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Andreesen No Longer AOL CTO 103

j_hylton writes "Reuters reports that Marc Andreessen is stepping dow as CTO of AOL. See the report at The Washington Post (and surely elsewhere). Sun's chief strategist will replace him, which is another sign of the growing cooperation between the two companies." The story says, "Andreessen will shift to become a part-time strategic advisor focused on boosting the Dulles, Va.-based company's investment activities."
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Andreesen No Longer AOL CTO

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  • I will be interested to find out whether or not this was marca's idea or Steve Case's.
    I always wondered what kind of fit the Netscape ubergeek would be at AOL--it seemed somehow out of place, like if Linus Torvalds were to go work at Microsoft (well, maybe not THAT out of place--but you get my drift)
  • Anyone who has used Netscape has to know that it's a complete pile of garbage, programming-wise. He has always seemed like someone who was in the right place at the right time, versus someone like Torvalds who clearly has a lot of engineering talent. Has he done anything else worthwhile?
  • Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight!

    The last two weeks of managment shuffles have looked like a soap opera. SGI to MS, Sun to AOL, AOL to, er, wherever... Is it possible that all of these executives changing positions all at once could put enough stress on the San Andreas to finally trigger "The Big One?" Maybe we should get a map out, find the headquarters of these companies, and calculate the torques?

    Being briefly serious, does anyone think this might bode ill for Mozilla?
  • Could be required to see through the market-ese and figure out what precisely this is...

    Is this a lateral movement, intended to just shift resources to a new area, or is this a demotion of sorts? (I can't hardly imagine it as a promotion...) Or is this Marc just starting to let up a little and enjoy a few of his millions? (part time position was mentioned)

    Sometimes it's so hard to see through the market-speek!

  • Is Sun really in a strategic alliance with AOL? It seems like a very good corporate policy for AOL to replace it's online suite with a Linux backend. An entire AOL desktop without the need for microsoft or IE. It seems like Sun could give them the unix background to bring in interest in linux. And netscape might some day come out with a hard to beat 5.0 browser. With Linux, Netscape and ICQ AOL could be the next big network OS, AOLinux.

    Then again, does AOL have an interest in seeing Microsoft's power weakened? I wonder what ties AOL has with Microsoft now. As far as I know IE is still their default browser. And then again AIM is still installed over ICQ.

    I'm actually looking forward to the next major version of AOL - as it should contain software for my mother that I would be proud to run. AOL can only lose if they fail to produce their product fast enough. But isn't that just sad? It's a good thing that Netscape is open-sourced because it's main pressure is no longer timely releases - but excellent software.

    Joseph Elwell.
  • I find it interesting that Raduchel resigned his post @ Sun to take up with AOL. I wonder how far this partnership is going to go? My guess is that this was a brokered deal, designed to make sure Sun & AOL are on the same page in terms of long term strategy.

    I'll bet Andreessen is happy about it though. How fun could it possibly be to spend your days politic-ing with the AOL execs? I'd much rather be scouring Silicon Valley for the Next Big Thing too....

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Andreessen has just purchased Merriwood, Jackie Kennedy's childhood Virginia home on the bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. He spent $17 million and according to the papers, he plans to devote his semi-retirement to restoring the mansion and its grounds to its former splendor. Merriwood is across the road from Fort Marcy, the park where the murdered body [] of Clinton aid Vince Foster was dumped on July 20, 1993. Coincidence? I don't think so ...
  • You are surprised by this.

    What? No hands showing?


  • What's wrong with making money ? Isn't it part of the reson people go to college ? He was smart and was nicely rewarded - capitalism at its best.
  • Here's a link I scrounged up with google... l

  • No offense to Andreeson, but I *never* saw him as any sort of visionary. Personally, I think he is a lost ship w/o Jim Barksdale. Barksdale turned a computer nerd into a superstar. But there is no substance there. It's so obvious. He gets these executive positions because of this. The sad fact is that he is a programmer at heart and is known to be miserable in executive positions. It's just not him. (That's not a bad thing, btw)
    I think this is probably the last we will hear of him for a long time. Like others, I really hope he stashed away his millions so he can live well. His position in history is solid and we all owe him some thanks, I guess, for being part of "Netscape-The early years."
    Let's be honest. Does anyone here believe Andreeson and Steve case are equals? Not even remotely close.

