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Andreesen "Grows Up"

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  • The difference of evolution of the visual apperance Browser and the Creator (the former from sleak to bulky, the latter from round-faced to lean) explains pretty much the difference in perspectives. Netscape's doomed, and Mark is well off.
  • I think it's interesting to see the stock prices for Loudcloud since their IPO compared to Netscape's... I'm interested to see how Loudcloud will fare in this new economy.
  • by seizer (16950) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:06PM (#3139978) Homepage
    What was our posterboy doing in 1991? That's right, posting to alt.sex about his fave porn films.

    Don't believe me?

    You should [google.com].
    • Hehe, good one.

      At least it wasn't GAY PORN.

    • Brings up the downside of googles vast archives. I wouldnt doubt it if he goes back and has that post removed [google.com] soon.
    • God forbid. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

      by J23SE (107309) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:27PM (#3140059)
      You ever get into a position of some power, and some jackass starts digging up crap from your early days. It doesn't matter, he wouldn't find anything 'naughty', because we know you, like all of us, are perfect. It's irrelevant whether one posts on slashdot, jacks off to porn, or whether he or she posts to alt.sex.fluffy-toys.barney in his or her free time. That's personal. Don't let personal interfere with professional. Perfect example that most slashdotters should be familiar with now: Nash. I could go around saying:

      What was our posterboy doing in 1963? That's right, hanging around gay bars looking to satisfy his fetishes.

      Who cares? The man's a genius. Let him do with his frickin' free time as he wishes. Not all succesful people have to be bereft of life, humor, or recklessness. Not all successful people are perfect. Some are. . . guess what, they're boring.
    • by Ratbert42 (452340) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:39PM (#3140101)
      I still remember Usenet threads like this [google.com] back when he started what became Netscape. Fascinating to go back and see the mindset at the time.
      • Actually I found this thread [google.com] to be of even more interest. I quote:


        Erm? Correct me if I'm wrong, but are commercial activities on the Internet
        suddenly smiled upon? It sounds very much like you know what you're doing,
        but I can't say I've ever seen an Internet server dedicated to the commercial
        aspects of electronic communication (short of Compu$erve, and that doesn't
        really count). Mind explaining where the loophole lies?


        Pretty interesting view of the Internet at the time, no?

      • Interesting that Brian Behlendorf (co-founder of Apache) posted [google.com] to that thread as well.
  • Something has annoyed me in the last couple of days about LoudCloud, but I can't remember what it was.

    At least I found one thing they have in common with Netscape, besides Andreesen here [fuckedcompany.com].

    They should have a good market, and it would be nice to see them succeed though.
  • "What was once the province of geeks is now ruled by suits."
    Slashdot ruled by suits... imagine that!
    • Yeah.. I'd actually get to moderate again and won't get chastized for modding up an actual insightful comment an editor had a problem with.

      Eh, fuck it, not worth it anyway. The best thing that could happen to Slashdot is somebody starts running it like an actual business organization (even NPO's have a board)

  • "Another decision, made early on, was that the new firm should not compete with Microsoft. "Everybody should be in a business once in their lives that competes with Microsoft, just for the experience," says Mr Andreessen."

    'Nuff said
  • by Anonymous Coward
    but this guy's firm did one hell of a job with Enron.

    Link slashdotted. oh well.

  • He blamed MS for netscape's failure. Now who exactly will he blame for LoudCloud's failure? Perhaps one day he'll realise that he should blame himself.
    • Yes, he should blame himself. Just like *censored religious denomination* should blame themselves for the *censored historical event*, instead of the *censored german political party*. Just like the blacks should blame themselves for slavery. Or perhaps even like rape victims, they do dress like sluts, you know.

      This isn't a flame. Netscape did many stupid things, like many big companies do stupid things. All of which are fair game, in my book. But, it is commonly accepted that they fell victim to M$, and that M$ cheated. A court of law ruled as such. It is always the criminal's fault, not the victim's. That said... potential crime victims do need to be careful.

      *** I self censored this... didn't feel like being the first person to compare M$ to *censored german political party*.
      • Then how come LoudCloud is laying off 120 employees? Don't tell me that once again he fell victim to MS even though he's not competing with them.
        • This time around, it would just be incompetence. Do you think any amount of talent/skill/business savvy could have saved netscape, though, once the borg set their sites on it?
          • One word: Quicken.

            Yes, it is possible to defeat Microsoft. It's hard, but not impossible.

            • Well, back in 1995, Microsoft had a good strategy for Quicken, but guess what happened...

              "The case would have been a diversion from its main task, which is to compete aggressively in a way that will lead to lower prices and consumer benefits." [washingtonpost.com]

              Wonder where Netscape would be had they been interested in playing ball with MS, even a little bit...
            • Apples and Oranges (Score:4, Insightful)

              by FallLine (12211) <fallline@noSPAm.operamail.com> on Sunday March 10, 2002 @11:33PM (#3140734)
              One word: Quicken.

              Yes, it is possible to defeat Microsoft. It's hard, but not impossible.
              Quicken, in Microsoft's eyes, was nothing more than an opportunity to make some more money and not even THAT much. Netscape, on the other hand, was percieved by Microsoft as being a direct threat to its core businesses. It was believed at the time that as these services moved online both the operating system (windows) and the applications would become marginalized by Netscape and like web browsers. Thus, Microsoft played by an entirely different rule book. In the case of Quicken, it would only make sense to spend less than the potential size of the market. But in the case of Netscape, there was no price; the application itself was almost besides the point. Thus, Microsoft was willing to loose money hand over fist to takeover that market, because loosing the market meant gambling with Microsoft's whole business.

