A little while ago, not so long at all, two men tried to sell Google to Excite.com. It wasn’t a prank or a con either, it was a legitimate attempt to sell the worlds largest website. The two men who tried to sell Google to Excite.com were Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford university students who just also happen to be the founders if the internet behemoth. That’s right. Google tried to sell itself in 1999.
The attempted sale of a website such as Google obviously raises a few questions. Why the heck would anyone want to sell such a money making asset, and how much did they try to sell Google for to Excite.com? Well both answers are amazing and almost unbelievable, but the response they got was simply astounding.
How Google tried to sell itself in 1999
Back in 1999 the master of search engines was Excite.com. Google was still in its infancy, being operated out of a Stanford dorm room. Today the world is very different. Who can recall ever using Excite.com? Nah, I didn’t think anyone would. Google on the other hand is everywhere, and just about everyone with internet access encounters one of their products. But way back in 1999, Page and Brin felt that their project was occupying too much time. Time that they thought could be better used studying. So the Google founders approached Excite.com with an offer to purchase their creation for $1 million. That’s a steal right? A multi billion dollar company for a mere $1 million. But wait until you read what the response was.
Obviously Brin and Page thought a million bucks was a lot of money, and it is. I personally have never seen that much money, and I am yet to earn that much during my entire working life thus far. For two university students that kind of cash would have changed their life. You’d also think for a multinational company, a cool million would be small change, especially considering that the acquisition would have eliminated some of the competition. But the CEO of Excite, George Bell, thought it was too much and not worth it. We kid you not. This decision has echoes of Blockbusters Netflix decision, or Apple co-founder Ronald Wayne’s decision to sell his share of the company for a pittance. But not only did George Bell decline a bountiful offer, what he did next was just ridiculous.
During the meeting between the two internet search engines an Excite venture capitalists was present. He obviously saw something in the Google offer that Bell didn’t, so tried to compromise. He attempted to talk Page and Brin down to $750,000, but was cut short. Bell threw the Google founders out if his office along with the venture capitalist. This decision has gone down as one if the biggest blunders in business history.