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Can Marc Do it Again? 98

Someone gave us the link to Marc Andreessen's latest company effort. He's got a good team, lotsa money, and credibility - and he wants to rule the space of "hosted applications".
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Can Marc Do it Again?

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  • No matter how good the team, and no matter how much money you have, if the prodcut is flawed, the company will crash and burn. The only thing that abundant talent and money assure is success IF you have a good product. Many times, bad management has contributed to the downfall of a good prodcut, but very rarely is the opposite true. If he has a good idea, he will suceed, unless, of course, Microsoft or AOL buy him out first.

    Peter Pawlowski
  • From the article...

    In a recent conversation with Sm@rt Reseller, Andreessen declined to comment on any unannounced projects or investments.

    Gee, wonder what he's got up his sleeve. Anyway, I'm pretty much behind anything that Marc tries to pull off. He's just escaped a very large evil, and one can't help but wonder why he stayed so long... to maintain control maybe? How long before he realized that it was a failed effort? Anyway, I know this comment sucks, but it's still the

    First REAL Post! Hellz yeah!.! Skr1pt K1ddi35 R00L!!!

    To anyone who wasn't paying attention, the above comment SARCASM.

  • I'm sorry, but I just can't see this succeeding with M$ hanging around. Big movement operations like this have a tendancy (as we all know) to get quickly dwarfed (or bought by) Microsoft. I'm curious if the Justice department stuff will have any effect on M$ jealous market agression.

    Why should Marc's company be any different?

    -- Moondog

    A flawed product can't succeed?? Somebody better tell Bill Gates quick!!



    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Well has he gone public yet? MS can't take over a private company unless Marc & Co let him.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Who knows if they have the story right but building a platform with application server, database, directory server, etc. internaly or through aquisitions is *very* ambitious.

    So what would be the value added that these guys could contribute compared to their erstwhile competition such as IBM, Oracle and (lest we forget) Micro$oft?

    Either the story is wrong or this thing has a *very* high probability of crashing and burning.
  • Exactly how good a product is the hosted application concept, anyway?

    I suppose I could see it's use within a business network, where it would be more space efficient. But I hear all sorts of people in the media talking about all the public uses of hosted applications. That it would allow people to buy smaller computers and download and use applications only when they need them. And maybe it's my geek-nature, but hearing that just gives me the heeby-jeebies.

    I mean, I like owning installation disks and setting aside space for mostly stable software. It means that I know I can rely on being able to use it. Sorta.

    Now I know that this is a "free market" that is supposed to be governed by the consumers. But I don't really trust our "free market" to do things my way.

    Of course, for a while we'll have the best of both worlds, and maybe things won't change that much at all.

    But still, hearing about industry plans for my living room sometimes makes me want to grab my PEZ and run for the hills.

    All I want is for the chips to go fast, and the system to stay up.

  • It seems to me most people mentioned were suits. Who
    is going to code this thing, or is it going to be developed
    entirely through acquisitions (a la Worldcom)? The ASP
    market seems to be taking off (as much as I hate it), so
    they'll need a product within the next couple of years,
    thus I expect Netscape quality of code, that is to say that
    it'll be hard make a worse product (granted MS will find a way,
    as with browsers).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    .. this one is going belly up fast. "And he's assembled a killer management team chock-full of former Netscape gurus ... to catapult this company to success." That pretty much says it all right there doesn't it?
  • Maybe someone can submit "The People's first post"
  • by denubis ( 105145 ) <brian.technicraft@com> on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:01PM (#1593479)
    I personally find the concept of downloading apps (per use) quite disturbing, for a couple of reasons:

    a) Why couldn't they charge per use - get people ensnared and then: "Oh whoops! We're sorry, costs are high, we're going to have to institute daily fees."

    b) Why couldn't they charge TO use - don't get me wrong, owning software is great, but... giving other people money for it? ::chuckles:: (only if they're really good)

    c) Bandwith/Net Congestion. Take this example: Day before an essay is due and like usual I haven't started. I go to this page, pop open the app (I assume this is the kind of app they're talking about) and the app takes 20 minutes to load, causing me to loose half my hair.

    d) Internet conncetion. My modem isn't all that reliable (good ol' earthlink) and it drops my connection. Would you have to save every 20 seconds so that you don't loose work when you drop off the net?

    e) "Haxors" Your arch-rival at school needs no more than to sniff your password and edit a few key phrases. When you print - in a rush, you don't notice them, and you're failed.

    Anyways, having to d/l software every time you use it is not my idea of fun. I like software on disks - much easier to replace when the computer barfs.

    IMNSHO, hosting apps for users is a waste of bandwidth and time (not to mention the piracy hassles) and hosting 'net apps has been done FOR A WHILE. It should be intresting to see what Marc comes up with.

    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
  • The rise of hosted applications, which may be used without distribution, is problematic for licenses such as GPL which only restrict distribution. This has already been a concern for CGI scripts and other web server based programs. But if hosted applications take off, the GNU GPL is really going to lose relevancy.