              You simply can't compete against that in the business world. When your competitor is not only playing with a stacked deck but also doesn't care about winning for its own sake, then you have a real problem. As tough as things may be for companies like Quicken, it's just not impossible in that same sense. Besides which, Quicken established themselves very early on, before Microsoft became quite the behemoth that they are today. Try getting the financial community behind you for a novel product/service in ANY business that Microsoft takes seriously -- no matter how good your idea and your positioning is, it's just not going to happen.
              • Well, I agree with you in the sense that if Microsoft really wanted to kill Quicken, they could have (they could have just bundled Money with the operating system, after all). Still, I think it's also a mistake to characterize it as Microsoft not caring about that market. At one time, Microsoft fancied getting into financial services, and they cared about defeating Quicken very much -- to the point of just admitting defeat and buying the damn company (which of course was blocked by the FTC).

                Besides which, Quicken established themselves very early on, before Microsoft became quite the behemoth that they are today.

                Well, so did Netscape. The difference is that Netscape got suckier and suckier, while Quicken actually tried to improve their products over time.

                • Still, I think it's also a mistake to characterize it as Microsoft not caring about that market. At one time, Microsoft fancied getting into financial services, and they cared about defeating Quicken very much -- to the point of just admitting defeat and buying the damn company (which of course was blocked by the FTC).
                  Well that's typical of Microsoft and not at all unusual. It's cheaper for them to shell out enough cash to woo the company (given their implied or explicit threats) then it is to actually use the monopolistic muscle. That's not to say that it's fair though, just that it's the better, but generally not good, option for the stock holders of the smaller company. Anyways, caring about a particular pursuit and willing to bet the whole ship on it is an entirely different matter.

                  Well, so did Netscape. The difference is that Netscape got suckier and suckier, while Quicken actually tried to improve their products over time.
                  That's really not quite right. Netscape may have had market share, in the same sense that a lot of the dotcoms had market share, but they did not have it with a stable and viable revenue model like Intuit did. Anyways, this is besides the point. No matter what Netscape might have had they lost it the moment Microsoft decided to package IE with Windows and spend a gazillion dollars to ensure its success; Quicken simply never faced that (it'd be mighty hard to make a remotely plausible argument for why MS Money needs to be packaged with Windows and it'd never bring them any return on investment.)
          • This time around, it would just be incompetence. Do you think any amount of talent/skill/business savvy could have saved netscape, though, once the borg set their sites on it?

            Yes! They could have done anything - instead they did Nothing.

            As soon as IE4 came out Netscape just basically stopped - they did NOTHING.

            To do nothing in the face of catastrophe is beyond excuse!

            You have to understand - Netscape with Java was going to be the downfall of MS. MS saw this and responded like an infected organism. What did Netscape do?

            Absolutely nothing. They floundered on all fronts - servers, services, and of course the browser.

            So yeah, MS did some bad stuff. But they didnt even try.
            • Haha. You miss the point. That wasn't inaction, that was the death throes. Against IE4, it would have taken money they didn't have, on a product that they had to give away (because M$ price dumping). Try to get investors to spend on a product you'll give away, against a competitor they know can't be stopped.
      • Competing with Microsoft isn't easy, but Netscape was doing just fine until it started falling more and more behind IE in terms of functionality and performance. And Netscape fell behind because it tried to pursue all sorts of pie-in-the-sky stuff instead of focussing on cleaning up its codebase.

        Yes, Microsoft did do illegal things, and Microsoft should get punished for that. But what Microsoft did wasn't sufficient to kill Netscape. Netscape killed Netscape.

  • by Jack William Bell (84469) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:14PM (#3140012) Homepage Journal

    The closing paragraph of the article reads:

    The Internet has changed, too, as Mr Andreessen's own journey from Netscape to Loudcloud illustrates. What was once the province of geeks is now ruled by suits. The web has become the basis of a vast and complex industry dominated by large companies. Even though it started as a consumer-led phenomenon, the Internet's greatest impact has been on business. There turned out to be very little money in selling "front-end" software such as browsers to consumers; but there were fortunes to be made at the "back-end" selling services, software, storage and hardware to companies. Loudcloud may be successful in its own way, but it will not be the Netscape of the decade, the dawn of a new world. The Internet, like its poster-boy, has grown up.

    This is clearly the kind of thing that the editors and readers of The Economist would like to believe about the Internet: The show is over, nothing more to see, move along everyone, move along. Too bad it is total tripe...

    Andreeson and LoudCloud are a real business now, true. And their revenue model is well designed and might actually work. But the Internet isn't about to turn into a buttondown, suit ruled, geeks don't make the rules anymore thing anytime soon. That is what happens to mature markets and, while the first gold-rush is over, the Internet is far from a mature market. There is still lots of room for someone with ideas to make a difference. What is less likely is that those ideas are worth twenty million in VC money.

    I'm afraid the suits are in store for a hard awakening if they think differently.

    Jack William Bell

    • You said it bro.

      This line sticks out:

      "Even though it started as a consumer-led phenomenon, the Internet's greatest impact has been on business."

      The Internet's greatest impact has been on the the voice it gives the public. Business is just using it as a tool, people use it to invoke change in the systems that regulate their lives.

      business. ha. this article "missed it.", and so does Andreesen apparently.

      • The Internet's greatest impact has been on the the voice it gives the public. Business is just using it as a tool, people use it to invoke change in the systems that regulate their lives.

        That's pretty arguable. I mean, name one major social change that has happened as a result of the Internet. Sure, we're communicating faster, but has it actually provided a clear social change? Not to say it never will, but so far there just hasn't been much.

