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Jim Clark


Title:Chairman, Netscape Communications Corp., Mountain View, Calif.

Bio:Born in Plainview, Texas. Master's in physics, Louisiana State University, New Orleans, 1971. Ph.D. in computer science, University of Utah, 1974.

Work history:Assistant professor, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1974-78; associate professor, Stanford University, 1979-82; founder and chairman, Silicon Graphics, 1982-March 1994; current post, March 1994-.

As he prepared to leave Silicon Graphics to scope out his next venture early last year, Jim Clark spotted The Next Big Thing: interactive TV.

Lucky for him, Mr. Clark gambled that that market was years away. So he focused on this other thing, the Internet. Teaming up with Marc Andreessen, lead developer of the Mosaic Web browser at the University of Illinois, Mr. Clark formed Netscape.

His Internet bet was perfectly timed.

"I just jumped on top of the rocket," he said. "It was getting ready to take off anyway."

The company's Netscape Navigator almost immediately became the dominant Web browser through Mr. Clark's bold marketing move: He gives the product away free on the Internet. That's "the only way we felt we could get enough presence in the marketplace to confront the assault that we felt would occur from Microsoft," he said. Netscape does generate revenues by selling shrink-wrapped versions of Navigator, corporate licenses and Internet services.

So far, Netscape has been an Internet hit: Its mid-August initial public offering skyrocketed from a starting price of $28 as high as $75 before closing at $58.25, netting Mr. Clark and other company executives hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr. Clark pegs the global Internet audience today at about 10 million, hardly the massest of media. But technology available today and growth prospects for Internet users mean print media had better begin migrating now to the 'net, he said.

"This medium at least initially seems to be very suitable for the `electrification' of news and information."

Within 10 years, Mr. Clark said, the Internet will be a larger medium than print, generating more ad revenue than all printed newspapers and magazines combined.

"It doesn't make sense to continue to distribute information kinds of [media] in a print form," he said.

Betcha didn't know:Mr. Clark, a devoted Apple Macintosh user since 1986, may begrudgingly trade his Mac for a Windows machine because he's tired of being incompatible with the PC standard.

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