Marc Andreessen has been invited to join the board at eBay. The online auction company has been struggling of late, never mind CEO John Donahoe's assertion that what's bad for the American economy is good for eBay. Andreessen, probably smelling the stink blowing in from the rising tide, stockpiled enough venture capital to last Ning through a "nuclear winter." Proving his acumen at swindling investors if nothing else — and he does know how to keep employees overworked between stints at eager, young startups like Netscape and Ning and layoff-happy AOL. [San Jose Mercury News]
Marc Andreessen invented the friggin' Netscape browser. Have you heard of it? He also wants you to know that he's the idea guy who shifted your computing paradigm by getting Netscape to develop webtop software. So while gabbing at the Churchill Club, Andreessen slyly noted the realization of his ideas. By Google. Today's featured commenter, WilliamMarkFelt, explains the thing about ideas:
Google Chrome has the potential to replace the Windows desktop — and kill Adobe's Flash for extra points. So said Marc Andreessen, one of the programmers behind the world-changing Mosaic browser. He'd long ago envisioned a future where instead of running applications from a desktop operating system, computer users would get everything from servers on a network. It wasn't his original idea, but Andreessen pushed Netscape developers to replace the desktop with a "webtop." The result, Constellation, was bloated and slow. Ten years later, Andreessen told a small crowd at the Churchill Club in Palo Alto that Google is finishing his work:I've edited down Om Malik's report on the talk.
The media frenzy earlier this week over Google's Chrome Web browser was so over the top that I wondered: How far did reporters go questing for commentary, for insight, for historical context? How many of them chased down Jamie Zawinski, the Netscape engineer turned beer-peddling South-of-Market nightclub owner, who played a critical role in making the Netscape browser open source — a move which, years later, made Google's browser possible? So I IM'd him: "What is the absolute worst media inquiry you've gotten about Google Chrome this week?""I have gotten none until now," he replied. "Which makes this one the worst by default."
PALO ALTO — Thursday night in a Crowne Plaza hotel, with an Elks Club banquet roaring next door, Netscape cofounder, Ning king, and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen sat down with Portfolio writer Kevin Maney for a Churchill Club interview. This wasn't exactly what Andreessen had planned. Back in May, he wrote on his blog that he planned to stop speaking in public: "Used to be, if you wanted to get a message out into the market, you would give a talk at a conference, a reporter would write down some of what you said and mangle the rest, and you'd call it a day.... Mid-year resolution #1: No more public speaking. Mid-year resolution #2: More blogging." Two weeks later, he stopped blogging. Here follows a thoroughly mangled version of his comments. Marc, you have no one to blame but yourself.On Microsoft:
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:
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?
Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, left bored by running a social-networking startup, has much time on his hands to write excellent analyses of the tech industry. His blog post on why Microsoft-Yahoo might fall apart seems prescient in the wake of that deal's failure. But there's one odd thing about his writeup. Read this passage:
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.
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."
Mozilla's 10th anniversary party at 111 Minna last night felt a little like a high school reunion for the kids who didn't go to their high school reunion. The Mozilla Foundation, maker of the Firefox browser, feigned poverty by renting just half the gallery space and serving up crudités and issuing one drink ticket per guest, only later splurging by opening up the bar. There was some awkward dancing to Soft Cell's "Tainted Love," old jean jackets embroidered with the Netscape logo, a gargantuan chocolate cake and a photo booth. Many of the oldsters who were around when CSS was just a dream and Ajax was still used to scrub toilets also traded reminiscences of Burning Man, tech society's annual prom. Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker earned part of her $500,000 salary by giving a brief speech. And sign-toter Frank Chu showed up, uninvited but always welcome. But the talk of the party was the man who wasn't there.
Yesterday we speculated that a BMW M5 with a "Mozilla" vanity plate might belong to Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker, who could afford the $80,000 car with her $500,000-a-year salary. We were wrong. "I will admit to it being mine," Lou Montulli, one of Netscape's founding engineers, commented on the post. On his personal site, Montulli admits to more.
63-year-old Netscape cofounder Jim Clark began dating 27-year-old Australian swimsuit model Kristy Hinze almost three years ago, she told Australian Women's Weekly . They kept the relationship quiet until now, a few months before she begins hosting the Australian version of Project Runway. Along with Netscape, Clark founded Silicon Graphics and Healtheon. Clark's latest venture, a condo project in Miami, was an unqualified bust. But it hasn't damaged Clark's net worth, reported to be around $1.1 billion.
Tomorrow, Netscape is officially dead: AOL is ending support for the venerable browser. But its offspring, Firefox, is thriving. Both Netscape and Firefox had several brushes with death. In 1998, "Microsoft was driving their monster truck after us and they were about to pin us to the wall," former Netscape software engineer Brendan Eich recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. Before that could happen, however, Netscape execs James Barksdale, Eric Hahn, Mike Homer and cofounder Marc Andreessen decided to open the browser's source code to the community. Behold, Mozilla. But the organization wasn't independent of Netscape owner AOL yet. And here's a shocker, AOL executives nearly killed Mozilla through neglect. So who saved the baby?
The surprise in AOL discontinuing the Netscape browser isn't that the Netscape browser is gone. It's that it was still alive, and that anyone was still working on it. From the moment AOL bought Netscape in 1998 this was a foregone conclusion. AOL was interested in Netscape's Web traffic, not its browser; it continued using Microsoft's internet Explorer in its online service even after the acquisition. That it took AOL nine years to finally kill off the Netscape browser speaks to the Internet giant's fatal sluggishness. Not to mention its unresponsiveness to customers. Netscape has long been nothing but a memory. With its antiquated and buggy browser gone, it can now be a fond one.
Ram Shriram is No. 271 on the Forbes Billionaires list. He's a veteran of Netscape and Amazon, and an investor in StumbleUpon and Google. He owes his place on the list to the latter, where, as an angel investor, he had more shares than anyone besides the company's founders at the time of its IPO. Now he acts as a "sherpa" to young companies, helping guide them to success. He also participated in financial-planning startup Mint's latest round of financing. Mint CEO Aaron Patzer shares a story about Shriram's investing habits after the jump. If you want this guy as your startup sherpa, take notes.