Home Uncategorized 15 Companies That Made A Miraculous Comeback After Near Extinction

15 Companies That Made A Miraculous Comeback After Near Extinction

Loraine February 11, 2018

Industries of all kinds have seen large companies rise and fall. In the new age, the tech industry sees more rise and falls than any other industry (save the stock market.) Millions can be lost in a day, CEO’s are ousted which causes a ripple effect within the organization. Even if products are trending for a while, consumers are a fickle bunch. What is outrageously popular for one Christmas season will be forgotten the next.

With the ever changing economy that sees the rise and fall in companies all the time, we know it’s common place for companies to epically fail. Most people believe that Apple is by far the greatest success story for making it out on top after some hard years. Their turnaround over the past decade was an impressive display of never giving up.

There are some other big tech names that clawed their way back on top through the years. Here is a look at some of the big businesses that were miraculously rescued from the dustbin of history.

1 Apple: The IIGS era

Apple saw a lot of hard times over the years. Many of the adults during the 1980’s were learning how to use computers on the Apple IIe and IIGS machines. In the 1990’s, Microsoft began to dominate with its release of Windows 95. Apple struggled with IBM and the huge success of Microsoft which was part of the reasons for their struggles.

Apple jumped into many new markets but none of them worked out very well. The biggest failure in the 90’s was the Newton MessagePad. This was the CEO’s brainchild but it cost a lot of money and didn’t actually do that much. The CEO at the time was Scully. He spent a great deal of time and money to bring System 7 to the new IBM/Motorola Power PC microprocessor. This did not work well for Apple at all.

While Apple was flopping, Microsoft was flourishing, setting the two companies apart further. Macs were expensive and the software was more limited.

The Return of Jobs and the Rise of Apple

When Jobs returned in 1997, Apple’s famous ad campaign was introduced. The “Think Different” campaign celebrated musicians, scientists, and artists. During the era of Jobs as the leader, Apple would work with Microsoft who helped them. Bill Gates invested $150 million into Apple.

It was Jobs first big speech as CEO when he announced the investment. Jobs then lead Apple through to the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. Apple is one of the most profitable companies to this point. They surpassed hardships over a decade to come out on top. Some still say that the Microsoft investment was Bill Gates worst decision in his career.

2 Nintendo: Love Hotel and Competition

What’s interesting about Nintendo is that it’s been around since the late 1800’s. It was once a playing card company and has been a chameleon over the ages. During the 1960’s, Nintendo invested in taxi cabs, instant rice and love hotels. These ideas cost the company a lot of money and none of them worked.

During the 1960’s, Nintendo set up a game’s development department. This would eventually result in a breakthrough in the 1970’s. They ended up developing a laser shooting gallery for arcades which lead to the early home video systems. There was a portable unit developed also called Game & Watch.

In 1983, the family computer, “Famicom” came out in Japan. It eventually became the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). By the end of the 1980’s, Nintendo was dominating the video game entertainment industry on a global scale.

Yamauchi, the CEO of Nintendo, saw that the software was what created success and not the hardware. They employed Shigeru Miyamoto who became a big deal in the industry with many successes over a period of three decades. In 1977, he joined Nintendo to start off his career and developed Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, and Mario during the 1980’s. I’m sure we don’t have to talk about the success of these games.

Nintendo misused the creative genius they had in Miyamoto and make things complicated. Their hardware ideas in the 1990’s and early 2000’s were all mostly failures. Sony’s Playstation grew in popularity and then came the Xbox and Microsoft consoles. Yamauchi decided to step down from his role as CEO and chose Iwata who was a video game maker with much different ideas.

Nintendo Rising from the Ashes

Iwata teamed up with Miyamoto with a mindset of less is more consoles. They were looking to draw in a new audience. Nintendo was successful with DS as well as the motion-sensing Wii. Miyamoto created new games related to his own personal likes. He loved dogs and designed Nintendogs. He also had a habit of weighing himself constantly which morphed into Wii Fit and the balance board accessory.

Nintendo has risen and fallen many times. More times than there have been company presidents actually. Iwata is only the 4th president to run Nintendo and the first one that wasn’t a part of the Yamauchi family. Nintendo came back and is now a profitable company once again. They dominate the hand-held gaming market with over 50 million 3DS unites sold in 2015.

3 Polaroid and Instant Photography Magic

Long before the digital camera, there was Polaroid to offer up an instant photo during the 1970’s. Edwin Land was the inventor of instant photography and most of what Polaroid made. The first Polaroid camera went on sale in 1948. It was big and heavy, weighing more than four pounds. The photographs were tiny and sepia-toned. It saw success as the Jordan March department store sold out of them within a few hours. Polaroid was a craze.

