We’ve all heard of startups that never make it. In fact, most startups don’t make it; a whopping 90% of them fail. But what is even more shocking is the number of businesses that became successful, multi-million (sometimes even billion) dollar companies after experiencing crises that could have crippled them.These companies were able to come back from the brink of disaster and rise to the top, once again.
Though it may sound impossible, the most valuable company on Earth was once not so highly regarded. In 1997, the company was on the verge of going bankrupt. So, what was it that saved the failing computer company? It’s biggest rival: Microsoft. At the time, Microsoft was gaining a reputation of becoming something of a monopoly. Rumors suggest that Microsoft made a hefty, $150 million investment in Apple in order to break away from the negative press. Little did Microsoft know they were helping to create a behemoth that even they could not defeat. Steve Jobs was brought back to Apple shortly before the investment, and, working with Jony Ive, they began working on the iPod, which helped Apple come back stronger than ever. Later, they would release the iPhone, and become the most valuable company in the world, with a worth of $750 billion.
Chances are, if you’ve been to the movies in the last 10 years, you know what Marvel Entertainment is. Originally a comic book company, after several decades of churning out popular comic book characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America, Marvel fell on hard times in the late 90s, going as far as filing for bankruptcy. In order to stay afloat, the publisher sold off the licensing rights to their characters to several different movie studios. This ultimately helped the company come back. Eventually, Marvel struck a deal with Paramount Studios to produce a series of films based on the characters that they still owned the rights to, including Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk. This led to the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,15 films and counting, a stunning $11 billion worldwide megamachine and the return of Robert Downey Jrr….another comeback story in and of himself.
Similar to the Jacuzzi and Chapstick, Xerox became so popular for manufacturing photocopiers that the name became synonymous with the product, even if the copier wasn’t Xerox branded. Unfortunately, with the rise of the digital age, the company’s popularity declined and it almost went bankrupt. After the appointment of one Anne Mulcahy to CEO, the company saw a fast turnaround. It did not come easy, however, as Mulcahy was forced to layoff thousands of employees in the process. She also invested heavily into the R&D department of the company, as well as branched out and diversify the company’s portfolio of products.
There are dozens of other companies that have had similar fates, and I may feature them in a second article. However, these examples alone should show you that there is no shame in failing. It is a part of life and a part of the growth curve that can sometimes allow on to achieve greater heights than might have been achieved without the fork in the road.