        On the other hand, there has been huge changes in business. Not so much in retail, but in business-to-business data communications. That's where you see the major upheaval, and it's almost invisible to the average person. Setting up a data link between companies used to be a major operation of running leased lines, now it's completely trivial.

        • That's pretty arguable. I mean, name one major social change that has happened as a result of the Internet. Sure, we're communicating faster, but has it actually provided a clear social change? Not to say it never will, but so far there just hasn't been much.

          Name one? Sure.

          Two of my close personal friends have fallen in love over the 'net. And this was with people who they had almost *no* chance of meeting if not for the net. (I met the second friend after the first one had fallen for her.)

          This is a distinct social change: the ability of people to meet new people that they would never have seen before, and strike a common bond despite geographic distances.
        • name one major social change that has happened as a result of the Internet. Sure, we're communicating faster, but has it actually provided a clear social change? Not to say it never will, but so far there just hasn't been much.


          I don't think you can ignore Napster. A whole generation got to see, for a brief moment, what the world could be like if no one owned information. Yes yes, I know someone will complain that without intellectual property no one would bother to have any intellect. But that's not the point- Napster was a fait accomplit, and the terms of the debate have been changed forever.

        • The Internet's greatest impact has been on the the voice it gives the public. Business is just using it as a tool, people use it to invoke change in the systems that regulate their lives.
          That's pretty arguable. I mean, name one major social change that has happened as a result of the Internet. Sure, we're communicating faster, but has it actually provided a clear social change?

          And why isn't faster communications a clear social change? Would you have cried out "name one major social change as a result of telephones!" if you were around in the early 1900s?

          These days I can bank online [national.com.au], buy food online [woolworths.com.au], pay rent online, communicate in almost-real-time with overseas relatives [mutt.org], find communities [google.com] in my local area with similar hobbies/interests, or buy and sell [ebay.com.au] things with people I've never met. How is this anything other than a social change?

          Government services are increasingly online [ukonline.gov.uk]. The government is nothing more than the organised administrators of society. If the Internet is helping the government then it is directly helping society as well.

          Linux [linux.org] is built by online communities that wouldn't exist without the Internet, and Linux is definitely helping poorer countries that wouldn't have had any options without free software. This is leading to real social changes by giving poor schools [linuxjournal.com] access to "expensive" software.

          The physically disabled can work from home [www.dias.de]. Poorer countries with intelligent citizens can now compete directly [theindianprogrammer.com] with foreign superpowers.

          The Internet is to the 21st century what the phone was to the 20th century. Initially only in the hands of the rich, then in the hands of the middle class, then in the hands of everybody and taken for granted. Sure, most of the improvements are evolutionary instead of revolutionary. The Internet has improved existing practises: there are Internet equivalents for postal mail, telephones, television, radio, and community halls. But isn't this enough? Isn't a gradual improvement enough to be called a "clear social change"? I say it is.

        • name one major social change that has happened as a result of the Internet.

          MP3. Think about it: would DRM or the DMCA ever have become mandatory were it not the restrictions on the flow of large datamasses lifted by the internet?

          Only so many people you can connect via parcel post, telephone and sneakernet. It's controllable because it's a hassle. The internet offered this great solution to abetting content "theft," and people have taken it. That's the internet's real major social change: it's allowed us an opportunity to share the art of our lives with each other, and now that we've done so we have become criminals.

          Shit, I wonder what it must have been like in the sixties, trading records and not being reprimanded for it. I'll bet it was amazingly freeing...a secret club, just like the original incarnation of Napster, only much more personal and localized.
        • That's pretty arguable. I mean, name one major social change that has happened as a result of the Internet.

          How about the change in power in Serbia? The Internet had a lot to do with creating the social and political unrest that led to Milosevic's fall from power. Yes, other sources of information also had an impact on Milosevic's downfall, but he controlled newspapers and television reasonably well. He couldn't control the Internet.

          While the point has definitely been oversold, it's still true that the democratization of information is the enemy of despots and tyrants. Unfortunately, in the US, we're seeing restrictions being placed on speech and other access to information in order to protect the profitability of mega corporations.

          Don't get me wrong. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. I just don't like the thought of Disney or AOL/TW telling me what I can or can't think and what I can or can't see.

    • There is still lots of room for someone with ideas to make a difference.

      What you have to remember is that there are now rich companies with high-priced lawyers playing the game, and you can be damn sure that they'll make it exceedingly difficult for "someone" to succeed unless they get a slice of the pie. And they like big slices.

      • What you have to remember is that there are now rich companies with high-priced lawyers playing the game, and you can be damn sure that they'll make it exceedingly difficult for "someone" to succeed unless they get a slice of the pie. And they like big slices.

        And Vulture Capitalists didn't? That part is nothing new. I am talking about the Internet Culture (if there is such a thing) and what it takes to succeed. My point is that the geeks continue to have the upper hand.

        For now.

        Jack William Bell
    • The Economist is generally a well researched and rather insightful magazine which mostly covers political, financial, and business news on a global scale. Unfortunately, their technology research and reporting leaves something to be desired.

      This is the magazine which tried to compare the advent of multimedia with the occurence of the personal computer, claiming it was a similar level of transition, and that it could unseat microsoft and make them irrelevant etc. This was in 1994, when it had already become clear to many that multimedia was overhyped and not going to hold any real importance in overall computing. It's one of the reasons I dropped my subscription, as it seemed so clearly ill-reserached and considered.

      All in all, take tech reporting from the big E with a grain of salt.

  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:14PM (#3140013)
    "Another decision, made early on, was that the new firm should not compete with Microsoft. "

    It is really nice of mr Andersen (i know its misspelled) to think that he can choose not to compete with Microsoft, but that is not how things work.

