Netscape executive, Michael J Homer, dies at 50

  • Chicago (IL) - Silicon Valley executive, Michael J. Homer who had a significant impact on the development of three technology venues - the PC, the handheld device, and the Internet - passed away on Sunday in Atherton California at the age of 50.

    A close friend claims that the cause of death was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is a rare neurodegenerative disorder.

    After experiencing difficulty with memory, Homer was told in 2007 that he had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is sometimes compared to mad cow disease in animals. Homer's friends have joined forces in effort to establish an organization called Fight for Mike, which has raised $7 million in an attempt to fight this disease. The money has aided in research in the neurology department of the University of California, San Francisco.

    During the mid-1990's, when the World Wide Web was just beginning to gain notoriety and popularity, and just starting to alter the face of technology, Mr. Homer worked as the vice president of Netscape Communications Corporation, the Silicon Valley corporation which commercialized the web browser.

    Homer was responsible for writing the business plan and raising the private funding needed to take the company public in 1995. He was also responsible for leading the marketing department when the company went through a horrible fight with Microsoft, which ultimately landed the software company in court dealing with an historic antitrust battle over browser embedding in the Windows 95 and later operating systems.

    His career in technology ran deep. In the 1980's Homer worked for Apple Computer, as a technology adviser to John Sculley, who was then the chief executive. Later, he would work at Go Corporation, a now dead company which attempted to pioneer the creation of software for handhelds. Homer even worked on the board at Palm Inc, which produced the original Palm Pilot.

    In 2000, when Netscape was acquired by America Online, Homer left the company and then financed entrepreneurs from Netscape who went on to develop and influence the Internet. Homer played an important role in the early development of TiVo, Tellme Networks (which was acquired by Microsoft) and even Google.

    Mr. Homer left in this world a wife of 10 years, Kristina and three children, James, Jack, and Lucy, also his mother, Irene and his sister, Sue Homer.

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