The Fall of Giants – Lessons in Complacency
The biggest search engine in the late 90s, Yahoo!, lost its position to the current behemoth, Google. Nokia, once THE go-to brand for mobile phones, became redundant when it failed to keep up with the emergence of smartphone technology. Complacency and stagnation are the silent killers of innovation. Left unchecked, these tendencies can lead to the demise of the biggest companies.
Yahoo! – A Lesson in Missed Opportunities
Once the most popular web search engine in the world, Yahoo! has become a mere shadow of its former glory. Now in the process of being sold off to Verizon for US$4.83 billion, Yahoo! was once valued at above US$100 billion before the burst of the dot-com bubble. Their inability to capitalise on synergies and their failure to recognise lucrative deals led to their eventual demise.
Having purchased Flickr, Geocities, Delicious and Tumblr, Yahoo! was sitting on a trove of social content and functions that could have been used to leverage a shift in the web portal’s dynamics. Flickr was in fact, was poised to develop social sharing functions for their huge database of pictures long before the rise of web 2.0. Instead of creating the world’s first photo-sharing platform in 2005 (this was when the acquisition took place), Yahoo! failed to recognise the potential of the company’s direction, and drove the Flickr team to prioritise integration rather than innovation(http://gizmodo.com/5910223/how-yahoo-killed-flickr-and-lost-the-internet). The same mistake was repeated in most of their other acquisitions, believing that their main product took priority over everything else.
Yahoo also missed out on the chance to acquire two of the biggest names in the internet today; Google and Facebook. While many may argue that these companies would have changed the fate of Yahoo!, the company’s history of poor management of their acquired companies may have muted the innovation that led to Google and Facebook’s success we see today.
Nokia – A Lesson in Overconfidence
Like Yahoo, Nokia controlled a majority share of the mobile phone market in its heyday, only to lose it all when new innovators entered the market. Now owned by Microsoft, Nokia’s shares have dipped for 3 quarters in a row. Their demise was largely due to their misplaced confidence in their past successes and their failure to recognise the change in consumer preferences.
The advent of the smartphone era through the introduction of the iPhone by Apple signified the moment of Nokia’s gargantuan collapse. Despite being one of the first companies to release a touchscreen internet-enabled phone, Nokia decided to stick with its strengths, and concentrated efforts on developing hardware instead of the software behind their iteration of today’s smartphone. Other companies like Samsung and Motorola realised that a new era had dawned and began shifting focus to remain relevant.
Nokia did attempt to remain relevant, releasing their own OS, Symbian. However, by this time, it was too little, too late. Their competitors had far superior operating systems and top of the line software, with even more innovations in the works.
Twitter – The Latest Addition to the List of Fallen Tech Giants
The latest company that looks to join the ranks of Yahoo! and Nokia seems to be Twitter. The company experienced resounding growth following its launch – continuing to gain new followers up until 2015. 2016 saw the great fall of one of the biggest social networking sites, as its valuations fell quarter on quarter. Now looking to be acquired, Twitter is no longer the tech giant it once was. What went wrong for Twitter? They continued to innovate, acquiring new tech and upgrading their user interface regularly. Perhaps we’ll know more about the inner workings of the company once they’ve managed to confirm an acquirer.