14 Early Startup Execs Who Missed Out On Fortunes

Ronald wayneRonald WayneRonald Wayne gave up a 10% share of Apple for $US800.

Everyone loves a Silicon Valley success story: A handful of smart, driven young entrepreneurs gets together to work on a passion project, find an idea with real legs, and are rewarded with an lucrative “exit” of making it big or being purchased by one of the industry’s giants.

While there are notable examples of software company exits making thousands of people wealthy, there are always cases of workers who for one reason or another miss out on their potential fortunes.

Some leave for other opportunities that they are more passionate about. Others leave to found their own companies. Some just made decisions they regret.

Noah Glass is the Twitter cofounder that no one remembers, despite the fact that he thought of the name and originally led the project. He was forced out just as he was preparing to spin Twitter off from Odeo in 2006.

Frank 'Reggie' Brown came up with the idea that became Snapchat, the messaging app that's currently valued at $US800 million. He's currently suing the two other cofounders of the company for booting him from the company in 2012.

The founders of Snapchat celebrate its launch: Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel.

Click here to read Business Insider's detailed account of the Snapchat legal saga >>

Joe Jackson was asked to join the founding team at Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg first moved to Palo Alto, but turned it down to spend the summer interning for J.P. Morgan.

Ali Fedotowsky used up all of her vacation days at Facebook filming as a contestant on The Bachelor in 2010. When ABC asked her to be that year's Bachelorette, she quit her job and gave up her stock options to be on the show.

Sahil Lavingia was the second employee at Pinterest. He left the company just before his one year mark, so none of his stock options vested.

As made famous in 'The Social Network,' the Winklevoss twins collaborated with Mark Zuckerberg on a social network for Harvard students in late 2003. In January 2004, Zuckerberg announced the 'thefacebook.com.' The brothers sued him for the theft of their idea and the pre-existing code HarvardConnection code. While the millions they settled for has left them far from struggling, their partnership with Zuckerberg could have made them billionaires.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss

Dom Sagolla was head of quality at Odeo, the company that spawned Twitter. He was laid off in May 2006 and didn't receive any stock options.

Joe Green was one of Mark Zuckerberg's college roommates. After the pair got in trouble with Harvard over their Face Mash application, his father told him not to work with Zuckerberg. That's why Green turned down Zuckerberg's offer to head business operations, a role that likely would have given him billions in stock options.

Alex Macgillivray used to be Twitter's general council. An early draft of the company's IPO prospectus disclosed that he was being given 1.5 million stock options. He left that role in August, and the note was absent in the filing released yesterday.

Alberto Savoia left his Engineering Director role at Google -- where he had led the team that created AdWords, a huge profit generator at the company -- two years before its IPO to found a software testing company called Agitar.

Florian Weber was one of the first engineers hired to work on Twitter. Unfortunately, he was hired as a contractor and not an employee -- meaning he received no stock options for his work.

Florian Weber standing with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey

Kevin Systrom had a number of chances to make millions before his success at Instagram. While attending Stanford, he turned down a job offer at pre-IPO Facebook. He interned at the company that became Twitter. He left Nextstop a mere six months before it was acquired by Facebook. Of course, the eventual purchase of Instagram for $US1 billion made up for these missed opportunities.

These people stuck around and are going to make a fortune...

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