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Jim Clark: Founder of Netscape, Silicon Graphics, & Healtheon

Jim Clark: Founder of Netscape, Silicon Graphics, & Healtheon
By Founders Podcast • Issue #13 • View online

So I was listening to this podcast with Marc Andreessen and they mentioned the book The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis. The book is about Jim Clark. The first person in history to found 3 separate billion dollar companies. 
I devoured the book in 3 days and created a podcast about Jim Clark a few days later. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book: 
  • Maybe somewhere in the footnote it would be mentioned that he came from nothing, grew up poor, dropped out of high school, and made himself three or four billion dollars.  
  • The impatient man kept his own life in such a constant state of upheaval that neither his experience nor his immediate surroundings ended up meaning very much to him. He was keen on things only has they happened; after they had happened he lost interest in them altogether…As a practical matter, Clark had no past, only a future. 
  • Progress does not march forward like an army on parade; it crawls on its belly like a guerrilla.
  • Back in 1921 Veblen had predicted that engineers would one day rule the U.S. economy. He argued that since the economy was premised on technology and the engineers were the only ones who actually understood how the technology worked, they would inevitably use their superior knowledge to seize power from the financiers and captains of industry who wound up on top at the end of the first round of the Industrial Revolution.
  • New Growth Theory argued, in abstruse mathematics, that wealth came from the human imagination.
  • It didn’t take long for Clark to become deeply irritated by the rules of American capitalism. In his opinion, the game was rigged so that the people who really mattered got the shaft. He believed in his bones that the people who mattered most were the brilliant engineers: the chefs who cooked up the new recipes. (Clark was a New Growth Theorist long before anyone in Silicon Valley heard of New Growth Theory.)
  • For a technology company to succeed, he argued, it needed always to be looking to destroy itself. If it didn’t, someone else would.
  • He thought of the computer as a less than straightforward tool for controlling and manipulating the world around it, like a shovel with a loose blade.
  • Clark’s new enterprises: endure the humiliation of not fully understanding your job, and you might never need to work again.
  • The Indian engineers had the lust for the kill that Clark loved. They were ferociously, recklessly competitive.
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I will be back in a few days with a podcast on Henry Ford. 
David 
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