Although he was recently in the hot seat at the the last annual meeting of Hewlett-Packard's board of directors (30% voted to oust him), the news isn't all bad for Marc Andreessen. He received recognition from the Queen of England this year for his monumental role in helping to create the Internet. (Read Marc Andreessen's IP profile.)
Andreessen was among five Internet pioneers who were announced as the first-ever winners of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering on March 18. Dubbed by some the "Nobel Prize of engineers," the new award is targeted to those individuals or groups who make "a groundbreaking advance in engineering which has clearly created significant benefit to humanity." The recognition doesn't just entail a trophy and a certificate. All five will share the cash prize of £1 million, or $1.5 million. They will receive the prize from the Queen at a ceremony to take place in June.
Andreessen was recognized for being a cowriter of the first Internet browser, known as Mosaic, which made the World Wide Web available to the average person for the first time. According to the announcement, "His work triggered a huge number of applications unimagined by the early network pioneers." He became a tech icon when his Netscape Communications IPO jump-started the dot-com boom of the 1990s. He is now looked upon as a Silicon Valley investor and visionary, except possibly among HP shareholders, based upon his prominent role in choosing Leo Apotheker to serve as the company's CEO in 2010. Apotheker was ousted less than a year later and replaced by current CEO Meg Whitman.
On his blog, Andreessen said he was "humbled and grateful" for the honor. He promised to "donate the prize money to charitable programs that help spread the culture and foundational knowledge of engineering — such as scholarships and summer programs for engineering students."
"It is amazing to think that the consumer Internet and the World Wide Web are still only 20 years old. So much important work has been done in the last 20 years — including bringing the Internet to more than two billion people around the world but also so much important work has yet to be done."
The other winners were Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented what became known as the World Wide Web; Louis Pouzin, upon whose research everyone relied upon to create the Internet; and Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, whose creation of the TCP and IP protocols made possible the current incarnation of the Internet that we have come to rely upon.