Tuesday, July 9, 2013

the last book I ever read (dot.con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era, excerpt four)

from John Cassidy's dot.con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era:

Clark stood to make a lot of money if Netscape went public, but that wasn’t his only consideration. He was hearing rumors that Spyglass, the company that had licensed the Mosaic browser from the University of Illinois, was preparing to do an IPO, and he didn’t want to be left behind. A successful stock offering would produce a lot of publicity, which would be immensely valuable to a young company like Netscape. In the old days, firms went public because they needed money to expand, but in the 1990s IPOs had turned into marketing events. “I continued to preach the gospel, assuring the unsaved that the Internet was their salvation,” Clark later wrote. “But we needed something else to get the world’s attention. More marketing bullshit! For a tiny little company with modest but exploding revenues, what was the biggest marketing event of all?”

There was yet another reason to move quickly, which Clark didn’t like to acknowledge publicly. At some point soon, Microsoft was bound to react to Netscape’s growing popularity, which was a potential threat to its grip on the PC desktop. Microsoft monopolized the market for PC operating systems with Windows, and the market for PC applications with Microsoft Office. Bill Gates had been slow to realize the importance of the Internet, but he was finally coming to his senses. Earlier in 1995, Microsoft had licensed Spyglass’s technology in order to shop a Web browser with Windows 95 and the Microsoft Network, both of which were due to be launched in August. Netscape Navigator was a superior browser to Spyglass’s Mosaic, but Clark knew that Gates was unlikely to stop there. Before very long, Microsoft was sure to attack the Web browser market in a more serious manner. If Netscape was going to issue stock, it made sense to do so while the competition was sparse.

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