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Network World - Thousands of people have helped shape the networked world in the past 25 years. Here we catch up with a few of them to see what they are up to and how they've changed – or not.
Marc Andreessen. Andreessen co-founded Netscape Communications Corp. with Jim Clark in 1994 to market Andreessen's creation, the Netscape web browser. The public went wild for the Web, and Netscape Navigator. Overnight, the young Andreessen was a tech superstar. An annoyed Bill Gates made it clear that giant Microsoft wasn't going to just stand by and watch Netscape take over the desktop. Redmond fought back with a free browser for Windows, Internet Explorer. The era of the browser wars, as many call it, had begun. It was a David vs. Goliath struggle — and Goliath in this case won. But AOL purchased Netscape in 1999 for $4.2 billion. Andreessen went on to find yet more entrepreneurial success, including with Opsware which he sold to HP to $1.6 billion in 2007, and is today a co-founder of Ning and sits on the board of Facebook, eBay, and HP.
Eric Benhamou. He co-founded LAN-networking company Bridge Communications in 1981, serving as vice president of engineering until it merged with 3Com (the company co-founded by Robert Metcalfe, Howard Charney, Bruce Borden and Greg Shaw) in 1987. He became 3Com's CEO from 1990 to 2000. There, he battled it out in a rivalry with Cisco. Typical of the era, 3Com acquired several firms, such as US Robotics (which itself had acquired Palm in 1995) at a fast clip. Not all mergers and acquisitions went smoothly (Kerbango, which 3Com bought in 2000 for $80 million, with its Internet radio was maybe a little ahead of its time). 3Com made the Palm subsidiary an independent company in 2000, and HP purchased Palm last year for $1.2 billion. Benhamou was chairman of the board at 3Com until its sale to HP in April 2010 for about $2.7 billion. He was also CEO of Palm from 2011 to 2003. Today, he is chairman of the board of Cypress Semiconductor and chair and CEO of his Benhamou Global Ventures, a venture-capital firm he founded, as well as teaching at a number of business schools.
Whitfield Diffie. A pioneer in cryptography with his ground-breaking research into public-key crypto (and he coined the phrase "public key" in 1975), Diffie's work helped lay the foundation for new ways to secure and validate shared data. After nearly two decades at Sun, Diffie is now vice president of information security and cryptography at the Internet Corp. for Assigned names and Numbers (ICANN).
Lou Gerstner. Was chairman of the board at IBM from 1993 until his retirement in 2002. He had been CEO at RJR Nabisco before he joined IBM as CEO to confront a bleak period in IBM's history where Big Blue was struggling for new direction after the peak of the mainframe era. Gerstner is credited with the turnaround strategy that pointed IBM in the direction of IT services, packaged solutions and the Internet. Now retired form IBM, Gerstner serves as a senior advisor at The Carlyle group and to Sony, as well as director of the national Committee on U.S.-China relations.