    An implicit assumption in the GPL seems to be that users of a program have access to the binary. That's not the case with CGI programs and similar hosted applications. I'm not sure how access to source can be preserved in these cases without resorting to terms like those in the APSL [gnu.org]. Any ideas?

    (This is a long-standing issue. It's not related to marca's new company but I brought it up in reference to the field of hosted applications in general.)

  • by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:04PM (#1593481)
    When will people realize that MS doesn't matter? Anything they do at this point is too little, too late. The future of information technology doesn't have ANY place for them and their current product models. The DOD trial and "Linux competition" aside, in three years it won't matter WHAT Microsoft is doing unless they abandon all their products now, or at least re-work them for the next wave.

    Larry Ellison is right: it will be all about weak/cheap clients and beefcake centralized services. There will be one fiber running to everyone's house (provided by companies that look like telcos combined with cable companies) and over that you will access data in any form you want. A "Telephone" in your kitchen, "Television" in the family room, email from your palm-based device (eventually a more appropriate interface: voice or otherwise), and any other sort of data acquisition/modification from other specialized devices.

    You'll still have your video game device (the merger of console and pc), and something to write documents on (of course, by that point there'll be little need to make a hardcopy, but the provisions will be there), both consisting of simpler, more usable software stored in firmware, with modular elements loaded from the "Internet." (Which is where the successor to Java steps in... hardware/platform independent software that (by then) will perform well.)

    The only possible product have even a niche need is WinCE, which probably won't survive given real competition -- it wasn't developed with the future mindset in consideration. They'll wither away as they try to include more and more features in it, when the world will be moving towards two things: 1. more appropriate interfaces for computing and 2. usable software that doesn't need to be "learned" the way today's does.

    Today's computing is klunky, ugly, and expensive in terms of time needed to do things, space, electricity, and actual hardware/software costs.

    The future of "computing" isn't bigger, better, and flashier... it's completely transparent.

  • by Wooly-Mammoth ( 105587 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:12PM (#1593482)
    In the history of the software industry, there are the inventors and there are the businessmen. The inventors are people like :

    Dan Bricklin & Bob Frankston (Visicalc)
    Woz (Apple)
    Bill Gates (BASIC)
    Bill Joy (vi, BSD, NFS)
    Douglas Engelbart (mouse, GUI, groupware, live video conferencing, hypertext help)
    Bob Metcalf (ethernet)
    Richie, Kernighan, Thompson (C, unix)
    Seymour Cray (Cray supercomputers)
    David Patterson (RISC, RAID)
    Tim Berners-Lee (the world wide web)

    Most of them didn't succeed commercially.

    And there are the businessmen, the people who are really good at understanding a totally new fertile field and transforming technology into success:

    Scott McNealy (sun)
    Bill Gates (Microsoft)
    Jim Clark (SGI, netscape)
    Seymour Cray (Cray supercomputers)
    Larry Ellison (Oracle)
    Mitch Kapor (Lotus)
    Steve Jobs (apple)

    These are two very different fields, and very few people are good at both.

    Frankly, marca hasn't invented anything, and he was never a business leader. He took an existing product (the web browser) and made it popular thru free downloading. Yes, this was an earthshaking phenomenon in the industry, but he did not invent the browser, nor did he lead Netscape on to a powerful business position. In fact, he was hardly ever in charge of netscape - that was Barksdale.

    And if we are to believe news reports, he never coded anything after Netscape took off. Whatever your opinion of Bill Gates is, he still codes, and he has even participated in coding competitions as CEO. It probably explains why he's good at understanding both the technical and business end of things.

    I would be surprised if anything radical comes from Andreesen. Heck, I would be surprised if anything radical comes from this new company - web hosting & e-commerce isn't likely to shock anyone at this point.


  • Many times, bad management has contributed to the downfall of a good prodcut, but very rarely is the opposite true.

    Many ideas can be turned into products, but it often seems that the difference between success and failure depends on the personal clout (money, connections, reputation,etc.) of the people involved.

    There seem to be 3 kinds of products: bad products, truly innovative products, and products just waiting to be made but which require large amounts of capital and organisational abilities to pull off -- this is where the personal clout of those involved become important ... and the 3rd category is often where the big money is.

    Reading about Jim Clark's latest venture in the New York Times, I was really struck by the fact that despite the basic concept being incredibly simple (basically, reduce paperwork in the health industry) and unoriginal (I'm sure similar ideas have occured to anyone who has ever been tied up by paperwork), it really takes someone with Jim Clark's reputation to pull off: I imagine it'll be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for someone without a similar reputation to attract the capital or the people required. And this is where people like Marc Andreesen come in. And like Jim Clark, his first step required great innovation (development of the graphical browser), but he can subsequently leverage his reputation towards the 3rd category of products.
  • The article was quick to point out the Star-Studded Cast (Including not only MarcA, but also Ben Horowitz(CEO), Timothy Howe, and Jonathan Heiliger) but curiously lacks the one and only Jamie Zawinski.