  • Hmmm.... Unlike companies like SGI, Sun is not and has never been a Linux advocate. In fact, eventhough Sun is very much part of the same Unix community as Linux, they have been saying some of the same stuff as M$ has about it. You have to remember, that Linux is much more a thread to Sun (and their Solaris) than it is to Microsoft. And it's not just in the OS business, if Solaris were to become obsolete (by Linux or another OS from Redmont), their (very lucrative) hardware business is also in jeopardy.

    With that being said, I am in no way putting down their products - they are excellent (IMHO). I merely stating my interpretation on how Sun feels about Linux.
  • You said it. Andreesen is nothing more than a solid programmer who was lucky enough to know his way around the Mosaic code. That is the sum of this guy's credentials.
  • AFAIK Marky boy hasn't done a line of code since Netscape went public...
    No, I can't spell!
    -"Run to that wall until I tell you to stop"
    (tagadum,tagadum,tagadum .... *CRUNCH*)
  • by dave_aiello ( 9791 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @06:17AM (#1690295) Homepage
    I have worked on the fringes of Corporate America for a long time, and this could have been the deal from the outset. AOL made this investment which hinged on everyone at Netscape not bailing out at once. They wanted to be in control and yet not be vilified for cutting the heart out of Netscape.

    So, what they did was negotiated a deal where Barksdale would go almost immediately but stay on the Board of Directors, and Andreesen would stay for indefinitely in a fairly nebulous but senior role.

    Now, sufficient time has passed where this is no longer on the public's RADAR screen. Sure, some will be interested, but most people won't see this as a big deal. After all, to the typical consumer, not much has changed. [] is still there.

    With respect to us (slashdot fans), many of us hadn't liked Netscape for a while anyway. We always suspected that Mozilla didn't have as much support as we would have liked. But, AOL hasn't actually killed it either.

    I hope it doesn't make people mad to hear this (or to hear it again), but the AOL-Sun-Netscape deal wasn't about the browser anyway. Everyone knows that Micros~1 killed that market a while ago.

    This was always about the servers -- not the SuiteSpot which are Netscape's basic server products. This is about the Xpert server series: PublishingXpert, CommerceXpert, etc. These are the Web-based workflow automation products that Netscape developed in a joint-venture with General Electric's EDI business. These are pound-for-pound the most valuable things that Netscape ever developed, from a commercial perspective.

    So, if I am right in this analysis, I think that AOL, Sun, and the Netscape shareholders are getting what they wanted out of this deal. We shall see if it truly works to the competitive advantage of them all.

  • He was the most visible proponent for "form over content" in the early day, and probably to a large degree responsible for HTML turning into a poor substitute for PDF, and thus ultimately for the web being such a huge popular success.

  • Us ex-mozillans [] were truly frightened by that commercial. Has it found its way onto the Net yet?
  • Gee willakers! How come every site that gets a /. link goes the way of i understand about segfault a few days ago, but the army and now the washingtonpost have gotten it. seems like these sites should be prepared for some high-volume traffic...

    plus, are we /.ers really lemming enough to all follow the same link? It's an AP story; there's a copy at CNNfn [] and a copy at abcnews [], too...

  • I think it can only get better this way ...
    However ... Sorry for him

    Belgium HyperBanner
  • Why would it be advantageous at all to use Linux over Solaris in this case? I'm not courting flames here, but if you're in bed with one of the biggest UNIX vendors out there, who will surely provide hardware/software at little-to-no cost, why would you go with a competing alternative from outside of your company?

