I remember the day as if it was yesterday. The wounds are raw.
An engineer-cum-entrepreneur, I am renowned for my innovations- some audacious, a few dubious, but all momentous. But today, I will let you in one of my failures.
It is time for me to tell this story to the world.
At first, I overlooked the newcomer in my gigantic boutique- an open house for anyone willing to surrender to me. She was one in a crowd of thousands, and I had more money than time.
Green she was, but no greenhorn. She bewitched all with her beauty and brains- a seductive concoction.
Word of mouth spread. She became viral news, and Algos, my trusted lieutenant, brought her to my notice.
I realised her potential soon thereafter.
“Want to have more power?” I asked her.
“Join my larger empire to have direct access to clients. Entice them so much that they don’t think of anyone else when with you.”
She grabbed the opportunity with the whole of her lithesome figure. The more patrons she got, the more she revealed herself, ensuring they didn’t tire of her. It came to a point where those not in her books were considered losers in social circles.
Initially, I basked in her success by cross-selling my other offerings to her satisfied customers. But I realised I wasn’t the only one courting this beauty; she was also available in my competitor’s emporium.
“Well, you didn’t restrict me from going anywhere else,” she countered when I complained.
She was right. Missing the wood for the trees, I hadn’t insisted on an exclusivity clause. My first mistake.
I agonised over my foolishness for days. My second mistake. I should have acted fast to remedy my folly.
Then, I decided to marry her.
Was I in love? No. I wanted to keep her away from my rivals. Pure business.
So, I pinged her. “I want you to be mine. Marry me.”
The blue ticks appeared.
“I am already married,” she typed.
My world crashed, bringing down the global search traffic.
That blue-blooded new kid, six years younger than me!
I, Google, had catapulted WhatsApp from just another app to the default chat service of mankind. Only for Facebook to acquire it under my nose.
In the battle for the digital ecosystem, I had underestimated Facebook and focused all my competitive energies on Apple.
The third mistake of my life.
Novices no more, the two Davids had slain the Goliath.
“FB has asked me to continue my services on your Playstore and Android handsets,” WhatsApp continued. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
Talk about rubbing salt into the wound.
“Stay in touch,” she signed off.
I had no other choice. I needed WhatApp more than she needed me.
It is eight years since. Facebook is now a formidable rival, with WhatsApp a potent weapon in its arsenal.
You would be reading a different story now, but for the three mistakes of my life.
In one of the largest acquisitions amongst the new-gen digital companies, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a humungous $19 billion in 2014. There are many fascinating versions, all hearsay, about Google’s unsuccessful efforts to thwart this transaction and acquire WhatsApp, which had become among the selective few default apps available directly on Android handsets, instead of users having to download it from the Playstore.
As an MBA in the corporate world who has read and witnessed numerous case stories where established corporates ignore the new entrant in the market only to suffer the consequences, I have used my imagination to fictionalise a real-life corporate boardroom saga to convey quite a few things, one of them being the significance of being agile.
Aside, I read a recent post of Chetan Bhagat on his social media handle, which read-“Always keep on reinventing yourself. Try to be like an app coming up with regular updates and versions.” The concept of this story entered my head then, and I put in abeyance my almost finished other story towards this prompt. The title of this story is an acknowledgement and a tribute to one of my favourite authors.
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