    Given Jamies devotion [jwz.org] to the original Mocaic effort, and later the open source push that is grown into 'M10', I think would would be a valuable asset to the Marca team, but to the open source comunity as well.

  • > According to sources familiar with the new
    > companys plans, Andreessen and his pals are
    > charging full bore into the hosted
    > application space, building a complete
    > platform that'll comprise a database,
    > application server, directory server and
    > other critical elements. Essentially, the
    > new company--code-named VCellar--will
    > target Internet hosts and data-center
    > providers, which would offer this back-end
    > platform to dot-com start-ups

    Ambitious? Maybe I'm missing something, but
    doesn't this sound like Red Hat's Commerce

  • When DOS/Windows first came out, they were the best around... are you telling me that if someone just pulled Netscape Communicator 4.x out of the sky, you would use it? Its slow and not too stable, but it has the reputation of once being an excellent product, and runs on the same concept Windows: once you get the reputation, you keep it.

    Peter Pawlowski
  • by Roundeye ( 16278 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:40PM (#1593488) Homepage
    I completely concur. Reading this article I got a distinct feeling that this cast of "stars" wasn't much asset-wise, particularly if the headliner is marca. Most of these guys were merely in the right place at the right time -- the real stars of the Netscape show left a long time ago. And they're going forward to tackle a vaguely defined area which is currently the arena of the "big boys", trying to be guerillas again -- only, they're not guerillas any more.

    Sure, every VC company wants a piece of this, just to hedge their bets; but this won't be a winner for them margin-wise. The winners for VC's are still the guerilla company's: there's a lot of room to grow from ground zero.

  • Yet another saving grace of OpenSource:

    You will always be able to install on a local machine as long as there is such a thing (and there will always be a market, so someone will fill that "hardware niche" if it comes to that), because there will always be plenty of hackers wanting to get the guts of the system out right there on their own box. OSS ensures that there's no company out there that can say "You have to pay $X per day to use the app now".

    Good Ideas expose their hidden Good Features over time -- Open Source is no exception.

  • I think [he] would be a valuable asset to the Marca team, but [also] to the open source comunity as well.

    Indeed he would be. If he, or someone they could tout of similar caliber (whom they would be touting at this point, and aren't), wasn't asked then this stellar management team isn't. If he, or similar others, declined, there is likely to be a reason -- i.e., he's smart enough to judge this as a failure up front, or it's not an interesting project (or conflicts with his philosophy/ambitions/etc.). Since it would be philosophically acceptable, in theory, to some good designer/hacker and no Great One is present, I would take a wild guess and say those with any sense know this isn't going any where (for whatever reasons).

    You can't develop a big system like this (and expect to take on IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, RedHat, etc.) without a good technical team. If they had it we'd know about it. So, I guess, count me among the DoomSayers on this one.

  • Not only that, but, as chronicled in Steven Levy's Hackers, Gates's anal-retentive licensing pissed off everyone in the personal computing scene of the time. He tried to stomp out the practice of improving his binary code and redistributing it--on paper tape!

    Ain't much changed.

    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • Don't worry. It's all bullshit. How far has Sun gone with the network computer? These "innovators" fail to take into account the massive impetus of the open- source movement. Why would you lease your applications when you can run tons of them on even the oldest computers, on Linux, for next to nothing?
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:01PM (#1593494) Homepage Journal
    Ob means obligatory, and BZZZZZT try again means that Gates never invented BASIC. You want to take Gates out of that top list and put "John Kemeny of Dartmouth" in his place. That's who invented BASIC, and maybe some day more people will give him credit for it than Gates.
  • And another thing . where *is* JWZ?

    I mean, is he spending his millions puffing on a huka in the Himalayas? Perhaps poping percidan in a puruvian pesto pub?

  • I can't speak for the man, but I bet he doesn't give a shit about the latest bee in Marc's bonnet. He's a hacker and an open-source advocate--he's one of us. I can't see him liking this idea any better than we do.

    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • You think DOS was the best around? Well, it was around, but I don't see where it was the best.

    As for Windows (which is a seperate product, despite their current bundling status), it definately was never the best - or even adequete. Most Mac users, Amiga users, hell - any users - could have told you that. It got where it is due to the leverage that DOS had via IBM. Even then, it wasn't easy to not be laughed at: it was only accepted during the 3.X timeframe...

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis, http://www.axismutatis.net
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:34PM (#1593500) Homepage
    Woah there Tex! I think that your list of geeks and suits is a little out of whack.

    Bill Gates has never been known as a programmer, really. He didn't invent BASIC, he didn't even have all that much to do with the half-assed version of it that MS made for the Altair. Paul Allen was doing most of the work, Bill was losing at poker with his Harvard buddies. Bill is a suit, who happens to be suprisingly good at fooling people into thinking he's a geek. Steve Jobs has done the same thing at times, so it's not unique, but it is rare.
  • Oh, you're so wrong. :) On several counts too.

