Marc Andreessen was the co-founder of Netscape and co-wrote the first web browser. After leaving Netscape, he set up an application services provider which was later sold to EDS. Now the web pioneer is chairman of Opsware, a company that markets data centre applications.
You've said it will be another 17 years before the world comes to terms with the internet. Why is this?
The really big, sweeping changes in society come about in how people think. People don't change quickly.
A generational shift like the internet takes at least 25 years and we're about eight years in so far. If you look at history, the printing press took 50 years to become mainstream.
You also believe that the increase in hacking and viruses is a good thing.
It's a great sign. If the number of viruses started to drop I'd be seriously worried. It would be a sign that people were turning away from the internet.
If it wasn't interesting people they wouldn't be hacking. Even spam is a positive indicator. Why does spam work? Because there are enough people reading and replying to it.
Out of today's big players in the market, which ones do you see falling by the wayside in the next 25 years?
Microsoft has a very powerful position with that kind of entrenched monopoly. It's the one I wouldn't bet against. Intel and Cisco also look like staying on top. As for the others, there's no way to tell at the moment.
But if someone is big today it's not guaranteed that they will be big tomorrow. It's the small companies that come up and eat the big boys from below.
Surely larger companies have advantages in funding and market share?
Yes, but they lose out because they have to defend their markets at the expense of innovation. Look at Kodak. It stayed out of the digital camera market for so long because it was protecting its business interests and now it is paying the price.
So which small companies do you see becoming big in the next 25 years?
It's hard to say. It's one of those things I don't like to make predictions about. Bill Gates never thought Microsoft would be a software company worth more than $10m a year, and Intel almost went bankrupt in the mid-1980s. Small firms come and go very quickly, but the next big players are among them.
Do you think the recent movement in technology stocks is a sign of another mini-bubble?
Not in the slightest. There has been a big crisis of confidence in the industry and technology stocks got very depressed. The industry has largely recovered from this but the people in the stock market don't get it.
On the subject of technology, you seem pessimistic about the future of client/server architecture.
[Drawing a finger across his throat] Client/server is dying on its feet. It's still very large, it's profitable but it's in decline. Don't get me wrong. Companies such as SAP will be profitable for some years to come but they are in a declining market.
Just as mainframes have had their day and faded, so too will client/server as it is replaced by web services.
What about the big fight between open source and commercial software?
Not everyone will go for open source. Horizontal apps will go open source in a heartbeat. Where you have high levels of customisation, such as ERP systems, nothing will go open source.
Microsoft will continue to dominate the small and medium-sized business market but I think we'll see larger organisations moving more to open source.
Do you see open source as more secure than commercial code?
Absolutely. A hundred times more secure. When it comes to finding bugs and distributing fixes the open-source community wins every time. Everyone is involved so the problem gets solved faster.
So what will be the next killer application?
Too difficult to say, but it will come from a small company. Big companies almost never do killer apps because they don't have the structure for it.
It might be something to do with mobile computing but it might not. In the US people are very used to PCs but not to using phones for data.
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