A series entrepreneur who has founded ABCMaterials, listed among the America’s Most Promising Companies by Forbes, has aptly noted:
“There are people who love to sail the ocean or climb mountains, and more power to them – but it is nowhere near as interesting as taking a technology nobody has heard of, finding a market for it and launching it to your customers. That is satisfying.”
This satisfaction relates to the phenomenon of entrepreneurship that is nowadays of great interest in both academic research and business practice. Scholars attempt to cognize this notion in-depth and thoroughly explain it, while either starting or experienced businessmen tend to understand determinants of success of outstanding entrepreneurs to reach their heights, at least to a certain degree. Although the issue in question has long been discussed by theorists, there is sufficient room for further exploration. In particular, this sphere knows many best practices such as those of Microsoft Corporation co-founded by Bill Gates or Google co-launched by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They are multi-sided mechanisms leading to the remarkable business achievements of these corporations are still to be precisely clarified.
It is to be stated that theoretical conceptualization of the phenomenon under analysis has gone a long history towards its recognition as an important business incentive. There is no single generally accepted definition of this term. Mostly, entrepreneur is defined as an individual able to launch and manage any enterprise regardless of potential risks or considerable initiatives required. What is more, scholars and practitioners supporting traditional approaches to economy, its constituents and opportunities, such as Chandler, Galbraith, and Schumpeter, disregarded the role of small firms or original business ventures in this process.
In this way, Europe of the 1950s through the 1970s has shifted away from development of entrepreneurship opportunities within both theoretical and practice-related paradigms. Only the mid-1990s has been marked with understanding of a growing role of entrepreneurs in multiple aspects of social, political, and economical life in the European arena. This period is linked to transformation of European legislation and business-making to entrepreneurship approach. On the other hand, the USA has become practically the Promised Land for this field since the World War II. It follows that European scientists referred to reshaping of this concept only after American entrepreneurs succeeded greatly in this industry. Hence, highly effective practical and not theorized implementation of this business model has outrun its academic argumentation.
Thus, acceptance of the entrepreneurship as an all-embracing global trend and “vital determinant of economic growth” has gone through five stages involving
- Denial. This phase has been termed by the 1980s- early 1990s. Europeans contradicted the American Challenge multiplied by “dynamism, organization, innovation, and boldness” of companies with no names such as Microsoft and Apple to list a few;
- The middle 1990s is referred to as a recognition stage, when success of entrepreneurs from America was hard to be disregarded;
- The second half of the 1990s is called the period of envy when the developed West had to accept that “European traditions and values were inconsistent and incompatible with entrepreneurial” ;
- The last years of the 20th century are considered to be a time of consensus and legally based transition of European firms to entrepreneurship-driven framework from the US corporations;
- The fifth stage is defined as attainment and it continues now as other than American companies develop their entrepreneur pace.
Moreover, entrepreneurship has gone through evolution within different dimensions of social life. To illustrate, scholars, such as Welker (2011), underline the need to contextualize this concept with regard to a variety of spheres and sectors. The researcher summarizes the findings of his precursors in this area and outlines several contexts that “provide individuals with entrepreneurial opportunities and set boundaries to their actions.” They include social, spatial or institutional, and societal ones. This factor is necessary to be considered as it determines the nature of entrepreneurship, potential stakeholders involved, and cores to strategies to be created among other issues.
In accordance with the above discussion, entrepreneurship has substantially progressed from complete denial to admiration and attempts to master this quality, which is reflected in numerous spheres of life, especially in business world.
Entrepreneurship in the Business World
Theoretical background for this essay shows that global recognition of the role of entrepreneurship as a progressive tool in attaining financial success has been caused by best practices and available examples to follow. Three cases of incredible achievements of such international giants as Microsoft Corporation, Apple, and Google and entrepreneurs that founded them are considered.
Microsoft Corporation: Bill Gates
Chronologically, Bill Gates’ story as a desired-to-follow entrepreneurship and famous philanthropist started first among the three examples described. In 1975, this college dropout, and Paul Allen co-founded a two-employee company that grew to about 30,000 staff members worldwide in a few decades. It was registered legally only in 1976. No one of his surrounding apart from his co-founder believed in software that Gates had chosen as a subject for his business venture. It directly relates to the previously discussed denial phase in development of theory of entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, currently approximately 32% of Americans would like to repeat his career success.
