The Making of the Billion-Dollar Start-Up That Changed the World
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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)

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19934-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999