James H. Clark

James H. Clark is a serial and successful entrepreneur and computer scientist, perhaps best known for co-founding Netscape with Marc Andreessen in 1994. Netscape Navigator was the market leader in web browsers in the early days of the internet, becoming the dominant browser in terms of usage share in the 1990s.

However, because it was not free to use, it ultimately lost market share to Microsoft's free competitor, Internet Explorer. Netscape was eventually purchased by America Online (AOL) in 1998, making Clark a billionaire. Clark started Netscape with a $4.1 million investment and exited the company with a $1.2 billion payout.

Key Takeaways

  • James H. Clark is a serial and successful entrepreneur, perhaps best known for co-founding Netscape in 1994 along with Marc Andreessen.
  • Jim Clark is also known for multiplying his wealth through timely tech investments in companies, such as Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, Twitter, and Palantir.
  • His latest startup is a venture called CommandScape, a smartphone app that controls everything from a building's alarms and cameras to its lighting and thermostat.
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James H. Clark

Investopedia / Alison Czinkota

Early Life and Education

James H. Clark was born in Plainview, Texas on March 23, 1944, to blue-collar-working parents. When James was a small child, his parents divorced, and he and his siblings lived with their mother. In response, James rebelled, misbehaving in school, which led to many disciplinary actions, including suspension. Ultimately, he dropped out of high school and joined the Navy. While in the Navy, Clark ran a side business making loans to other sailors.

He later returned to continue his formal education, beginning with taking classes at Tulane University's University College. Although he didn't have a high school degree, he was eventually admitted to the University of New Orleans, where he earned his bachelor's and a master's degree in physics. Clark eventually earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah. Clark went on to become an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University and a major benefactor of the James H. Clark Center at Stanford, the location of the bioscience research program at Stanford.

Notable Accomplishments

In 1991, Clark founded Silicon Graphics (SGI), a company that produced high-quality visual effects for film and 3-D images for engineers. Silicon Graphics counted George Lucas' LucasFilm and Steven Spielberg among its customers and had become a global leader in the production of Hollywood movie visual effects and 3-D imaging. In 1994, he left the company and sold his shares.

Soon after leaving SGI, James Clark, along with Marc Andreessen, founded Netscape, a tech company that introduced the Navigator graphical-interface web browser, one of the most popular web browsers of the 1990s. In 1998, AOL purchased Netscape for $4.2 billion, inaugurating Clark into the billionaire's club.

Navigator, once commanding more than 70% of the market, ultimately met its demise. Its end was central to Microsoft's antitrust trial, the result of which was a ruling that stated that Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer (IE) with the Windows operating system was a monopolistic business practice. In response, Microsoft included Internet Explorer for free with their Windows operating system, making IE the browser of choice.

Clark's other ventures include founding Silicon Graphics, a company that produced high-quality visual effects for film and 3-D images for engineers. Silicon Graphics counted George Lucas' LucasFilm and Steven Spielberg among its customers, and, by 1991, Silicon Graphics had become a global leader in the production of Hollywood movie visual effects and 3-D imaging.

Clark also founded Healtheon, which merged with WebMD, in addition to being the original investor and chair of the digital photo sharing and storage website Shutterfly, which was founded in 1999. Clark was also an early investor in many famous tech companies that have paid off handsomely.

Wealth and Philanthropy

While Jim Clark is best known as the co-founder of the internet pioneer Netscape, he has since multiplied his wealth through timely tech investments in companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, Twitter, and Palantir. His latest startup is a venture called CommandScape, an app that controls everything from a building's alarms and cameras to its lighting and thermostat. As of 2021, Forbes estimates that Clark's net worth is over $3 billion, making him one of the wealthiest men in America.

An ocean lover, his yachts include the 300-foot sailing yacht Athena and the 100-foot racing sailboat Comanche. He is also a well-known philanthropist, contributing mainly to institutions of higher education, such as Stanford University and Tulane University. He is also a member of the board of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Personal Life

Clark has been married four times. He is presently married to Kristy Hinze, a former Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated model. The divorce from his third wife of 15 years, Nancy Rutter—a Forbes journalist—is reported to have cost him $125 million in cash and assets in the settlement.

Clark has two daughters with his wife Kristy Hinze: Dylan Vivienne and Harper Hazelle.

How Much Did James Clark Make From Netscape?

James Clark received a $1.2 billion settlement for the sale of Netscape to AOL in 1998.

How Many Companies Has James H. Clark Founded?

James Clark first founded Silicon Graphics, a computer hardware and software company, in 1982. After selling his stake in the company nearly a decade later, Clark co-founded Netscape, a computer services company responsible for the widely-popular web browser, Navigator. In 1996, Clark founded Healthscape, a company that streamlines and automates healthcare transactions.

What Did James Clark Invent?

While working as a Stanford associate professor, Clark and some of his graduate students created the Geometry Engine computer chip, which instantly processed 3-D images.

The Bottom Line

Jim Clark is an American businessman behind the launch and success of several Silicon Valley companies. Most notably, he is credited with co-founding Netscape, which propelled him into billionaire status. He recently developed the CommandScape app, which controls and manages home and business devices, such as alarms and thermostats. Clark's investment portfolio and philanthropic ventures are equally as impressive as his business portfolio. If history is an indicator of things to come, we will see another 'scape' development from Jim Clark.

Article Sources
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  1. Fast Company. "A Brief History of AOL."

  2. Chicago Tribune. "A new software billionaire: Jim Clark."

  3. Smit & Van Wyk. "Entrepreneur James Clark."

  4. Biography. "James Clark Biography."

  5. The Washington Post. "AOL Closes Deal To Buy Netscape For $4.2 Billion."

  6. Reference for Business. "Jim Clark."

  7. USA Today. "Netscape founder Jim Clark shoots for sixth start-up success." Accessed Jan. 22, 2021.

  8. Forbes. "James Clark."

  9. Business Insider. "Netscape Founder Jim Clark Marrying Swimsuit Model."

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