Home TechnologySilicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Success – Western Digital

  • Current Company Value: Roughly $20 Billion

While some likely do not know about Western Digital, it is very likely they have used a product this company has made. The company has been around since the early 1970s, meaning they have been in operation for more than 50 years at this point. Today, they are one of the kings in the hard disc drive and data storage business. The company currently designs and manufactures its own products, as well as sells them. While they are known more for data storage devices, Western Digital also manufactures data center systems and offers cloud storage services.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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WD’s storage devices are usually made for computers but they have also made them for consoles as well. Currently, they have both a 1TB and 2TB M.2 SSD available for Playstation 5 consoles. WD has also developed great partnerships with SanDisk, Apple, and Intel just to name a few. While they do have some major competition in their field, particularly from Seagate and Micron, the Western Digital company has been thriving for years. Its competitors have forced them to become even better as a company and even alter prices to give people affordable products. They are one of the true success stories among Silicon Valley corporations.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via The Verge]

Failure – Rdio

  • Current Company Value: SHUT DOWN

With companies offering music for free, trying to start a music streaming company is tough today. However, years ago it seemed like a good plan to try. Interestingly, the founders of Skype, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström launched the company in August 2010. Yet the market at the time was pretty impressive as the new-look Napster along with Rhapsody, Deezer, and Spotify were already doing quite well. In 2013, Rdio started up a recommendation feature to form personalized albums or stations. Then in 2014, introduced a free option for streaming music that included advertisements. It is easy to forget, but Rdio did really change the game at first.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via WIRED]
While they were newer to the music streaming game, Rdio managed to make it into 85 countries. They were also available on all streaming platforms. Rdio also reached agreements with four major record labels, the Merlin Network, and music aggregators like BFM Digital, The Orchard, and many more. Eventually, Rdio developed a social media format for music sharing. Yet by 2015, they couldn’t continue and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Pandora purchased the company for $75 million, and several of the Rdio employees were even hired by Pandora too.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Success – Cisco Systems

  • Current Company Value: Around $200 Billion

It is quite impressive how successful Cisco Systems has become since launching in the mid-1980s. Founders Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner were impressive people who likely were ahead of the game when it came to the future of computers. Both Stanford University graduates, Bosack and Lerner were the main brains behind connecting the Stanford computers through the local area network or LAN concept. The concept caught on and would become a major concept at schools across the country. Today, Cisco makes networking hardware (you likely use their modem for WiFi). They also make telecommunications equipment, software, and much more.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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On top of this, Cisco Systems has become a major player in several industries, including domain security, videoconferencing, energy management, and Internet of Things (IoT). Since 1990, Cisco has been a huge player in the tech industry and actually profited during the “dot-com bubble.” They even surpassed Microsoft at that point for the world’s most valuable company. Yet being one of the most successful Silicon Valley Corporations or corporations, in general, might result in bad workplace issues eventually. However, Cisco has been voted as one of the top places to work according to 2021 and 2022 Fortune, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor rankings.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via Engadget]

Failure – Juicero

  • Current Company Value: SHUT DOWN

It is really hard to understand how Juicero really became a thing in a world of less expensive juicers. As referenced, this is a juicer that used specialized single-serve packets of pre-chopped fruits and vegetables. They also only sold these packets via a monthly subscription. The Juicero itself was also WiFi-connected for, we suppose, the person that likes to start getting their juicing going while getting ready for work? The problem with the company should have been obvious from the start honestly. First of all, the Juicero device itself was high-priced when it first came out.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via Fortune]
The idea of then pushing people to get a subscription to even qualify to buy the packets was insane too. If that was not bad enough, an investigation into the main juice packets found that these packets did not include some impressive juice. Rather, the packets included juice that could just as easily be squeezed by hand as by the juicer itself. In 2017, the company realized they were in a bad position and suspended sales. The company even repurchased the juicer from customers, in an effort to make things right. The company has been searching for a buyer of the overall IP ever since.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Success – Adobe