    MS is going to be around, and muddying up the waters for a long time. Even if they don't look like they're going to survive "the next wave" as you put it, they've got too many resources behind them to not just outright buy their way into any market they want (a la Hotmail for example).

    And I don't think it's going to be about centralized processing. The PC clone manufacturers (and their advertising departments) make far too much money selling incredibly overpowered systems to the average home user. (Come on, it does NOT take a PIII-600 to run a web browser or word processor if all those "extras" (e.g. Windows 98) weren't also running).

    People are going to have hugely powerful systems at home, people are going to WANT to have hugely powerful systems at home (PC's have become a status symbol a lot like a nice car has). What would be the point of having all that power and then go and use your ISP's computers for all the work? Distribute the load baby.

    If you want to take a look at some really cool foundations for "The Network is the Computer" philosphy, check out what's being down with Active Networks. Very cool shit.

    Anywho, just one opinion amoung many.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Andreesen isn't a genius. The work on Mosaic was done mostly by Eric Bina, and the code that Andreesen did looked like crap. Marca took most of the credit. Never hear much about Bina's work do you? Well??

    He didn't have anyone working for him at Netscape, he was just their internet poster child. He didn't write ANY code there either.

    Go read the GQ article about this, and what the people that worked at netscape at the time had to say about him.

    I'm so sick of this mythic story that the upper management at NS created, I just want to puke.

  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @10:04PM (#1593503)
    A good point. I suppose it's too simple, but what would be wrong with requiring each *user* of the software to have rights to the source? The GPL assumed that you would have to distribute to each user, so I think this would preserve the intention.

    However this would make new GPL'd software less attractive to Marc and Sun if many users compile the sources locally (after patching them so they'll work locally.) This would allow avoiding fees on the thin-client service for those with sufficient local resources to run binaries.

    If the apps are real honkers like Word and StarOffice, I doubt the loss will be too significant, so maybe we *should* make the GPL more strict. Otherwise, I can easily see all the apps providers getting into a war of proprietary features, which is not good.
  • by rcromwell2 ( 73488 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @10:06PM (#1593504)

    This isn't consumer apps running on a portal, this is a business to business startup, and fulfills a similar function as UUNET, Exodus, or AboveNet.

    In the ole days, people got their own T1 lines to their office and hosted their web sites on their own machines, had their own network admins, their own cable/hardware guys, etc.

    First step: eliminate the hassle of running a T1 and maintaining your own "high availability" stuff.

    Companies: Exodus, AboveNet. Gigabits of bandwidth, earthquake proof, power failure proof, fault tolerant. Pay $1800/mo and stick a few rackmounted machines there, and they do the rest.
    No brainer for most businesses.

    Hosting servers at a professional hosting service is much better than running a T1 from your ISP. The ISP's quality of service simply can't compete.

    Next step: services. Example: email. Email is a commodity. Why pay a staff $200k a year plus capital costs to host sendmail, exchange, or lotus notes on your network when you can just "outsource" it to USA.net, Mail.com, CriticalPath, for a small fee and not have to deal with the headache? There is no way your average mail admin will achieve the scalability and level of service that you will get at say, CriticalPath.

    Next steps: Why go through the hassle of having to purchase your own copy of Oracle, or an Application server, and pay an Oracle DBA or CIO lots of money to maintain them, their uptime, and the quality of service?

    If you have a bright idea for the Next-Big-Thing, and want to start coding immediately next week, and you can't afford to hire lots of people, why not just rent space on someone else's professionally maintained DB/Application Server/Network, etc.

    By outsourcing these services, you don't need to waste time, and money, developing your own inhouse installation, and struggling to maintain the QoS that a professionally run organization has. Or for that matter, the fault-tolerance of leasing a DB/Server on an E10000!

    Andressen's idea is simply to setup the DB/App server, and simply sell the right to run your servlets, CGIs, applets, etc on their servers.

    I can tell you that it's a very valuable proposition to some companies. It's too distracting to have developers wasting time performing maintaince on hardware, software, network, etc.

    Now, you can easily hire an inhouse admin to do it, but you still won't have the quality of running on a Sun Enterprise 10000 hosted at Exodus, with 24hr on-call staff, high security, subterranian power generators, etc Also, it takes time to hire someone and have them set it all up. With outsourcing, you make one phone call, write a check, and your developers can start coding the next day.


  • When it does go belly up Marc can always go back to hocking Miller Lite with Norm Macdonald.

    Marc: My last company didn't do so well, Norm.

    Norm: I guess you can say your .company .completely sucked!

    *Canned Laughter*

  • Last I heard, JWZ had given up on Mozilla out of frustration. He was being hard on himself for not having a product out yet, and he didn't feel bad about leaving Netscape. (after what it had become, merged with AOL and all) Seeing as how Marc left, I'd say he was right. :)

    He's still alive, though. He's posted to slashdot since he left Netscape/AOL on April Fools Day, and updated xscreensaver, and stuff. As to what he's doing, I don't know. Go check alt.fan.jwz or something.
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • I know that this has nothing to do with anything, but did anyone else but me notice that there were waaaaaaay too many hyphens in that article? I swear, it was hyphen-fu. Here's a taste:

    Essentially, the new company--code-named VCellar--will target Internet hosts and data-center providers, which would offer this back-end platform to dot-com start-ups.

