The Rise and Fall of the Original Web Start-Up

The California freeway from Mountain View to Cupertino was jammed late Tuesday afternoon. Netscape's entire work force was traveling as if in procession to a nearby college auditorium--one big enough to accommodate all 1,200 for what would be the saddest-ever of Netscape's legendary "all-hands" meetings. The rumors had become official: America Online was buying their feisty company. As you might imagine, none of the people there greeted this as good news. "Netscape is dead," an employee said bitterly. "This was the funeral."

An exhausted Jim Barksdale, the veteran CEO who had been hired to figure out how the scrappy start-up could...

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