    He was not trying to compete with microsoft when he made netscape either.

    Ultimately microsoft decides whether you compete with them or not.

    So i think he should have said. "another desicision, made early on was to pray that microsoft doesnt come in and destroy our bussiness again".
    • Well this time around with Loudcloud he chose to be in a battleground with heavyweights like IBM/Compaq/EDS and numerous others in services and consulting.
      • Are they doing the same thing? I am not up to speed but i didnt know IBM did hosting services, i thought they just sold the machines. In any event those companies may be heavyweights but they do not have the monopolies microsoft has.
        • IBM has been changing to be more services-based over the years, although this has always been a part of their income.

          As to monopolies, IBM was being sued under the anti-trust provisions before and during their initial dealings with MS... they ended up settling before the court reached a decision, I think, although I'm not sure if that was related to Reagan's newly business-friendly DoJ.

    • by Zenki (31868)
      You must have a selective memory, because back when Netscape was hot, a lot of industry analysts were predicting the rise of the web browser and the fall of the operating system.

      So in other words, it was perceived that Netscape and Java would soon bring about a new computing platform that would render the operating system obsolete. (IE, all applications would be delivered in Java and over the web, such that it didn't matter which operating system the app would be running on...)

      MS developed/bought Internet Explorer to counter this threat.
    • "He was not trying to compete with microsoft when he made netscape either. "

      You must suffer from selective memory. Whether or not Andreessen wanted to compete with Microsoft, the press was advertising Netscape as the Microsoft killerm, and Marc as the next Bill Gates when it went IPO.

      The only quote I recall him making was something about the OS becoming irrelevant, which I'm sure appeared as a threat to Microsoft.
      • He was not trying to compete with microsoft when he made netscape either.

        He might not have been trying to compete with Microsoft, but others thought the competition would be interesting to watch.

        Netscape was from the start paranoid about Microsoft, some of them even thought that Redmond might have bugged their HQ and would take you outside to dish the dirt on MSFT. Meanwhile they had made plenty of enemies [chrispy.net], including me.

        Microsoft at the time was snoozing away oblivious about the Internet. The entire focus of their company was on the launch of Windows 95 and the original MSN which was an AOL rip off. If Marc had not been mouthing off about replacing Microsoft or Microsoft had continued to ignore them as ridiculous rantings Netscape would have had time to consolidate its base before the Microsoft onslaught.

        In order to prevent that I made it my business to make it impossible for the upper echelons of Microsoft to ignore Netscape.

        Setting Microsoft on Netscape was a win-win situation, one of them would take the other out. Taking out Netscape was the win I was after however.

        As Oscar Wilde said 'choose your enemies carefully'.

        • Thank you! I read that article many years ago, and have been searching for it over the past year to no avail.

  • triumphalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uke78 (559548) <{dpercy55} {at} {fatbabies.com}> on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:21PM (#3140037)
    Do you detect the condescension toward 'geeks'? It's typical of biz articles to blame the dot com debacle on tech workers. In particular biz journalists like to blame the young founders of these companies, as if their lack of seriousness and business experience caused the dot com crash. Like "yes we 'suits' knew it all along." Tech people built these (crappy) companies but brokerage houses and greedy investors (all of us) pumped up the price bubble. So many people lost so much money not because of naive college CS students. It was because of bad advice and stock hype from wall street institutions. It would be interesting to see how many billions in profits the institutions made off of average investors. They got in right at the beginning of IPOs, rode them up, and sold for 100%, 200%, 700% profit. We held the stocks at those high valuations and watched them fall to earth.
    • Re:triumphalism (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... inus threevowels> on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:35PM (#3140088) Homepage
      It's typical of biz articles to blame the dot com debacle on tech workers.

      No it's not. They usually blame the management, not the tech workers.

      In particular biz journalists like to blame the young founders of these companies, as if their lack of seriousness and business experience caused the dot com crash.

      It WAS in a lot of way their fault. It was this sheer arrogance, this slavish devotion to fads and unproven business plans that caused a lot of these companies to tank.
      • In particular biz journalists like to blame the young founders of these companies, as if their lack of seriousness and business experience caused the dot com crash.

        It WAS in a lot of way their fault. It was this sheer arrogance, this slavish devotion to fads and unproven business plans that caused a lot of these companies to tank.

        No. While most of the ideas in question were really idiotic ("hey, we'll make billions by doing X online instead of through a brick and mortar store!!"), in the vast majority of cases the founders only had enough money to get things set up initially and to find funding.

        Where the real money was lost was in the funding. Where did that funding come from? Venture capitalists. Now, do you really think that the VCs let the founders run the show after giving them tens of millions of dollars?

        No. When the VCs didn't put in their own CEO, they made damned sure that the founding CEO did what he was told. And what were the VCs after? A quick buck, of course. They wanted to make all of their money on a flashy IPO. This, more than any other reason, is why they encouraged these dot-com companies to "grow and worry about being profitable later". They were trying to groom the company for a flashy IPO. Never mind that in doing so the company in question could never become profitable, having spent far more money on growing than they could ever recover from their business plan. By that time, the VCs would be out of there and the company would be left to rot.

        So what caused it to crash down around their ears? I think it was the actual stock market investors starting to wise up and realize that while the company might look like a good IPO candidate, it wasn't necessarily one. Or perhaps they simply got overloaded with all of the IPOs happening. Either way, I suspect the actual stock market investors stopped buying into the hype. Once that happened, IPOs started to become very disappointing from the point of view of the VCs. Once that happened, they started pulling out of the companies they had invested in, in order to save as much of their invested money as they could. The rest, as they say, is history.

