This is the second part of my collection of quotes (click here to see the first part). I find particularly interesting the companies that turned down multi-billion dollar opportunities like IBM refusing to invest in the photocopier or Atari rejecting Steve Job’s proposal to develop the personal computer. Those companies were nonetheless being managed by very smart people, understanding what influenced such decisions is the complex matter.
“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”
Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superiure de Guerre
“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.”
Associates of Edwin L. Drake refusing his suggestion to drill for oil in 1859
“There is a young madman proposing to light the streets of London—with what do you suppose—with smoke!”
Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832. (On a proposal to light cities with gaslight.)
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.”
A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
“The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.”
Advice from a president of the Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford’s lawyer Horace Rackham. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million.
“These Google guys, they want to be billionaires and rock stars and go to conferences and all that. Let us see if they still want to run the business in two to three years”.
Bill Gates in 2003
“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”
New York Times, 1936.
“The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.”
IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.
“X-rays will prove to be a hoax.”
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883
“The phonograph has no commercial value at all.”
Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1880s.
“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No’. So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'”
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer Inc., on his and Steve Wozniak’s early attempts to distribute their personal computer.