This afternoon I’ve immersed myself in the subject of business pivots thanks to Quora.

Paypal and Google realised success as a result of pivoting the business in their early stages while originally Flickr started as a multi-player online game called Neverending.  After an engineer built a photo sharing component for the game’s chat rooms the original concept was abandoned and they quickly became the 2nd most popular photosharing site in the world.  So before diving into a list of some of the BEST business pivots in history here’s a quick definition:

A business pivot is the act of “changing direction” or “changing your business model”. In a startup context it requires significant change that is impactful and happens quickly (i.e. changes to product features, marketing strategy, revenue models or anything else with significance in a business).  If the change happens slowly, then it is not a pivot.

A BEST pivot can be described as the “best example of recognising an exceptional market opportunity which required abandoning the original opportunity”

Here’s  a list of some of the best pivots in history

  • Berkshire Hathaway: Textiles –> Private equity
  • BMW: Aircraft engines –> Vehicles
  • Chegg: College classifieds –> Textbook Rentals
  • EMC: Furniture –> Enterprise Data Storage
  • Flickr: MMORPG –> Web photo sharing
  • Google: Enterprise search –> Web search  (actually Enterprise search –>  Advertising)
  • IBM: Punched card equipment ? Computers –> IT Consulting
  • Mannesmann: Steel pipes –> Cellular network carrier
  • Nintendo: Playing cards –> Video games
  • Paypal: PDA payments –> Email/web payments
  • Philips: Light bulbs –> Various electronics
  • Pixar: Animation tools –> Animated movies
  • Sony: Rice cookers –> Various electronics
  • Suzuki: Looms –> Vehicles
  • WPP Group: Wire shopping baskets –> Communications services

And Nokia once made rubber boots before getting into telecommunications and mobile.

Most information sourced from the precious Quora.

- Sam Batsas

Photo on 2013-03-13 at 13.25 #2

Sam Batsas is the Digital Marketing Manager of Beacon New Ventures, a new model marketing & venture capital partner currently expanding its footprint in the Asia Pacific region. With an office based in Singapore and another in Melbourne Australia, the business has a broad client portfolio both local and abroad across various categories.