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Hard Knocks, Age Transform Marc Andreessen 103

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Marc Andreessen, the brain behind Netscape, has spent the past several years engaged in an old-fashioned pursuit: rebuilding a traditional software company, Opsware, and trying to make it profitable, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'That he is making progress will be evident next week when the company expects to report a hefty quarterly revenue increase. In the process, he has settled down personally, morphing from technical whiz kid into serious businessman — the kind who delegates authority, makes sales calls in suits and dabbles in philanthropy. His experience helping bring Opsware back from the brink of financial disaster — in 2001, the company, then called Loudcloud Inc., staged a disappointing IPO and later had to completely overhaul its business to stay afloat — also has been formative, those who know him say.'"
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Hard Knocks, Age Transform Marc Andreessen

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  • I'm sure his clients on the other end of the phone are amazed by just how shiny Marc's shoes must be, if they could see them...
    • yeah, a "sales call" isn't (necessarily) a telephone call, an in-person sales meeting is also referred to by this moniker
    • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:46PM (#15935593) Homepage
      I assume you are kidding, but "sales calls" includes in person visits. Like as in "calling on a client." It isn't just telephoning...
      It is interesting how important attire can be. It reminds me of that picture of the early staffers at Microsoft with the caption "Would you have invested?" But on the flip side, even with a good idea, it is tough to make sales in sandals and shorts....
      • Had a picnic this summer during my internship. All sorts of other interns were there. One intern had a really nice suit, and remarked how, when wearing a suit, people kept assuming that he was someone important, that he was some sort of management/executive type there to help organize the event. And even in the office, people would hold open doors for him and such...

        That's about what I was thinking too.

        And that's just internally.

    • From TFA:

      Mr. Andreessen says he traveled extensively to make in-person sales calls
      • I love a vague or misleading sentence as much as the next slashdotter, but I can't resist the opportunity to comment. A call can technically be a visit, at least if you've read lots of old literature. "A gentleman caller" was a young man who visited a woman to take her out. The same sort of thing could apply to businessmen. A sales call could, and probably was, an in-person visit between two businessmen.

        Of course, the invention of the telephone and its corresponding telephone call do much to muddy the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Marc Andreessen is just a lucky guy in the right place at the right time. Was he amazingly technical and a visionary? Not really, the basic concepts, technology and applications were already there for him. Besides it was the suits and their VC buddies at the time that really made Netscape what it was.

      Marc Andreessen stood on the shoulders of people like Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, Robert Kahn, Jon Postel, etc. Visionary? No. Opportunist? Yes!

      I don't knock the guy for trying to make a buck. I knock t
      • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's not that creating something like Netscape was technically difficult. It's that it was the right idea, put together properly. It takes timing, vision, persistance and a bit of luck to make anything work. What have you created that we should know about?

        Myspace? Jesus give me a week I can duplicate it.
        Facebook? You cannot even search the "messages" you get. Christ how hard is that?
        YouTube? Uh...?

        None of these sites are that amazing. They were just there at the right time and place.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:47PM (#15935601) Homepage
    I remember when Andreesen started talking about his new Loudcloud company, and I was certain it was going to fail. It had nothing going for it that could make it any money other than Marc Andreesen's name. Now, it appears I was at least partially right, since the only way they've managed to keep from going out of business is to completely change what it is their company does. Even now, it's not really profitable, and it's trying to compete in a space already dominated by much larger companies. If this company wasn't being run by one of the biggest names in the Internet revolution, it would have run out of investors years ago.

    It sort of reminds me of a company I used to work for that has continually stayed just above the edge of bankruptcy by completely changing its business model (and its name) to fit the trend of the moment. It started out as a cable company, became an ISP during the boom, then became a wireless ISP, and now it's a real estate company.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Reminds me of VA Linux (you might remember them). Their initial business plan was to sell dell computers with a copy of red hat linux installed on it. They purchased andover.net (slashdot, newsforge, freshmeat, etc) for pr/advertising.

      • Reminds me of VA Linux (you might remember them). Their initial business plan was to sell dell computers with a copy of red hat linux installed on it. They purchased andover.net (slashdot, newsforge, freshmeat, etc) for pr/advertising.

        Wow. I'm a pretty goddamn jaded motherfucker when it comes to VA Linux, and I *worked* there. You're completely wrong. You're an AC, so I'm not going to go into how stupidly wrong you are.

        Emm

    • I know I'm digressing here, but....

      Unless, of course, you were to believe the article in Wired a couple years ago on LoudCloud. I used to subscribe, and there were parts I enjoyed, but man, nine times out of ten, the 'next big thing' featured in Wired turns to snot.
    • It started out as a cable company, became an ISP during the boom, then became a wireless ISP, and now it's a real estate company.

