Andreessen headed to AOL

It's official: Netscape's cofounder will become the online giant's chief technology officer when its acquisition of Netscape closes.

Netscape Communications cofounder Marc Andreessen will become America Online's chief technology officer when the online giant's acquisition of Netscape closes, the companies confirmed today.

As previously reported, Andreessen will answer See special coverage: AOL to buy Netscape to AOL chief executive Steve Case. He will "help define the long-term technology direction" of AOL, "evaluating emerging technologies and reaching out to the wider technology community," according to the online giant.

"In addition, other executive officers of Netscape are in the process of negotiating the terms of their employment with America Online should the merger be completed," a regulatory filing today by America Online stated. "These terms are expected to be consistent with usual and customary business practice."

Andreessen, who is credited with helping create the NCSA Mosaic browser prototype for the Internet while a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been serving as Netscape's executive vice president of products.

"A key element to America Online's strategy for future success is to continue and accelerate the pace of our technological innovation. With Marc Andreessen as America Online's first chief technology officer, we are taking a major step to ensure all of our interactive brands will benefit from the latest technological developments today and in the years to come," Case said in a statement.

Andreessen told CNET News.com previously that he considers the Washington area, where AOL is headquartered, to have the potential to become another Silicon Valley, noting the area's concentration of telecommunications firms.

Observers have said that Andreessen will play a vital role in maintaining morale and retaining programming talent at Netscape once the company is in the AOL fold. Many have expressed concern about how the two companies' cultures would mix.

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