Despite bursting onto the scene as one of the most noteworthy web pioneers of the dot-com era, the biggest story in the tech world today is the Yahoo acquisition news, where the tech giant finalized an agreement to be acquired by Verizon for $4.83 billion in late July.
According to press reports, discussing the Yahoo acquisition news, the sale comes as the result of a steady decline in significance and revenue in the last decade and a half, and should come as a surprise to no one. That being said, it’s nevertheless worth noting the significant problems that led to the fall of the Stanford-born site, chief among them its inability to change with an evolving market.
What Made the Yahoo Acquisition News So Big
Yahoo! began as a simple directory of websites that ranked results based on relevance, but it quickly became something much greater. The company integrated a search engine, an email platform, as well as e-commerce and news functions.
In its earliest days, Yahoo!’s method of evolution was to acquire the companies needed to implement relevant change rather than generating that change internally.
At first, Yahoo!’s model worked in an overcrowded market, with ad revenue pouring into the company in steady stream. Considering the groundbreaking multifunctional nature of the site, it seemed every company in America was eager to both operate and advertise through the site.
Then things turned south. Unlike giants such as Google and Facebook, Yahoo! failed to keep up with the evolving demands of the tech market. As startups driven by new ideas blossomed into market leaders, it seems that Yahoo! refused to embrace continuous reinvention, time and again failing to anticipate the next big things on the web.
Ultimately, it appears the company struck out on the social media boom, and the consensus is that it failed to enhance its user experience as the first decade of the 2000s wore on. That, coupled with the indisputable inferiority of its search engine as compared to Google, led to its eventual stumble into irrelevance.
At the end of the day, an inability to change with the market is what brought Yahoo! down. Though much ado has been made of its collapse (due to its brand recognition), the Yahoo! story is a familiar one.
Companies fail regularly because of an inability to embrace change. But not all do. Some companies are able to adapt with the times and weather threatening storms of change. Here are 3 notable companies that embraced change and subsequently changed the world.
I know it’s somewhat cliché to include Apple on this list, but there’s a reason the company is so well-known. Started as a personal computer kit manufacturer, the globally recognized company has pioneered the web-to-mobile shift. The tech giant now produces iPads, iPhones, iPods, Mac laptops and desktops, watches, and the list goes on and on.
What’s more, Apple has recently jumped into the music industry, working with notable artists to land exclusive album release agreements.
Not only has Apple’s software changed with the market, its hardware has as well. The company operates on a 2-year reinvention cycle that yields continuous alterations and improvements to its products.
Much of the company’s success can be attributed to its embrace of change and its dedication to dazzlingly modern products. Apple’s most notable success, however, may be its ability to not simply adapt to change, but to generate it.
Shortly after its inception, IBM rose to the peak of the tech world. The company initially bought hardware from smaller companies and combined it all to manufacture and distribute personal computers preloaded with Microsoft Windows. At first, IBM’s business model proved wildly successful.
But as competitors emerged with offers of similar service for cheaper prices, IBM lagged behind the market, once nearing collapse in 1993.
At that time, IBM was faced with an ultimatum: change or disappear. The company went with the former, shifting its focus from hardware production to providing IT consulting and computing services to businesses across the globe.
Now, IBM is one of the leaders in cloud-computing, a reflection of its ability to change in conjunction with market demands.
Few know this, but Nokia began in the pulp and paper industry, operating paper mills in Finland. It wasn’t until 1963 that the company broke into the world of electronics, initially making radio phones for military and emergency services.
By the late 90s, anticipating an increasing demand for mobile phones, Nokia turned its focus to developing cell phones. This anticipatory move paid off, as the tech giant ruled the cell phone market for 14 straight years.
As it stands today, Nokia is facing a host of difficulties in breaking through in the smartphone market, putting the company at risk of devaluation. It appears it may be time for the company to think of yet another way to reinvent itself.
Considering its history of adaptability, I feel they’ll do just that with grace.
The digital age moves fast, and those who refuse to adapt will have no choice but to die. Nothing in business is stagnant, so companies must do whatever it takes to embrace a spirit of flexibility.
For some companies, that may manifest in a massive overhaul. For others, that may mean implementing something as simple as an online navigation system to increase onboarding success and decrease employee learning curbs.
Big or small, change is inevitable in this ever-evolving world, and those who want to leave their mark must embrace that reality.