The 17 Greatest Tech Pivots Ever

Very few people get it right the first time.

If you find yourself needing to change your business’s direction or revenue model, know that you’re in good company.

Names like Zuckerberg and brands like Twitter have all had to make some adjustments to how their businesses operate.

And in these cases, the pivot paid off nicely.

This is an updated article originally written by Dylan Love.


Groupon founder Andrew Mason

Then: Groupon started as Launched in November 2007, the site let you start campaigns asking people to give money or do something as a group -- but only once a 'tipping point' of people agree to participate.

Now: Groupon is a website that lets you pick from its marketplace of deals. You can book a vacation on Groupon Getaways or get a restaurant reservation in your city for a steal. Groupon went public in November 2011.


Robert Noyce, one of Intel's cofounders

Then: When Intel was getting off the ground, it primarily made memory chips.

Now: The company currently specialises in producing the microprocessors that run most personal computers.


Founder Steve Chen

Then: YouTube was a video dating site!

Now: YouTube's the go-to location for internet videos. YouTube is creating a new generation of media stars, who are worth millions. Now, YouTube's experimenting with a subscription service.


Founder Fredrik Idestam

Then: Founded in Finland in 1865, Nokia was a rubber company that made galoshes and other products.

Now: It's a communications company that makes their name with mobile phones. Nokia has a $US28 billion market cap.


Android cofounder Andy Rubin

Then: When Google bought Android in 2005, Android's vision was to build operating system for cameras.

Now: Android smartly decided to pivot to produce handsets, and now Android's a smartphone giant, and it's expanded into other areas too, like smart watches and TVs.


Apple's Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs

Then: They were a company that revolved around selling elementary computer kits.

Now: Apple is a leading hardware and software technology company, selling much more than just computers. According to Forbes, Apple has a $US483 billion market cap and is the world's most valuable brand.


PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel

Then: It started as Confinity, a cryptography company designed for exchanging money over Palm Pilots. It didn't work well, but they did identify the lucrative market space of enabling people to take credit card payments.

Now: PayPal is the brand-name way to pay for items online. It was acquired by eBay in 2002 for $US1.5 billion.


Then: The founders had built a location-based service called Burbn, most comparable to Foursquare. You could check into locations, earn points for hanging out with their friends, and share pictures inside of the app.

Now: Instagram is a hugely popular app for adding artsy filters to your photos and sharing them over Facebook and Twitter. After receiving $US57 million in funding, Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012.


Then: Microsoft created BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800, a microcomputer from the early 70s.

Now: In 1984, Microsoft was the architect behind the Windows software for computer makers, and it's now one of the most popular operating systems in the world. The company has a $US343 billion market cap.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Then: It was Facemash, a site comparable to, putting two pictures of people next to each other and asking the user to identify which one was 'hotter.'

Now: It's a social media giant. Since going public in 2012, Facebook has acquired startups like virtual reality company Oculus, messaging service WhatsApp, and Instagram.


Founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka

Then: Sony made home goods. The first Sony product was a rice cooker, and they soon rolled out a heating blanket.

Now: It's a formidable electronics company with a hand in cameras, video games, computer monitors, and even televisions. Sony has a $US20 billion market cap, to boot.


Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata

Then: Nintendo got its start at the end of the 19th century in Kyoto, Japan as a playing cards manufacturer. Gizmodo has an excellent story about Nintendo's history.

Now: Nintendo found its niche by making electronic games, which it's still doing today. It's got a market cap of $US16 billion.

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