    There ought to be a law prohibiting anyone from writing or saying the phrase "dot-com" anywhere. Marketing people (especially those that try too hard, you know, technically) need help in a biochemical way. They need off this kick. They, like papa, need a brand new bag. Pronto super fast.

    Otherwise, I thought the article had nothing novel to offer.


  • for the same reason people watch television.

    sure, you could go out and buy all the movies on vhs that you wanted. you can even make your own movies. but most people seem to want new fluff rather than old favorites.

    if most people could run the latest, greatest, fluffiest app without going to the store, they'd bite. not everyone, of course, but enough people.

    when enough homes have the bandwidth to make this viable, it'll happen. frankly, i doubt the most common tools will cost anything...rather, your monitor will be as full of commercials as tv is now.

    frankly, i agree with you. but if i could operate just by downloading stuff...or just running an app off of a central server, perhaps i'd feel differently.

  • by cjsnell ( 5825 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @11:16PM (#1593510) Journal
    UGGHH!!! I'm so sick of seeing VCs and Wall Street fawning over these companies that have absolutely WORTHLESS products. Has anyone here ever used Netscape Application Server? If you have, you know what a stinking turd it is. Want to scale your super-duper ".com" (and gawd, I'm so sick of that word) application using Netscape servers? Well, here's what you do: You buy several million dollars worth of high-end Sun hardware to run it and hire a flock of Java consultants to build your application for you. It will take them at least 6 months, probably a year, to develop the final product. When you're finally rolling, you'll have a bloated, unmanageable, Java-based three-tier app that barely functions, even when run on Sun's latest and greatest hardware. To support all this hardware, you'll need a room full of Solaris admins and systems support staff, and when its all said and done, your product is still as slow as a spilled bucket of tar on a North Dakota winter day. Trust me, I've worked for several companies that have gone this route and it ain't pretty.

    The fact that this article touts that VCellar has hired someone who was formerly in charge of Kiva development scares me. I'll give them this, though--if you are foolish enough to go the three-tiered Java route, you'll need a company like Vcellar to help you run all the big iron you'll need to support your app.

    The future of online computing, IMHO, is:

    Dell hardware
    VA Linux hardware

    Unfortunately, many of the above will probably never be as popular is the "Vcellar" type solutions, because large companies love to spend huge amounts of investors' money. It's the nature of the beast.
  • DOS (PC-DOS to be exact) wasn't the best OS for the IBM PC. It was the cheapest. CP/M-86 was much better but it was very expensive (~$300) compared to PC-DOS. The UCSD p-System was also available for the IBM PC and I wrote a lot of software with it. PC-DOS was cheap and "good enough". Microsoft's software development tools (MASM, FORTRAN, Pascal) for PC-DOS were unbelievably bad.
  • by jcr ( 53032 )
    If he does anything like any of his previous work, then it's a waste of time.

    The browser was so fucking lame that *microsoft* topped it, with a product that only crashes four times a day.

    The application server was designed to run up as many hours as possible for the likes of Arthur Andersen and similarly worthless custom-bloatware coders.

    What I expect from a Marc Andreesen product, is a half-assed buzzword-chasing load of crap.

  • > I suppose it's too simple, but what would be
    > wrong with requiring each *user* of the
    > software to have rights to the source?

    Copyright law. It only restricts copying, not use. A license that required each user to get the source would thus require a signed contract, as copyright law doesn't apply.
  • Usually, on Slashdot I'm the one defending MS, but this is ridiculous!!

    Bill Gates did not invent BASIC - it has been around since the 1960s

    I don't think he even coded it - I know he & Paul Allen bought MS-DOS of another guy.

    I, for one would

    • LOVE
    to see one of thse codeing contests the Bill Gates takes part in. A URL, or a reference somewhere would be nice.

    I do agree with the basic point of what you are saying, though.

  • ... and his answer at the time was: the GPL can't do much about it.

    Here are some ideas I've had:

    Declare that the output of the program is a derived work of the program. I think that's the essential property we're trying to get it. For example, if Andrew writes a GPL game server, and Bob puts it up on www.bobsgames.com and offers access to it, then Andrew could require Bob to give Bob's source + modifications to Bob's users (because Bob's users are getting derivatives of Andy's work).

    Go to a different license where the first copy of material received is covered by the license -- similar to those "click to agree" licenses that people stick on binary-only software such as Netscape Communicator and Adobe Acrobat Reader. (Or, for that matter, Windows 98!)

    Give up and accept that GPL'd code used on someone else's web site degenerates to a BSD-like license. I don't like this option, but it's the state of reality today.

  • [sure, you could go out and buy all the movies on vhs that you wanted]

    This is emphatically NOT TRUE. You cannot buy the latest, greated moving or other programming on VHS (or DVD, bummer). If you want the content, you have to get it via the means it is provided.