Black and white film came in the 50’s and in the 60’s, color photos were introduced. It was in the 1970’s where Polaroid became a household name. The SX-70 made the photos with the while border and white tab at the bottom. Land’s initial vision took three decades to come to fruition but finally, it had during the 70’s. Andy Warhol loved the Polaroid and created dramatic results.

The development of this Polaroid cost nearly $2 billion which was a lot of money in the 70’s. In 1977, Land developed Polavision which made an instant 8 millimeter movie. Sony’s Betamax videotape beat Polaroid out however. This became the beginning of the end for the company. Land stepped down in the 1980’s and the company focused on analog instead of getting involved with digital photography. Debt piled up. It went into bankruptcy in both 2001 and 2008.

Polaroid was then sold a few times. One of the owners got 50 years in a federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme. After the second bankruptcy, Polaroid was owned by two investment firms. They licensed the brand name for cameras and electronics. The Polaroid analog company was picked up by a company called, the Impossible Project. They purchased Polaroid’s last film factory and worked for years to get it up and running again.

Impossible Project was embraced right away by those who came to love Polaroid. Polaroid came back around although they didn’t produce the cameras any longer. The fact is that many of the old Polaroid cameras still work and artistic people and historians are huge fans of the camera. The company doesn’t see any royalties of course as they are long gone.

The name is licensed to a new generation of camera such as the Socialmatic.

Attributed to fm.cnbc.com

4 IBM and a List of Fails and Rebounds

IBM was founded back in 1911. It was responsible for many different types of inventions. This includes ATMs, hard drives, magnetic stripe cards, and floppy disks. While they saw great success in the beginning, they also made some mistakes. The biggest flop was the OS/2 which caused a loss of $8 billion for IBM.

Many people have analyzed how such a powerhouse of the technology industry could waste the opportunities they did. A powerhouse and leader in the 60’s, they failed to capitalize during the crucial period of the 80’s. They were the best-managed firm in the industry until it really mattered. With sinking profit margins and no innovation, they gave competitors the upper hand and followed behind.

People started to see IBM as a dinosaur due to their profitable origins and then failed attempts to innovate products people would buy. Revival is showing to be possible however and IBM hasn’t given up despite decades of failed attempts. IBM has recovered although they lost a lot of their staff in a way that upset the public.

Growth did return to all aspects of the company. They now focus more on profitable business services instead of hardware. The mainframe market which is a part of IBM that was pronounced dead in the 70’s and 80’s has even recovered. This was the heart of IBM in the past and these mainframe computers are now bringing in impressive profit margins.

Attributed to fm.cnbc.com

5 Amazon: The Online Bookstore with a History of Struggles

The book distributors required a retailer to buy at least ten books at a time. Amazon found a way to get through this rule which was in part what made them so successful. Amazon didn’t need that many books at one time so they would order the book they wanted and then look for nine copies of a book that they knew would be out of stock.

Amazon had a lot of brilliant ideas from the beginning but they experienced their share of problems that nearly caused them to sink. Amazon was a hugely popular e-commerce site in the 90’s but they had to make it through the do-com crash, among other adversities. Amazon’s value fell from $361.88 a share at the end of 1998 to $5.51 in 2001.

During the late 90’s, Amazon facilities would experience system outages, products were strewn about and ignored by employees. The morale was low and it showed. This was all worked out later with more perks, better production guidelines and team morale building.

Some of the hardships included being under-staffed and ill prepared for how busy it would get. Amazon managed to fulfill their orders but it would take bringing in friends and family to accomplish this. Again, they’ve learned from past mistakes, hiring labor for the holiday season.

After that, Amazon vowed that it would never have a shortage of labor to meet demand for the holidays again, which is why Amazon hires so many seasonal workers today. Amazon began to really pick themselves up when they developed the Kindle. Amazon is currently dominant in e-tail space. Profits of nearly $90 billion were seen in 2014. Future plans are to be the leader in drone powered delivery.

The team eventually begged Bezos to keep the name Fiona, but he decided on another suggestion, Kindle, because it evoked the idea of starting a fire.

Attributed to cdn2.benzinga

6 Priceline: Travel, Grocery and Yard Sales Ups and Downs

From the very beginning, Wall Street was celebrating Priceline. Analysts thought it would change the way the world of retail worked. William Shatner was the spokesperson. Priceline offered people cheap last-minute travel. Airlines needed to get rid of unsold seats and travelers are always looking for flight deals. It was a “name your own price” travel agency and it worked.

Priceline experienced a lot of attention and success but by 2002, they experienced the backlash of 9/11. Their stock sunk, going from $1,000 a share down to $6.60 a share. Market value shrunk from $24.1 billion to $0.25 billion. It seemed evident that Priceline wouldn’t survive the hardship but they did.

Although Priceline ran in the negative for many years, it began to build up again. Sadly, they were knocked back down by the financial crisis that occurred in 2007/2008. They slowly began to gain more momentum around 2009.

