Ten years ago, the US was still inching its way out of a recession and many of the companies that we know so well didn’t even exist. Thanks to massive growth in all things internet and a revolution in online customer engagement, leaders now have a whole new platform to gain tremendous traction and grow business quickly. Some couldn’t handle the public pressure this decade, some grew and fell just as fast, others learned how to stoke the online fire in the information age.  

Let’s take a look at the biggest leaders and business ventures of the last decade. 

Jeff Bezos, Amazon 

Although Amazon’s roots began in the early 1990s, there’s no question that when it comes to the biggest business moves in the last decade, Amazon sits right at the top. Having weathered the dot-com bust of the early 2000’s, Jeff Bezos gained incredible traction and put it to good use, making Amazon one of the biggest businesses in the world in the last decade. In August 2013, Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million. In August 2017, Amazon officially acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. That same year, Bezos hit a milestone: his net worth hit $150 billion, making him the richest person in modern history. Today – more than 20 years after going public – Amazon has a market cap of over $900 billion. In late 2018, Amazon briefly became the second US company after Apple to achieve a valuation of more than $1 trillion (though its market cap has since changed a bit).

Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX 

Visionary leadership can be risky, but it can also be a game-changer. Elon Musk’s duo of wildly innovative companies drove huge changes across the board. In 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft – now it’s valued at more than $33 billion and is a partner of NASA in addition to being a major defense contractor. Tesla began the decade by going public and became the best-selling plug-in passenger car manufacturer in 2018, pushing other car manufacturers to expedite more electric and autopilot-ready vehicles. Not everyone has a great opinion of Elon Musk, but many of his ventures have paid off and paid him well.   

Reed Hastings, Netflix 

In 2011, the CEO of Netflix reworked the entire business model by separating streaming services from its DVD business. It was a huge risk, but it paid off bigger than anyone could have imagined, and no one can discount the impact of Netflix as a business heavyweight in the 2010s. In 2013, Reed announced that Netflix would be creating digital content in addition to simply distributing it – which lead to the company’s explosive growth. Total Netflix revenue hit $16 billion in 2018, and the company had the best-performing stock of the decade, with shares up more than 3,700% over the past 10 years. Netflix made online streaming services in the last decade, we are now seeing other business leaders in the entertainment space trying to grab a piece of the pie. Disney+, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal are just a few of the latest streaming services now available. 

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram 

Facebook was the biggest story of the early 2000s after hitting the market in 2004. Instagram was founded at the beginning of the 2010s by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and thus the age of the social media influencer was born. Businesses and brands now have the opportunity to harness their creative power and make money from the new mobile-attention economy. Facebook saw the potential and bought Instagram in 2012 – to the tune of 1 billion dollars – making it Facebook’s largest acquisition thus far.  

John and Patrick Collison, Stripe 

These college drop-outs from Ireland converted seven lines of code into a fierce competitor to Paypal, a company that was already ten years ahead of them. Their visionary leadership created a huge break in the ongoing-payments business space, thanks to their design for an easy way for anyone – and any business, however big or small – to connect their website to a payment processor. Today, Stripe is ubiquitous, and the company has remained private with a valuation of $35 billion dollars – positioning it ahead of even AirBnb. Talk about a powerful decade for the college drop-outs!  

Leadership and You

When it comes to big business moves that lead to ground-breaking success, it’s easy to find the success stories. Figuring out why they made it to the top when others fell behind is up to us. What characteristics stand out the most: Vision? Risk? Leadership? 

Leaders can come from the humblest beginnings or the most educated schools – what matters most is the fundamental aspect: navigating the waters between your vision and your goal. There might be some choppy waters, but leaders that last typically need 20 years of hard work and dedication to their goals to navigate the waters successfully. 

If you’re looking for leadership guidance, you can find it at Evil Genius Leadership Consultants. We focus on the particular leadership challenges you face on your team and develop solutions to turn them into positive outcomes. We develop your professional skills to become a great communicator and influencer at your workplace and beyond. You can learn more about our coaching packages here. 

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