Netscape were designed to provide enterprises with
Netscape Summary August 8, 1995 had taken an unexpected turn for Netscape Communications Corporation’s board of directors. Earlier that morning, the day before the company’s scheduled initial public offering (IPO), Netscape’s lead underwriters proposed to the board a 100%increase in the original offering price from $14 to $28 per share. Founded in April 1994,Netscape Communications Corporation provided a comprehensive line of client, server, and integrated applications software for communications and commerce on the Internet and private Internet Protocol (IP) networks.The company’s most popular product, Netscape Navigator, was the leading client software program that allowed individual personal computer (PC) users to exchange information and conduct commerce on the Internet. Incorporating both browser and server functions, the company’s integrated applications software programs were designed to provide enterprises with the capability to manage large-scale commercial sites on the Internet. Such applications enabled these enterprises to conduct full-scale electronic commerce through a seamless system.
Netscape had incurred total losses of $4. million on total revenues of $16. 6million for its first two operating quarters ended June 30, 1995.
The company expected to continue to operate at a loss for the foreseeable future. Entrance At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a group of computer science students working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) developed the graphical software program that gave rise to the notion of “surfing. ” Named NCSA Mosaic, the software program enabled nontechnical users to access and retrieve information on the Web.The Mosaic code organized Web information into neat collections of graphical electronic menus on which users could simply click-and-point to browse their contents. Then shortly the name changed to Netscape. Netscape entered the broad Internet market via the Web browser market, where it faced two challenges: it had to set a new industry standard, and it had to make money.
The former challenge was the immediate concern. To set a new standard, Netscape had to create a program that would destroy Mosaic, which in 1994 wielded 60% of the Web browser market.The rival program was initially named Mozilla and then changed to Netscape Navigator at the time of its debut in December, 1994. Using the same “give away today and make money tomorrow” strategy that Andreessen’s team had used to popularize Mosaic, by the spring of 1995Netscape had succeeded in capturing 75% of the Web browser market. Mosaic, under the guise of Spyglass, trailed far behind with 5% of the market.
Having set the industry standard, Netscape was poised to make money by selling server software to companies that wanted marketing access to potential consumers.Netscape was the indisputable leader of its kind Competition Netscape faced potential competition from new entrants in the Web browser, server and service markets, PC and UNIX software vendors, and on-line service providers. Spyglass, Inc. was Netscape’s nearest competitor with its Enhanced Mosiac Web browser technology. However, while Spyglass marketed the only current rival product to Netscape’s Navigator, it did so to a distinctly different market. Spyglass also sold the computer code for creating server software.
By employing this strategy, Spyglass attempted to capture the corporate market, which would ultimately compete with Netscape on the end-user front. Microsoft, for example, was among Spyglass’ licensees and a rising competitor for Netscape. Microsoft was perhaps the most formidable of Netscape’s competitors in the long-term. The on-line computer service providers also had made strides recently to move into Netscape’s market. For example, both America Online and Prodigy had created independent browsers.Compuserve had licensed Spyglass software code for its recently released Web browser software. Initial Public Offering The human capital resources involved in the process of an initial public offering include the company’s founders and senior management, the underwriters, and institutional investors.
If the company had received venture capital in the early stages of its development, a characteristic referred to as “venture-backed,” the venture capitalists are often intimately involved in the IPO process as well as the company’s operations.By creating liquidity and market-determined prices for the stock, going public creates the potential for substantial financial rewards for all of the parties involved. In response to its growing capital needs, in early 1995 Netscape began to explore the option of raising money through an initial public offering (IPO). The IPO market in the first half of 1995 had generated proceeds totalling nearly $12 billion for some 300 companies, which saw their stock prices increase on the first day of trading by an average of 20%.The principal reasons for going public were to fund expected future growth, to stockpile cash reserves for potential acquisitions, and to gain visibility and credibility within the industry. Netscape Financing Since Clark’s initial investment, Netscape had been injected with various forms of investment Capital. Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers invested $5 million.
The third and largest round of financing came from Adobe Systems and five other media companies.This final private placement of stock totaled $18million and was orchestrated by Morgan Stanley. At the time of the IPO, Clark, Kleiner Perkins, and the group of media companies owned the largest stakes of Netscape’s equity at 24%,11%,and 11%,respectively. The company’s president and CEO,James Barksdale, held shares amounting to 10%of total equity. Netscape’s co-founders and senior management were intimately involved in the IPO process, both from a practical and financial perspective.Since Netscape was not generating profits, the lure for Netscape’s recently formed senior management team was not high salaries, but rather preferred stock that could be converted into shares of common stock when Netscape went public. The lead underwriters were engaged in the IPO process from the very beginning.
The investment bankers from these firms were responsible for everything from doing the initial “due diligence” to issuing the final prospectus, which stipulated the final offering price of the shares.If the proposed $28 price was approved by the board, the underwriters would earn $9. 8 million, or a 7% sales commission on every share sold to initial investors. Morgan Stanley and H&Q issued a preliminary prospectus, or an offering circular, suggesting it might offer 3.
5 million Netscape shares priced at $12 to $14 per share. The time had come when Clark and the other Netscape board members had to approve or reject their underwriters’ vote of high confidence.In going over the new valuation of the company, the board struggled to disregard the wild speculation surrounding what had been called the hottest IPQ of the year.
Indeed, Netscape had commercialized the young world of cyberspace, causing a flood of enthusiasm on Wall Street greater than that experienced by the biotech industry in the 1980s and early 1990s. The board’s responsibility was thus to determine the appropriateness of the proposed increase in price after balancing the potential risks and rewards that might accompany such a move.