Books by Owen Edwards

Released: June 23, 1999

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 recruited—including managers, intellectual-property attorneys, and public relations talent—and 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) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1992

Twenty-five hilarious but sage essays (based on Edwards's ``Office Politics'' column in GQ), laying out an ethical ``battle plan'' to both ascend and transcend today's glazed corporate pyramid. In this razor-sharp satire of contemporary American business- -where executives wield cellular phones (``that Excalibur of overweening ambition'') but not one of them is responsible for the savings-and-loan disaster—Edwards offers sound, workable advice for handling meetings, memos, perks, rumors, even the trauma of getting fired (today less a ``brutal shock'' than a ``lethal injection''). He also identifies the familiar cast of irritants— the infighters, the boss's wife, the ``Pol Pot/Executive VP,'' and the ``toadies'' (like Polonius, who, Edwards contends, would today ``have ended up with a corner office and seven figures instead of a rapier through the gullet''). Forget the ``Take No Prisoners Memo'' (``better shred than dead''), and beware expense accounts (Mephistopheles's ``favorite route into the workplace'') as well as ``Sex Officio,'' for which the author offers nine ``cautions.'' Even post-Clarence Thomas hearings, Edwards's humor lets him get away with pride at possessing the ``secretarial equivalent of an Alpha-Romeo'' and other retrogressive lapses. (``I, for one,'' he writes, ``would be deeply disappointed to see unchecked passion at the copy machine, or to stumble upon Farrah D., executive VP, casting a sexually harassing glance at Scott B., her hard-working secretary.'') Finally, what Edwards demands is accountability, ambition, and excellence. ``Unless we can turn jobs back into callings,'' he writes, ``whether or not those jobs entail collecting garbage, running a nuclear power facility, producing television or transplanting kidneys, the next century is going to be a fine mess.'' Read this for solace and strategy—particularly if you've been handed a life sentence in corporate America. Keep it in your desk, consider sending it anonymously to your boss or George Bush. Tell the back-stabbing drones who ask that it's an essential weapon for recouping our losses to the Japanese—because it is. Read full book review >