> Age: 24
> Net worth: $70 million
> Claims to fame:
> Wrote Mosaic, the first graphical Web browser
> Founded Netscape
If you're looking for someone to blame the Web on, Marc Andreessen is
Wondering why software releases are now weeks rather than months apart?
It's a phenomenon called Web Weeks and, yes, it's the chubby, baby-faced
24-year-old multimillionaire's fault. Add it to a long list of ways in
which the Web has changed our lives, from Web addresses on billboards to
talk of online addiction. Andreessen will tell you he was just in the
right place at the right time when as a college student in Illinois he
wrote Mosaic, the first graphical Web browser. Talking to him, you get
the feeling that he tripped and accidentally founded Netscape with
Silicon Graphics veteran Jim Clark. Don't believe it.
Andreessen has, if only temporarily, conquered the Web. About 85 percent
of all browsers in use are made by Netscape. That's gotten the attention
of Microsoft, which now plans to build Web browsing into Windows, a move
that could destroy Netscape in the consumer market. Andreessen's
response? Go after the business market. Andreessen has been exhorting
businesses to throw away Lotus Notes and other "closed" business
information systems and move to the "open" Web. The intranet is born
and the idea of "extranets" are incubating in Andreessen's mind. We'll
see just how lucky he is.
NEWS.COM: Are you at all surprised by the kinds of business and cultural
changes you have set off through development of Mosaic?
Andreessen: I laugh every time I open the morning newspaper and half the
articles are about the Internet or something on the Internet. The San
Francisco Examiner recently ran a big article on Stale, this parody of
Slate. Here's an article in a newspaper about a Web site. It's like just
a totally normal thing these days.
I've been waiting for three years now for the level of interest to crest
and it hasn't. I get the feeling increasingly that we're at the very
beginning of a very long-term ramp up. This is just the start. And so I
think the changes over the next five or ten years are really going to be
profound, and we're only starting to see some of them.