        So the bottom line is that if the VCs had bothered to concentrate on making the companies they were investing in profitable in the long run instead of trying to make a quick buck, two things would have happened:

        1. They would have invested in far fewer companies (only in companies that truly had solid business plans, for starters). Which means that most of the dot-com startups would have died on the vine instead of growing like a cancer.
        2. They would have done what they needed to do in order to maximize the long term prospects of their investments. While this wouldn't necessarily have paid off in the spectacular way that some of the dot-com IPOs did, they probably would have gotten a more consistent return on their investment. And many of the resulting companies would still be around. I dare say that had they done this, a lot of the startups that died would still be around today, because at least a few of them really did have solid business plans that would have worked had they concentrated on running the plan instead of growing at the expense of long term profitability, only to lose their funding when their VCs panicked.

        Bottom line is that I think the VCs are primarily to blame, though there is plenty of blame to go around.

  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:23PM (#3140043)
    "These days he wears a smart suit, rather than a denim shirt and jeans. He is a manager, not a keyboard jockey. He last wrote a line of code, he says, in 1994. The super-fast Mercedes and an impractical military vehicle that previously belonged to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood star, are gone; he now drives a low-key sport-utility vehicle instead.
    "

    Any body else find this passage depressing? Its not that he has grown up as much as he has been assimilated made to conform.

    Now he wears the suit and drives the SUV. A low key SUV, mind you (there is so much irony about an SUV being low key).

    In a related matter isnt it hilarious that the Economist has to explain that Arnold is a Hollywood star. Not that any reader wouldnt know who arnold is but they would love to pretend they dont.
    • Any body else find this passage depressing? Its not that he has grown up as much as he has been assimilated made to conform.

      Or maybe some of us don't need to hit people over the head with flashy displays to "prove" how non-conforming we are.

      • There's a difference. If you are dying your hair red and putting eggs in it and spiking it into a mohawk, then you are tyring to non-conform. (or conforming to a subculture that embodies nonconformance)

        If you wear a suit you are trying to conform. (or conforming to the "monoculture")

        If you wear what you had in your closet anyway, then you are just being yourself. This is argubly the only real nonconformance.
        • If you wear a suit you are trying to conform. (or conforming to the "monoculture")

          Sheesh, spoken like a true geek. Did it ever occur to you that some people like wearing suits? Some people like the fit and feel of a quality garment?

          Not to mention that you someone "being yourself" can be different things at different times. Just because I normally like a T-shirt and jeans when I'm programming doesn't mean I also don't enjoy wearing the full-blown suit to a formal party, and not looking like I just rolled out of the rack wearing yesterday's clothes.

    • by krogoth (134320)
      I don't find it depressing at all. Why do you ask?
  • Apology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pyrrho (167252) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:24PM (#3140046) Journal
    What? He's sorry he tried to rip off Mosaic and commercialize a public domain effort and got out foxed by a company much better at doing that?

    Ok, apology accepted.
  • Imposter Boy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deanj (519759) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:26PM (#3140054)
    The article "Imposter Boy", is worth a read. This is the ONLY article I've ever seen from the perspective of the non-Netscape people of how all that Mosaic/Netscape got started. http://www.chrispy.net/marca/gqarticle.html ALL the other articles I've ever seen are from either Netscape's or Andreesen's perspective, perpetuating the myth of what really happened in the beginning. I've seen a lot of people comment on this article before, and I'll tell you most of the comments are "sour grapes, sour grapes". Well, just look at what the article says about people that worked at Netscape.
  • Who? (Score:2, Funny)

    by jcsehak (559709)
    impractical military vehicle that previously belonged to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood star, are gone;

    Schwarz...en...eg... Oh--a hollywood star! Funny, never heard of him...
  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@nOspaM.gmail.com> on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:34PM (#3140083) Homepage Journal
    The only reason why Netscape failed is b/c MS abused its monopoly power to crush it. Integrating IE into Windows when competitors can't do that for lack of knowledge about Windows gave MS an unfair advantage in the browser market, because their browsers inherently load faster than other equally-poorly coded browsers (actually, part of IE is ALWAYS loaded in Win9x, as that's what the file browser is).

    And contrary to what this idiot in the Economist says, "growing up" for the internet does not mean conforming to the previous business regime and becoming nothing more than TV on speed, nothing more than a huge space for corporatization.

    Contrarily, the internet is growing up as it realizes its full potential -- more and more user-interaction: more "grass roots" power. As time progresses, the ratio of non-corporate:corporate web-sites will become larger, as: (1) The number of people in this world is increasing faster than the number of corporations; (2) Many people have interest in creating sites or putting information online (not only via web-sites, but via P2P); (2) The bandwidth and computing power becoming available to consumers is increasing. P2P and file-sharing technologies represent a sign of maturity for the internet.

    But really, using the word "maturity" in reference to the internet is nonsense. The internet is flexible, and new uses for it will be found continually. There is no "goal" for what the internet should become. It will simply evolve, step by step, web-site by website, idea by idea.

    I feel very sorry for anyone who's mind is so small, who's imagination is so bleak, that (s)he can only think of the internet as ultimately useful as an avenue of corporatization and commercialization.
    • The only reason why Netscape failed is b/c MS abused its monopoly power to crush it.

      That, and the fact that they built a better Web browser.
      • That, and the fact that they built a better Web browser.

        Many people don't get this. It doesn't matter if it was better or not. Microsoft effectively took the "better" gauge out of it when they chose which browser their consumers would use. If it truly was better, then the free market and capitalism in general dictate that it would come out on top because the users would make the choice. Microsoft stole the right to choose from the consumer, and that is infinitely worse than killing a company.

