Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone can make a mistake that is worth a billion dollars!
Sure, that’s quite a costly mistake but some of the most successful entrepreneurs can afford them and at times turn it around too. Here’s a list of some the world’s most recognizable names and faces who have messed up big time but didn’t let that get to them.
Steve Jobs’ ‘outrageous ideas’ got him fired from his own company!
Steve Jobs was one of the biggest risk-takers the world has ever known. However, it takes more than a risk taker to make a success out a company and the Apple founder learnt it the hard way.
Apple was a partnership company owned entirely by Jobs and Wozniak – ironically both Steve – until Jobs hired Mike Markkula in 1977. Markkula was a pioneering entrepreneur and angel investor who put in a huge amount of money in Apple. This was the beginning of Jobs losing control over his own company.
Markkula and Jobs disagreed on most things. In fact, Wozniak too wasn’t perhaps very happy and gave more credit to the Markukula for Apple’s initial years. Markkulla believed that Jobs lacked both the temperament and discipline to turn around Apple’s fortune. In 1983, Jobs had to agree with the board to recruit John Sculley, the then marketing head for Pepsi-Cola. This started a drastic shift in power between the two strong-willed men.
When the tussle reached its peak, Markkula joined hands with Sculley and Steve Jobs was fired from Apple Inc. in 1985. Apparently, Sculley thought of Jobs as a ‘relentless zealot’.
To quote an early Apple board member (as reported in Time): “Back then he was uncontrollable,” he said of Steve Jobs in explaining why the board voted to fire him. “He got ideas in his head, and the hell with what anybody else wanted to do.”
“But in 1997, with the company operating at a loss and Microsoft’s Windows 95 flying off the shelves, Apple’s board decided that a zealot was just what it needed. In August of that year, Jobs rejoined the board in august, becoming CEO — at first, with an “interim” — the following month. “He had become a far better leader, less of a go-to-hell aesthete who cared only about making beautiful objects,” wrote Fortune’s editor-at-large Peter Elkind of the co-founder’s triumphant return. “Now he was a go-to-hell aesthete who cared about making beautiful objects that made money.” In time, he became recognized as one of the company’s most valuable assets.
~Excerpt from Time
Steve Jobs wasn’t the perfect and most experienced choice for CEO of Apple, but he had faith in his products and understood the company better than anyone else. This far sightedness helped him envision something bigger and better for Apple and the result is for all to see.
Bill Gates not realizing the potential of Search Engine Services
Bill Gates is the genius behind Microsoft. He has proved himself to be a visionary by founding a computer software company in way back in 1975. Microsoft still is one of the most dominant players as far as the software industry goes.
Ignoring the treasure trove
Yet, Gates clearly didn’t see the opportunities the Internet era was ushering in during the ’90s. Microsoft’s search engine service provider MSN (founded in 1998), never matched up to Google’s success. Google was getting bigger with its search engine. Microsoft did not bother to come up with a project that could take on the mammoth task of becoming the numero uno in the domain. Gates was more interested in the ‘browser war’ when he probably should have focused more on the search engine service.
Attempt to regain lost ground
In 2002, Google made a revenue of $ 348 million. The following year, it earned thrice of what they got the previous year. Microsoft could have been topping the chart if Gates would create Bing much earlier than Google. In 2006, another attempt was made to defeat Google with Windows Live Search (Bing) but it couldn’t quite out-compete Google.
Larry Page overlooked Social Networking opportunity
Well, even Google didn’t do everything right! It has done so much right and been on top at its game since Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded the search engine in 1998. They’ve gained massive revenue by keeping things simple and by making some expansions through added services like Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail.
Just as Bill Gates failed to capitalize on an opportunity to dominate search engine services, Page missed an equally juicy opportunity to capitalize on another Internet revolution: Social Networking. Ironically, Page did see the potential of Social Networks but never acted upon it.
Friendster could have been bigger than Facebook
Google planned to buy the (then) popular social networking Friendster and offered $30,000,000 back in 2003. But Friendster disregarded the offer. Page could have invested a little more time and resource to innovate and come up with a better Networking site and we probably would have never known Orkut or Facebook!
By 2010, Google rolled out Google Buzz, but it was dropped in 2011 to make room for Google Plus, which is struggling and merely surviving the Social Network rat race.
4. Mark Zuckerberg representing Facebook
Nobody can call Mark Zuckerberg stupid. He is the mind and face behind the greatest social networking site – Facebook. His vision turned Facebook in to reality in 2004.
However, Zuckerberg was hardly a pleasing personality in his early days as the ‘face’ of Facebook. He was blunt, tactless and even arrogant. That’s why it came as a surprise when Zuckerberg chose himself to be the public face of his company.
An insensitive young chap
“I just killed a pig and a goat.”
~Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
This controversial statement made by Zuckerberg stirred up controversy when it was posted on his personal Facebook page in May 2011. An array of negative feedback followed. Animal lovers found it offensive. His blatant statement brought criticism and harsh remarks. For a while Zuckerberg’s public image was not something he would be proud of.
A better-behaved man
Although, Zuckerberg’s personal comments didn’t hamper Facebook’s growth, it sure made him a hated figure. He earned back some of his popularity with his family photos and the much celebrated ‘letter’ he penned for his daughter last year.
So, what’s the common thread among these 4 celebrated visionaries?
Someone’s wrong decision and/or arrogance turned into someone else’s gain.
Steve Job’s mistake paved way for Bill Gates to dominate the computer industry in it’s early days. Gates’ mistake gave room for Larry Page to pioneer the search engine industry and of course Larry Page’s major mistake allowed Mark Zuckerberg to dominate the social networking industry.
Zuckerberg is happy being the Social Network king. Maybe he’s missing out on the ‘Next Big Thing’ that someone else might already be working on.
But then, like I said…these men could afford these billion dollar mistakes!