreessen, and not a proxy for new investors Microsoft or Li Ka-Shing?

Marc Andreessen's hidden hostility to takeovers

Owen Thomas · 04/28/08 01:20PM

Ning founder Marc Andreessen is already on the record about Microsoft's proposed takeover of Yahoo: He thinks it will likely go through, and turn out to be a good deal. It's a remarkably sanguine take for someone who saw Netscape bought and destroyed by AOL. In a thorough analysis for which he dragooned two corporate lawyers, Andreessen elaborates: Yahoo has few defenses, aside from a poison pill, and Microsoft will likely succeed. For all its thoroughness, the analysis is less interesting for what it says about Microsoft-Yahoo than for what it says about Andreessen.

Why Marc Andreessen should stick to his keyboard

Owen Thomas · 04/25/08 11:40AM

Every time Marc Andreessen steps away from his desk, disaster abounds. For the father of the Netscape browser, the creator of the Web as we know it, the legendary barefoot geek from the magazine covers, expectations are way too high. And so the disappointments pile up. The Andreessen of today is not the Marc we remember. His pate has gone from mophead to Klingon; his wardrobe, inevitably a tracksuit with leather shoes, is an utter disaster. And when he speaks, he says absolutely nothing. John Battelle, the slickster salesman-interviewer of bubbles past and present, tried to get some fighting words out of Andreessen on stage at Web 2.0 Expo. He failed, utterly, epicly. Andreessen praised Bill Gates, said competing with Microsoft was interesting, described Microsoft-Yahoo as "a good deal."

Ning fires VP of operations two days before major outage

Owen Thomas · 04/23/08 10:40AM

Here's how things usually work: Have a major outage, then fire your operations guy. At Marc Andreessen's Ning, the social-network Web host best known for its porn sites, things run a bit differently. On Monday, CEO Gina Bianchini fired VP of operations Alexei Rodriguez. On Wednesday, the company saw all of Ning's networks go offline. We hear Rodriguez failed to deliver a promised upgrade to Ning's systems that would have avoided the problem; the outage was coincidental but almost inevitable, given Rodriguez's omission. The larger problem for Ning: No one seems to care that it was down. When you offer porn and still no one complains that they can't get to it, you have a problem which goes much deeper than database configurations.

Ning raises $60 million for "nuclear winter"

Owen Thomas · 04/19/08 01:00AM

A Fast Company cover story isn't the only inexplicable gift social-network startup Ning has received. After raising $44 million last July, Ning has raised another $60 million, cofounder Marc Andreessen reluctantly announced. (A regulatory filing uncovered by VentureBeat forced the news out of him.) Why the eight-figure round for a startup whose annual revenues are likely in the low seven figures? Andreessen says he wanted to "make sure we have plenty of firepower to survive the oncoming nuclear winter."

Marc Andreessen's egg-shaped head, CEO's rack distract Fast Company writer from Ning's vanishingly small business

Owen Thomas · 04/18/08 11:40AM

Here's what you really need to know about Ning, according to Fast Company writer Adam Penenberg. Its chairman, Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, has an egg-shaped head. Its CEO, Gina Bianchini, who posed for Fast Company's cover in a tank top, is a "hottie." And Ning, a provider of websites for niche social networks, is poised to hit "critical mass" and "no one can stop it." Two out of those three statements were factchecked.

Ron Conway and Marc Andreessen love Lonelygirl15

Nicholas Carlson · 04/17/08 11:40AM

EQAL, the L.A. Web-video studio which first brought you Lonelygirl15's bedroom antics, today announced it's raised $5 million in funding. The moneymen backing Bree's braintrust include angel investor Ron Conway, Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, reality-TV producer Conrag Riggs, former Google exec Georges Harik, and Spark Capital. Bree, who made the cover of Wired is gone from Lonelygirl15, having been killed off, but the series continues, as does EQAL's KateModern, which now runs on Bebo. EQAL CEO Miles Beckett and president Greg Goodfried told the Wall Street Journal the company is already profitable, having earned money with product placements woven into plotlines. Sounds more plausible than selling online ads.

Zuckerberg looks for his Eric Schmidt

Nicholas Carlson · 02/22/08 12:20PM

Mark Zuckerberg wants to hire a well-known executive to help him run Facebook, BoomTown reports. It's like when Google founders Brin and Page hired a then-obscure Eric Schmidt away from Novell, except Zuckerberg wants to keep the CEO title. "It has to be someone who does not overshadow Mark," a source told BoomTown, "But also someone who can challenge him when he needs challenging."

Marc Andreessen: Plenty of buyers for startups — especially his

Owen Thomas · 02/05/08 01:00PM

Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, who now runs social networks for porn sites, doesn't think that the Microsoft-Yahoo deal bodes ill for startups. True, there will be one less buyer out there if the deal goes through — but, he argues, neither Microsoft nor Yahoo has been a particularly active acquirer of small startups. He provides a long list of companies, from Akamai to WPP, which have bought startups. If anything, facing Google and a beefed-up Microsoft will prompt media companies to go on a spending spree.

Does your VC have a Democrat in his pocket?

Nicholas Carlson · 01/23/08 05:20PM

Senator Clinton polls higher than Senator Obama in Santa Clara County, 43 percent to 27 percent, a Clinton campaign staffer told the Wall Street Journal. But we know what really counts in Silicon Valley: money. And when it comes to raising cash, Barack Obama's winning over the tech crowd. He raised about $500,000 just last weekend at a breakfast in Atherton. Wondering who was there? Here's a list of known Silicon Valley supporters for each candidate.

Is Marc Andreessen running a porn ring?

Owen Thomas · 01/04/08 07:00PM

Ning, the social-network software maker cofounded by Marc Andreessen, appears to get substantial traffic from adult-oriented websites it hosts. CPM Advisors notes that some of Ning's top networks include names like,, and From Quantcast's and Alexa's numbers, these creatively named sites account for a double-digit percentage of Ning's traffic. Ning's terms of service do not forbid pornographic content, so no rules are being broken here, it seems. Still, one wonders if this is really what Andreessen, who previously cofounded Netscape and Opsware, had in mind for his third entrepreneurial act.

Marc Andreessen gives away more money than your startup has raised

Megan McCarthy · 11/09/07 07:14PM

Netscape, Opsware and Ning cofounder Marc Andreessen and his wife, Stanford grad-school professor Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, have donated $27.5 million dollars to Stanford Hospital to update its emergency room. According to the report, the pair have been planning a major charitable donation "since the day they got engaged in 2006." Billionaire romance is different from the regular sort, isn't it?

Max Levchin has more money, less sleep than you

Megan McCarthy · 10/29/07 06:30PM

Sunday's New York Times profile of PayPal and Slide founder Max Levchin tackles the phenomena of serial entrepreneurs. What makes them start multiple companies after a multimillion-dollar IPO or sale? The short answer: Money, but not in the way that you think. Levchin talks about how Slide's exit needs to be more than the $1.5 billion PayPal received, plus inflation, for him to be pleased with the outcome. (Look no further than fellow PayPal Mafia membes Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who sold YouTube for a PayPal-topping $1.65 billion, for another example of this behavior.) Netcape cofounder Marc Andreessen, who was interviewed for the article, points out the obvious in Silicon Valley: No one here really cares about money in the consumption sense, but everyone cares about having more than the other guy. San Francisco society blog SF Luxe begs entrepreneurs to become conspicuous in their consumption, and we'd like to agree. It's more fun for the rest of us.