        (You know, it's been a while since they pulled these tricks, but every time I think about Microsoft's monopolistic, illegal actions, it still makes me furious.)

        • Many people don't get this. It doesn't matter if it was better or not.

          We'll never know, will we? They won, after all.

          Microsoft effectively took the "better" gauge out of it when they chose which browser their consumers would use

          Shyeah. Just like General Motors effectively takes the "better" gauge out of the car-stereo market when they choose what radio their consumers will get free with the car.

          By your reasoning, Alpine, Kenwood, and Blaupunkt should be dead at the hand of Delco.
          • Just like General Motors effectively takes the "better" gauge out of the car-stereo market when they choose what radio their consumers will get free with the car.

            That argument would fit if A) GM made the cars that 90% of people bought, and B) if they were GM brand radios in the cars, and C) if GM said (under oath) that removing the radios was impossible to do if you wanted the car to run.

        • You have 1) Accused Microsoft of "stealing" the right to choose from the consumer, and 2) a Mozilla reference in your signature.

          /me goes off to find a new needle for his irony meter.

        • "Microsoft stole the right to choose"

          Given the history of events I don't see how you can arrive at that conclusion.

          At the time Netscape had given up the browser market, turned everything over to Open Source and sold out to AOL who then abandoned the market completely... IE still had less than 50% of the marketshare.

          It wasn't until the release of IE 5.0 that Microsoft surpassed Netscapes marketshare... and that wasn't until 1999, long after Netscape had given up.

          So basically what you are saying is that it was monopolistic and illegal for Microsoft to compete in the market. You apparently don't want competition, is that it?

          You know, every time I see stupid arguments such as yours it makes me furious.
          • I don't think you've disproved my claim at all; all you've done is quote market share numbers. I don't care who had how much and when. The fact remains that Microsoft stole the right to choose by bundling IE, claiming it was impossible to remove, and using heavy-handed tactics against OEMs and PC makers to prevent them from installing competing products. You call that competition?

            • You never had a claim, that's the problem. Microsoft never took anything from Netscape that they did not freely give away. The fact is that by the end 1998 after facing only a small amount of competition, Netscape rolled over and played dead despite having heavy market momentum and a leading share.

              Whether or not Microsoft used heavy handed tactics is irrelevant, the problem is whether these tactics had any effectiveness. I claim they did not, that they were extraordinarily inept until the point Microsoft had a clearly superior product. Market share figures support this claim of mine.

              It is *YOUR* burden to prove otherwise. Oh, and just so you don't forget... calling an opinion a fact does not make it so. (I notice you have been guilty of that twice now)

              Marketshare figures and other relevant facts support my claim, not yours. This is the same problem the Justice Department faced, that while they had proof of actions being taken, they had no proof that these actions caused any harm.
          • The point at which Netscape's business model was collapsed was the point at which the tide turned. Market share reflects the events of the past year or two, not the current time.

            Maybe you don't remember what happened?

            MS made a deal with Spyglass whereby they would sell their browser as Internet Explorer. Spyglass would get a portion of those sales.

            Deal in hand, MS then declared that IE would be free and bundled. This screwed Spyglass and Netscape at the same time; the former because the "portion" of sales would now be zero, and the latter because they could now no longer SELL their software.

            Is it all coming back now? Netscape needed to sell the browser, because that was part of their business model. That was how they funded further development of it -- the standard model. Now screwed, they then tried to change their business model to become a portal, when portals were big and everyone thought being a portal was the way of the future. (As we now know, that's no way to make money...)

            Also remember that at the time most of this happened we are talking about IE3 and NS3 competing, and while each had their quirks, you couldn't really say one was definitively better to the point where it was a clear winner. The only advantage MS had was that IE was bundled.

            I've left a lot out but that's my recollection of the events.
            • By the time Microsoft made their deal with Spyglass, Netscape was already giving the browser away for free.

              There are quotes from Marc Andreessen dating back to Netscape's IPO where he said they would be giving the browser away for free, because the real money was in the server space.

              You obviously don't remember what happened.
    • The only reason why Netscape failed is b/c MS abused its monopoly power to crush it.

      Netscape lost because MS bundled IE and because Navigator was an abomination to HTML rendering engines. The product has to do what it's supposed to (render web pages) somewhat well before people will use it. Ever tried to get CSS to work in Navigator 4?

      (actually, part of IE is ALWAYS loaded in Win9x, as that's what the file browser is)

      Nope. The Internet Explorer integration didn't start until Windows 98. Internet Explorer wasn't even [functionally] alive when Windows 95 first came out. And part of IE isn't always loaded; take a look at 98lite [98lite.net] for an example of how IE can be de-integrated from Windows.
    • Unless M$ put some "crash randomly or hang for 100% cpu if name = netscape" in Windows, I'd say Netscape also brought themselves down. At some point IE got a lot better while Netscape stood still around 4.x, something they're only just fixing now with Mozilla 0.9.x builds. Of course you can wonder what came first, but personally I feel it was Netscape getting behind the times...

      Kjella
  • Asleep (Score:3, Funny)

    by The Cat (19816) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @08:35PM (#3140089)
    When did the Internet become "ruled by suits?"

    Was there a memo about this?

  • by raincrow (61535) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @09:15PM (#3140224)
    Having sat across the table from Mr. Andreessen in a couple of meetings, I have to say that the man is less than impressive. He comes off as an empty-headed suit, a trophy for his sales staff to parade in front of clients.

