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.