May 16, 1996
An open letter to Marc Andreessen -- answered
Some days are better than others, and today is a particularly good one
because not only has Marc Andreessen responded to my letter of _Monday_, but
he also claims to be one of the Fringe Faithful. Now Marc (notice how that
just rolls off my fingers -- we're on a first name basis, ya know) isn't the
kind of guy that needs to lie just to impress people -- and I'm not the kind
of person that would rate that kind of treatment anyway -- so I have no other
choice than to assume he's telling the truth. Weird.
Letter follows. Just for the record, Marc did respond on Monday -- I've just
been too busy here at the thrift store to get to it until now.
I feel like I know you because I start every day with you.
I didn't get your previous letter. Did you send it by paper mail, telex, or
e-mail? (Just kidding.)
Besides, for the longest time I thought you were really Stewart Alsop, so I
figured I had you covered just by talking to him. (Just kidding again.)
"The new Bill Gates" -- that's what one article called you.
That's not a very nice thing to say.
If you do respond, I'll print your new letter in its entirety. If you don't,
I'm switching over to Microsoft Explorer.
Well, now, there's no reason for you to go get masochistic over this.
Make sure to include some way that I can verify the mail is actually from you.
Call Netscape PR (I'll forward them this).
The last Netscape prospectus I saw said you had 1,000,000 shares of Netscape.
At a price of $50 per share, that's what financial analysts call "lots of
dough." Are there any people from your earlier life that you are particularly
interested in telling this little fact to? If so, what would you say?
Nope, and nothing. It's mostly all on paper anyway.
Do you like being a famous guy, or do you wish you were just real rich
without people knowing who you were?
I can't complain. I mostly just stay home a lot :-).
Seriously, the rush of seeing my name in print faded after the first couple
of articles. Now we do it because it's useful for the company to have a few
people (like Jim Clark and me) as public spokespeople and figureheads in the
public spotlight. It keeps focus on us as a company and helps us get our
messages out. Other than that, it's kind of irrelevant to me.
When you go into any place that gives you poor service, does the thought
cross your mind -- even for a moment -- that you might buy the operation, fire
the offensive person, and sell the business back to the original owner for a
loss -- all for the sake of simple revenge?
Well, the Peninsula Creamery's food has been going downhill, so it has
occurred to me there. But I haven't done anything about it.
It's clear that the Web, and Netscape in particular, is the big thing in the
computer industry right now. Looking into the murky future, what do you think
the next big thing will be?
Two things, really -- broad, virtually universal deployment of
Web/Netscape/Internet technology in intranets on the one hand, and fast
consumer Internet access via cable modems, ISDN/ADSL, wireless, and satellites
on the other hand.
Intranet deployment is happening in a huge way right now. It's actually being
underhyped to a large degree. It's having a huge impact on how people are
building their internal networks, which is in turn having a huge impact on
everything else, including how powerful and effective the individual person
can be in a large organization, or how easy it is to build a small
organization from scratch to tackle a new problem.
Cable modems and other forms of fast consumer access are a little further
off, but the impact of when ordinary people start to get megabit Internet
access from home is being totally underestimated. That's when the whole
Internet thing really explodes, and that's the beginning of the end for
A snide friend of mine the other day said, "The thing I like most about
Netscape is it makes all computers act like a Macintosh." What's your
Well, I'll take that as a compliment -- the big breakthrough of the Mac to
this day, in my opinion, is that it makes the power of the technology usable
and approachable by real people. If we have been able to do the same thing for
the Internet, I think that's good.
On the other hand, if he's talking about crashes and hangs ... DOH!
If you could change one thing about Netscape 1.1, what would it be?
I would've put the e-mail and newsgroup interfaces in there instead of
waiting for 2.0. I think the real bang for Navigator is going to be how useful
it is to have Web pages, e-mail, discussion groups, chat rooms, audio and
video conferencing, shared folders, etc. all tied together. I think it's
really cool to e-mail someone a Web page and have it show up on the other end
fully formatted with all the images. I think it's really cool that newsgroups
can be used as an easy publishing vehicle for Web content. There's lots more
we can do by tying this stuff together.
I would've also taken out the BLINK tag.
p.s. I really do love your product. I use it everyday.
Cool! Be sure to let us know if you're ever thinking of changing your mind.
We're working hard to keep doing cool -- and useful -- new things for it.
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Copyright ( 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company