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Andreessen Essay Research Paper Marc Andreessen is

Andreessen Essay, Research Paper Marc Andreessen is the young co-founder and vice-president of technology of Netscape Communications Corporation. Netscape was founded by Andreessen and computer

Andreessen Essay, Research Paper

Marc Andreessen is the young co-founder and vice-president

of technology of Netscape

Communications Corporation. Netscape was founded by Andreessen and computer

scientist-entrepreneur Jim Clark to develop

and market an enhanced version of NCSA

Mosaic, the first Internet browser, which Andreessen had helped write

when he was an undergraduate at the University

of Illinois.

By following the unlikely strategy of giving away the

browser for free, Netscape has been able to make a lot of money. This

was done by first by establishing Netscape’s browser (called Netscape

Navigator) as the Internet standard, and then selling other kinds of network

software for Internet and corporate use.

Netscape’s initial public offering (IPO), the most

successful in Wall Street history, made Andreessen an instant multi-millionaire.

As a stellar example of today’s information age entrepreneur, Andreessen

has achieved a kind of celebrity status, and has made the cover of Time

Magazine as the pre-eminent "super geek" of his generation.

Since its founding, Netscape has achieved a dominant share

of the markets for Internet and intranet software at the same time that

it has fueled the astronomical growth of the Word Wide Web and fundamentally

shifted the software industry to a cross-platform, Internet-based standard.

Since the end of 1995 Netscape’s share of Internet and corporate

markets has come to be increasingly challenged by competitors, most notably

software giant Microsoft. In one

of the classic corporate campaigns in recent history, Microsoft has committed

its massive resources to recapturing the Internet from Netscape.

In the midst of Netscape’s struggles for market share

and survival, Marc Andreessen calmly continues in his role as long-term

strategist and visionary while under close scrutiny by the business community

and the media. At the same time, he lives a relatively quiet and modest

life with his fianc?e, Elizabeth Horn, in Mountain View, California.

******************

Marc Andreessen was born in July of 1971 in New Lisbon,

Wisconsin, an archetypal Midwestern town of about 1,500 people. His father,

a seed salesman, is now retired, and his mother works for catalogue clothier

Lands End.

Although school sports were the main focus of extracurricular

attention and the quickest road to popularity and status in Lisbon, the

6’4" Andreessen had little interests in athletics. While the

sporting teams practiced, Andreessen pursued an interest in computers

that began when he was in the fifth grade. At that time he learned Basic

programming language from a library book before ever laying hands on a

computer. In the sixth grade Andreessen used one of the school’s

computers to write a program with which he could do his math homework,

but the program was wiped out when a janitor turned off the power in the

building. A year later his parents made what must be considered one of

the great investments in business history when they bought Marc his own

computer, a Commodore

64. Andreessen then began his programming career writing games.

Andreessen was recognized early on as a superior and creative

intellect. His high school principal states that Andreessen had "an

intellectual capacity that could intimidate people," while teachers

and classmates remember him as generally likable and as having an excellent

sense of humor. They also recall that Andreessen had a rather offbeat

imagination; a proclivity to come up with rather different ideas on a

variety of subjects such as the nature of God and the future of science.

The Keys to Netscape: English and Philosophy

Andreessen went on to attend undergraduate school at the

University of Illinois. He recalls that in spite of his interest in computers,

he did not at first intend to pursue a career in computing because he

believed electrical engineering would offer more lucrative career choices.

"I ended up in computer science," he quips, "largely because

it required the least amount of work." Andreessen says his favorite

classes were English and philosophy, and credits his extra-technological

education with most of the skills and insights that led to his subsequent

success.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Andreessen worked

part-time as a programmer, for $6.85 per hour, at the university’s

National Center for Supercomputing

Applications (NCSA). Andreessen was working on an assignment to write

three-dimensional visualization software for the Center’s supercomputer

when he dreamed up and implemented the first Internet browser.

