Case | HBS Case Collection | August 1999 (Revised September 1999)

Double Dealmaking in the Browser Wars (A)

by James K. Sebenius

Abstract

Recounts two complex negotiations in which Netscape and Microsoft compete to win a browser contract with AOL--then later with KPMG. After reviewing the web and browser sectors, this case recounts AOL's dramatic negotiations with Netscape and with Microsoft over which firm's web browser would be used by the online service. A path-breaking deal was announced between AOL and Netscape to use Navigator as the "default" AOL browser, only to be undermined the next day by an AOL-Microsoft deal that designated Microsoft Explorer as the "preferred" AOL browser. The deal also put an AOL icon, the Windows desktop, the "world's most valuable cyber-real estate." Describes the first stages of a see-saw negotiation the following year in which Netscape and Microsoft were again competing, but this time for a major deal with KPMG. Concludes as KPMG has awarded the contract to Netscape with Microsoft still scrambling to get the business.

Keywords: Negotiation Process; Negotiation Tactics; Negotiation Deal; Web; Web Services Industry;

Citation:

Sebenius, James K. "Double Dealmaking in the Browser Wars (A)." Harvard Business School Case 800-050, August 1999. (Revised September 1999.)