    (Background: LoudCloud was attempting to take over my former employer's web operations; not just make a pitch for services, but actively -- and with much hostility on the part of their sales team -- denigrate the infrastructure we had built in our own data center and convince upper management that we were being negligent in our work. We ended up fighting them off by showing that they would have had to lose money on us for several years in order to provide us equivalent services for less cost. They pressed on for months, fueled by our CEO's irrational desire to have Andreessen as a personal friend. The highlight of my career there was the day we canceled our letter of intention with LoudCloud.)

    At a meeting in which his local and regional salesmen were in a shouting match with us (my favorite comment from their regional sales director: "You'll never be able to keep up with your little shareware schemes!" -- this was in response to our use of Apache/mod_perl), Mr. Andreessen sat there, first looking at us all as if we were speaking in a language he didn't understand. When talk turned to leasing schedules and other evidence against LoudCloud's value proposition, he became bored and began checking email on his RIM. Eventually he went and made a phone call at the other end of the room, and then sat down away from us so he could fill out his forms for a Federal security clearance (after the meeting I had to show him where our FAX machine was so he could get it in under deadline).

    That's how he behaves in meetings with potential clients -- clients that his staff spend insane amounts of money and energy to woo, and bring him in to impress the savages. When we finally ceased talks with LoudCloud, he was very petulant and sent our CEO a near-illiterate email message about how disappointed he was that we had chosen not to contract their services. I understand the CEO still tries to woo him on occasion, despite.

    He may very well be the richest (or luckiest) media darling I've ever shaken hands with. I am pretty certain he's also the most shallow.
    • I have heard often that he is a mere figurehead, but if what you say is true he is not even good at being that.
    • His sales staff aside, to call him shallow because of your clear personal animosity towards him reflects badly on you, not him. If you're pitching to replace the IT function of a company then you're going to piss of their IT department, and it looks like they did. We have no way of knowing if they were right or wrong, for all we know you could have been a bunch of dolts, it's impossible to tell, but your emotive attack gives us a hint at your capacity for rational decision making.
  • While much is made of the inevitable haggling that takes place at the quarter's end (when customers know they have software companies in a tough spot), this article glosses over the difficulties inherent in running a services business, particularly one like Loudcloud.

    A software company has terrific gross margins: as we know, software costs almost nothing to reproduce and distribute once it's developed. Sure, the costs of developing it can be high (in a commerical setting), but each additional product costs virtually nothing to stamp onto a CD (or make available on a server for download). The basic point is that the inherently high margins in software provide a great cushion of potential profit, and one can grow a business to vast proportions with little additional development effort (but with some sales effort). Selling a product to one person or 1x10^6 people takes little additional development effort, in theory.

    In a services business, however, each additional customer requires expensive infrastructure and personnel to develop. Whereas software has high fixed costs and low variable costs, services businesses (like IT consulting, lawyers, etc.) tend to have high variable costs (mostly labor) and low fixed costs (rent, etc.). The problem comes when you try to grow these businesses to tremendous scale. It is extraordinarily expensive to hire, train, and retain talented people, especially in IT.

    For a place like Accenture (or a tiny 4-person consulting firm), the people are the assets--growing the business means growing the employee base, period. This is a fine model, and tends to have low fixed costs, but the profit margins tend to be lower than in packaged software. That said, people-based services businesses don't depend on expensive equipment with which to perform the service.

    In Loudcloud's case, you have the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, you need racks and racks of expensive servers, storage, etc. with which to provide the service. On the other hand, you need extremely expensive people to manage all of these complicated setups. You have the high fixed costs of a product-style business, and the high variable costs of a "bodyshop" type business. In addition, you typically don't have proprietary offerings--one can buy managed hosting from a many companies, large and small. Loudcloud tries to address this in two ways, namely by developing "Opsware" (to lower the number of people required to run the business and to give it a pseudo-proprietary edge) and by (presumably) purchasing new equipment as it adds new customers.

    From a profitability perspective, though, Andreesen is wrong--packaged software is, as an industry, one of the highest-margin businesses going (both gross and net), while services (esp computer services) tend to have lower margins and lower profitability.

    Besides, there are lots of ways to deal with the "end-of-quarter" haggling. You think Nike and Ford don't haggle on the price of services that are provided to them?
  • they're all sheep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xeno (2667) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @10:17PM (#3140441)
    This article in the Economist is a heap of paternalistic claptrap. I usually respect most of the thinking that comes out of the Economist even if I don't agree with it, enough that I'm a paid subscriber. But the implication of this article is that the dotcom era was a childish tangent and that the technology industry has now grown up and realized how the real world works is a gross oversimplication at best, and more likely just hogwash. The technology industry has not reverted to the domain of the "suits" as the article implies. True, many of the internet revolutionaries have donned ties and pantsuits and risen through the ranks into executive management. Even Phil Zimmerman sold his soul to NAI. But there has been a fundamantal change in how the technology business world works.

    To wit: You don't judge the severity of a climate change by seeing how well the oldest and fattest animals are. Many of the dead dotcoms were old-school organizations that took on new names and attempted to shovel their wares onto the internet, only to fail miserably. Although Microsoft gained a lot from the dotcom era, it's worth noting that Microsoft was the domain of "suits" from shortly after its inception. Gates himself railed against open code as far back as anyone can remember, insisted that the Internet was irrelevant to the software market, and has only recently noted that security in network-connected applications is of some importance. Microsoft stock has essentially plateaued -- it's been bouncing around $50-70 for about two years, and dividends are not paid to shareholders. The days of MSFT stock splits leading to the purchase of a new house are over. Microsoft may be a reliable internal moneymaker for some time to come, but it's no longer a realistic investment growth vehicle. Likewise the traditional model technology product business have suffered -- the computer hardware industry has become a lean area, squeezing the life out of traditional middle markets (and driving it online). Traditional old-school service organizations (KPMG and the like) have laid off tens of thousands.