In the early 1990s, the Internet was primarily a tool

for elite researchers and a subculture of technophiles who have been likened

to ham radio operators of the 1950s. Finding and downloading documents

was accordingly difficult and cumbersome, with users having to learn to

execute functions such as FTP,

Gopher,

and Telnet

in an arcane Unix format. Andreessen

came up with the idea of integrating those separate functions within a

single program, and hiding them behind a graphic interface. He approached

a fellow NCSA employee Eric

Bina with his idea, and the two undertook their project working nights

and weekends in a small basement room. The first version of their program,

called NCSA Mosaic, consisted of a mere 9000 lines of code and was complete

in about six weeks. With Mosaic, the Web could be navigated by simply

pointing and clicking. The learning curve for Internet use was thereby

shortened from months to minutes. Thus began the transformation of the

Internet to a mass medium.

Because of Andreessen’s and Bina’s employee

status, Mosaic remained the property of the University of Illinois. When

NCSA released the program onto the Internet in January of 1993, allowing

anybody to download and use it for free, Mosaic became an overnight sensation,

logging 2 million downloads within its first year. Hundreds of companies

soon began requesting licenses for the software.

Leaving College and NCSA

Following Mosaic’s successful debut, Andreessen talked

with NCSA Director Larry Smarr about whether and how he could make a business

out of his invention. Smarr had only learned about the program at its

first public demonstration, and states that he immediately recognized

the world-altering character of Andreessen’s innovation. As regards

marketing a version of the program, he told Andreessen that he would have

to start his business outside the university environment.

Andreessen graduated in 1994 with a BS in computer science

and one world-altering accomplishment on his resume. Because he did not

have the resources to start his own company, he went to work for a Silicon

Valley software firm called Enterprise Integration Technologies. Andreessen

moved to Palo Alto, California, rented a two-bedroom apartment and bought

a Ford Mustang. Shortly thereafter, he met his fianc?e, Elizabeth Horn,

a commercial real estate broker. Andreessen recalls of his job as a programmer

that he was "pretty bored."

It was only a matter of weeks before Andreessen received

an e-mail message that has since achieved the status of Silicon Valley

legend. The message was from Jim Clark, a Silicon Valley legend in his

own right. Clark had taken his own academic innovations and founded the

highly successful Silicon Graphics, Inc.

(SGI), a manufacturer of high and middle end workstations, processors

and software for the creation of three-dimensional images. Although SGI

is best known for the stunning cinematic effects seen in many recent Hollywood

blockbusters, SGI workstations are also the tool of choice for a wide

range of applications that require the absolute highest level of 3-D graphic

capability.

Clark told Andreessen that he was interested in starting

a technology company. What he had in mind was a cheap system for interactive

television, for which he thought Andreessen’s browser could serve

as an interface for subscribers. Andreessen convinced Clark that the Internet,

with millions of new users, represented a better immediate market. The

two decided to build an enhanced and improved version of Mosaic and to

follow NSCA’s lead in giving it away in order to establish their

product as an Internet standard. They founded Netscape Communication Corporation

in 1994, recruiting four of the five programmers who had worked with Andreessen

at Illinois, and hiring veteran administrator Jim

Barksdale to serve as CEO.

The Netscape Marketing Strategy

Netscape’s strategy was executed flawlessly and successfully.

On its December 1994 release, Netscape Navigator rapidly replaced Mosaic

as the browser of choice among a large majority of Internet users, capturing

within a year a market share estimated as high as 85 percent. Netscape

began drawing revenues by selling servers, the programs that run on the

big computers that serve as network hubs for the Internet and for corporate

intranets. The company also sells expensive software products to corporations

for the creation and maintenance of their own Web sites, and has been

able to obtain large royalties or license fees from businesses that include

Navigator with their own software packages.