  • Current Company Value: Around $200 Billion

While Adobe has made some controversial decisions in recent years, no one can deny they are one of the most important companies within the media landscape today. Perhaps its most infamous product, Photoshop, has been used by millions of people for several years now. Yet the company’s editing software known as Premiere Pro and After Effects has been massive. Both are used in television for either your normal news station or for your favorite sitcom. Both are also not too expensive for the average consumer to afford. This allowed regular people to make videos equal to what you might see on television.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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It can be stated that Adobe is one of the main companies that aided the internet age. As their products allowed regular people to make videos for YouTube, for example, which made them into internet stars. Some even went on to work for major companies and/or networks. This is even easier with Adobe’s new monthly subscription model. They did not stop there, as Adobe Audition has been a huge asset to radio stations. Plus, they are essentially the inventor of the modern Portable Document Format (PDF). Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, Reader, and Flash are other critical pieces of the company’s overall IP. Adobe has carved out a huge place for itself among successful Silicon Valley corporations for sure.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Failure – Yahoo!

  • Current Company Value: Around $4 Million

We should first note that while Yahoo! is currently not failing completely like other companies on this list, they are certainly going downhill from the company’s previous place online. The issues with Yahoo! truly start from within. Former CEO Scott Thompson was replaced after investor Dan Loeb questioned Thompson’s academic credentials. This turned out to be understandable, as Thompson lied about having a computer science degree. Marissa Mayer was then brought in for the CEO role in 2012, which was a huge pick-up. Mayer had previously worked at Google for a long period of time and had great success.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Mayer was both President and CEO of Yahoo! until 2017 when Verizon Communications purchased Yahoo’s internet business for $4.8 billion. Yahoo! was once worth over $120 billion before this! Verizon had already purchased AOL, which resulted in the decision to form “Verizon Media” where both Yahoo! and AOL would reside. They do the exact same things, as both have become essentially aggregates of information like news, lists, and editorials from other sources. Both still have e-mail account services as well. While Verizon is certainly thriving, Yahoo! has technically become one of the many failed Silicon Valley corporations.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Success – Hewlett-Packard (HP), Incorporated

  • Current Company Value: Around $30.50 Billion

Hewlett-Packard, otherwise known as HP, has been in business for over 80 years. They first opened their doors in 1939 and have been running ever since. It was founded by two Stanford University graduates, Bill Hewlett and David Packard. The two were electrical engineers who essentially put HP on the map in the world of early computing. HP was a small company until they won their first big contract to work on the Walt Disney production, Fantasia. This film is still considered a classic to this very day. Eventually, they became one of the world leaders in personal computers, printers, and much more.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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HP did merge with Compaq in 2002 and eventually purchased Electronic Data System and 3Com. The company also later bought Palm, Inc. the inventor of the Palm Pilot technology. They even won a bidding war with Dell for the purchase of 3PAR. In 2015, they eventually decided to split the company, which resulted in HP Inc. forming a spin-off corporation. The company retained the HP PC and Printer business. DXC Technology came out of this along with Micro Focus, which has only led to HP Inc. Their hardware and software businesses are thriving more than ever and it is clear HP is one of the most successful Silicon Valley corporations in history!

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Failure – Netscape

  • Current Company Value: SOLD OFF, VALUE UNKNOWN

During the start of the internet browser wars, Netscape was a pretty notable web browser but ended up losing out to Internet Explorer. They were pretty huge early on, taking up more than 90% of the web market by the middle of the 1990s. Yet by 2006, they were seeing less than 1% of the market. Netscape’s employee Brenden Eich did create JavaScript and one of the founding engineers Lou Montulli created the first web cookies. Netscape is also responsible for SSL, which secures websites more for online communication. Today, any place that uses an SSL will have the “HTTPS://” opener to its website’s URL.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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AOL eventually acquired Netscape in 1998, however. Yet what’s so interesting is that just a year before AOL bought them, they released the source code for the Netscape browser and created the Mozilla Organization. Using the Gecko rendering engine, they rewrote the source code, and once AOL backed off of its involvement in Mozilla, the team took advantage. By 2003, Mozilla Foundation popped up, and eventually, the Firefox browser was created. In spite of this, AOL still technically owns Firefox, and Verizon Media owns AOL. Therefore, Netscape ultimately failed but was a major player that changed the game forever.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Success – Microsoft