    Besides that, AOL is already using Solaris.. why would they want to switch? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it..."

    -s, solaris and linux user.

  • a couple of years ago, at the height of Netscape's "power", about marca [about]. It was basically a hatchet job, with a lot of quotes from people claiming to have been at NCSA. The consensus was that he was a BS artist who took credit for the work of others and did very little useful coding himself. Almost all (if not all) the quotes were anonymous, FWIW.
  • yeah that kind of would make sense - they need to integrate horizontally like ms has. then sun could stop coming up with lame-ass client ideas like their latest...
  • This doesn't bode ill for Mozilla but the AOL buyout did. I think that if this release doesn't generate some big press and/or other good things for AOL, it may become the last release. OpenSource has been the domain of the small (Linux vendors, RH before the IPO) and/or desperate (Netscape). AOL is neither small nor desperate. Also, they are about making money not technology. The technology is just a tool to make more money. AOL will only support Mozilla as long as it has to unless Mozilla does something for AOL.
  • ...a demotion but a welcome one. I think that Marc did not want the pressure of his postion. It required him to think too much like a businessman and less a like a geek who just wants to have fun with his millions. Marc had to think about what technology will leverage off of AOL's current situation and give AOL more power, money, market share, etc. Instead, Marc will get to go back to doing what he was doing with Netscape. He will find small interesting companies and have AOL buy into them. Paul Allen kind of took this path. Sometimes being at the top isn't as fun as getting there. This draws guys like Allen and Marc back to small companies with new technologies.
  • by ljs127 ( 44892 )
    I think it was actually in GQ.

  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @06:53AM (#1690306)
    AOL Figurehead Moved to Lobby

    By Paige Turner
    AP Technology Writer
    Friday, September 10, 1999; 2:20 p.m. EDT

    SAN JOSE, Calif. - America Online Inc. announced a shakeup today in its management ranks, announcing its intention to move figurehead Marc Andreessen, its visionary technology totem, into a glass case in the lobby.

    AOL said in a statement from its Dulles, Va., headquarters that Andreessen, who has been founding Netscape professionally since 1994, would be more comfortable in his new location.

    "Marc has expressed dissatisfaction with his ceremonial perch over the entrance to our boardroom," said AOL chief executive Steve Case. "We expect with this move we will be able to better serve Marc's career needs, such food, defecation, and petting."

    AOL executives insist things have not changed substantially and that morale remains high.

    "Marc is much happier in his new felt-lined glass enclosure," stated one handler. He is also on more prominent display here on the lobby, so that he can continue to inspire us all. Regrettably, the construction of Marc's cage renders him unable to make statements of a public nature."

    Andreeson was not immediately available for comment. However, he was observed to write with blood on the interior of his cage the words, "Steve Case agrees with me that technology should be free. As a first step, I have recommended eliminating AOL's monthly ISP fees on a trial basis." Handlers covered Andreeson's box with a blanket soon afterwards.

    Netscape, best known for its logo, is a leading provider of software and services for online businesses and the operator of NetCenter, a popular entry point to the World Wide Web. AOL is the largest Internet access provider and online service.

  • by Tim Pierce ( 19033 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @06:59AM (#1690307)
    I came across the most wonderful comment once in the source code for either Mosaic or Lynx. Slightly paraphrased:

    "I put this goto here to make marca happy. marc loves gotos."

    It just made my day. Sadly, I haven't been able to find it again since then.
  • He did not write or design any code, but instead was the one who had the 'visions' for Netscapes future. For example, he was the first who understood that the Web could evolve into a platform of its own, and therefore be a thread to Microsoft. He also is responsible for the inclusion of Java, and before his Netscape days he lead the Mosaic project NCSA (code-wise). See the quite interresting book 'Speeding the net' [] by Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla for more, or (shorter) 'Architects of the Web' [] by Robert Reid...
  • THis has nothing to do with marca, think about this. Star Office available to AOL users running on Sun servers. Once you have the applications people want available you can move them to any OS you want, including an AOL/Sun one.
  • Dave, I screwed up and accidently moderated your response down. I meant to moderate it up and now I can't undo it.

