17 companies that (almost) went bankrupt because of foolish decisions

—U / Thrug

What happened: In 1959, Xerox introduced the Xerox 914, the world’s first automatic plain paper copier. The innovative ad campaign featured a monkey making photocopies to emphasize how easy it was to use. The 914 was a huge success and by the 1960s, Xerox was the dominant manufacturer of office copiers.

In 1970, Xerox opened the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which invented many modern computing technologies, including graphical user interface (GUI), laser printing, WYSIWYG text editors, Ethernet, WIMP (window, icon, menu, and pointing device). ) system, mouse and much more. Some of these early PARC technologies were seen in the Xerox Alto, released in 1971 and considered the future of computing. The Alto was a mini computer, similar to a modern PC, and the first computer designed to support a GUI-based operating system.

In 1979, Steve Jobs visited PARC after a deal with Xerox’s venture capital division: Xerox was able to invest $1 million in Apple in exchange for a tour of their technology. The myth goes that Jobs had Apple Development incorporate what he saw at PARC into Apple computers and invited some key researchers to join Apple. Engineer Larry Tesler, who gave Jobs a demonstration of the Alto, later said, “Jobs paced the room and acted all the time. He was very excited. When he started seeing what I could do on screen, he watched. for about a minute and started jumping across the room, yelling, ‘Why don’t you do something with this? This is the best. This is revolutionary!'”

Job’s thinking is what many consider to be the downfall of Xerox: an inability to capitalize on market potential and commercialize products despite inventing revolutionary technology. For example, in 1981, Xerox released the Star, the first commercial system to use technologies now common in PCs. However, the Star did not sell well. It cost $16,595 (about $47,240 in 2020), while the IBM PC, released in the same year, cost about $1,565 (about $4,455 in 2020). In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh — the first successful mass-market all-in-one PC with a GUI, mouse, and built-in display — costing $2,495 ($6,220 in 2020).

The 1980s were “generally rough” for Xerox. It had disappeared from the mainframe and PC business. In 1985, Xerox controlled only 40% of the global plain paper copiers market, a significant drop from its 85% market share in 1974. “The Document Company.” Despite this, the company restructured in 1998 and cut 9,000 jobs. By the end of 1999, shares had collapsed after the company warned of disappointing quarterly earnings.

In 2001, the company was on the brink of Chapter 11 bankruptcy with more than $17 billion in debt. Xerox’s inability to realize the commercial potential of its innovations was partly due to management. PARC scientists even condescendingly referred to managers as “toner heads” for their inability to think beyond photocopiers. In 2002, PARC separated from Xerox as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary. Xerox has since managed to turn things around, generating approximately $7 billion globally in 2020.

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