8 thoughts on “When Is a Tech Company Dead?”

  1. OM, there is also a “trend” aspect to it. Just like in fashion. I mean today, you got to be somehow social or cloudy with a tablet… If you’re not, you’re dead. Also, companies are de-facto “dead” no matter what they do when a new kid on the block enters the game – today FB, Twitter, Zynga, Groupon, etc… Like you said, Oracle and IBM keep thriving. Especially IBM. They do it like crazy. Look at the Watson computer for instance… If applied to search, well, even Google could be in trouble, BIG TIME. But no ones seem to care.

  2. Taking a cue from Intel’s Andy Grove, a tech company is dead when it’s at it’s supposed peak and unable to see how a new type of competitor will damage its core business despite starting from a seemingly unrelated sector. e.g. Google > Microsoft and perhaps Facebook > Google.

    Sometimes the incumbent wins by strategy (fair or otherwise) e.g. Microsoft > Netscape, but often they are too entrenched to change. And while the incumbent will remain relevant for some time to come they will no longer drive the future of tech.

    1. I don’t think that Microsoft is dead. It also does not have its head in the sand. They are experimenting like any true competition should. However when they succeed they get the market share and when they don’t its back to the drawing board, but a company is not dead till it gives up. I believe that Microsoft is still big in the enterprise products business irrespective of whether the cool crowd think so or not. Get annuity for Windows, Office etc from 90% of the enterprises is not the same as free search. Its a different business model.

  3. I don’t disagree, but I guess I have trouble with how the silicon valley vocabulary correlates with real words. Dead != Dead ~= No Energy, is a little cryptic. Especially if the co in question still has truckloads of talent in house working in lots of markets, and reliably takes in serious money.

    It pains me a little to say this as I’m (admittedly) a bit of an MSFT hater on geek-grounds, but I just don’t see them as ‘dead’. Maybe I’m just being too short-sighted.

  4. Wow, talk about oversimplified. People thought Apple was dead in the 90’s, and it almost was. Microsoft is “dead,” but they released perhaps the most innovative product of 2010 with the Kindle. Nokia went from being a paper company to the world’s leading phone manufacturer.

    How boring would business, and life, be if there were no second acts? Looking forward is one of the things I love about the tech world, but let’s not pretend that we know how things will turn out.

    1. Good point. How about adding multiple states and think this as a nice transition.

      Cool -> Alive -> Near Dead -> Second Life

      Near Dead -> Dead for Good (zillions of them)

      Near Dead -> Second Life -> Cool (Apple)

      Microsoft, Nokia etc are not cool, but they are Alive and well for most part.

  5. Please don’t lump us in the Northwest with you, especially those of us in Redmond. 🙂 The company I work for put out something called Kinect a few months ago, and it’s the fastest selling consumer device of all time. That’s pretty solid for a dead company.

    I have a lingering issue with the tech press/pundits/bloggers/whatever. They suffer so much from shiny object syndrome that there’s virtually no skepticism, which does journalism a disservice (or whatever it’s supposed to be these days). They also tend to write a great deal about the “dead” companies, which seems pretty odd to me if they aren’t exciting.

    It’s just unfortunate that shiny object syndrome gets so much in the way of reporting on actual, sustainable businesses that are or will leave some lasting effect on the world. You can’t say the same about 98% of the crap the tech press reports on.

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