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5 Of The Most Costly Business Mistakes Ever

Business mistakes and missed opportunities happen. Sometimes an opportunity is missed because of a lack of working capital, other times, companies don’t recognize the possibilities they have been presented with. No business owner can predict the future, and while virtually everyone has missed out on making a little extra money, few have missed out on as much as the companies on this list.


Company: Xerox

Product: Alto

Loss: Undisclosed billions of dollars


In the early 1970s, Xerox created a computer called the Alto. It was the first computer to feature a full-fledged mouse and the ability to select items displayed as icons on the screen. The company chose not to market the product, deeming it too expensive and having no place in the American home or workplace. In 1979, Steve Jobs and a software engineer from Apple visited Xerox to see the prototype computer. Legend states that Jobs stole the prototype to model the next Apple computer off of it. Whether he actually stole the Alto or not, Apple released its first Macintosh with its revolutionary mouse five years later and went on to completely revolutionize how computers were used.


Company: Seattle Computer Products

Product: DOS

Loss: Royalties on a quarter of a trillion dollars


In 1980, Bill Gates and his new company, Microsoft, were searching for an operating system that they could build on to license to IBM. Microsoft had the money and capability to build computers but didn’t yet have the operating system to run on them. Microsoft purchased the software that eventually became Windows from Seattle Computer Products for $50,000. SCP sued Microsoft a few years later after discovering that their OS paved the way for a multi-million dollar deal. Microsoft settled out of court with SCP for $1 million. Microsoft is worth more than $270 billion today.


Company: Blockbuster

Product: Netflix

Loss: A hand in the lucrative streaming industry


In 2000, executives from Netflix had a meeting with Blockbuster to discuss partnering their services. Netflix would manage Blockbuster’s online presence and services and customers would have the ability to pick up Netflix movies from Blockbuster. Blockbuster laughed the Netflix executives out of their offices and turned in one of the biggest business mistakes of the 21st century.


Company: Samsung

Product: Galaxy Note 7

Loss:  An estimated $17 billion


In 2016, Samsung’s Galaxy line of products had become the second most recognizable smartphone in the U.S. and were considered among the best Android devices available. The Galaxy S7 was released in early 2016 to public and critical acclaim. When the Note 7 was announced, the public was understandably excited to purchase a device from a company that had established a relatively long record of excellence in the smartphone world. After launch, users were reporting excessive heat, fires and explosions stemming from their Note 7s. Samsung recalled and exchanged the defective phones (which was every single one in circulation), but even the replacement phones were reported to catch fire. Samsung recalled every version of the Note 7, losing billions of dollars in the process and irreparably damaging their reputation in not just one of the most costly business mistakes of this generation, but one of the most dangerous.


Company: Excite

Product: A Search Engine

Loss: $130 billion and the company

In 1999, Excite was ranked as the second most-visited search engine on the internet. Larry Page, co-founder of Google, offered to sell his search engine and company to Excite for $750,00. Excite didn’t take the deal, failing to see how new search technology would help them make more money as a company. A few years later, Excite was bought by Today, Google and its assets are worth more than $130 billion.


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