Netscape Shifts Focus in Search of Solid Business Plan

At a packed press conference in San Francisco today, Jim Barksdale, Marc Andreesen and other Netscape Communications Corp. executives previewed their plans for the future and outlined an ambitious strategy for reinventing the software company.

Building on the convergence of the Internet, commerce, and speedy computers, the company is basing its business concept on the emergence of Enterprise Service Providers (ESPs), businesses that supply large-scale Internet applications and solutions, and the “portal,” a digital marketplace and mega-home page.

Netscape sees ESPs and portals converging themselves, and this lies at the heart of the company’s new strategy.

“If it was easy, anyone could do it,” claimed Barksdale, Netscape’s president and CEO, referring to the task of developing tightly-linked online business communities, which the company sees as key to its two strategic business models.

The Internet pioneer has strayed away from the business of selling browsers–it now sees the browser as a tool that can be combined with its back-end software to help Web site visitors work more productively, and help Netscape and its partners build revenue at the same time.

While the company’s original strategy was to basically try to build and sell “everything,” now Netscape’s focus will be on sales to large-scale direct customers, Internet service providers, and value-added networks.

Andreesen envisions small businesses working with these kinds of companies in the future, and Netscape’s role will be to commerce-enable their own customers who will in turn set up the infrastructure for the worldwide Internet economy.

Netscape also previewed plans today for the introduction of Netcenter 2.0, the next generation of its portal that will feature new value-added services designed to keep bringing people back to the site.

The company said it expects to take over as the leading Internet portal player by the year 2000.

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