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Netscape workers offered incentive to stay

AOL's top boss offers employees at its newly acquired company, Netscape Communications, a financial incentive to stay the course.

America Online's top boss is offering employees at its newly acquired company, Netscape Communications, a financial incentive to stay on board.

With headhunters circling Netscape's headquarters hoping to lure what Can AOL and Netscape make it work? is likely to be some of the most sought-after programming talent, America Online CEO Steve Case has offered Netscape employees an extra month's salary to stick around, an AOL spokeswoman said, confirming a report by the Associated Press.

Netscape's 2,300 employees gathered Monday with corporate leaders to discuss how AOL's $4.3 billion acquisition of Netscape and a separate agreement with Sun Microsystems would affect their future.

Case also sought to reassure them that the Netscape's "cool" and "independent" culture would not be touched.

Speeches by Case, Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, and Sun CEO Scott McNealy were interrupted several times with exuberant cheering from the audience.

Netscape was cofounded in 1994 by Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark after he saw the programming handiwork of Marc Andreessen--then a 22-year-old student--that allowed nontechnical users to easily navigate the Internet.

The company's revolutionary Web navigation technology, the Netscape Navigator browser, allowed users to experience the Net as pictures, text, and sounds with a click of a button rather than by entering arcane programming codes.

But Microsoft, nervous that this technology would render its Windows application obsolete, entered the market with its own browser, Internet Explorer, ultimately giving it away for free.

With this aggressive marketing strategy, the software giant gained ground on Netscape, forcing the smaller company to also start giving its browser away in an effort to hold on to its market lead.

Based in Mountain View, California, Netscape currently employs more than 2,000 people in 17 countries. The company reported revenues of $346 million in 1996, as compared to $85 million reported in 1995.