    So you watch it on TV (with 100 commercials per hour or whatever), or you pay $7 to see a movie at the theater.

    It's all about control of the content.

    What if MS Office 2005 comes out as a "hosted" app only? Then if you want to upgrade, you have to go to an ASP.
  • Every damn year, sometimes every damn quarter, some greed-impaired schmuck regurgitates the idea of conning users into perpetually paying for software.

    How the hell is this any different from what M$ is doing now. Upgrade treadmill baby. To me this is the big advantage of Linux. I AM OFF THE TREADMILL!!

    Amazingly, even end users recognize the scam for what it is and reject it every freaking time.

    Yeah, but PHB's are vulnerable to the sales pitch.

    Upgrades notwithstanding, you can buy MS Word and use it until the last x86 processor releases the magic smoke.

    Interesting theory, but file format changes make this impractical. Buy MS and you are on the treadmill baby. No getting off until you fdisk.

    Why the press and investors keep falling for this crap is beyond me.

    The main reason is support costs. The initial cost of a PC with software is trivial compared to the support costs. The first guy who comes up with a way to eliminate support costs is going to end up MUCH richer than Bill Gates. Some people think remote hosted software is the way to do this.

  • In order to 'do it again' wouldn't this fellow have to steal off with another open source program like Mosaic that he co-developed with public funding, and turn it into a closed-source success story?

    Maybe he could steal Apache this time, or something like that. Oh wait! He didn't co-develop with his peers, as was the case with Mosaic.

    I fail to see any other "magic spell" that this man posesses that he could use to strike it rich a second time.
  • Nope.

    Paul Allen and Bill Gates wrote a BASIC interpreter for ROM, and/or Paper Tape/Cassette, that people could bootstrap into their machines. CP/M came much later. And it was a watershed event at the time, when the alternative for hobbiests was to use toggle switches to write programs in machine code (not that 'sissy' Assembly Language).

  • This isn't consumer apps running on a portal, this is a business to business startup, and fulfills a similar function as UUNET, Exodus, or AboveNet. ... etc

    Actually, that angle makes me want to drool. In a positive way.

  • As for Windows (which is a separate product, despite their current bundling status), it definitely was never the best - or even adequate. Most Mac users, Amiga users, hell - any users - could have told you that.

    Well, I don't know about Mac users will say anything bad about MS and its products and PCs in general. no matter how untrue. Maybe you should ask windows users what they thought of the OS, ones who had used both or all three. If you think MS fud is you should see some of the misconceptions Apple was spewing. Mac OS may have had a better UI then win3.1, but I really don't see how you can say that the Mac interface is better then windows 95/98, between the two its a matter of preference.(I don't know much about Amiga's OS)

    This is getting a little off topic, but it does have relevance. Microsoft products are stable, at least now. A program error that would, and still would, bring down MacOS would only cause a GPF in windows, closing the application. Oh, and what program caused the most GPFs/system crashes that I've ever seen? yup, Netscape. No matter how good you say it is, that program crashed a lot. IE simply does not. I believe it's crashed on my about 3 times since IE 5 came out a couple months ago. And all I had to do was redouble click on the icon in order to surf again. Netscape always had bad products.

    Let me state for the record, that I used to be a Netscape loyalist. I used Netscape for everything except the Microsoft homepage, witch simply would not work in Netscape (you would actually get dead links in one browser and not the other, I'm sure this was MS's fault. but when I needed something off there site I would use IE). The next site I used IE on? ironically slashdot. Netscape would stall for several seconds when displaying the comment pages in nested mode, any time you would resize the window, it would reload the page off the server, and it couldn't find it's place again if you left the page. IE did this. and since I check /. every day IE became my default browser. Like everyone else I'm hoping for great things from mozila, but for now, I'm using IE. (at least in windows)

    Btw, I might still be using Netscape it weren't owned by AOL, I don't think there are many people who think AOL is less evil then MS...
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Let's face it. The guy is a boob. If anyone knows him (from his college days), the guy isn't brilliant. He has a lot of money. He didn't "invent" the browser, he was merely porting it to Windows when Jim Clark contacted him.

    I give him credit for what he has done (mainly make a lot of money), he is far from being a brilliant guy.

    Anyone ever hear him talk at a conference? Geesh. What an idiot.

    I am not trying to make this a bash-fest, but to put this guy up on a pedestal is ridiculous. That's like saying Steve Case is an Internet guru. Geesh.

    As far as ASPs go. Chalk that one up next to the network guru, the Java OS, and all the of other crack-pot ideas Sun as come up with.

    The web is a nice medium for information, and very basic apps, but I would absolutely hate to have to use a web-based app for something complex or time consuming.

    I think local apps (like Win32, Linux) that are made for the OS and use the "Internet" as a network are much more powerful. Let's face it, the Internet is just a big WAN.

    The infrastructure required for this (to be reliable, have QoS, security, privacy, etc.) is a long, long way off.