    I am sorry again.

  • Cool! Once I posted it undid my moderation...

  • by Why2K ( 29813 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @07:43AM (#1690312)
    This is actually a comment in Netscape's server-push animation sample code. You can view it here. [] For the impatient, here is the relevant section:

    if(x == LASTCHAR) goto thats_it;
    else ++x;

    /* This goto is Marc's fault. Marc digs goto. */

    exit (0);
  • No problem. Your effort to correct it is greatly appreciated. I wish you hadn't lost your moderation point.

    With all the changes to the moderation system, it might be wise to let people adjust their moderations within one hour. I know this is yet another layer of complexity, but moderation mistakes could hurt ones Karma, right?

  • What would really be interesting is AOL giving free access to the network version of StarOffice. Now that would put a chink in the Redmond armor.


  • "Strategic Advisor" is AOL-speak for "put out to pasture", like many AOL old-timers that haven't been able to keep up with the technology but have enough political connections to stick around.
  • Seriously, Netscape's cachet has been dropping for ages, and its relative importance within the AOL universe has been falling along with it. AOL probably couldn't give the assets and staff of the former Netscape away, much less sell them for the exorbitant price that they paid.

    Therefore, the political necessity for having old Netscape hands in AOL at a senior level is over, no matter how competent a CTO marka was (and I don't doubt that he was competent). Offering the position as a plum to Sun was probably inevitable.

    In preindustrial societies, strategic alliances between family groups were cemented by cross-marriages and exchanges of material gifts. It seems that nothing much has changed.

  • by EJB ( 9167 )
    My my, what words, what words..

    Marc Andreessen is not just any exec, he's played an important role in the emergence of the web.
    Plus he used to be "one of us".
    The whole bussiness of AOL and Netscape is also intertwined with the future of the software project that really launched the "open source" moniker in the publics eye, Mozilla.

    So I really think it is an interesting article and that Slashdot should continue brining us this kind of news!

  • Gosh, I've never realized it was *him*. I've
    always thought it was Billary who did that.
  • I see he's doing Lite Beer commercials now...

    Linux is to Free Beer what Netscape is to Lite Beer?

  • didn't he write the original business plan for Barksdale?
  • What dreck.

    While Andreesen is nowhere near as bad as some here make him sound, he's also hardly as omniscient as this poster, steeped in Forbes/Fortune/Herring/Fast Company biz porn, made him out to be either. He's a reasonably bright guy with good hair and straight teeth who was in the right place at the right time.

    If only we all could say the same.
  • i am a mac user using Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0.

    does this announcement mean i am officially freed from any guilt of supporting microsoft by using MSIE..? at least until icab supports javascript, or Mozilla is real..?

    in my mind, Microsoft Guilt and AOL Guilt cancel each other out.. it just kind of feels like all the spirit and streetcred have gone out of the word "netscape".

    [standards are dead]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    AOL uses Compaq/Tandem hardware for core functions.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Washington Prost (Sept. 9, 00) - Washington...

    Following his latest success at ".COMedy" in the Miller Lite commercials, Marc Andreesen is focussing his full attention on his career as a star. First starring at the DC Improv, with his fabulous act: "Defending the CaveGeek" his aim is to show how geeks can actually be funny, at least one in a million.

    Future plans include a movie, directed by gerbil-man Richard Geer, titled: ".COMmunism" where Andreesen will star along with Free Software founder R.S.