      Sounds like my telephone company.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:56PM (#15935659) Journal
    Look up your favorite picture of Garfield. Then look up your favorite picture of Bill the Cat.
  • by Chaffar ( 670874 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:03PM (#15935716)
    Why, Mr. Andreessen? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than just your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Andreessen. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Andreessen. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Andreessen? Why?! Why do you persist!?
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:03PM (#15935717)

    the kind who delegates authority,

    Yup. That's one of the first signs.

    makes sales calls in suits

    That's the seventh sign, unless you're hasidic, then it's the third, although gnostics numer it fourth.

    and dabbles in philanthropy.

    And that's the bottom. Darth Vader gave lots of surplus Imperial cheese to orphans. Emperor Ming would write checks to the Mongo Salvation Army. And then there's Ronald McDonald House as an attempt to karmically balance the hideous doings of that evil clown. It's all just a front.

    • by krell ( 896769 )
      "Darth Vader gave lots of surplus Imperial cheese to orphans"

      Mmmmm. surplus imperial cheese. mmmm... That must be the reason Homer turned to the dark side. But seriously, this kind of thing is done all the time. The fascist dictator of Venezuela has given free heating fuel to a few Americans. His apologists never hesitate to point this out: "Who cares if he blames Jews for all the evil of the last 2000 years and wants Iran to have nuclear bombs and have them soon? He gave poor people GAS!"
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        He gave poor people GAS!

        So does Taco Bell, but no one apologizes for them.

  • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:06PM (#15935742)
    Marc Andreessen, short of Jaron Lanier, the most overrated poseur in tech. Glory hound, marginal programmer, front man for Jim Clark, thew guy who threw away the biggest tech opprotunity since M$ sold IBM DOS. Check out this article "Imposter Boy":
    http://web.archive.org/web/20030212202753/http://w ww.chrispy.net/marca/gqarticle.html [archive.org]
    The fact that he gets glowing articles for wearing a suit is a true case of the soft bigotry of low expectations.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:59PM (#15936110) Homepage Journal
      The fact that he gets glowing articles for wearing a suit is a true case of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

      It's the WSJ, what do you expect? That a newspaper of the PHB's, by the PHB's, and for the PHB's should see a former iconoclast going corporate as a praiseworthy sign of maturity isn't exactly a surprise.
      • I take it you prefer to limit your reading to The Communist Manifesto and back issues of Pravda, because you certainly haven't read a WSJ any time in say, the last 10 years.
    • by osgeek ( 239988 )
      That's pretty much in line with what I know of him from a friend of mine who knew him well back in the NCSA days. You've gotta give him credit for grabbing on to the web thing as it was taking off and getting a good ride, though. My friend's observations were that Marc wasn't a particularly noteworthy guy. Andreessen was a "bright enough" guy in the right place at the right time; but all the media hype that still gets him the title of "technical whiz kid" on the front page of /. was mostly manufactured b
  • For an IT-company to change business model or do a lot of diffrent things such as web hosting, hardware sales and software developement might not be wrong. The market of everything computy is very changing and new comers can quickly be the best in the market. To earn money a IT company will likely do one of the following: Trick the customers to buy a bad product. Be the best thing available and still being compatible with a lot of other things AND get well known. Offer superior help and support for other co
    • Absolutely! All companies should evolve over time, otherwise the company will die. Simple economics. A typewriter company can't really soar today, but fifteen years ago that wasn't the case. The best companies are the ones that always look for new business - even outside of their current core functions.

      Kudos to Mark for making a company work instead of cutting his losses and closing the doors.
  • Waaah, I'm the co-founder of Netscape! Waaah, everyone loves me, and I'm an icon of the dot-com industry!

    Want some hard knocks? Try not working for 6+months because of the dot-com slump; try working your way back to your pre-dot-com salary from a figure less than half that once you WERE able to find a job!
    • Try not working for 6+months because of the dot-com slump;

      Given how much he sold Netscape for, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried not working for 6+ months because of the dot-com boom.

  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:54PM (#15936079) Journal
    Who else read "Oopsware" instead of "Opsware"?
  • by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:43PM (#15936766)
    Zonk cut the original headline short- it was supposed to read:

    "Hard Knocks, Age Transform Marc Andreessen into giant battle robot!"
  • This dude Andreesen was living two lives. In one, he was a computer guy for a respectable software company. You know, had a social security number, paid his taxes and helped the landlady take out her garbage. In the other, he was a black hat and was guilty of pretty well every computer crime.

    Anyways, he took this blue pill and life went on as normal

    ws
  • tim, take a bow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wheatking ( 608436 )
    uh.. whatever success Opsware has/had is in large part due to their excellent CTO/spiritual leader and the go-to guy for their customers - Tim Howes. Andreesen's name helps and he has grown a lifetime in the last five years but is not the primary reason (imho) for Opsware's success.
  • .. does he still foment a wonderfully wilde frontier [jwz.org] among his compatriates .. ?

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