“Crushing poverty and unimaginable wealth. Bitter feuds and brilliant collaborations. Ambition bordering on megalomania. A motorcycle crash. A suicide. A $30 million sailboat.
“Is this the tale of a computer tycoon or a rock ‘n’ roll star? Highlights from the life of a business mogul or the outline of a sensational pulp novel?
“In the case of Jim Clark — start-up artist extraordinaire, father of computer graphics, pioneer of Web surfing, self-appointed healer of the nation’s ailing health-care system — the answer is all of the above.” [From a Salon ‘Brilliant Careers’ article.]
In his article The Hypomanic Edge, professor of psychiatry John Gartner, Ph.D. describes CEOs and entrepreneurs like Clark [photo]:
“Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence, and really big ideas. They think, talk, move, and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions ‘just doesn’t get it.’
“Hypomanics are not crazy, but ‘normal’ is not the first word that comes to mind when describing them either.
“For example, Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape, was described in Business Week by Netscape’s other co-founder, Jim Barksdale, as ‘a maniac who has his mania only partly under control.’
“I am not suggesting that Jim Clark suffers from a mental illness, but based on his published statements and actions, he can be described as hypomanic.
“In The New New Thing, Michael Lewis profiled Clark as a perpetual motion machine with a short attention span, forever hurtling at unsafe speeds on helicopters, planes, boats, and cars.
“When his forward motion is impeded, Clark becomes irritable, bored, and depressed. In his search for the stimulation of the ‘new new thing,’ he quickly loses interest in the companies he founds and tosses them into the laps of his bewildered employees.
“His Netscape IPO is credited with starting the Internet gold rush. After that it seemed he could do no wrong…”