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

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

Jim Clark. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (276pp) ISBN 978-0-312-19934-0

In this sharply written account, Clark provides the ultimate insider's look at Netscape from its launch in summer 1994 to its sale to America Online in late 1998. Netscape's origins can be traced to when Clark was forced out of the first company he founded, Silicon Graphics. Bolstered by a ""minor fortune"" of $15 million, Clark was determined to do financially better for himself in his next venture. At the suggestion of a colleague, Clark met with Marc Andreessen, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois who had led the team that developed the Mosaic Web browser. The two hit it off, and after some false starts, they decided to form a company dedicated to building a ""Mosaic killer."" With the decision made, events moved at a rapid pace (what he calls ""Netscape Time""). As Clark tells Netscape's story, he sheds light on the different mindsets of managers, programmers and venture capitalists. Of his programmers he writes: ""these were my rock 'n' roll stars. I wasn't about to make them unhappy by telling them to grow up."" His tale of keeping them all together--and of recruiting Jim Barksdale to be CEO--as Netscape headed for its famously successful IPO is one of the most engrossing parts of the book. There's even a villain: Microsoft. Clark charges that monopolistic practices (i.e., bundling its Web browser with Windows) allowed Microsoft to weaken Netscape to the point where it was forced to merge with AOL. Clark's hatred of Microsoft is evident throughout the book, but that doesn't mar a heady tale of one of Silicon Valley's greatest success stories. Author tour. (June)