"There's nothing wrong with going public with zero revenues," Netscape's chief technology officer declares. "If there is a market demand for that, that's what you should do.
"One of the coolest things about the whole Silicon Valley experience is that hundreds of people benefit from Netscape's IPO."
The browser program that Andreessen worked on in the early 1990s at the University of Illinois--where he was paid $6.85 an hour--suddenly made it possible for ordinary computer illiterates to click their way around the Web.
In a story that's already lore in the history of capitalism, computer entrepreneur Jim Clark, who got rich off computer manufacturer Silicon Graphics Inc., tracked down Andreessen the next year and recruited the seven other browser engineers.
Almost all signed on, moving to Mountain View, where pounding out a commercial version of the software before anyone else cornered the market was crucial to their success.
Netscape's public offering in August 1995 was among the most spectacular ever.
Now the company has six buildings and shuttle buses bearing the Netscape logo.
But it also faces potential destruction by Microsoft, a formidable foe that has launched an all-out offensive. Andreessen admits freely to being scared. And to being glad the day-to-day management of the battle falls on chief executive Jim Barksdale.
Meanwhile, he has bought a house in Palo Alto where he lives with his girlfriend, his bulldogs and his computerized home theater system.
He doesn't see his friends from Illinois much any more. "Most of them believe that managers are evil, intrinsically," Andreessen says. "Right now I'm just doing other things."
Those include occasional off-road spins in a friend's red Hummer behind the Netscape parking lot, reading copious amounts of magazines (Time attracted him only when he was on the cover), and perusing his extensive movie library.
But he has considered pursuing a PhD in history, or going into politics--the type of post-business pursuits that most entrepreneurs don't even think about until they start turning gray. Andreessen is fascinated by James Carville and Dick Morris types, and has just finished reading political consultant Ed Rollins' new book.
Even Andreessen, mostly serene and with credentials beyond reproach, has moments of self-doubt. "Other companies should have done a browser. Lotus should have. Novell should have. Microsoft should have. It was obvious," he says. He's moved on to dessert, and there is powdered sugar all over his face.
"But they didn't. Now they're coming back with some really good stuff, and we have to find a way to deal with it."