July 20, 2007

Can I change my major?

I always wonder what will be the next big thing. In the past 10 years or so we've seen Google, Youtube, Myspace, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo!, and the like, spring up out of pretty much nowhere. What's more is that these projects are now worth billions of dollars. I often think to myself, "maybe I'll have that one idea that leads to something as big as Youtube, sell it (or not), and be worth a hundred million dollars. But all the cool ideas have already been thought of." This reasoning is, of course, flawed. Look at the beginnings of each of my examples:

Google: "Google was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University." (emphasis added). Value: $160+ billion.

Youtube: "YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal." Three guys all under 30. Sold for $1.65 billion.

Myspace: This story is a little different since it was a corporate side-project to begin with, but its rise to the top of the internet is no less impressive. Sold for $580 million.

Facebook: "Harvard University and Phillips Exeter Academy graduate Mark Zuckerberg [who just turned 23] founded 'The Facebook' in February 2004 with support from Andrew McCollum and Eduardo Saverin" (both later returned to Harvard). Value: between $2 and $8 billion.

Yahoo!: "Founded by Stanford University graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo." Value: $35 billion.

Amazon: Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995 after quitting a lucrative job at a NYC investment firm. He just wanted to sell books online and now he's worth $4.4 billion. Amazon reported annual sales of $10.7 billion in 2006.

Almost all of these sites (now companies) were started by non-professionals with very little financial backing. They had a good idea that they were committed to and can now spend their summers golfing in Hawaii or cruising the autobahn. Obviously this list is limited to INTERNET success, but lately that's where all the money's been.

Google really is quite mind-boggling. 2 guys who just wanted to see if their hypothesis about search results was correct, basically changed the entire internet. "Google" is now in the dictionary as a verb. Page and Brin are now worth $14 billion a piece. I can't even fathom this, it's like saying they're worth a gagillion dollars. 14 billion is 14,000 million, they could each give $700,000 dollars to everyone who went to the last Jazz game in Salt Lake and STILL have $63 million left over.

I should have gone into computer programming...

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