Netscape Memories (Part 3)

Jim Clark and I start planning the company that became Netscape. But first it is important to remember how universally scorned and dismissed the Internet’s prospects for business and consumer use were 20 years ago. The prevailing view at the time was the Internet was only for scientists and nerds. Consumers would get “interactive TV” and the “information superhighway“. This negative view of the Internet was widely shared within the tech industry, telecom industry, media industry, government, and press with a few exceptions.

So, not wanting to be stupid, Netscape business plan number one was: Consumer software for interactive television! Great idea, but then we looked at the market in the cold light of day: We decided it was hard to build a software company for a 60 unit install base.

Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64

On to plan number two: Create online multiplayer gaming service for revolutionary new Nintendo 64 console, powered by SGI 3D chip. Very exciting. Then we looked at the market in the cold light of day: We decided it was hard to build software for hardware that wouldn’t ship for two and a half years. After those two failed starts, we almost packed up and went home. We were frustrated and out of brilliant ideas. (To be continued.)

Notable responses from Andreesen’s followers:

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Netscape Memories (Part 2)

I had graduated from UIUC in December of 1993 and moved to SV in January of 1994. Immediately realized Palo Alto equaled heaven on earth. Mosaic/web grew crazy fast between January of 1993 to December of 1993 yet virtually nobody believed the web would be a consumer medium or business opportunity at the time. So in late 1993, I posted my resume to the Mosaic “About” screen, and got a dozen job offers split between East and West coasts.

My first (and only) job in SV was as a programmer at a wonderful small software/consulting company called EIT. Did early eCommerce work. Two months in, Jim Clark emails me:

I hear you did Mosaic and are in the Valley; let’s get together at 7AM on Sunday at Cafe Verona.

The email caused two immediate thoughts. First, oh my God, the number one entrepreneur in Silicon Valley wants to meet. You bet I’ll be there at 7AM on Sunday. Second, oh my god, I haven’t been up before noon on a Sunday for at least five years. I have to go buy extra alarm clocks! Somehow dragged my rear out of bed and ingested a large quantity of caffeine at 6AM on Sunday and made it to Cafe Verona just in time.

Jim Clark walks in, sits down, introduces himself and says:

I want to start a new company and I’m looking for cofounders.

To be continued…

Notable responses from Andreesen’s followers:

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Netscape Memories (Part 1)

Twenty years ago this month, Jim Clark and I were planning the company that became Netscape. In the coming months, I may post the occasional memory from that time! To start, some thoughts on Jim Clark himself…

When I came to Silicon Valley in 01/94, Jim Clark was regarded like Elon Musk or Larry Page today. Top-top-top tech visionary and entrepreneur. Jim’s first company, Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI), was viewed much like Google today – the tech powerhouse all the genius engineers wanted to join. SGI invented modern 3D computer graphics-from Jurassic Park to today’s Call of Duty and Oculus Rift, including core tech “GL” (now OpenGL).

Jim had been a professor at Stanford. He and his grad students spun off into SGI and created entirely new worlds, one of best SV companies ever. Jim is a Silicon Valley renaissance man: academic, inventor, entrepreneur, business builder, visionary, marketer, leader, philanthropist.

My great stroke of luck happened when Jim left SGI in 1993, stayed on the SGI board and so couldn’t recruit cofounders for the next company out of SGI. This changed my life, since there were easily hundreds or thousands of SGI engineers way better than me! But Jim needed new blood. And so Jim’s desire to start a new company and his inability to recruit from SGI led to The Email that turned into Netscape. To be continued…

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10