In 1994, I formed an internet Web development firm with my friend, Todd Haedrich. I came up with the name Point of Presence Company (POPCO). We managed to sign up three initial clients at what I recall was $25,000 per year: Peachpit Press (now part of Pearson), Atlas Model Railroad Company (owned then by Todd's uncle), and Faucet Outlet (a client of Todd's father's printing company).
A point of presence is a location at which two or more telecommunications parties meet for interchange. I picked it partly because it avoided trademark issues: the term was of general use in the field, and thus no company had used it, and nor could we specifically protect it or be blocked from using it.
We used to correspond with Jerry Yang when Yahoo was really Y.A.H.O.O., and had interesting conversations and sometimes did a little work with people who went on to run enormous corporations. (I used to have lunch with Jeff Bezos when he was starting up his crazy book company, because I had experience in the book industry and he did not.)
When Mosaic Communications shipped its first Netscape Navigator beta, it was logical for Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark's company to turn to Todd, who had been providing extensive beta feedback, for a quote for its press release:
"Netscape is the first Internet tool that lets the average user with a 14.4 kb modem work with the Internet interactively," said Todd Haedrich, principal of Point of Presence Company in Seattle. "It's fast, simple and elegant. The resources that Mosaic Communications provides for its novice users in Netscape, such as the Internet directories, rival any other site on the net for their quality and depth. Netscape will help bring more people on the Internet than any program since the original NCSA Mosaic."
Some people mark the start of the broader Web from the general availability of Netscape Navigator 20 years ago today, because it was the first legitimately free browser—for personal use! Anyone with an Internet connection could download it, and having done so, these early adopters would feel compelled to show it off to friends and colleagues. Usage spread rapidly thereafter.
Mosaic sowed the seeds of its own destruction through the free release. It gave the company's flagship product the benefits of rapid adoption, challenged Microsoft, and grew the Web. But it was never able to find a sustainable business model once the growth was underway, partly because of Microsoft's anti-competitive acts and partly because free is an extremely hard basis on which to build a competitive business. We're still fighting the cost of free today.