Four counterproductive myths about entrepreneurship, part Ia

February 23, 2011 by Joshua
in Blog, Entrepreneurship, Tips

[This post is part of a series on four main myths that discourage entrepreneurship and how to overcome them. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

Google’s history backs up that people did not believe good idea to start with, no matter what we think of it today. I couldn’t resist looking up Google’s history after yesterday’s post.

The overwhelming evidence that people didn’t think their idea was good is, as this page puts it,

Reluctant to leave their studies, Page and Brin offered to sell their search engine for $1 million to AltaVista. To their disappointment, AltaVista passed, as did Yahoo!, Excite, and other search engines.

All the experts in the field passed.

More to the point, they themselves had little concept of the value of their idea. Google’s founders didn’t even want to start their business!

You could say the other companies were bound to their business models and inertia prevented them from changing. But the individuals at those companies also passed on those opportunities. Anyone who saw Google’s value today would easily have waited out a non-compete, but they didn’t.

This page confirms

In 1998, Google was launched. Sergey tried to shop their PageRank technology, but nobody was interested in buying or licensing their search technology at that time.

This page gives many more accounts of Google’s travails getting traction. The most relevant

Also in September [1999], BusinessWeek published a piece that praised Google but was also careful to adopt a skeptical approach about the notion that you could make a lot of money by focusing on search and selling ads: “But at a time when other popular search sites such as Yahoo!, Excite, and Lycos have all morphed into diversified entertainment portals, is there really a future for a pure, advertising-supported search tool?”

Now, you can say today that their product turned out to be great, but no one could decide then based on knowledge we have today.

They had a technology they believed in, not a product you could at the time say was good.

I also found this page about ideas that people thought weren’t worth investing in, such as

  • The Beatles
  • Ford’s Model T
  • The Cosby Show
  • The television show M*A*S*H
  • The telephone

What you may think is a bad idea may turn out to be a great one and vice versa.

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9 responses on “Four counterproductive myths about entrepreneurship, part Ia

  1. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    Arthur Schopenhauer

  2. Your point is correct. However, some founders seem to think that the fact that nobody believes in you should encourage you to keep your track. “We are so much like early-days Google”. Most of the time, most people are right. At least that’s my experience. You should always have in mind the risk you are willing to take. Selling your company for a million dollar? That’s a deal mostly about evaluating and selling risk. Future is so damn unforeseeable.

  3. I was at the conference where Sergy presented Pagerank in 1997. I dont feel so bad that I dismissed it as an interesting but not.grounbreaking idea.

  4. From Bessemer Venture Partner site:

    > Cowan’s college friend rented her garage to Sergey and Larry for their first year. In 1999 and 2000 she tried to introduce Cowan to “these two really smart Stanford students writing a search engine”. Students? A new search engine? In the most important moment ever for Bessemer’s anti-portfolio, Cowan asked her, “How can I get out of this house without going anywhere near your garage?” <

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