Portal sites, enterprise integration, and Internet-commerce vendors are in Netscape's sights as acquisition targets, said Netscape Communications' vice president of products, Marc Andreessen, at the Technology Partners Enterprise Computing Conference hat the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel on Tuesday.
Speaking to the investment banking community, Andreessen identified several key areas of growth in the near future, including directory servers, application servers, portal sites, and I-commerce in what he called the "on-demand economy."
"The portal madness that is going on right now is about creating a direct relationship with each customer," Andreessen said.
"But what we see a need for are packaged e-commerce applications similar to the enterprise resource planning [ERP] applications which SAP and PeopleSoft and Oracle offer," Andreessen said. "At the moment, there is a glut of small e-commerce companies -- you can not walk down the street in San Francisco or Palo Alto without tripping over them."
However, just like the ERP market, companies will not be able to sift through the best of breed in I-commerce applications but instead will be forced to one vendor to get a complete package, Andreessen said.
Andreessen sees application servers and directory servers as the new product categories.
"People are using many of the same words they used for relational databases in the '80s." Andreessen said. "Scalability, management, performance, and the ability to connect to existing legacy systems are the key features."
These products will address the danger of the new on-demand economy, which is "success kills."
"We're talking about scaling to one million or 10 million or even 100 million users over the Internet," Andreessen said. "Just at the point when they [new on-demand companies] are succeeding to get a million users, their systems will collapse."
Regarding Java, Andreessen believes that Java on the client is dead.
"I feel like the robot in 'Lost in Space' -- 'Danger, Will Robinson, danger,' " Andreessen said. "Java on the client doesn't work, and we at Netscape have done an about turn on client-side Java in recent months. But on the server side, Java is taking off quite quickly."
However, in the investment area, Andreessen warned that startups in Silicon Valley are due for a market value correction in the coming year.
"Increasingly, we go to a company and we find not a company but a product. Increasingly, that product is not so much a product but features of a product, and increasingly, those features are not features but an idea," Andreessen said.
That is why Netscape acquired Kiva -- because Kiva had solid engineering, sales, and customer services management, according to Andreessen.
Another concern of Netscape's is the United States' restrictions on exporting cryptography.
Andreessen said that the US government is quite capable of restricting growth of I-commerce with these restrictions.
"I noticed that the Chinese are using American-built satellites to track troop movements," Andreessen said.
The argument is that those satellites are built using technology that is freely available outside the United States.
"However, on closer inspection, I noticed that the company that manufactured those satellites contributed over a million dollars to the Democratic Party," Andreessen said. "So the message to the computer industry is, give generously."
Netscape, in Mountain View, California, is at http://home.netscape.com.