A little over a decade ago, Netscape was the bomb. It was the first major web browser that not only put itself on the map, but made the Internet a household word and accessible to all. It was also the first tech IPO that was so crazy (it went from $12 to $75 the first day of trade) that it set off a chain reaction of other crazy tech IPOs and turned thousands of otherwise normal people into thrill seeking day traders glued to CNBC all day while logged onto their eTrade accounts.
Fast forward to this week. AOL, the parent company of Netscape (the other parent being Time Warner - a couple that can make us all feel better about our own dysfunctional families), has announced it will officially put Netscape out to pasture at the end of the month.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I wonder if AOL will put itself out to pasture too. You know AOL; the over-rated company that merged with Time Warner in what has to be one of the most disasterous corporate mergers of all times?
Is it me, or is there something ironic that the tech company that represents the pin that burst the tech bubble is shelving the tech company that blew it out of proportion in the first place? There's something very Zen about the whole thing.
In the mid-90's, America Online and Netscape were two of the hottest names in business. It makes you wonder where Google and Myspace and Facebook will be ten years from now?
There's a cautionary tale to be told in all this for startups.
Anyone can launch a startup. But, can you sustain a stayup?
Here are some walkaway lessons to be learned from Netscape and all the other dotcoms that have come and gone.
1. Don't be a one product or service wonder. Diversify your offerings for the long haul. Be open to launching new products and services and shedding the ones that need to be shed along the way.
2. Avoid having your company overvalued. It may be fun in the short term reaping all that funny-money wealth on paper. Unfortunately, that's where its likely to stay; on paper. Remember the tortoise and the hare and be the tortoise.
3. If your sudden success is to good to be true, it likely is. Call in the consultants and identify your weak points before they become pain points.
4. The time to write a business plan is not year two or three. That's when it should be revised.
In other news...