Sitting at your desk, not getting much done, you finally give in to the temptation and click onto www.coolwaytokilltime.com. Little do you know, as you check on the price of cattle futures in Bolivia, that you have Jim Clark to thank for this wonderful research tool and time waster. Clark didn't invent the Internet (that was the Pentagon, looking for an inscrutable way to transmit classified information--or Al Gore, if you can believe him) or even the World Wide Web (that was a Swiss researcher named Tim Berners-Lee). Nor did he invent the first Web browser with a graphical interface; that was a pair of University of Illinois computer geeks named Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. What Clark did was team up with Andreessen to create Netscape, and their first product, Netscape Navigator, made the Net more universally accessible than it had ever been. It also made a lot of people really rich, a fact Clark dwells on in perhaps too much detail.
The story of Netscape alone is thrilling enough, but Clark also gives tremendous insight into the real way American business operates nowadays--the speed, the risks, and the hatred for rivals (lots of hatred, mostly for Microsoft and Bill Gates.) Most of the book covers the founding of Netscape Communications, but there's an epilogue, too, discussing the merger of Netscape with America Online, the ongoing battle with Microsoft, and, most important, the impact the Web has had on everyday life. Clark makes a sound argument that Netscape had a lot to do with that. Oh, and did you know it made him rich? --Lou Schuler
From Publishers Weekly
In this sharply written account, Clark provides the ultimate insider's look at Netscape from its launch in summer 1994 to its sale to America Online in late 1998. Netscape's origins can be traced to when Clark was forced out of the first company he founded, Silicon Graphics. Bolstered by a "minor fortune" of $15 million, Clark was determined to do financially better for himself in his next venture. At the suggestion of a colleague, Clark met with Marc Andreessen, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois who had led the team that developed the Mosaic Web browser. The two hit it off, and after some false starts, they decided to form a company dedicated to building a "Mosaic killer." With the decision made, events moved at a rapid pace (what he calls "Netscape Time"). As Clark tells Netscape's story, he sheds light on the different mindsets of managers, programmers and venture capitalists. Of his programmers he writes: "these were my rock 'n' roll stars. I wasn't about to make them unhappy by telling them to grow up." His tale of keeping them all togetherAand of recruiting Jim Barksdale to be CEOAas Netscape headed for its famously successful IPO is one of the most engrossing parts of the book. There's even a villain: Microsoft. Clark charges that monopolistic practices (i.e., bundling its Web browser with Windows) allowed Microsoft to weaken Netscape to the point where it was forced to merge with AOL. Clark's hatred of Microsoft is evident throughout the book, but that doesn't mar a heady tale of one of Silicon Valley's greatest success stories. Author tour. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.