Andreessen describes his position with Netscape with his

usual understated humor; "I am vice-president for making stuff. I’m

supposed to figure out what’s the next generation." Accordingly,

Andreessen does not manage any of the day-to-day operations at Netscape,

nor has he written a line of code since 1994. Because of Andreessen’s

unconventional corporate role, the fact that he has no experience or degree

in business, and because of his tendency to discourse in a rather fantastic

way about the future of science and technology, one well-known analyst

has questioned whether the young vice president has the right stuff to

be a continuing asset to his company during its life-or-death struggle

with Microsoft.

Jim Clark, a successful veteran of corporate struggle,

has no such doubts. Clark has stated unequivocally, "the creative

drive here is Marc Andreessen. This is his company." A number of

Andreessen’s colleagues agree that his knowledge and foresight in

the areas of technology and business are an indispensable asset for Netscape.

All are confident that his current decisions will be as decisive and correct

as those has made in the past.

Andreessen’s meteoric rise to wealth and fame has

seemingly had only minor impact on his lifestyle. "It’s odd,

but I try not to pay too much attention to it," notes Andreessen

of his success and celebrity. Several observers have noted that Andreessen’s

wealth has done little to alter the pedestrian taste in cuisine and clothing

for which he has become renowned. He and Elizabeth finally bought a house,

after first moving to a larger rented apartment, and the two have been

known to return from an evening stroll to Tower Records with upward of

100 new classical CDs. Andreessen now drives a Mercedes, and has been

seen on occasion wearing Polo shirts.

A Taste for B-movies, Business Strategy

and the Liberal Arts

Since the founding of Netscape, Marc and Elizabeth have

taken only two vacations, one of which was only a two-day excursion to

New Zealand. Andreessen still keeps to an "engineer’s schedule,"

waking at 10 a.m. and going to sleep at 3 a.m. He breaks from work every

afternoon to go with Elizabeth to walk their two bulldogs. At night the

two eat dinner, often at a restaurant, and sometimes watch video movies

(favorites include Steven Siegal, Steve Buscemi, "bad B-movies"

and Jackie Chan-style Hong Kong flicks). Beginning around midnight, Andreessen

spends two or three hours reading and answering e-mail.

Marc Andreessen still pursues a range of seemingly "ungeekish"

interests, including classical music, history, philosophy, the media,

and business. Notable on his shelf are books about the origins of electricity,

railroads and telephones, as well as a variety of trade magazines and

books about business strategy. In spite of a seemingly casual lifestyle,

it would seem that Marc Andreessen continues to apply the bulk of his

energies to the task of out-guessing, out-innovating and out-strategizing

Netscape’s competition. The results of his thinking will very possibly

continue to be found on our desktops, and on the hubs of the computer

networks that carry the lifeblood of tomorrow’s global society.

SOURCES

Collins, James, "High Stakes Winners; Meet the Get-Incredibly-Rich-Quick

Crowd," Time. February 19, 1996.

Dunlap, Charlotte, "The Top 25 Executives; Marc Andreessen

No. 8," Computer Reseller News. November 13, 1995.

Guthrie, Julian, "The Internet Kid," The

San Francisco Examiner. September 17, 1995.

Holzinger, Albert G., "Netscape Founder Points, and

it Clicks," Nation’s Business. January, 1966.

Markoff, John, "6 Tips on How to Earn $52 Million

by Age 24," The New York Times. August 14, 1995.

Moeller, Michael, "Netscape’s Communication

Corp’s Vice-President of Technology, Marc Andreessen; Interview,"

PC Week. Vol. 12, No. 38, September 25, 1995.

Parets, Robyn Taylor, "Netscape’s Marc Andreessen,"

Investor’s Business Daily. January 16, 1996.

Tetzeli, Rick, "What It’s Really Like to be

Marc Andreessen," Fortune. December 9, 1996.

Wagner, Douglas. "Netscape," Jones Telecommunications

and Multimedia Encyclopedia. Jones International, 1997.

Wagner, Douglas. "Jim Clark," Jones Telecommunications

and Multimedia Encyclopedia. Jones International, 1997.

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