Shakers and Movers of Yesteryear: Where Are They Now?

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.

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.

Read other highlights over the past 25 years as NWW looks back

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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.

Ed Guilbert. Sometimes called the "Father of Electronic Data Interchange," the early form of business-to-business e-commerce that preceded the Web, Guilbert played a key role as head of the Transportation Data Coordinating Committee in helping create EDI standards that went into wide use by the late 70s and were required in supplier communications by many companies, including Wal-Mart, in the early 80s. To rally businesses to the EDI cause, Guilbert used to wander through his business audience tossing out dollar bills, shouting, "This is about money!" Deceased, 1993.

Jim Manzi. Chair, president and CEO of Lotus Development Corp. from 1984-1995, until it was acquired by IBM in a hostile takeover bid — that was fought by Manzi — for $3.5 billion. Lotus was founded in 1982 by Mitch Kapor (who helped found advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990) and Jonathan Sachs. Its early flagship product, Lotus 1-2-3, a combined spreadsheet, graphics and database package gained wide adoption in the early years of the PC. But in its networked product, Lotus Notes groupware, Lotus set a new pace again. Lotus, which prized its independent culture, grew attractive as a takeover target and IBM went on to snag it. Manzi left. He's now chairman of the board at ThermoFisher Scientific, as well as head of Stonegate capital, an investment firm he founded mainly to invest in startups.

Craig McCaw. The four McCaw brothers, as they were often called, were wheeler-dealers in wireless, buying up available cellular licenses, then MCI's cellular division in 1986, then selling McCaw Cellular to AT&T for $11.5 billion in 1994. Though they'd become billionaires, Craig McCaw, along with his brothers, didn't stop there. With Craig taking the lead, in 1995 they gained control of Nextel, which merged with Sprint in 2005. Craig went on to other ventures, founding Nextlink, merging with Concentric Network, which was renamed XO Communications. But that went bankrupt in 2002. In August 2003, McCaw founded Clearwire, a wireless broadband service provider. But on Dec. 31, 2011, he cut his ties with the firm he founded, whose majority owner is Sprint Nextel, by stepping down from his role as chairman of the board. Clearwire has been raising funds to help keep building out its wireless broadband network. It's quiet so far about what Craig McCaw will do next, but his Eagle River Holdings still holds a 4% stake in the company.

Barry Schrager. The "big iron" mainframe has been the workhorse of computing, since its early form in the 1960's. The pioneer in mainframe security, Barry Schrager, came along in the 1970's to invent the first mainframe secure-access software while assistant director at the University of Illinois computer center. With colleagues at the company he founded, SKK, he was designer and primary author of the ACF2 mainframe security system in 1978. Later sold, ACF2 is still on the market, marketed by CA. Schrager still keeps going in mainframe security as chief security architect at Vanguard Integrity Professionals.

Paul Severino. An engineer by training who started his career at DEC, Severino jumped on the roller-coaster ride that was the networking era in the 80s and 90s, launching start-up after start-up, notably co-founding router company Wellfleet Communications in 1986, merging with switch manufacturer SynOptics to form Bay networks, and overseeing its sale to Nortel for $9 billion in 1998 — right before the dot-com bubble popped. Today, Severino sits on the board of directors at Sonus Networks and Analog Devices, is a trustee at his alma mater Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and funds cancer research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "Shakers and Movers of Yesteryear: Where Are They Now?" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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