> ours has been out there, but we did publish more
> information last week, and I hope people will pull it
> down off of our home page. That is the Marc Andreessen
> White Paper. Marc has developed--along with several other
> people in product marketing and elsewhere in our
> company--a marvelous vision of the future. It is called
> the Netscape Vision, [and it] talks about our plans for
> the next two or three years. Some of the things that were
> discussed last week [by Microsoft] were sort of rehashes
> of various and sundry other strategies and are certainly
> much more open than some of the products that they
> discussed. We wish them well, too. I think in this
> industry there is plenty of room for several players and
> the rising tide will raise all boats. We are certainly
> great admirers of Microsoft and what they have done.
Funny, I thought "Marc Andreesen White Paper" came from the folks who make
Charmin... two-ply and quilted, no doubt!
Jim Barksdale, CEO of Netscape Communications Corp., has been one of a
coterie of senior executives hitting the stump of late to wave the company
flag. PC Week Editor John Dodge recently caught up with Barksdale for an
update on Netscape's strategy as it gears up for the next stage of its battle
with Microsoft Corp.
PC Week: Last week, Microsoft announced a very aggressive Internet strategy.
How is Netscape going to respond?
Barksdale: Well, of course, ours has been out there, but we did publish more
information last week, and I hope people will pull it down off of our home
page. That is the Marc Andreessen White Paper. Marc has developed--along with
several other people in product marketing and elsewhere in our company--a
marvelous vision of the future. It is called the Netscape Vision, [and it]
talks about our plans for the next two or three years. Some of the things that
were discussed last week [by Microsoft] were sort of rehashes of various and
sundry other strategies and are certainly much more open than some of the
products that they discussed. We wish them well, too. I think in this industry
there is plenty of room for several players and the rising tide will raise
all boats. We are certainly great admirers of Microsoft and what they have
done. We just see it as a good competitive battle that is good for the
end-user. We are going to be extremely well positioned given our vision and
strategy for intranets and what these products mean.
PC Week: Some people think you are at a disadvantage because Windows NT 4.0
will ship in the August/September time frame and a lot of Microsoft's Internet
products will be bundled into that--into the server and into the client. Are
you at a disadvantage against Microsoft's NT?
Barksdale: No, no, I think some people of course want a soup to nuts--one
vendor does all strategy. I was a CEO of a top Fortune 500 company. I bought
more software than any software CEO in America, and I know what it is like to
be trapped in one proprietary solution. The more you bundle, the more
proprietary the solution becomes. This is not like the old Ma Bell telephone
company where everybody gets the same color phone and so forth. We think that
what users want are open cross-platform, cross-database [programs that] run on
Unix, run on NT, run on Windows, run on Macintosh. That is what they want.
That is why they now have elected the Netscape Navigator, the most popular
application software in history with 38 million copies distributed--more than
any other PC or other type of applications software distributed. So, we think
that the open solution of thin, layered software across universal clients,
universal servers is the way that an awful lot of people are going, but
certainly not all.
PC Week: In your white paper, Netscape talked about two new significant products.
Barksdale: Well, first of all, Galileo is our new client. We don't call them
browsers anymore because they do so much more. They give threaded newsgroups;
they give you embedded E-mail. They give you all sorts of new platform
opportunities for building applications on top of them. So, browsing as we
knew it is just one of its functions. The beta coming out in the latter part
of the summer for Galileo will give you a lot more group kind of functions and
functionality for the user as well as more multimedia adaptations.
People really want to use all this new intranet service software for
navigation as well as publishing or information sharing, for group
collaboration as well as application development and hooking into legacy
applications. These functions for users will be supported by better security,
open LDAP [Lightweight Directory Access Protocol] or standard security,
directory finding capabilities that are in it, as well as better management
tools for managing these intranets so that you can manage them all from one
site through the known interface, mainly the Netscape Navigator, that lets you
build, replicate, secure, broadcast and pull it all together into one sort of
seamless network of servers. You can build, buy, stack and unstack, move them
around and configure them in different ways. We think it is a bold,
aggressive, user-desired suite of functions and functionality that will be
PC Week: A lot of companies are riding on your coattails in the public
offering market--some of them with prospectuses that would indicate a
snowball's chance of making any money in the near future. What do you think of
those IPOs [initial public offerings]?
Barksdale: Look, I am not about to start down the road to criticize anybody's
deal. We do think there is obviously a lot of interest in it. I think more
important is that there is something major going on. There is a whole new
parade forming up, and so companies like ours are trying to get into the front
of that parade.
This is the marvel of the capitalistic society that we live in: the ability
to raise funds, to do new ideas. And I commend these people for trying and the
people who are pushing the edge of the envelope here. The great thing about
our country is our ability to raise capital for ideas that stretch the
imagination here and there and are not quite as tested as maybe steel
companies or automotive companies or whatever. We think the market is
certainly ready for a lot of these ideas, and the market will determine the
value of the securities.