Microsoft has grown into a pioneer in software engineering from “selling programming languages and then operating systems to computer equipment manufacturers” initially to “selling a variety of applications products directly to retail stores.” As a result, the idea of the unknown entrepreneur has literary led to revolution in technology industry and 97% of personal computer global market share in 2000. This timeframe refers to the greatest prosperity years of Microsoft as an international number one brand and the stage of entrepreneurship recognition. The year of 2005 has been one of the most flourishing in the history of this corporation as it has increased its revenues by 50%. Currently, the corporation is only the fifth most valuable brand in the world (see Appendix A). In 2013, its profits were almost $78 billion.
Apple, Inc.: Steve Jobs
In contrast to Microsoft, Apple Computer, Inc. linked its business activities with hardware and was co-founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Their entrepreneurship venture was launched in a garage of Jobs’ parents from a starting capital investment of $1,350. In a year, Apple II prototype models were earned them $3 million and in two more years $200 millions.
Although the recognition phase has been rather lasting for Apple (refer to Appendix A), the greatest success came to the company when Jobs understood the importance of smartphones in IT and computing industry. Consequently, today, this corporation is the number one brand throughout the globe in accordance with its value.
Google, Inc.: Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Google, Inc. is a story of astonishing success that has started in a friend’s garage, similarly to that of Apple. It has also been co-founded by two aspirant students of Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They have chosen software and cloud computing services as their primary strategic directions in business and did not miss to recognize the growing consumers’ demands as well. Probably, the history of this company’s rapid financial achievements in the global arena is so fast due to its operations in the phase of attainment in entrepreneurship background. Namely, they have had bright examples, such as Apple and Microsoft, to follow. Nonetheless, this corporation has practically become a monopolist in cloud computing for about several years, from 2005 through 2013 (see Appendix A), as contrasted to a few decades spent for such efforts by their precursors. At the current stage, Google is the number two world’s most valuable brand. Moreover, as compared to the two other companies discussed, Google manages to continue appropriately approach and expand its market shares in cloud computing by acquisitions of other entrepreneur firms with original business ideas. For example, it has recently bought “red-hot home-automation gadget company Nest for $3.2 billion.” This company has designed Apple’s iPod that has also become one of the successful innovative achievements of this corporation. It follows that this steeply growing global giant immensely progresses and expands the areas of its operations. It is in line with such aspects of entrepreneurship as “innovation, technical change, and competitive dynamics.”
In accordance with the best practices of the entrepreneurship area illustrated earlier, it is clear that this phenomenon is an extremely strong driver of financial success. What is more, the pace of this success has been determined by the time when the company has been launched. Specifically, while Microsoft and Apple were founded in the time of denial of entrepreneurship as such, their success has been achieved in a more prolonged period. Nevertheless, the corporations have proved to be powerful innovators of their time, which has been rewarded by billions of profits. On the other hand, Google started its public operations in the period of attainment, and its success on paving the global path took less than a decade. Furthermore, each of these world leaders in their industry has chosen their own entrepreneurial context for development: e.g. Microsoft and Apple connected their goods with institutional one, while Google related its operations with the societal one. In any case, the fact that entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful economic forces remains undoubted. These entrepreneurs could develop their risky ventures by means of appropriately and timely approaching urgent consumers’ demands for a little initial capital and managed to earn hundreds of billions of dollars and worldwide fame and recognition.
The paper has briefly considered the concept of entrepreneurship through the lens of success of Microsoft, Apple, and Google in order to understand whether this notion can be called one of the most powerful economic forces known to humankind. The theoretical argumentation regarding the issue has been reviewed. It has been clarified that entrepreneurship as a valuable theoretical perspective has met substantial barriers of disregarding and non-recognition. However, revolutionary approaches to business manifested by the three companies under analysis, among many others, have proved validity, reliability, and credibility of this term and phenomenon at large. Little initial financial incentives for implementation of extraordinary ideas have led these now widely recognized and admirable brands to astonishing growth, though in different timeframes. In any way, huge financial perspective of entrepreneurship is evident and beyond any doubt.