  • Current Company Value: Slightly Over $2 Trillion

Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft back in 1975 with Gates eventually becoming the public face of the company. Microsoft noticed that a lot of places were making hardware for computers and other devices. Yet they realized these products would need proper software. That eventually led to the Windows operating system we see today. As the internet became a major part of life, they decided to make their own browser… Internet Explorer and eventually Edge. Of course, they were not done there. Gates among others saw that the video game industry was booming and Microsoft wanted in.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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This led to the first Xbox console, and several years later they are one of the biggest consoles in gaming. Of course, Microsoft also made sure computers could use their software for gaming in this area as well. This effectively took the market in their direction. Microsoft also realized the success of social media and online communication, leading to the purchase of both Skype and LinkedIn. While there has been stiff competition, issues with the U.S. Government, and anti-competitive lawsuits filed over the years… Microsoft remains a huge company. They are one of the most successful Silicon Valley corporations to ever exist.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Failure – Friendster

  • Current Company Value: SHUT DOWN

Friendster was a social media platform that was, along with MySpace, one of the first major social media platforms. It was originally launched in 2002, and founded by Jonathan Abrams. Of course, Abrams has been a major player in the tech and online industry for many years now. Friendster operated slightly differently compared to other social networks after it. Users could share online content and media with other users like most social media platforms. At the same time, Friendster was used for dating and even discovering events, new bands, or hyping up various hobbies one could take part in.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via VICE]
Friendster lost out in the social media world, resulting in a change by June 2011. It turned into a social gaming platform with over 115 million users at its peak. On top of this, Friendster moved from its California base to a new headquarters in Malaysia. The new social gaming platform worked there, Singapore, and the Philippines, but not worldwide. In spite of their actually useful switch to stay alive, Friendster could not compete in such a difficult market any longer. By June 2018, the company officially closed and was dissolved completely.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via The Verge]

Success – Meta Platforms, Inc.

  • Current Company Value: Around 430 Billion

Founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. However, Zuckerberg eventually became the face of the company. While the company did go public years ago, Zuckerberg remains the majority shareholder at 13% of the total company. The closest to him is The Vanguard Group which owns slightly over 7% of the company. Originally just known as Facebook, the company eventually began buying up other companies and making its own new products and investments. This led Zuckerberg to decide on changing the company’s name to what we see today, “Meta Platforms, Inc.”

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via Tada Images/Shutterstock.com]
All of the contents and products are part of the “Metaverse,” which links all of the company’s products. While the main piece of the pie is Facebook, the company also owns Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, WorkPlace, Portal, and Oculu. Meta and Zuckerberg have had a huge problem over the years with Facebook’s algorithms, hate groups, and manipulative advertising… they have since tried to clean this up. While they can sometimes go overboard with this, the full idea is to fix a problem it technically created. Meta, in spite of its issues, is one of the most successful Silicon Valley corporations of all time. In fact, they are maybe too successful.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via Cinematic]

Failure – Pets.com

  • Current Company Value: SHUT DOWN

To be fair here, Pets.com was actually a great idea and was relatively successful early on. It was founded in 1998 and shut down by 2000. Yet it can be hard to see how a company that was clearly useful ended up shutting down. The company created a puppet mascot that people loved, even including Pets.com in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1999 along with the 2000 Super Bowl. What is so interesting about the website was that people loved the idea of an e-commerce site to get stuff for their pets. Thus, the company began seeing record sales numbers. However, Pets.com is the most infamous part of the “dot-com bubble.”