By 2013, Priceline had a net income of $437 million which was almost twice the company value in 2002. Priceline refocused their efforts on selling travel after bringing people yard sales and grocery for a while. Their stock was down to $1.06 in December 2000 but has since rose to nearly $1,500 as of 2015.

Attributed to gadgetsware

7 Western Digital: Calculators to Computer Data Storage

Western Digital Corporation (WDC) has been around since the 1970’s where it started its fortune through selling calculator chips. It became a top supplier of OEM hard drives in the early 90’s. Things began to slow down at this point. The PC industry started using different drives so less hard disk controller boards were necessary. They also experienced a recall in 2000 due to bad motor driver chips.

WDC needed to make some changes and new developments to stay in the game so they recruited IBM. Their agreement consisted of WDC being able to use technologies IBM had and access to their production facilities. This is how they developed the Expert line of drives which was available in early 1999.

Their idea worked and they began expanding by making good purchases to obtain companies. One example of this is buying the flash storage company SanDisk for $19 billion. They also developed their own products like the high-performance Raptor.

Attributed to lynngrieveson.typepad

8 Shutterfly: Another Victim of the Dot-Com Crash?

Shutterfly had a lot of big competition and then the dot-com crash happened. Things were definitely not smooth sailing for this online photo-printing service. They were actually one of the few companies that made it past the internet bust. So how did they do it? They were lucky enough to have investors which made it easier than other companies who had no money. They cut down on their expenses a lot as well.

Clark and Mohr Davidow Ventures gave $13 million to Shutterfly during their first fundraising efforts in 1999. The second round of fundraising raised $25 million thanks to companies like Adobe Ventures and again Clark and Mohr Davidow.

They went with a slow-growth strategy when the internet went bust. This has allowed them to be more aggressive today which has led to great success. Their competitors quit and Shutterfly was able to capitalize on their market share. They also revitalized design-oriented, custom-printing.

9 Netflix and their House of Cards

Netflix was doing well with their movie and TV show offerings. They originally offered unlimited streaming as well as offering DVDs via mail. In 2011, Netflix announced that subscribers would have to join two different services. Of course, consumers weren’t happy about it.

Qwikster would have people paying $16 per month instead of it’s original price tag of $10. The investors were stunned and many people quickly rejected the Netflix services. In fact, there were over 800,000 customers who dropped their Netflix account in just one quarter.

The stock went from $300 per share, down to $65 by the end of year. Of course Netflix did all it could to redeem itself but really, the stunt left egg on their face. The company only recovered when they launched their original series, ‘House of Cards.’ The show basically saved the company and their stock has hit $400 per share. The competition can’t catch up, Netflix is King.


10 General Motors

GM was at the top of it’s game as an automaker until the late 2000s. They had to file for bankruptcy which meant laying off workers in towns all over the US. The Federal government bailed the company out to a tune of $50 billion bailout.

Miraculously, a year after the bailout which earned them the nickname, ‘Government Motors’ started to be profitable again. They cut costs and let go of struggling car lines that were holding them down. They killed off Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer.

They also went public again which helped them raise $20 billion. The government was able to sell off their GM shares. Perhaps the nicest part of this story is that 1.2 million jobs were saved from GM’s meticulous plan to salvage their company quickly.

Attributed to whatculture

11 Marvel Comics

Back in the 1930s both Marble and DC began creating comics. Marvel was originally called Timely Comics, a time Captain America was created. The name changed to Atlas Comics until it became Marvel Comics in 1961. Marvel created the Fantastic Four Series which was incredibly popular.

Fans liked that they could relate to the superheroes of Marvel. Marvel Comics gained a lot of notoriety for quite a few decades. Then the 1990’s hit. Marvel almost went bankrupt when comics just stopped being popular. The fan base dropped off and nobody cared about comics anymore.

The problem was that Marvel had been expanding their company and were in all kinds of debt. They had made some poor business choices that just weren’t paying dividends. Their characters and story lines were not hitting people in the heart and they lost loyal fans for lack of quality content.

The creation of the character Spawn helped the company get more fans back. Then they started to make movies out of their characters like Spiderman and X-Men. This was the big comeback move. Today, Marvel movies are always a hit. Iron Man, the Avengers, Spiderman and X-Men are billion dollar franchises. The brand is even more powerful than it was before it nearly sunk.


Attributed to thestreet

12 Starbucks and too Much Success

Starbucks has mostly been great. The CEO Schultz was the first privately owned US company that offered a stock option to their employees. In 1992, Starbucks went public. There were a total of 125 stores and the company’s value was at $250 million.

For two decades, Starbucks experienced great growth and everything seemed to be going in their favor. As of the year 2000, there were over 2,500 stores. The global financial crisis happened when Starbucks had 16,000. At the time, Schultz was absent from the company. It was believed that was part of the problem but things didn’t get better upon his return.

