This Week, “Adoption of the Internet, part 8″
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- Mosaic Communications Corporation was founded in April, 1994, following strategic meetings between Jim Clark and Mark Andreessen.
- Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, and a billionaire recently pushed out of his company, was looking for something new to do
- Marc Andreessen had developed the NCSA Mosaic Browser with a team from National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
- After meeting with Marc, Jim felt that there was opportunity in a commercial version of the NCSA Mosaic Browser, and was convinced that this new “World Wide Web” would grow in popularity.
- Jim recruited Marc along with others from both NCSA and SGI, and has Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers come in after him as investors.
- Killer App
- The Netscape Navigator (name changed from Mosaic after issues with NCSA) was released in October 1994. It quickly supplanted all existing browsers including NCSA Mosaic, within four months of release, it took over three quarters of the browser market.
There are two ages of the Internet – before Mosaic, and after. The combination of Tim Berners-Lee’s Web protocols, which provided connectivity, and Marc Andreesen’s browser, which provided a great interface, proved explosive. In twenty-four months, the Web has gone from being unknown to absolutely ubiquitous.
Pesce, Mark (October 15, 1995). “A Brief History of Cyberspace”. ZDNet.
1995 – finally
- Netscape Communications Corporation was selling something that users could easily get for no cost for non-commercial use.
- In January, Jim Barksdale joined the company as its CEO.
“Now I’m the President around here. So if I say a chicken can pull a tractor trailer, your job is to hitch ’em up.”
- In February, Netscape released version 2 of SSL as a way to securely transmit content over the web. Web users may recognize SSL as “HTTPS” addresses, or little padlock icons in certain browsers.
- Netscape went public in August. By the time that it went public, Netscape (renamed from Mosaic after issues with NCSA) had doubled revenues each quarter since it had started business, and was making more money than Microsoft. It wasn’t profitable, but it had captured the attention of the investing world. The stock opened at $28, went to $75 and closed at $58.25, giving the first dot com offering an instant valuation of $3bn.
“In a fight between a bear and an alligator, it is the terrain which determines who wins.”
- Microsoft released Windows 95 with the Plus! pack on August 24, 1995, two weeks after the Netscape public offering. This release included Internet Explorer 1.0, built using a licensed version of Spyglass Mosaic, and this started the Browser Wars.
A user friendly web browser was available, along with unwelcome competition. Netscape, a seemingly insignificant startup trying to sell technology that was available for nothing went public, was valued by the market at $3 BILLION, and Microsoft woke up and decided to get into the web.