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via Wired]
This was a time in which websites on the internet popped up dramatically, as people were seeing the potential success they could provide. Major investors, even companies, bought into sites in hopes of hitting it big. Pets.com was a part of that and could have survived. Yet they did not have a truly workable business plan. Even though sales increased a lot, they lost money on every sale as it was selling products for one-third the price it paid for them. That wasn’t even including the cost of advertising. That led to a shutdown and many portions of the company were sold to PetSmart.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via WIRED]

Success – Apple

  • Current Company Value: Around $3 Trillion

Apple is one of the most successful Silicon Valley corporations, yet it has also become one of the biggest companies on the planet. It was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. Unlike Microsoft, Apple decided to start with hardware when it began. Wozniak developed the Apple I personal computer and the company was formed in 1976 to sell it. In 1997, Jobs and Wozniak then formed Apple Computer, Inc. to sell the Apple II. This became one of the best-selling, mass-produced microcomputers. In 1984, the first Macintosh was sold. Yet issues soon took place at Apple, leading to problems from within.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via 1000 Words/Shutterstock.com]
Wozniak decided to step away to pursue other interests, but Jobs resigned in a bitter rage eventually starting the NeXT company. That led to a period of horrible products at Apple, and just weeks away from bankruptcy in 1997, Apple bought NeXT to entice Jobs to return. Upon doing so, Jobs helped to develop the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Some of the most successful tech products in history. Sadly, Jobs passed in 2011 but left a major legacy behind. By 2018, Apple was the first public-traded company in the U.S. to be valued at $1 trillion. They’d hit the $2 trillion value two years later, then $3 trillion two years after that.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via The Verge]

Failure – Theranos

  • Current Company Value: SHUT DOWN

Founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, is sociopathic and quite literally lied to investors enough to trick them into investing millions into a nonexistent product. Known as Theranos, the company was supposed to have been a medical tech company that had a product capable of doing blood tests that required only a small amount of blood to operate. It would also get the results back rapidly with extreme accuracy, and not just your normal CBC stuff but for other rare issues. This product would be revolutionary to the medical community as well as to governments worldwide.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Best of all, the product was supposed to be easy to use as it worked using a small automated device. Thus making the device easily portable to take anywhere one needs to go. Holmes valued her company and due to her sociopathic abilities, was able to trick people into investing $700 million into Theranos. Due to her lies, Holmes faced numerous lawsuits from the SEC, CMS, State Attorney General, her business partners, and countless others. In January 2022, Holmes was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy. Overall, Theranos has to be considered one of the biggest failures among Silicon Valley corporations. Perhaps, the ultimate failure.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
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Success – Alphabet, Inc.

  • Current Company Value: Around $360 Billion

While Alphabet, Inc. has made some questionable decisions regarding products over the years, they have the luxury of being able to fail. This is the company that owns Google as well as YouTube. They are two of the most visited websites on the planet, with Google being the #1 most visited website off and on for several years at this point. The company has had its fingers in many pies and currently has a stake in Robotics, Software, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous cars and Automation, Biotechnology, Cloud Computing, and Computer Hardware.

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via AngieYeoh/Shutterstock.com]
This doesn’t include the company’s own internet service (Google Fiber), nor the company’s venture capital. As one of the most successful Silicon Valley corporations, they have had room to fail. Such as with things like Google Glass, Google Lively, Google Nexus phones, and their attempt at social media in Google+. In spite of these issues, they have thrived anyway. Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Alphabet has managed to do very well. The two stepped away in 2019 and now Sunder Pichai is leading as CEO. What will the future hold for one of the most successful Silicon Valley corporations? We’re excited to see for ourselves!

Where Do We Find this Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

Alphabet, Inc.

Adobe

Apple

Applied Materials

Bloomberg

Broadcom

Business Insider

Cisco Systems

Hewlett-Packard (HP)

Intel

MacroTrends

Meta

Microsoft

Netflix

Nvidia

New York Times

The Washington Post

Western Digital

WIRED

The Verge

Vox Media

Yahoo

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