My friend Samir Hunsi is pointing to a 2001 New Yorker article by James Surowiecki called, “Let the Bad Times Roll” about BusinessWeek & Fortune magazines being launched in 1929 and 1930 — and other successful ventures that started during economic recessions and depressions (3M, General Motors, Chase, Bell Telephone, I.B.M., Texas Instruments, General Electric, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems). He compares Fortune’s & BusinessWeek’s Depression Era launch with the boom-time launch of Industry Standard magazine that attracted a pile of startup capital and was thick with ads, but lasted only a few years.
Seems rather counter intuitive, doesn’t it?
However, Surowiecki notes that some companies succeed because of economic hard times rather than in spite of them. Why? Because the absence of money keeps startups from overexpanding and overreaching.
“Companies are like human beings: hardscrabble beginnings beget hard-minded men. Consider little Andrew Carnegie, toiling as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory, or the young John D. Rockefeller, tending turkeys and salting away copper coins. Or think of any number of today’s moguls whose humble upbringing you can read about in the pages of Business Week and Fortune—but not, alas, in the pages of The Industry Standard.
I guess that’s true if by the word “pages,” he means web-pages.