Capitalism can be an ugly beast.
According to statistics, nine out of 10 startups are guaranteed to fail— and most of the time it’s because a company simply spent all of its money. This means that not only do companies lose millions of dollars, but so do their founders. When companies go broke, the bank accounts and net worths of CEOs typically also take a drastic hit.
Silicon Valley isn’t a place where entrepreneurs are down for long. Failure is seen almost as a rite of passage in some cases — but in others, failure can mean years-long court battles and the possibility of bankruptcy or criminal charges for misleading shareholders.
The most prominent, widely covered, and dramatized downfall may be that of founder and former CEO of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes, who faces criminal fraud charges alleging she misled not only investors, but policy makers about the capability of her company’s blood-testing technologies.
Another example, but with a happier ending, is Napster — the popular, early-aughts music-sharing software, brought down in part by a lawsuit facilitated by metal band Metallica. Though Napster didn’t survive, founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning recovered — Parker became the first president of Facebook and Fanning has since invested in a variety of startups himself.
Failure in the tech industry cannot be thwarted — the risk of losing everything seems to be part of the game.
Here’s the tech execs who lost millions and the companies they built.