By: Will King
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With the news that Twitter has lost 50% of its stock value and is struggling to both gain new users and monetize its existing visitor base, we’ve decided that now’s the perfect time to look back at the outrageous amounts lost by tech start ups back in the early 2000s.

Of course, we’ve asked the essential questions: Just how much money did they lose? And, more importantly, what cool stuff could they have spent it on instead?

Between them, these companies managed to blow more than $59 billion on their failed start-ups. Yup. $59 billion. That is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite a lot of money. Worse still, they could have splashed their cash differently. Private islands; life size models of Darth Vader; hundreds of pairs of Manolo Blahniks; a small army – it was all possible.

Want to know what those tens of millions of dollars could have bought them? Read on to find out!


Webvan.com - Lost $830,000,000

Interesting Fact

In order to make a profit, online grocery business WebVan needed around 10% of all households in a city to become repeat customers. At the time (1999), this represented well over 55% of all internet connected households. They had no chance.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • Lighthouse Cay, Bahamas, Caribbean 765.00 Acres Private Island = $33,300,000
  • 250 x Giant Robot Warriors ($1,350,0000 each) = $337,500,000
  • 26445 x 24kt Gold iPads – Supreme Fire Edition ($155,000 each) = $409,975,000
  • 6153 x Lifesize Darth Vader Statues ($8000 each) = $49,224,000
  • 40 x Lightsaber Fighting Lessons ($25 each) = $1000

Total: $830,000,000


Boo.com - Lost $135,000,000

Interesting Fact

Fashion and sports website Boo.com was designed solely in Flash. There was no broadband at the time and the download size of the homepage was several hundred KB. Therefore, the site became buggy, unusable and prone to crashing.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • A 10,000 man private army for 10 days ($12,200,000 per day) = $122,000,0000
  • 56,000 x Cthulhu Adult Onesies ($230 each) = $12,880,000
  • 3 x Batman Hovercrafts ($25,000 each) = $75,000
  • 100 x Customisable Pacmac Lego Lights ($450 each) = $45,000

Total: $135,000,000


Pets.com - Lost $100,000,000

Interesting Fact

The founders of Pets.com forgot to do any research into whether people in 1998 actually wanted to buy pet supplies online. They didn’t. The business failed.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • 20 x Cast 22ct Gold Audio Speakers from Hart D&W ($4,800,000 each) = $96,000,000
  • 11 x Flying Cars ($350,000 each) = $3,850,000
  • 5 x Full Size Game of Throne Iron Thrones ($30,000 each) = $150,000

Total: $100,000,000


JDS Uniphase - Lost $56.1 Billion

Interesting Fact

Fibre optic company, JDS Uniphase, lost just over $56 billion in a single year. Weirdly, unlike all the other companies mentioned here, they survived.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • Uruguay. Yep. The 2014 GDP of Uruguay was $55.708 billion (according to the World Bank), which would have left them enough spare to change to teach the entire population to speak Klingon.

Total: $56.1 Billion


Kozmo.com - Lost $250,000,000

Interesting Fact

Same day delivery company Kozmo had no delivery charges or minimum order sizes on its products, leading to people ordering single chocolate bars or one DVD. Needless to say, the business failed in March 2000.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • 287 x Apple Watches in 18Kt Rose Gold Case ($17,000 each) = $4,879,000
  • 28,820 x Big Lebowski Pinball Machines ($8,500 each) = $244,970,000
  • 1 x Maserati GranTurismo ($135,000 each) = $135,000
  • 100 x Tardis Lawn Decorations ($140.00 each) = $14,000
  • 40 x Star Wars Dark Side Candles ($50 each) = $2000

Total: $250,000,000


Govworks.com - Lost $60,000,000

Interesting Fact

As was made clear from the film ‘StartUp.com’, govWorks failure can largely be put down to that old adage: ‘never go into business with your friends.’

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • In 1998 (when GovWorks started), they could have bought all 435 members of the House of Representatives. Congressional salaries were $136,700 each.

Total: $136,700 x 435 = $59,464,500


Beenz - Lost $100,000,000

Interesting Fact

Possibly the worst business idea of the lot, Beenz was an attempt to create an online currency. Consumers received beenz for visiting and shopping at online stores. This currency could then be spent at various online merchants.

It seemed no one thought to ask the obvious question: why would someone use a brand new currency when they could just use their credit cards?

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

A 2600 strong Private Army ($3,177,200 per day) for a month, armed with LARP chainsaw swords and USB Webcam Missle Launchers, dressed in Deadpool cosplay suits and wearing women’s Manolo Blahnik shoes. On skateboards.

  • 2600 Private army ($3,177,200 per day) x 30 days = $95,316,000
  • 2600 x Deadpool cosplay suits ($425 each) = $1,105,000
  • 2600 x LARP Chainsaw swords ($300 each) = $780,000
  • 2600 x USA Webcam Missle Launchers ($54.95 each) = $142,870
  • 2600 pairs Manolo Blahnik Hangsi Bead Pumps ($965 each) = $2,509,000
  • 2600 x SK8Mafia Skateboards ($56.58 each) = $147,108

Total: $100,000,000


Go.com - Lost $790,000,000

Interesting Fact

Back in the late 90s, huge portals like Yahoo and Lycos were all the rage. The problem: visitors didn’t like them and preferred using upstarts like the new Google search engine to find content. It cost Disney, who owned Go.com, $790,000,0000 to learn that lesson.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • 1555 x Replica USS Reliant Model ($9,995 each) = $15,542,225
  • 664 x Lifesize Batman ‘Dark Knight’ Busts ($690 each) = $458,160
  • 51 x Personal Submarines ($2,000,000 each) = $102,000,000
  • 30 x Hawker 4000 Private Jets ($22,400,000 each) = $672,000,000

Total: $790,000,385


Amp'd Mobile - Lost $360,000,000

Interesting Fact

Marketing a mobile phone service to people with bad credit and then not credit checking them led to 50% of their subscribers being unable to pay their bills.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

Manchester City FC.

Manchester City Football Club was sold to Sheikh Mansour in 2008 for £210m (around $360,000,000)

Total: $360,000,000


Kibu.com - Lost $22,000,000

Interesting Fact

Early social network, Kibu shut down after only 46 days online, losing $22,000,000 in the process. That is the equivalent of a $478,260 loss every day.

What Could They Have Bought with the Money?

  • 1 x Action Comics #1 ($3,200,000 each) = $3,200,000
  • 4 x Bugatti Veyron Sports Cars ($3,000,000 each) = $12,000,000
  • 6 x Hogshead Full Size Inflatable Pub ($46,848 each) = $281,088
  • 5 x GV62711 24Kt Gold Vacuum Cleaner ($1,000,000 each) = $5,000,000
  • 36,530 x Death Star Mood Lights ($41.58 each) = $1,518,917

Total: $22,000,000



Sources

 

Reference Sources for Products