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Netscape Time: The Making of the Billion-Dollar Start-Up That Took on Microsoft Hardcover – June 23, 1999

3.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (June 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312199341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312199340
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,809,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you liked Michael Lewis' book, The New New Thing, about Jim Clark,
I think you will like Jim Clark's ruminations even more in this book
about what he learned at Silicon Graphics and how he helped create
Netscape. I also recommend this book as a superb case history
concerning key lessons about entrepreneurship in the Internet age.

If you don't know Clark's and Netscape's story, here's a quick
summary. Jim Clark uncovered a software approach to creating 3D
graphics while an academic. He left to found Silicon Graphics, and
eventually suffered from conflicts with his hand-picked CEO.
Frustrated by the inability to redirect the company towards a low-end
workstation and PC-based business, he resigned at age 50 with stock
worth about $15 million. Looking around for something to do, one of
his SGI colleagues suggests he meet Marc Andresson, the 23 year old
who had primarily co-written Mosaic, the first browser (along with
Eric Bina). Clark's first use of Mosaic was to e-mail Andresson.
They quickly decided to do something together, and Clark agreed to
fund it up to three million dollars. After two false starts on a
concept, they decide to create a "Mosaic Killer." The
strategy then becomes to hire all the people who had worked on Mosaic
at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the
University of Illinois. That, too, is quickly accomplished.
young men except for Bina have to wait to graduate from college, and
then a company is built around them as "rock star"
developers under Andresson's technical leadership.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I found the book to be a reasonably enjoyable read, however I must say that the author's high opinion of himself seems to shine through on almost every page and really put me off. We don't want to know about his boats, wealth, etc... just the story would do.
I read a different version, and the cover had just him on the front with a really self satisfying grin. And there were NO photos in the book to relate the story to!
Could have been much better.
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By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Would you spend twenty dollars to spend about 8 hours listening to Jim Clark reminisce about starting SGI and Netscape? Then buy the book.
For those familiar with the struggle of trying to accomplish something innovative, you will find his story strangely familiar. For those trying to innovate something on the Internet, you will find this book very encouraging. For those who read between the lines, you will find that it's not about the money, it's about "getting it" and being right, and money is the proof statement in this brave new world.
Clark's direct no-nonsense style can be in your face at times, and you can see why the dense just couldn't get it, because no one likes being shouted awake from a deep sleep. But like most prophets, Clark sees no profit in beating around the burning bush. It seems to be a trait of the innovator.
There is some real insight buried among the stories, as well as advice on how to deal with VCs and dilution of equity, problems many of us look forward to having.
This should be an audio CD, since it is more of an epic poem than a book. It would be great to have a DVD version with addition points of view and multimedia. Netscape made the Internet a multimedia experience; it would seem only fitting that a book by its founder would do the same.
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Format: Hardcover
To all these 1 and 2 star reviewers: What planet are you on? This book is excellent. Easy to read. Really well written. And with much insight from the voice of someone who's been thru the business battleground. Clark's simile on page 134 about how Netscape's offices looked a few months into the start-up, the manic, hectic, pressurized pace left the offices looking "like a conceptual art exhibit at a state mental institution" qualifies the author as a first class wordsmith. And I second that opinion that Clark could make yet another fortune as a writer.
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Format: Hardcover
The story of the birth and rise of Netscape makes up the bulk of this book and provides interesting reading. Jim Clark, Mark Andreessen, and the team they assembled to crank out the first Mozilla browsers were true startup heroes. The book does a fair job of capturing the spirit of those first months with their jolt-stoked, pizza-fed all-nighters, legal fights with the NCSA, and the evangelical selling of the brave new world that Netscape was enabling.
Unfortunately, the book is marred by poor overall structure and editing. The prose tends to be long-winded in places and repetitive. The same themes come up in different places and nothing new is added each time. Jim Clark takes too much time to grind his various axes against SGI, NCSA and Microsoft. If he had been more focused and cutting in these remarks, his arguments would have been more persuasive. As it is they come off as a tad petulant.
The later sections of the book tend to ramble and are short on juicy details of specific deals, actions and dialogue.
Scant attention is paid to the effects that the startup rollercoaster had on the familes and significant others of those involved. This may have been by design to protect their privacy. But it does mean that there is whole facet to the story that goes untold.
Overall, a good book to read to get a flavor of what this phenomenal startup success was like to live through. But it could (even should) have been a lot better.
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