Jeff Atwood mentioned Code Rush in a recent post and it seemed interesting enough to me to check it out. This PBS documentary is about the year 1998-1999 in the life of the Netscape company, one of its dying years. Code Rush follows the key people in Netscape, while they scramble to prepare to release the source code of Netscape Navigator Communicator 5.0 as the open-sourced Mozilla browser.
Netscape started off with a scorching hot IPO in 1995, but was reduced to pennies within 3 years when Microsoft shipped Internet Explorer for free with Windows. Not being able to take Microsoft head on, Netscape decided to open source their source code, in a bid to expand their programmer community. The move was heartily welcomed, but did nothing for the company’s slide. Within a year AOL bought Netscape and the folks behind it cashed out.
The documentary looks pretty tacky, and is not helped by the mood of the Netscape folk, which is all round depressing. It is nice to see Jamie Zawinski and Brendan Eich at their desks or at work. Probably the biggest takeaway in Code Rush is to see the effect of working at a startup on the employees and their families. Most Netscapers featured admit that they either do not have any life or it is screwed up by the long hours they put in at work. “Lived fast, died young, left a tired corpse” as one of them says.
Code Rush is released under a Creative Commons license and can be viewed online here.