    The sequel will be called "Internet II: .COMpacting Bill Gates into a sugar qube."
  • yes. i'm sorry, that was a typo. :P the current version is 4.5. 5.0 is not out yet.
    the mac version numbers do not exactly correspond to the windows version numbers in terms of features.
    not that it matters.

    ok i feel stupid now.
  • Hate to rain on your parade, but that link you posted contains 100% unadulterated crap. You can't serious believe any of that, can you?
  • Sun makes hardly any of their revenues from software, and besides, you can run Linux on Sun servers. The difference is, Linux doesn't scale to the 64 processors Solaris does, and it's just not as "enterprise ready". Even if Linux would take over the world, Sun would still be in good shape, since they could sell the servers for it to run on.

    It actually is more of a threat to Microsoft. Microsoft makes literally NOTHING that runs on Linux. However, they don't perceive it as very much of a threat at this moment because the average user couldn't figure out Linux very well, and they've got a 95% desktop OS market share, Linux would have to cut away at that big time for them to get worried.
  • Two days ago, I recieved a total of 3 AOL CDs in the mail. Before microwaving them, I noticed that AOL 4.0 "Includes Microsoft Internet Explorer". AOL's web site [] says the same thing!

    Can't blame him for leaving!
  • Yup, him and Norm MacDonald. Norm stands there and makes lame internet jokes, while he and Mark Drink beer.
  • I've read many of the comments and have seen points made that Marc Andreessen (marca) is not a visionary, is over his head as CTO, etc... This pathetic. Marca had the good fortune to be at NCSA, but he was also smart enough to realize the potential of the web. Mosaic was good, very good. But netscape was awesome. I hope that most of you remember when you made the switch.

    What makes one a visionary in the computer business? A bunch of "kids" at Stanford decide to take advantage of the new-fangled internet and form a company that is now a major force. Am I talking about Yahoo or Sun? Two guys in silicon valley put together a personal computer and sell it to their fellow nerds. Later, one of them brings the GUI to the masses (and later the personal laser printer). A computer uber-geek decides that software should be free so that the source code can be seen by everybody. A college student wants to work on unix at home, so he decides to create one that he can use. He then makes the source code available for all to see. A nerd in an obscure college in Michigan puts up a web site that caters to an obscure OS, and makes it a meeting place for fellow nerds.

    So what makes one a visionary in the computer business. Skill? Timing? Luck?

    BTW, there once was a person that was dumped by the company that started. At the time he was dumped it was said that he was not suitable to take that company into the future. This person name is Steve and he is back. The company is improving.

    craw, now posting using no score.

  • What, being the head of the Linux project and still turning out good Linux code isn't enough for you?

    Unlike MarcA, Linus still codes. 'Nuff said.

  • The spurious lie about Andreeson running off with the Mosaic code is just that -- a lie.

    The Mosaic code is still available from NCSA. The Mozilla code is still available at Read the two. There's no real similarity.

    Mozilla was very definitely a "second project" (the project that is supposed to be a total re-write "done right", but turns out to be a bloated mess -- read Brookes).


  • I, too, am a CTO. On the other hand, I've been on the cusp of being fired at every job I've had []. I've been a conceited, arrogant, SOB, and those were my good qualities. Sure, my technology prowess in my field [] is second to none (oops, being conceited again :-), but that doesn't mean I'm as effective at my job [] as I could be.

    A lot of posters to Slashdot have the same qualities :-) A lot of it is simple "maturity", younger people rarely have it, but usually think they do. Another part of it is understanding a concept from another person's point of view, which few geeks are willing to do.

    Business reasons are often like peacock feathers: utterly stupid and wasteful from any logical perspective, yet somehow evolution seems to favor them. Businesses that survive do things in a "business" manner. Geeks in a business environment are always telling management how stupid they are for putting such big feathers on a peacock, when better solutions exist. And geeks know they are absolutely right, thus the problem.

    Marc was simply one of those geeks (making assumptions by extrapolating from my own experience). BTW, so were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Jobs got pushed out of Apple for much the same reasons. In Jobs' case, he conflicted with management until he was pushed out. It wasn't an issue if Jobs was right or wrong, only that his geekness made him incompatible with those who ran the company. However, once geeks like Jobs and Gates start running the place, they actually prove that their non-business-practices have merit.

