Happy Birthday Marc Andreessen: The Man Who Showed Us The Internet !

It’s nothing less than an obvious that ‘information is useful only if it can be found‘. And Marc Andreessen, the founder of Mosaic and Netscape browsers, understood it much before anyone did. And the visionary he is, Marc Andreessen has a good number of laurels to his credit.

Name: Marc Andreessen

NetWorth: $600 million

Marc-Andreessen Nescape Founder

Some lesser known facts about him are:

1) Marc liked being in a situation which gave him clear motivation and means to do something significant and of impact, which he could not achieve at NCSA or Enterprise Integration Technologies’s subsidiary, Terisa Systems where he worked earlier to co-founding his own venture.

2) In the first international conference on the World Wide Web held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1994, Marc Andreessen was presented withMost Important Service Concept” award and also inducted into the World Wide Web (WWW) Hall of Fame along with the likes of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web

3) He was named “Man of the Year” by Micro-Times magazine in 1994.

4) He was chosen as one of the top 50 people under the age of 40 by Time Magazine in 1994 and branded as an Instantaire (Instant Millionaire).

5) He was profiled inPeople‘ magazine in December 1994.

6) In 1994 again, Marc was instrumental in bringing Netscape Commerce Server, the first secure server for the Web, to the world.

7) Marc developed the SSL(Secure Sockets Layer) as a standard, to permit secure transactions over the Web for business uses. The other competing protocol was S-HTTP (Secure-Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) which was built by EIT/Terisa, his former employer.

8) He earned the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for Leadership in 1995.

9) He was hailed as the “New Electronic Messiah” by the Economist in 1995 and often compared with Bill Gates.

10) On 9th September 1999, Andreessen, along with Ben Horowitz and other friends, formed Loudcloud, which created Opsware, an Internet watchdog, used to monitor and oversee Web sites and was picked up by the likes of Nike, Blockbuster Entertainment, Ford Motor Company and UK postal system. They were also one of the first to talk about cloud computing and offer Software as a Service(SaaS) computing with an Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS) model. In 2003, the company got renamed as Opsware and was bought over by HP for $1.6 billion in cash ($14.25 per share) on 21st September 2007. 

11) Launched in October 2005, Marc along with Gina Bianchini co-founded Ningan online platform for people and organizations to create custom specialized social networks. On 21 September 2011, Ning was acquired by Glam Media for $150 million. Today, Ning powers over 17,089 live websites of the  41,435 websites that have used Ning till date. 

10) Marc serves on company boards like eBay and HP of the many others.

11) Today, Marc and Ben Horowitz are referred to as Super Angel Investors and co-own Andreessen Horowitz which has a $4.2 billion fund under management, investing in entrepreneurs building companies at every stage, from seed to growth. Between the firm and his own holdings he has stakes in Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Github, Pinterest, Qik, Groupon, LinkedIn, Skype, Zynga and headset maker Jawbone.

12) He is presently working on possibilities of peer-to-peer drones, as confessed to Robert Scoble of Rackspace and envisions that “”we are going to have a virtual overlay on the real world that can not just replicate whats happening in the real world, also be able to project how the real world could be in the future.”

13) The first computer his parents bought him was a TRS-80 on which he learnt BASIC programming by himself and developed video games.
Long back, Internet was primarily a tool for élite researchers and a subculture of technophiles, who knew the difficult and cumbersome functions of using FTP, Gopher, and Telnet in an arcane Unix format, to find and download documents and files. The ‘browser’ was to the World Wide Web, what eyes are to the beauty around us.

AOL, Inc. (NYSE:AOL), on 24 November 1998, acquired Netscape Communications Corporation (formerly Mosaic Communications Corporation), co-founded and co-owned by Marc Andreessen, for $4.2 billion in stock, at 0.45 shares of AOL per Netscape share.

There are lot of interesting things that happened before Netscape’s acquisition and between these dates. Some of the interesting facts are:

1. It took one sleepless weekend in 1993, for Marc to hacked out a crude prototype of the ‘browser’ and show it to his friend and colleague, Eric Bina who was a gifted hacker. It took another six weeks for Andreessen, Bina and several other NCSA colleagues, to built it into a fully functioning browser they called Mosaic (the earlier version of the Netscape browser) .

2. Within an year of making it freely available on the internet, more than 2 million copies of Mosaic browser had been downloaded.

3. Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics (SGI), who was planning to start a new venture, heard of Marc through an engineer at SGI, and immediately shot him an email and met up with him. Marc convinced him that browsers and servers for the Internet are more lucrative than Jim’s idea of software for interactive television and the duo founded Mosaic Communications Corporation, in April 1994, with Jim financing $4 million.

4. Netscape Navigator was built from scratch, when National Center for Supercomputing Applications(NCSA), University of Illinois, where Eric Bina (a programmer at NCSA) and Marc Andreessen (a part timer at NCSA for $6.85 per hour) developed Mosaic browser, claimed the copyright of the application, as it was developed at their premises and by their employees. Even Mosaic Communications Corporation was renamed Netscape Communications Corporation, towards the end of 1994.

5. The strategy of Netscape was to give the browser for free and establish it as the Internet Standard and sell related network software for Internet and corporate use, to make money.

6. Netscape Navigator was clearly the first popular browsers to give the capability of assessing, reading and posting to newsgroups and an integrated mail client.

7. From April 1994 to May 1995, Netscape grew from a three member team to a 200 employees company. Former FedEx senior executive Jim Barksdale, was hired as CEO to manage the operations and Netscape expanded its product line to include high-end, high-priced software tools including virtual stores to conduct secure transactions over the internet.

8. August 1995 saw Netscape making $16.6 million and going public. Initially the IPO which was offered at $28 a share, and in no time, Netscape’s 5 million share stock, went upto $71 per share. This made 23 year old Marc Andreessen worth $58 million and by end of the year his worth catapulted to $174 million. This was undoubtedly one of the biggest first day stock pops in history.

9. In December 1995, Microsoft released its browser Internet Explorer and bundled it free along with its Windows OS to the millions of computers, thus crushing the dominance of Netscape from about 90% to merely 1%. This also kicked off the Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against Microsoft for using unfair practices to gain monopoly in the internet browsing software market.

10. AOL, in parallel, struck a three-year alliance with Sun Microsystems to distribute and develop Netscape’s enterprise software for corporate customers using Sun’s Java technology to offer AOL services on Internet devices. The Netscape employees by this agreement would report to Sun Microsystems chief Scott McNealy and AOL president Robert Pittman.

11. AOL discontinued support for all Netscape browsers and client products was terminated on March 1, 2008.

The apt wish for this “Boy Wonder”, Golden Geek” and “Internet Evangelist“, who brought revolution to the common man and every business, would be nothing less than, “Have an Amazing Era of Innovation and Vision Sharing, helping more disruption happen around us”.

The post is a part of a B’day Series where we celebrate the birthday of renowned personalities from Tech Industry, very frequently. The series includes Entrepreneurs, C-level Executives, innovators or a renewed leaders who moved the industry with his exponential skill set and vision. The intend is to highlight the person’s achievements and touch base the little known, but interesting, part of his life. You can see the list of all earlier celebrated tech personalities, including Mark Zuckerberg, Marrisa Mayor, Sean Parker, Andy Rubin, Julian Assange, by following this link or subscribe to your daily newsletter.

To make it more exciting, we suggest you to make use of the comment section if you are among the ones celebrating their birthday with today’s featured personality.

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