  • Why did he stay so long? He stayed because he said he would in order to make the transition work.

    Oh, and a bucketload of cash didn't hurt - check out his recent 88 million dollar AOL stock sale...
  • So, if I cut and paste the latest press release from Oracle/Sun, I can get moderated up to a 4? How in the world does this happen?

    At any rate, I've been seeing this same BS for a few years now. Despite all the worst intentions of Scott McNealy (rhymes with "Mr. McFeely") and Larry Ellison, big servers with thin clients aren't the big thing yet or in the foreseeable future.

    PC sales are still growing strong, with people looking for beefier machines at lower prices. People like power on their desktop, and not just for game playing.

    While I keep hearing about how ubiquitous computing is on the way, and it'll be so much better, the brain-dead proponents of such fail to see two very important facts. First, it already is here in many ways. I interact with a lot of little computers, such as the one in my microwave, everyday. Second, many common tasks, such as word processing, spreadsheet manipulation, etc., lend themselves very very well to a computer with (now, write these down) a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. That's not because I'm accustomed to that and have no future vision, it's because those tasks involve typing stuff in (keyboard) and manipulating it (keyboard & mouse) and, of course, viewing it (monitor).

    As for printers going away and becoming unneccessary, I'm laughing. Yeah right! Printers' popularity is directly tied to that of computers; regardless of how damned "wired" we all get, we still like to print stuff out.

    The point is that the future of computing is both bigger, better, and flashier, and completely transparent. There is already a huge amount of transparent out there, and it'll just keep growing. But the current "multi-purpose" machines aren't going away, they're getting bigger and more powerful.

    Oh, and they're not as bad as some folks make them out to be.

  • 1) The link is to an article that doesn't say or even hint at what exactly variety of the applications.
    2) Therefore, if the new company has a www site and somebody around here knows what it is then plz post it.
    3) There are a variety of highly data intensive analytical applications for which this sort of model makes a lot of sense:
    * The front end is used to model the business and establish business rules and requires some substantial initial customization. This is the part of the app hosted over the www.
    * The back end requires a lot of data and also requires services to clean and load the data. The back end requires on going maintenance and is really harder to keep working (and performing) on an ongoing basis.
    * After processing, another "front end" (again hosted over the www) is used to browse and analyze the results of the backend processing...perhaps with an OLAP engine behind it.
    * In a sense the companies that do this are actually service bureaus: they get sent a buttload of data every month and produce results with it. However, the www architecture makes it simple to host pretty, complex, necessary GUIs remotely -- this was not so simple to do 10 years ago.
    4) However, if the new applications produced by the new company are HTML editors and word processors, then in spite of your overwhelming ignorance, you guys are correct and it'll never work...
  • Do you really want the output of you're programs to be forced to be GPL? That would mean that every program you compiled with GCC would be under the GPL, every webpage you made with Emacs you wouldn't own, every graphic you made with the GIMP would be public property. That's a terrible Idea. Also, those 'click to agree' licenses arn't legaly binding.

    The GPL alows 'interal propritary versions' of software, so don't sweat it. I'd be willing to bet that most of the extra features will be custom perl/java/VB scripts anyway, and not modifications to GPL software. You'll still be able to get the origional software, so don't worry
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Sadly, every product that exists is in some way flawed.

    The Ford Contour I'm renting right now has great handling but a mediocre ride and a buzzy engine. Despite this, due to the handling it's one of the best rental cars I've driven.

    Windows succeeded because people were ripe for the graphical interface. For mainstream folks, there is no doubt that the graphical interface is better, and so the product succeeded even though it had no reliability. In addition, and most importantly to its success, it was bundled with every non-Apple computer made. People could start with their familiar DOS applications, and slowly migrate over to Windows - which is, of course, exactly what happened.

    What rivals existed - Unix on workstations and OS/2 on hopped-up PCs - required way too much in resources for the average computer user to consider. And the Mac was priced far too high for mainstream folks to afford.

    This is what made Windows win. For the average consumer, it was the best product. That doesn't mean that it was a good product in any absolute sense. It just means it was the best at the time, or perhaps we should say the least awful.

    I think you can see, though, that many of these factors simply would not apply for Marca's latest venture. He has no installed base of people who can be coaxed to try his product without additional effort. But he'll probably get a pile of money, and if he can get a good reputation, I think he has a shot. But only if his product really works, and works well. There will be enough competition in this sector to assure that either the working product will succeed, or Microsoft's will :-(. If Microsoft's does, it's because they have the applications mainstream users want.

    I'm hoping that in the coming years, "least awful" will no longer be something you can build a viable business over. The fact that even the corporate lemmings seem skeptical about Windows 2000 is a nice start.

    It's interesting to reflect that when there were only three TV networks, executives had a concept called "least objectionable program". The idea is that you have a little momentum that keeps you watching a program. When something comes up that you really hate, you change channels. Cable TV and the 500 channel universe has changed this; now people can actually find stuff they actively want to watch on some channel or another, so the principle just doesn't work as it used to.

