He grew up in a broken home in a Texas town known for its sausage links and little else. He dropped out of high school and joined the Navy not so much to see the world as to escape Plainview. After nine months at sea, he returned to the U.S., took a math test, and came out at the top of his class. Enrolling in night classes at Tulane University, he found his calling in computer science, eventually earning, in 1974, a doctorate from the University of Utah.
While an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, Jim Clark designed a computer chip that was able to process 3-D images in real time. The chip ushered in a whole new era of computer graphics and led to Clark’s founding of Silicon Graphics in 1982, considered to be among the first and most influential companies in the “new economy.”
After he left SGI, Mr. Clark and Marc Andreessen founded Netscape Communications Corp., which quickly rose to preeminence in the Web browser market. He later went on to found Healtheon as a central depository of information for doctors, hospitals, health plans, pharmacists, and benefits administrators. In so doing, Jim Clark became the first person to create three different multi-billion-dollar technology companies, becoming a multi-billionaire in the process.
Credited by Business Week with having “20/20 foresight,” Mr. Clark currently is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of MyCFO. The professor-turned entrepreneur has also become a philanthropist, recently giving Stanford a $150 million gift to fund a cross-disciplinary initiative in biomedical engineering and sciences.