    The problem for geeks/nerds everywhere is that business is much like the military: to become a leader, you have to prove that you are a good follower, even those two skills aren't directly related. For geeks to get into a position of power (in order to implement the ideas that they know are right), they have to stop being so difficult and arrogant, even when it is obvious that management are idiots.

    Of course, OpenSource often does an end-run around business, but it doesn't mean you'll get the $$$ or the babes going that route :-)

  • I read a book concerning Netscape's origin and it seems from the book he was the primary person behind the move to put a graphical interface on the Internet. He may not have been the "first" with the idea, but he pushed the hardest to make it happen and happen first.


    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • if(x == LASTCHAR) goto thats_it; else ++x;

    The "else" is redundant since the object of the if is an unconditional jump. Sorry to be pedantic, and I realize the comment was the point. Still, flawed code posted here ought not to escape silently, lest novice programmers come to believe that such sloppy style has been tacitly blessed.
  • I couldn't agree more with Your idea of maturity, Robert. What would have I done differently? Probably not much. Heck, throughout my 20's, I was lucky if I could hold a job, much less make a personal fortune. Best of luck to marca, and I'm sure whatever he decides to do, it will be great. It may not be Netscape, but it will be valuable (as the contributions of the rest of the Slashdot community are.)
  • I have the Bach book. The internals of Linux do not resemble the Bach book, except in broad strokes. For example, Linux dynamically adjusts the percentage of memory used for programs and file cache, while the Bach Book explains the rationale used by SysV to have a static partition there. Similarly, the file systems described by the two are totally different. But both the Linux source code and the Bach book do describe a monolithic kernel, is that what you were talking about?

    Yeah, Linus hacks other contributors' code too, but that's part of being project lead.

    IMHO, you either a) don't know what you're talking about, b) are working for the Microsoft "smear Linux" team, or c) all of the above.


  • i gotta agree. i've heard andreesen speak, and he doesn't have any original thoughts; he's not cut out to be a CTO.

    It does begin to look this way, doesn't it? Your Chief Strategist moves over to become CTO of another company with which you maintain a close alliance...

    Now, this would be interesting. It would make sense of what McNealey is saying that he doesn't want to see MS broken up by DOJ. AOL is aided by a stable Windows marketplace to ease it's entrance into more and more homes.

    Sun/AOL would be a powerful force to challenge MS on many fronts. On the one hand, they'll be able to push MS in certain directions with regard to on-line features, on the other, they'll be able to push thin clients into homes and businesses. Of course, MS would probably respond by backing MSN even more, but MS hasn't been successful fighting AOL in the past...

    If Sun/AOL combine, look for the combination to attempt to capture the burgeoning ASP market. Maybe this is why Intel is making noise about getting into the ASP market. They saw this coming and they're concerned that those Application Servers won't have Intel Inside. Even without a real Sun/AOL merger, an AOL ASP entry would probably be on Sun/Sparc based.

  • Hey my msg is probably not helpful, wanted or newslike - but he is a Poster Boy of the web- bullshit - that fat arsed git is so happy and fat - he's probably happy about the current Netscape [marc.iamfa...ethellhole] release - someone please put him on a diet.

    COME ON - if he didn't write the first browser - someone else would have

  • Late reply, sorry. Those initial ppl working at Netscape to come up with that browser are probably happy that marca led them to the promise land. That's if they had stock options. It is called the killer ap. It doesn't happen very often.

    Once again posting with no score.

  • I'd say...and I prefer

    if (x==LASTCHAR) exit(0);

  • seems like these sites should be prepared for some high-volume traffic...

    Here's an idea: Slashdot Effect as scalability test. Post a link to a site that wants to be tested, and slashdotters will be sure to follow it. Bingo, they get a real-world test (well approximately) of their web server's capabilities under heavy load.
    Is this so much different from the LinuxPPC cracking (or W2K-test) site?

  • Ahh, silly me :)

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.