Netscape Time: The Making of the Billion-Dollar Start-Up That Took on Microsoft

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9780312263614: Netscape Time: The Making of the Billion-Dollar Start-Up That Took on Microsoft

The founder of the revolutionary Internet web browser offers a behind-the-scenes look at how technical ability, a hatred of Bill Gates, and an ability to organize a group of computer misfits resulted in a billion-dollar business. Reprint. 30,000 first printing.

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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 Kirkus Reviews:

The founder of a major Internet-based enterprise offers a chronology and insider's narrative of Netscape, from its inception through a wildly successful public stock offering. The era of Internet commerce is well under way, and Netscape is one of the really big winners so far. Jim Clark had already participated in the start-up of Silicon Graphics, a successful computer company, when he used his winnings to assemble a team to develop a product that could take advantage of the wide-open future anticipated for the World Wide Web. Traditional business start-ups, even in the 1990s, can take years to reach a stage where they are attractive to investors; Netscape, like many other Web companies, reduced this process to a matter of months. Along the way, quick decisions, compromises, and mess were part of the environment. At one point, the offices of the new company ``looked like a conceptual art exhibition at a state mental institution.'' Programmers were one of the essentials for the new company; other key personnel were also recruitedincluding managers, intellectual-property attorneys, and public relations talentand until money started coming in, there was a perpetual quest for cash to pay the bills. Along the way, Microsoft, Netscape's version of a playground bully, challenged their efforts. Marc Andreessen, the young programmer who actually created Netscape's initial software concept, is credited but remains a stranger in this tale. Clark, the ultimate insider here, is responsible for providing the details; Edwards, an editor at Forbes, has helped in the writing, perhaps aided by his previous book effort, Upward Nobility (1992), which covered the culture of business success. Despite the record-setting success of the IPO for Netscape, little evidence presented here requires a book for the telling; a magazine article would have sufficed. And too little justification is provided for bragging that ``since our fateful beta release . . . I believe the world is a better place.'' (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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