    On the other hand, new types of businesses are having an interesting go, and there's been a *lot* of irreversable change. Who'da thunk that Redhat could actually reach profitability? Proprietary networking protocols are dead. Sendmail has been commercialized. Apple has adopted an open-source core, and is now the world's most prolific UNIX software company. Major movies are being rendered with open-source code on clustered commodity computers. More women than ever are finding paths to executive status and power through the technology sector. The center of innovation in browser code is coming from Mozilla, with code more stable than either IE or Netscape on Windows. Java/J2EE has finished .NET's lunch, cleared the table, and taken a nap, and Microsoft doesn't even know it yet. Napster and its progeny have likewise insured the irrelevance of the existing recording industry giants (and the death of their ethically clouded business model). A little upstart company (Verisign) that issues virtual identity credentials bought a company that issues virtual addresses (Network Solutions), and has become the megalith that we should all be terrified by. And IBM, recognizing that there's good money to be made in services rather than only ownership of intellectual property, has hybridized itself through such things as Linux, and become much stronger for it.

    The dotcom world has grown up and joined the old world? I don't think so. Surely anyone who thinks about it for more than a minute can see the clear differentiation between dotcom-era companies that had good ideas such as Palm, and the multitudes of con artists whose shell corporation names are enumerated on the likes of fuckedcompany.com. What's happened is that the dotcom survivors (the ones who actually had ideas and value) have learned to adapt in ways that position them for survival (accepting small but dependable margins), and surprising dominance in others. Some are successfully selling things that are openly available. Others are successfully selling services where the old-school said there was no need or opportunity. The curious thing is that the old-school property sellers (software, music) are being slowly killed by the new-school service/access sellers, and the old-school service sellers are being slowly killed by the new-school open-source/property sellers who find smaller margins attractive. Only in the White House and the oil industry have we returned to the glory days of the 80's and early 90's (and after people look at the balance sheets, the next election will take care of that).

    Jon
    • Insightful, complete and yet concise. I'd email you to congratulate, but we have a distinct lack of even an obfuscated email address so I can't.

      Java/J2EE has finished .NET's lunch, cleared the table, and taken a nap, and Microsoft doesn't even know it yet.

      I know, I've been a Java hater for a good long time and only now am I starting to realise how wrong I was. Yes, it pisses all over C++'s parade. And yes, it does attract lamers like flies to horseshit. But look how entrenched it is... Look how it does at least attempt to support standards... Look how much developers like it... That's one hell of a lot of mindshare Microsoft have lost - go Java.

      Dave
    • Java/J2EE has finished .NET's lunch, cleared the table, and taken a nap, and Microsoft doesn't even know it yet.

      Sure. And Java is going to make Windows irrelevant. Or was that Netscape that was going to make Windows irrelevant. No, that's right, it was Linux....

      Well, anyway, the day of Microsoft is over, and we all know that. These technologies make Windows irrelevant, and now that Netscape has such a huge lead, IE will never catch up. People are going to code directly to the Netscape API, with Java applets for the power stuff like word processors and spreadsheets, and MS-Windows, MS-Office, you're toast....

      And .Net? Don't even bother. Clearly, Java/J2EE has finished .NET's lunch, cleared the table, and taken a nap, and Microsoft doesn't even know it yet. Silly Microsoft.

  • by ciole (211179) on Sunday March 10, 2002 @11:27PM (#3140699)
    i thought this take on Andreesen was interesting, to say the least. It's a nice try to take a former "poster boy" and attempt to use his personal changes to analyse an industry. It seems like capital B Business has, for years, had this immense need to pull coders and representations of coders away from the maverick whiz kid over to the "smart suit" wearing, conforming manager. Re-reading the article with this in mind, doesn't the crowing seem sinister?

    But i think this is ultimately a weak ploy - Andreesen no longer represents programmers - hasn't written a line since 1994? That's gotta suck! The only reason i choose to accept money for code is that i love writing code! You just won't get me in a management position, and i never enjoyed the sweeter benefits of the boom as Andreesen did.

    But seriously, how long until the conforming hyphae of capital B Business change the industry i love? Require me to wear a suit to work, even if i never meet with clients? Require me to pass a MSCE and "piracy ethics" test to get my programming & compilation license? Require me to turn my music down? Isn't this the ultimate fruit of the DMCA and all *CAs? so how long?
  • by Otis_INF (130595) on Monday March 11, 2002 @04:36AM (#3141643) Homepage
    That's the story of Marc Andreessen: he was at the right place at the right time. Think about it: he wrote a program, NCSA's mosaic, at university with some fellow programmers. He got into a fight with NCSA, left, and did it all over again with another team: building a browser. He meets a top executive from SGI, Jim Clark, who starts with him the 'Netscape' company with money from Clark. The internet takes off, Andreessen's Netscape is in the front seat and grows and grows. Why? Because the products are excellent? No, because he delivers what people wants.

    Until... The re-incarnation of NCSA's mosaic: Internet Explorer takes over that front seat. Andreessen doesn't care. He sells Netscape to AOL and gets over 1billion dollars.

    Was the strategy, the plan that brilliant? Or was it just luck?
    • The only reason Andreesen got asked to write a GUI for www was because his maths was not up to scratch and he couldn't do the job he was hired for. He was a reasonable X programmer though so his boss (Ping Phou) asked him to write a GUI for www. It wasn't his idea. Ping was happy at NCSA so, Clarke took on Marc instead.

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