    I'm hoping the same thing will happen in computing. "Least objectionable software" is one heck of a way to run a business. But it's certainly how things work now.


  • How the hell is this any different from what M$ is doing now. Upgrade treadmill baby. To me this is the big advantage of Linux. I AM OFF THE TREADMILL!!

    Yeh, but you don't *have* to upgrade, infact Its probably a good idea not to, since you'll probably need a hardware upgrade for o2k (pathetic, but true). Sure, there might be file format changes, but running linux isn't going to help you with that. People will still be able to read your old .docs, you just won't be able to read theres (wether you're running linux or windows)

    With hosted apps, you'll have to pay forever...
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"

  • People like you just don't seem to get it.

    When the Japanese started producing compact, cheap, smart cars, it shook the automotive industry. But can I get a large station wagon today if I want one? Can I get a pickup? Can I get an insanely illogically overpowered car like the Viper? Can I get an ATR, an SUV, a motorcycle, or a bicycle?

    Yes, I think there is a market for Sun's new ideas. My parents would do well with something like the Ray, as would many of my non-techy friends and coworkers. But would I? Never. I love my PC, I love the freedom it gives me, I love the fact that I 500 mhz to my own disposal. I have filled my twenty gigabytes of harddisk space, flooded the 128 megs of memory, abused the hell out of my (overclocked) processor, and I shall do the same to my next, three times as powerful, PC.

    Whether Microsoft will go away in the PC space is a question (after all, I and most people like me, use Linux) but the PC will NEVER die. The computer market is to big for there to be even a need for one dominant solution. Freedom is good.

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • I'm tempted to laugh along, but I'm ready to give this a bit more credit.

    The folks he took from Netscape include one of the two LDAP leads they got from UMich, and one of the Kiva appserver people. These two things were the strongest technology pieces they had in their core server line--and indeed, they're staying in the product line at Sun/iPlanet.

    Still don't know what they're going to do.. the speculation is less than compelling. Netsacape tried to sell a product line of bare servers with no bundled finished apps (in contrast with Notes, for one), and fell on their collective arse. Hosted bare server apps? Ehh.

    And Andressen himself was very much a figurehead much of the time at Netscape. But even if you think of Andressen as a money guy instead of a tech guy, he's an asset. He has a good rolodex.
  • While I agree that current technology is clunky as in all the cables that get in the way inside the machine and lack of any sort of owners manual for computers. Even a damned car comes with one.

    However, there is one things that raises a red flag.

    WTF is wrong with learning? Does it take time away from Jerry Springer or daytime soaps? What the fuck is the problem?

    Or is it just hypocrisy?

    Why are people worried about a failing education system if they don't want to learn anything in the first place?
  • When Netscape went big they were in the right place at the right time. Few of the big guys had clued in on the web and Netscape got a BIG head start and made a name for themselves before anyone else caught up.

    This time is different. In the last few weeks, both Sun and M$ have announced their plans for web-hosted applications. If Andreesen thinks he can "rule this space" he is suffering from extreme delusions of grandeour.

    Just my $0.02
  • Dave Patterson is now a professor here at Berkeley. He's a great lecturer, one of the best I've had. I took a lower-div architecture class from him last year. It was great being able to learn the rationale behind certain features in the systems he designed, eg. sparc reg windows. He was on the core development teams for riad, sparc, and mips, among other things. Another person who probably belongs on your first list is William Kahan of IEEE 754 fame. He is responsible for the floating point used on every modern processor. Unlike Patterson though, you don't want to take any of his courses. The last course he taught he failed a large majority of the students. His contribution was a lot more important than basic though.
  • I know this has already been pointed out, but no one seems to be paying attention to it, so I'll point it out again.

    Application servers like the article is talking about are NOT for end-users to remotely run software off. It's for companies to outsource their web-based applications. If you ever read all those free magazines you get at work, you'd see a lot of hype and speculation for Oracle's effort in this same vein.
  • There's a coding contest called "Storm the Gates" mentioned in "Gates" by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews (pp 326-237). It was a coding contest among Gates (using QuickBASIC 2.0), Jeff Duntemann (PC Tech Journal using Turbo Pascal) and Charles Petzold (using Microsoft C). This contest took place in mid-1986. According to the book, Gates was nervous about this contest because he hadn't coded in years. The night before the contest, he stayed up and got up to speed with QuickBASIC. According to this book, Gates easily finished first -- twice as fast as the runner-up. I'm not saying that any of this is true -- it's just mentioned in this book that someone gave me back in 1994.
  • This guy is the most overhyped, overrated, clown in the entire history of technology. He takes credit for other peoples work, did nothing positive at Netscape or anywhere else, and goes around making a bunch of clueless speeches. Ask anyone who knows him or worked with him at the University of Illinois and they will tell you the same.
  • Wonder what they're up to this time.
    They're running their site offa *single* FreeBSD 3.x box so chances are they're going to be Open-Source OS oriented.
    Or, they're a Wine Auction house :)

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.