Schultz described it as a disease that had entered the halls of Starbucks. The success that they had experienced actually put them into trouble. They overexpanded and damaged their brand. The stock was down and their net income drastically fell in 2008.

After 8 years of being away from the company, Schultz made his return. The company was in bad shape. Schultz closed down every store for retraining on how to make the coffee. This was due to the concerns that the quality of the coffee had gone down. He made sure that his employees understood the roots of the company and what Strarbucks really means.

Schultz felt that giving employees a new sense of pride for working at Starbucks would help improve many aspects. He was right. Starbucks posted record revenue in 2011 and there are now 18,000 stores. The company is worth $48 billion.


Attributed to fineartamerica

13 Pabst Blue Ribbon an the Hipsters

PBR was established in Milwaukee in 1844. This iconic brew was incredibly popular during the phase of the 8 track. Don’t know what that is? Ask your parents, or maybe your grandparents. During the 1990s, nobody was interested in Pabst Blue Ribbon anymore. Fickle beer drinkers didn’t value the old way so they abandoned this long term brewery for greener pastures.

Pabst Brewing Company was in a bad places. In 1996, Pabst closed it’s flagship brewery in Milwaukee. During 2001, sales dropped by 90% when compared to the 1975 height of their success. Low and behold, the hipster’s were born and they chose Pabst Blue Ribbon as their drink of choice. Sales jumped by 20% in 2009 and in 2013, Americans were drinking over 90 million gallons of Pabst. That was up from 200% in 2004.

Pabst was somewhat lucky but they were also methodical in their efforts. They brought in a 27 year old brand manager called Neal Stewart knowing that they needed to reach the younger demographic. They did their research and realized that the hipsters in Portland were where sales went up first. They recognized that the youth of today weren’t looking to see cheesy ads and wanted something cheap to drink. PBR focuses on the sponsoring of cool events like gallery openings. These smart moves have seen sales increase by 165% since 2001.

Attributed to fm.cnbc


14 Converse Shoes

Converse began it’s journey in 1917 as the Converse Rubber Corp. They marketed the first mass-produced basketball shoe. The company signed up Charles Hollis ‘Chuck’ Taylor, a basketball player that played for Columbus Commercials. At the time, he was a big star.

Taylor took to the streets with the shoes, promoting it at basketball clinics and schools. In 1932, Converse put his name on their shoes. This was the first co-branded shoe alliance in history.

It ruled the athletic market from its founding at the beginning of the 20th century until the 1970s, but then Nike and Adidas muscled their way in and Converse faded, filing for bankruptcy in 2001. The high top came in 1947 which was an invention by Taylor. It was advertised simplistically as a basketball shoe. It came in three colors and they were cheap. Converse made 750 million of these original shoes. They enjoyed a total of 80% of the market share.

In the 1970s, brands like Adidas and Nike came onto the scene. They swept up the market shares with their promise of a high quality shoe. They had cooler styles and all the big NBA stars were endorsing them. Stars that were in their prime as opposed to Check. In 1998, Converse suffered when their market share fell to 2.3%. They became pretty much extinct.

Athletes may have switched to Nike but cultural iconoclasts like Hunter S. Thompson and the Ramones embraced the idealism of the shoe company. Rock and roll was a major factor in the rebirth of Converse. Converse always had the secret ingredient to regenerate popularity.

Nike purchased Converse in 2003 for $305 million and used all it’s cultural might to bring Chuck Taylors back where they belonged. While Converse is no longer a popular basketball shoe, they are an epic piece of shoe history that people have embraced fully once again.

Attributed to wallpaperhdzone

15 Burberry Surviving the Storms of Fashion

Burberry is a fashion house that has been quite specific from the get-go. In a way, that was thought to be their downfall. Nobody in the fashion industry expected Burberry to make it through the tumultuous times in the modern fashion marketplace.

Two American executives were responsible for making the British brand hip again. Rose Marie Bravo and Angela Ahrendts were the powerful team that changed the whole game for Burberry. Bravo was the CEO of Burberry from 1997-2005. She brought in Christopher Bailey, a designer. Bailey has said that Apple as a brand is what inspired his Burberry concept.

He blended updates of the old traditional trench coat while the company got aggressive with their social media strategies. They made Burberry something everyone would want to have and wear. This resurrected their financials and they are back to being a fashion house that leads in trends.

Companies come and go, it’s true. Regardless of the millions of money in revenue they may accrue in a short time, it can easily go. Companies that were well established and tried to sit on being the leader without putting in the effort learned the hard way that you have to keep pushing forward. That really is the secret ingredient for all the above companies.

Regardless of what has happened, it’s never really over until the last penny has been sucked dry. Even then, there’s still hope if you have an innovative mind and a little luck on your side.