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In 2006 I almost made one of the most expensive mistakes in history of business. FB was growing in English-speaking countries but there was a clone (red instead of blue) in Germany that most college students were using. Based on my experience at Amzn, I thought we should acquire
The clone had sold to a German newspaper company, and we offered the owner 5% of FB to acquire it. Zuck and I wanted to do it, others didn’t (they were right). We thought they had locked-up Germany, and we couldn’t imagine a world where FB wasn’t in Germany
I had fully negotiated the deal, but on the 1 yard line the German newspaper owner pulled out because he was worried they would no longer be able to use the social network to drive traffic to their newspaper websites (classic innovators dilemma, can’t fault him for this concern)
Within 18 months after the deal fell apart, FB had overtaken the clone in Germany (turns out global network effects trump local network effects). And not much later social networks became more valuable than newspapers
The story of every successful company is full of near misses, mistakes and miscalculations. Business is messy and full of uncertainty. Luck plays a bigger role than most people appreciate.
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