Exactly 5 years ago, Yahoo! got sold for US$4.8 billion. To most people, it would seem like a success, but history says otherwise. During 1995–99, Yahoo was the biggest Internet company by far and was worth over US$125 billion at its peak.
It’s approx the same time when Google has launched its search engine for the first time. Lots of industry veterans were in the opinion that Google was 100% going to fail because it was way too late in the game. There were numerous search engines like Lycos, AskJeeves, Excite, AOL, AltaVista, Infoseek, Go, and so many others that had launched years earlier and that were much bigger.
And Yahoo! was by far the biggest and most widely used search engine. In those days, Yahoo! dominated the entire industry in the same way Google does today.
In 1998, Yahoo! refused to buy Google for US$1 million. Yahoo! was the giant and Google was the tiny ant. In 2002, Yahoo! tried to buy Google for US$3 billion when it realized how quickly Google was growing, but Yahoo! decided to walk away from the deal when Google asked for US$5 billion.
In 2008, Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo! for US$40 billion, but Yahoo! refused. In 2016, Verizon ended up buying Yahoo! for a mere US$4.8 billion as business fundamentals had deteriorated significantly (and swiftly) from Yahoo!’s heyday.
Today, Google has a market value of US$1.7 trillion. It is crazy to see how things have unfolded, but the business world is cold and cruel.
For me, the moral of the story is very clear. It reminds me of this Thai proverb: When the tide is high, the fish eat the ants. When the tide is low, the ants eat the fish.
Whether you are a person, a company, or a country, it is never clear when you are at your peak (or at your bottom). Right now, you could be sitting at the very peak of your life (or you could be sitting at the very bottom of your life), and you would not know which is which. It is the scary truth.
Change can happen gradually over time or it can happen instantly. For this reason, the only key to long-term success is continuous learning, growth, and evolution. It is never the strongest or the smartest that survive. It is always the ones that evolve best to change.
After seeing through the collapse of the ill-managed internet business major, I remember the quotes of Management Guru Jim Collins “ Decline Can Be Avoided. Decline Can Be Detected. Decline Can Be Reversed “ provided the big blunders we have seen are getting tracked in their initial stage and addressed with immediate effect.
On a personal level, I managed to read 3–4 books in a month and involve myself, more with young entrepreneurs around the world to sense the changes in the new era of businesses.
Stay humble. Stay hungry. Always. #gratitude