[Ancient bits] Pinpointing the exact moment that Netscape was doomed.

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Wed May 17 2000 - 19:58:52 PDT

Time to play Monday morning quarterback.

After reading Charles Ferguson's story of Vermeer _High St@kes No
Prisoners_ and Michael Lewis' homage to Jim Clark _The New New Thing_ I
have become morbidly obsessed with the reasons for Netscape's failure
and the point of no return after which this company could not have been
saved. These authors imply that poor decisions were made early on which
gave the company a snowball's chance in hell of surviving.

From reading the Ferguson tirage and the back-and-forth between Lewis
and Clark, we find that Netscape had:
 (1) No architecture, and no architectural strategy
 (2) Poor management, many of whom didn't understand the implications of (1)
 (3) Unwarranted arrogance, especially when dealing with Microsoft
 (4) Inability to keep third-party developers happy
 (5) Overemphasis on cross-platforming the browser,
     underemphasis on cross-platforming the server
 (6) Inability to make the right technology acquisitions
 (7) Refusal to acknowledge the strengths of Apache
 (8) Inability to create and control industry standards
 (9) Too much willingness to let the hackers dictate technology policy

As to when exactly Netscape was doomed, it's hard to be an archeaologist
because pages like http://www.netscape.com/people/ page have been
eradicated from Webspace. (What's the deal with taking stuff off the
Web? Storage is dirt cheap, bits should never leave the 'net!)

My best guess: January 11, 1995.


I'm sticking this press release into the XeNT scrapbook because lord
knows when AOL will discover this and remove it from the Web too...

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (January 11, 1995) -- Netscape Communications
> Corporation today announced that James L. Barksdale, 51, will join the
> company as president and chief executive officer effective Monday,
> January 16. Barksdale, who will take charge of all aspects of the
> growing Internet software company, was previously chief executive
> officer of AT&T Wireless Services, the nation's leading provider of
> wireless communications services.
> Netscape Communications was founded in April 1994 by Jim Clark and Marc
> Andreessen. Over its nine-month history, the company has been assembling
> a management team that now includes senior executives with experience
> from a variety of computer software and Fortune 500 companies.
> "Jim Barksdale has the exceptional leadership and management experience
> required to run a fast-growing company," said Jim Clark, chairman of
> Netscape Communications. "He has provided excellent guidance as a member
> of our board of directors over the past few months, and I am delighted
> to have him take control of this exciting venture. With Barksdale as
> CEO, Netscape has the potential to become an even more important force
> in the marketplace. I look forward to helping him in whatever capacity
> I can."
> Barksdale served as CEO of AT&T Wireless Services since September 1994,
> following the merger of AT&T and McCaw Cellular Communications, Inc. In
> that position, he oversaw the daily operations of the business, guiding
> AT&T's efforts to maintain a leadership role in wireless communications.
> From January 1992 until the merger, he held the positions of president
> and chief operating officer of McCaw, a company with revenues that
> exceeded $2 billion in 1993.
> Prior to McCaw, Barksdale spent twelve years with Federal Express
> Corporation of Memphis, Tennessee. From 1979 to 1983 he served as chief
> information officer, overseeing the development and implementation of
> the company's world renowned customer service and package tracking
> systems. In 1983, he became executive vice president and chief operating
> officer.
> After his appointment to that role, the company grew from $1 billion to
> $7.7 billion in revenues and expanded operations to 135 countries. Under
> his leadership, Federal Express also became the first service company to
> receive the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. Barksdale serves
> on the boards of 3Com Corporation, The Promus Companies, and Netscape
> Communications.
> Barksdale will lead Netscape's management team which includes:
> * Marc Andreessen, vice president of technology. Andreessen
> co-founded and is on the board of directors of Netscape Communications.
> He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois.
> Andreessen provides technical vision for the company.
> * Todd Rulon-Miller, vice president of sales and support. Before
> joining Netscape in October 1994, Rulon-Miller served as president and
> CEO of Software Alliance for two years. Previously, he spent six years
> as vice president of North American Operations at NeXT, Inc.
> * Mike Homer, vice president of marketing. Prior to joining
> Netscape in October 1994, Homer served as vice president of engineering
> at EO Corporation since 1993, and as vice president of marketing at GO
> Corporation from 1991 to 1993. Before that, he worked at Apple Computer,
> Inc. for nine years in a variety of technical and marketing positions.
> * Rick Schell, vice president of engineering. Dr. Schell, who
> joined Netscape in October 1994, previously spent more than two years as
> vice president / general manager of the Central Point Division of
> Symantec Corporation. Prior to that, he was vice president, Languages
> and dBase, at Borland International from 1989 to 1993. He has also held
> a variety of management positions at Sun Microsystems and Intel
> Corporation.
> * Jim Sha, vice president / general manager of Integrated
> Applications. Before coming to Netscape Communications in August 1994,
> Sha spent four years as vice president of the UNIX Division of Oracle
> Corporation. From 1986 to 1990, he was vice president / general manager
> of the Advanced Systems Division of Wyse Technology.
> * Kandis Malefyt, vice president of human resources. Before
> joining the company in December 1994, Malefyt was director of human
> resources at Silicon Graphics, Inc. for six years. Prior to that she
> served as vice president of human resources at ISI in Philadelphia.
> Netscape Communications Corporation is a premier provider of open
> software to enable people and companies to exchange information and
> conduct commerce over the Internet and other global networks. The
> company was founded in April 1994 by Dr. James H. Clark, founder of
> Silicon Graphics, Inc., a Fortune 500 computer systems company; and Marc
> Andreessen, creator of the NCSA Mosaic research prototype for the
> Internet. Privately held, Netscape Communications Corporation is based
> in Mountain View, California.


It makes for better reading when you ignore trivial details like facts. -- IFindKarma, http://xent.com/FoRK-archive/summer96/0590.html

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