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These 8 Pivots by Startups Changed the World



These 8 Pivots by Startups Changed the World

These 8 Pivots by Startups Changed the World

How do successful companies get built? Is there a predetermined formula or ideal circumstances to get off on the right foot as an entrepreneur?

When it comes to the technology world, the truth is that the most successful companies come in all shapes and sizes. Once in a while, strategy and its execution go as planned – but more often than not, a company must change its entire basis to get its best shot at winning.

In the startup world, this is called a “pivot”. It’s a risky change of direction that could end up as a game-changing success or a resolute failure. Circumstances can change fast to prompt such a desperation move. With technological progress growing at an exponential rate, in many tech-focused businesses such pivots can even be the norm.

There are many reasons a company may shake up its strategy. Maybe the customer response isn’t what was expected, or perhaps intuition suggests that a product could be used another way with a few modifications. Sometimes a mentor or friend may have a different vision on how something can be used, and other times a competitor can apply pressure to an early-stage startup by offering a similar or better product.

I know something about pivots myself, as this website (Visual Capitalist) is the result of a few of them. We first started as a marketing consultancy, and then we gambled at the idea of using infographics to supplement the press releases of microcap public companies. Neither of those really were effective, but we still loved the idea of explaining the business and investment world with rich visuals – and eventually Visual Capitalist was born.

Similarly, many other companies that we cherish would not exist without these types of strategic pivots. Twitter, Paypal, Nintendo, and many others were born under completely different circumstances than we know them today. Nintendo built vacuum cleaners and made instant rice until they thought the video game industry could be an interesting market. Nokia, which in the late 2000s was one of the biggest mobile phone makers by market share, used to have a Finnish paper mill and manufacture rubber goods in its early stages.

Today’s infographic looks at eight of the startup pivots that have changed the world.

Original graphic by: WhoisHostingThis?

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Ranked: The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

In total, the 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion—nearly 18% of the stock market value globally.



A portion of the top 20 biggest tech companies visualized as bubbles sized by market cap with Apple as the biggest.

Ranked: The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The world’s 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion in total. To put this in perspective, this is nearly 18% of the stock market value globally.

This graphic shows which companies top the ranks, using data from

A Closer Look at The Top 20

Market capitalization (market cap) measures what a company is worth by taking the current share price and multiplying it by the number of shares outstanding. Here are the biggest tech companies according to their market cap on June 13, 2024.

RankCompanyCountry/RegionMarket Cap
13SamsungSouth Korea$379B
19PDD Holdings (owns Pinduoduo)China$212B

Note: PDD Holdings says its headquarters remain in Shanghai, China, and Ireland is used for legal registration for its overseas business.


Apple is the largest tech company at the moment, having competed with Microsoft for the top of the leaderboard for many years. The company saw its market cap soar after announcing its generative AI, Apple Intelligence. Analysts believe people will upgrade their devices over the next few years, since the new features are only available on the iPhone 15 Pro or newer.

Microsoft is in second place in the rankings, partly thanks to enthusiasm for its AI software which is already generating revenue. Rising profits also contributed to the company’s value. For the quarter ended March 31, 2024, Microsoft increased its net income by 20% compared to the same quarter last year.

Nvidia follows closely behind with the third-highest market cap, rising more than eight times higher compared to its value at the start of 2023. The company has recently announced higher profits, introduced a higher dividend, and reported that its next-generation GPU chip will start generating revenue later this year.

AI a Driver of the Biggest Tech Companies

It’s clear from the biggest tech companies that involvement in AI can contribute to investor confidence.

Among S&P 500 companies, AI has certainly become a focus topic. In fact, 199 companies cited the term “AI” during their first quarter earnings calls, the highest on record. The companies who mentioned AI the most were Meta (95 times), Nvidia (86 times), and Microsoft (74 times).

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