Netscape's Work Culture

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB013
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1994 - 2000
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Netscape
Industry : Information Technology
Countries : USA

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Netscape's Culture

Netscape promoted a casual, flexible and independent culture. Employees were not bound by rigid schedules and policies and were free to come and go as they pleased. They were even allowed to work from home. The company promoted an environment of equality - everyone was encouraged to contribute his opinions. This was also evident in the company's cubicle policy. Everyone including CEO Barksdale, worked in a cubicle.

Independence and hands-off management were important aspects of Netscape's culture. There was no dress code at Netscape, so employees, were free to wear whatever they wanted. Barksdale laid down only one condition, "You must come to work dressed."

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

The company promoted experimentation and did not require employees to seek anyone's approval for trying out new ideas. For example, Patrick O'Hare, who managed Netscape's internal human resources website, was allowed to make changes to any page on the site, without anyone's approval...

The Setback

After the acquisition, AOL planned to integrate Netscape's web-browser products and Netcenter portal site with its Interactive Services Group.

The company created a Netscape Enterprise Group in alliance with Sun Microsystems to develop software products ranging from basic web servers and messaging products to e-commerce applications. However, overlapping technologies and organizational red tape slowed down the process of integration. Within a year of the acquisition, Netscape browser's marketshare fell from 73% to 36%.

Andreessen, who had joined AOL as chief technology officer, resigned only after six months on the job. His departure triggered a mass exodus of software engineering talent from Netscape. Soon after, engineers from Netscape joined Silicon Valley start-ups like, Tellme Networks, Apogee Venture Group and ITIXS. Former Netscape vice president of technology Mike McCue and product manager Angus Davis founded Tellme Networks. They brought with them John Giannandrea. As chief technologist and principal engineer of the browser group, John Giannandrea was involved with every Navigator release from the first beta of 1.0 in 1994 to the launch of 4.5 version in Oct. 1998...


Exhibit I: Netscape - Chronology of Events
Exhibit II: Netscape Time
Exhibit III: Benefits for Netscape Employees
Exhibit IV: Netscape Consolidated Statement of Operations


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