Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Attention Marc Andreessen: Microsoft Just Bought (Part of) Netscape

Here’s a deal that would have made many minds explode back in the 1990s: Microsoft is buying Netscape. Or at least most of the important parts of the company that used to be synonymous with “Internet.”

That’s a side component of the $1 billion patent sale that AOL and Microsoft announced this morning. As part of the transaction, AOL announced that it was selling off “stock of an AOL subsidiary” at a loss, in a move that’s supposed to reduce its overall tax bill.

AOL didn’t disclose the name of that subsidiary in its press release, but a person familiar with the transaction has clued me in: It’s Netscape.

Microsoft will buy the underlying patents for the old browser, but AOL will hang on to the brand and the related Netscape businesses, which make up a grab bag of stuff these days: An ISP, a URL, a brand name, etc.

All of which probably makes sense on someone’s ledger books. But the transaction may still make a few heads spin, at least for people who remember Internet¬†history and/or have access to Wikipedia.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus