Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Innovators Don’t Always Last

Netscape was the first tool to make the web easy to use for everyone. Despite being valued at $3 billion, the browser failed.

What happened?

The browser wars.

When Netscape launched in ‘95, there was zero competition. Which made Netscape the industry standard.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was frantically working on its own browser: Internet Explorer.

Rather than compete with the front-runner in a fair game, Microsoft would run Netscape out of business through changing the playing field.

At the time, Microsoft was about to release Windows 95. And its corresponding CD-ROM not only installed the operating system, but also Internet Explorer.

That package deal wasn’t a threat to Netscape by itself. Because at the time, people thought computers only had a place in the office; not counting the geeks.

But thanks to the stellar marketing campaign by Microsoft, the PC finally went mainstream. And as far as the ‘normies’ were concerned, computer and Windows 95 were synonymous.

On its release, crowds were lining up for Windows 95 like people would do for the first iPhone a decade later.

And when these proud Microsoft fans surfed the internet, they used Internet Explorer.

Initially, Netscape held onto its market share thanks to its more advanced features. But within a year, Microsoft had caught up to the number one browser.

In a last-ditch effort to attract users, Netscape rolled out a new version with lots of slick gimmicks. But people saw through the ruse.

By 1998 Internet Explorer took the lead as the most used browser. Leaving Netscape eating its rival’s dust. 

The moral of the story?

If you want riches, don’t focus on creating a billion-dollar idea.

Firstly, it’s incredibly difficult. And once you find your ground-breaking idea, you may discover that nobody wants it.

It took the Wright brothers four and a half years to convince people their airplanes were not a magic trick.

Secondly, once you create a standard (like a web browser or airplane) you also create a basic need. And now people want more, but cheaper and better.

Although the Wrights built the first working airplane, competitors built better aircraft within five years. And within twenty years, the brothers were pushed out of the aircraft business.

Returning to Netscape, before it was swallowed up by another company, Netscape lasted three years.

Innovators don’t always last. But skilled entrepreneurs do.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach