How Marc Andreessen Got His Dream Crushed By Microsoft And Bounced Back To Become The Most Powerful Man In Silicon Valley

marc andreessen

Photo: Bloomberg TV

Marc Andreessen‘s life is enough to fill many regular lives.Now he’s one of the most powerful VCs in Silicon Valley.

Before that he co-founded Opsware, a company that went through one of the best turnaround stories in the throes of the dotcom bust. And oh yes, before that he built the first modern web browser, and started a company, Netscape, which ignited the dotcom bubble and the still-ongoing antitrust proceedings against Microsoft.

Yesterday Bloomberg TV made one of their Game Changers documentaries on Andreessen and it’s available online. It’s a great story and we thought we’d share some of the highlights.

(Disclosure: Marc Andreessen is an investor in Business Insider.)

Andreessen grew up in rural Wisconsin, dreaming of leaving the countryside

He attended the University of Illinois and worked at the National centre for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), where he got a taste of the internet

He built Mosaic, the first web browser that was truly easy to use. It got 1 million downloads in just 9 months

The Times covered the story -- but featured the NCSA's directors, not him, which legitimately bruised his ego (we'd be furious)

The NCSA wouldn't even hire him to run the Mosaic project, so he bailed for Silicon Valley, where he met Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark, who saw his potential

They rewrote a new browser from scratch, but the NCSA still sued them; Jim Clark had to pay them off with $3 million from his own pocket

Netscape had its crazy IPO in short order, reaching a $2 billion market cap overnight on a few million in revenue, and igniting the dotcom bubble

Then Microsoft came out with Internet Explorer, bundling it with Windows and launching the famous Browser Wars

The Browser Wars then turned into the even more famous antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft

The lawsuit moved too slowly to save Netscape however; the company was losing money and laid off 400 people

In 1998, AOL bought Netscape for $4.2 billion in stock; Andreessen netted $100 million and AOL's value went up ninefold in the following year

Andreessen quickly quit as CTO of AOL and launched another company called LoudCloud, back before anyone knew what cloud computing was

The company went public in 2001, not the best year for tech IPOs

In 2007, HP bought Opsware for $1.6 billion. Andreessen made $138 million but by that time he had moved on

In 2004, he co-founded Ning, which lets people build their own social networks. The company hasn't lived up to expectations, but it's now pivoting again with a chat app, Mogwee

After many years angel investing in basically every successful startup you can name, he launched his fund, Andreessen Horowitz, which now manages $950 million

And now he's one of the most powerful VCs in Silicon Valley, a kingmaker with a finger in every pie.

Want to know why Andreessen is investing $49 million in a headset maker?

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