Tech Startups

Taking a look at how some tech organizations got to be so valuable.

It was called the “Dot-Com Bubble” and it ended with a “Dot-Com Crash.” Catching onto the rise of the internet in the mid to late 90’s, stock market investors were pouring money into anything “e- ” as if it were a sure-fire magic that turned every castle in the clouds into a money making Midas. Companies with names such as Amazon and eBay, Priceline, and grew enormously during the bubble and were able to find themselves after the burst. Others such as, eToys, WebVan, and Kozmo took billions of dollars of capital to the grave.

On March 10, 2000, the NASDAQ Composite hit 5,048.62 thanks to the “’s” – a peak it wouldn’t see again for a while. Over the next two years, the market lost $5 trillion big ones and many tech prodigies that had been asked to become Microsofts overnight were shown to be “dot-bombs.”

Amazon stock went from 107 dollars a share to 7. Ten years later it would exceed 400.

Investors learned a valuable lesson: when riding a wave, be careful it’s not headed over a cliff.

Stock market analysts debate whether the current technology wave is a bubble that’s going to burst or a tide on a steady rise. The evidence points positive.

In 1999, there was an explosion of irresponsible tech IPOs – 369 to be exact. Last year there were 45. People that pay attention to history aren’t stupid. Anchors such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all proven not only to be “essential” for the modern first world human, but they’ve also figured out how to make money – and a lot of it! Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t make a profit when they first started out of Stanford. Thanks to ad revenue, last year the company surpassed $51 billion.


According to Forbes, there’s a brand new startup every 48 hours, eager to ride that tech wave to success. According to the Wall Street Journal, 3 out of 4 of these fledgling companies will fail. Less generous analysts say the figure is closer to 90%.

But to the winner goes the spoils. Tech firms that follow the trends and “if at first don’t succeed” are wearing very green laurels. The gaming company Zynga, for instance (remember CNY native Alec Baldwin and the “Words With Friends” game that cost him his seat with American Airlines?) pitched it’s tent in 2007 and by 2013 owned the top 5 games on Facebook and had generated $1.5 billion in revenue.  ShoeDazzle is a style company for women that reinstated its handy subscription service – a growing internet trend. They boast 13 million users, sold over $100 million in shoes since 2009, and are valued between $30 and $40 billion.

Here are a few other examples:


David Karp was a high school dropout back in 2007. Last year he sold his company to Yahoo for $1.1 billion.

“We promise not to screw it up,” he said. Karp remained CEO just to make sure.


Founded by a few execs from PayPal and Socialnet (what?), the company now boasts an executive from every Fortune 500. There are 2 new users every second. It is the third largest social network, estimated to be worth around $24 billion.


They went public during the “dot-com depression” in 2002 and invented “binge-watching.” With over 48 million subscribers and over a billion hours of watch time every month, they made roughly $1.1 billion in Q4 last year and became the first non-network to earn not just one but three Emmys for its House of Cards last year.


They are nominated for 31 Emmys this year.


Founded back in 1976, this guy named Steve Jobs wanted to make great computers. Today there are half a billion open Apple accounts. They are the 15th most valuable company in the world.


Recently purchased by Apple for $3 billion, the headphones-music streaming company was founded by Dr. Dre back in 2006 after a 30-year career in hip hop. The acquisition has made him the first rap billionaire.


Making a quick rise to the #4 spot of “most popular social sites,” the platform continued to promote internet “discovery” to the mainstream verses the predominant “search” trend spearheaded by Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

With 80% female users spending roughly 100 minutes a month (it has to be more than that), the social network is currently valued at $5 billion.

Dollar Shave Club

With its hilarious viral video back in 2012, this online startup shook the shaving industry and started mailing inexpensive, high quality razor blades to your house so you didn’t have to beg the cashier to unlock them at the pharmacy.

The video generated 12,000 orders in two days and generated over $20 million from investors. The video currently has 15.2 million views. Check it out here:


Founded in 2001 by MacLaren Cummings and Patrick Danial, the company evolved from a voice-activation or “parakeet” software firm into a leading search engine optimization company.

Cummings holds the record for most money raised online for a political campaign in a day during his involvement in Hilary Clinton’s run for President in 2008. He raised $10 million in 24 hours.

Terakeet currently services Internet 100 companies and is set to be valued at over a billion dollars within the decade.

Residing in Armory Square in Syracuse, the company won the CenterState CEO “Business of the Year” award last year for “Companies under 50 Employees.” Cummings originally planned to sell the company before they ever hit 50. They just surpassed 100 and are projected to repeat again a 100% growth year over year.

Kinani Blue

Founded in April of 2012 by Corning native Craig Laughlin, the budding marketing company services a wide variety of small to mid-sized local businesses and entrepreneurs from its offices in Syracuse, NY.

“I’m just a guy with a passion,” says Laughlin who continues to create success for both local and global shops and firms.


In a world where 9 out of 10 of all startups will fail, ladies and gentlemen, I give you a small snapshot of the 10%.

Ride on!


Joe CunninghamA former Internet Marketing Manager, Joe Cunningham is a dad, a screenwriter, playwright and all-around adventurer. He blogs for Kinani Blue and charms Google at Terakeet. You can follow him on Twitter at @IndianaJoe77 or at [email protected].

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