First-mover advantages are overrated. Look at Microsoft. Bill Gates was prescient, and they were onto the cloud, internet of things, and smartwatches since the early-2000s. But Gates’ prophetic touch did not translate to groundbreaking success in those areas:
Instead, Google dominates cloud, the internet of things is still nascent, and Apple is the frontrunner in the wearables race. In the fast-moving tech world, today’s champions quickly become tomorrow’s has-beens. Being the first mover is not the goal. Rather, startups should aim to be the last mover.
Here are three startups that were the kings of the hill at one point, but quickly lost out in the global dominance stakes.
At one point, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox was truly on top of the Bitcoin world. The online exchange, which converted fiat currency into bitcoin, had 80 percent market share in 2013 and traded as much as US$25 million a day. That was before Bitcoin fever reached its highest point.
Why it failed: gross incompetence
In February 2014, hackers stole US$460 million from its coffers. Overnight, Mt. Gox crumbled. Yet the destruction was years in the making, according to this penetrating Wired story.
The company was managed poorly. The head of Mt. Gox, Mark Karpeles, was an engineer who was uncomfortable being a CEO. He was incompetent and apathetic. The hackers took advantage of a flaw in Bitcoin called “transaction malleability”. But Mt. Gox could’ve easily patched it up with its own software if it cared to. It didn’t.
Mt. Gox spent money on flat-screen TVs, $400 lunches, and a US$1 million cafe. It didn’t use any version-control system for its codebase, nor did it introduce a test environment until it was too late.
Originally appeared at: https://www.techinasia.com/awesome-startups-failed/