Home TechnologySilicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
TechnologyBy Joe Burgett -

Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure and the Few Who Made It Out On Top
[Image via The Art of Pics/Shutterstock.com]

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
[Image via Ascannio/Shutterstock.com]
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
[Image via Rappler]

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
[Image via Mundissima/Shutterstock.com]
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
[Image via Benny Marty/Shutterstock.com]

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

Advertisement