Here’s a list of early posts from tech founders who used to ask questions, self-promote, and interact on forums and discussion groups. Just like us. Fascinating? Yes. I see passion too.
#1. Google (1996) – When developing Google, Larry Page posted a Java question about setting User-Agent header for his web crawler. Even the smartest people have questions too. Let me Google the answer for you, Larry.
He was a 22-year-old PhD student working on his research project. Imagine life without Google and Stack Overflow. By the way, it seems like he ditched Java and use Python instead.
- Source: Q: Setting User-Agent Field?
- Google Market Cap: $383 billion
- Founded: September 4, 1998
- Larry Page Net Worth: $30.3 billion (19th richest)
#2. Linux (1991) – Linus Torvalds was asking for suggestions on features most people would want. He said it’s “just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like GNU”. He was 21 years old.
Linux is now the most popular free desktop OS and powered more than one-third of the public servers.
- Source: What would you like to see most in minix?
- Initial release: October 5, 1991
#3. Amazon (1994) – Jeff Bezos was looking for Unix developers. They must be able to build large & complex system in “1/3 of the time that most competent people think possible”. He’s now worth $34.5 billion.
Amazon is now the largest online retailer in the world.
- Source: Well-capitalized Seattle start-up seeks Unix developers
- Amazon Market Cap: $176 billion
- Founded: July 5, 1994
#4. eBay (1995) – Pierre Omidyar advertised his new auctioning service. Marky Mark underwear is one of the auctioned item. He’s now worth $8 billion.
eBay is now the world’s largest online auction site.
- Source: AUCTIONWEB: Interactive Web Auction
- eBay Market Cap: $70 billion
- Founded: September 3, 1995
#5. Dropbox (2007) – Drew Houston introduced his Y Combinator app. Throw away your USB drive! He’s now worth $1.3 billion.
Here’s a great answer on why is Dropbox so successful.
- Source: My YC app: Dropbox – Throw away your USB drive (4th comment by BrandonM is a must-read)
- Dropbox Valuation: $10 billion
- Founded: June 1, 2007
#6. WhatsApp – Jan Koum promoted his free iPhone app. He hated it when people couldn’t reach him when he was travelling. 5 years later, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion.
With only 55 employees, WhatsApp is the 2nd biggest tech acquisition of all time, behind Compaq ($24.2 billion). It now has over 700 million monthly active users, behind Facebook and Tencent QQ. Facebook now owns 4 of the top 8 largest virtual communities in the world.
- Source: Thoughts about my free iphone app – WhatsApp
- Jan Koum Net Worth: $7.1 billion
#7. Minecraft (2009) – Markus Persson posted the alpha version of Minecraft. It received great responses from indie gamers. 5 years later, Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion.
At the same day, Markus Persson left the company to keep his sanity.
- Source: Minecraft (alpha)
- Markus Persson Net Worth: $1.5 billion
- Number of Registered User: 100 million
#8. Oculus Rift (2012) – Palmer Luckey posted about Oculus Rift & his plan to start the project on Kickstarter. He was 19 years old. 2 years later, Mark Zuckerberg bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion to conquer the world.
#9. Now, please show your appreciation to Sir Tim Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web (WWW).
Apparently the Internet, Google, Amazon, and other successful tech companies and products don’t come out of no where. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu.
Inspired? Motivated? Now get to work.
Note: Posts from Google Groups were originated from Usenet, an old Internet discussion system created in 1980. Google integrated the Usenet archives into Google Groups after the acquisition of Deja News.
Next, you should check out the early footages and videos of wildly successful tech founders.