Jim Clark to board new venture

The Netscape co-founder is backing another start-up that wants to push aside the stodgy corporate VPN. The move adds yet another entry to Clark's eclectic resume.

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Netscape Communications co-founder Jim Clark will step in as chairman of networking security start-up Neoteris effective Monday, according to the company.

The appointment caps weeks of rumors and adds to Clark's eclectic resume, which includes stints at Silicon Graphics, Netscape and WebMD. After leaving all three of those companies, he has more recently focused on a collection of relatively obscure start-ups, serving as chairman at online photo service Shutterfly, financial consultant for MyCFO and genetics researcher at DNA Sciences.

Neoteris aims to simplify the way employees connect to a corporate network remotely, replacing the two major solutions used today: extranets and virtual private networks (VPNs). The Sunnyvale-based company was founded last year under the temporary name DanaStreet, and has received $5 million in funding from investors that include Clark and the Barksdale Group, the investment fund run by his former partner at Netscape, Jim Barksdale.

Neoteris on Nov. 19 plans to launch its networking appliance, dubbed the Instant Virtual Extranet. According to the company, the product offers companies the ability to link securely to their internal corporate network from any device that has a Web browser, without the need for a dedicated connection.

The company said its product fills a networking need unmet by extranets and VPNs, which can be costly and complicated to implement.

Neoteris Chief Executive Krishna Kolluri, a co-founder and former senior vice president of WebMD, acknowledged that the timing for new start-ups is difficult given the economic environment. But he added that the company hopes to turn that to its advantage by instilling fiscal responsibility.

"Is the current climate challenging? No question about it," said Kolluri. "I don't think there's any better time than to build a company during the downturn...just because you can get more done with less."

Kolluri added that Neoteris' technology is "revolutionary" and will "fundamentally change the way people work."

Clark has long been identified with successful start-ups, although some of his projects have produced mixed results.

WebMD, the online health provider he co-founded and later left, has faced challenges this year, posting a net loss of $1.9 billion, or $5.21 per share, for the first half of the year. Meanwhile, the company's stock has sunk from a high of more than $100 a share in March 1999 to $4.52 at market close Friday.

In a regulatory filing last month, the company said it would hand sizable severance packages to a pair of former executives who resigned from the struggling online health company earlier this year.

Kolluri "and I have a history of building innovative solutions for huge, unaddressed market needs," Clark said in a statement. "I believe that we have the opportunity to again build a trailblazing industry."