Startups are hard. No business is immune from failure. No company is too big to fail. Something can go horribly wrong and it will be the beginning of the fall. Startups fail but when an established company with a working business model fails, there could lots of explanations for it.

The ability to figure out what’s broken in a business and make a serious commitment to fixing it is a character trait. Sometimes there are warning signs that can help you figure out what needs to change to get to the right track, but most businesses are too busy with the obvious that they forget to take a break and measure what works and everything else that is not working.

When a big company falls, there are just too many speculations about what could have gone wrong. These are a few of the greatest all-time failed startups. Popular among the reasons for their fall included: hiring out of control, expanding to fast into different markets, building infrastructures (warehouses) they couldn’t support, fall in sales, scaling too fast, running out of money, inability to generate sustainable revenue, bad product-market fit and losing to competitors.

1. Iridium Communications, founded in early ’90s, raised $6 billion, bankrupt in 2001.

2. Webvanfounded in 1999, raised $830MM, bankrupt in 2001.

3. recorded $790m write-off.

4. Terralliance lost $500MM.

5. PayByTouch, $340MM raised and spent by a founder with suspicious history.

6., founded 1998, raised $280MM, bankrupt in 2001.

7., founded 1998, raised and spent $135MM by May 2000.

8., founded 1998, raised $82.5MM in IPO in February 2000, ceased operations in November 2000.

9. Amp’d Mobile burned through a reported $360 million before declaring bankruptcy.

10.  38 Studios, nearly $151 million in debt.

11. Pluris Networks,  a record $215 million raised but still failed.

12. Zapmail. Federal Express wrote off $320 million on this commercial failure.

13. Procket Networks, $300+ million down the drain.

14. DeNovis, tooled through $125 million before calling it quits.

15. AllAdvantage  failed to take advantage of $200 million in funding.

16. eToys raised $166 million in an IPO before failing.

17. Caspian Networks raised a total of $317 million over its lifetime.

18. Brience, consultants plus $200+ million.

19. Asera  churned through at least $176.2 million.

20. CueCat reportedly turned $185 million into kitty litter.

21. Zaplet spent $100 million on widgets in email.

22. DEN raised $60 million and then quickly crashed.

23. Spike source had high hopes around a rockstar founder helped raise $68 million before its downfall.

24. Joost attracted investment — $45 million to be exact before the fall.

25. ArsDigita. All of the $40+ million in venture capital was squandered.

26. Kibu received $22 million but subsequently folded up.

27. Pixelon had a $16 million launch party but technology failed them.

This list has a lot more epic failures of all time.


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