Haystar Biz Blog | How Old is Your Tech Company?

As a kid I dreamt of playing in the NFL. I was sure that if I worked hard enough I would get there. Thankfully, no one presented me with a predictive (dream limiting) data analysis of my genetic makeup at that early age. That NFL dream drove many hours of hard work, forged friendships, and resulted in some absolutely wonderful memories. Never made it remotely close to the NFL but dreaming big paid big personal dividends.

Odds of making the NFL are about 2% if you play high school football (odds are lower if you play in the high school marching band instead). Even if you’re talented enough and lucky enough to make it on an NFL team, your career span will likely only be about 3 years. On average, professional athletes don’t last long as professionals (NBA 4.8 yrs, NHL 5.5 yrs, MLB 5.6 yrs, MLS 3.2).

Given these statss, why do so many invest so much effort in persuing their athletic dreams? These crazy wannabe LeBron's, Brady's, Jeter's . . . But then again it’s not just aspiring athletes who work their tails off for the chance to make it big. It seems every worthy pursuit is filled (and defined) by people trying to make it big.

Take Silicon Valley—how many non-natives move from other states and other countries for the chance to make it big working for the next Apple? Google? Facebook? How many tech executives and professionals leave the relative security of working for big name tech players for the chance to help pilot smaller ships with new innovative ideas that will change the world? How many aspire to be the next Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Page, Brin, Zuckerberg, or Musk? Perhaps there's something universal in our DNA that drives us all to dream big! Or perhaps we all just want a little taste of the glory!

Every great start-up consists of one or (usually) more big dreamers who drive the innovative vision that propels the company towards succss. But like athletes, the odds are NOT ever in the favor for aspiring entrepreneurs. 10% of start-ups make it and those that do make it won’t necessarily make it big or last long. For example, this study on the shelf life of ad tech companies points out that they’re only lasting 6 years on average. Life spans of tech start-ups vary for a wide-range of reasons. It would make for a fascinating study to look at all the ins and outs of company life spans across the technology industry. (Perhaps this study is already out there but I didn’t find it.) Regardless of reason, pulling off long-term success as a tech company is tough.

This Yale study point out that corporate life spans are dropping generally; the average lifespan of an S&P company down to 15 years from the 50+ years level it was at in the 1960s. The drop is largely attributed the increasing rate of technical innovation. The impact of technical innovation on tech companies themselves is even greater. If you’ve been in the tech business long you know that tech companies come and go quickly. They are either beaten out or bought out.

Lifespans of Tech Companies

I researched the start dates of well known tech companies. I easily came up with a list tech companies started over the last ~25 years. Beyond this time range, coming up with currently relevent tech companies became more challenging (other than a few outstanding exceptions). Below I created a list of tech companies; see if you can match the company to year it was started. (See the bottom of this page for the assumptions used in putting together this list).

Match the Year with the Company

Match (drag and drop) the technology companies below with the year that company started.
On mobile devices, quiz works best when holding device horizontally (3 columns of years and companies).


That's a lot of companies over a lot of years. Great job in getting them right!
Suggestions for the list are welcome. Use form below.

More on the companies included in list above

Company start dates were pulled off websites such as Wikipedia, company websites, and lists gathered by others. I've not checked with companies themselves to validate dates. Sometimes the start dates reflect those of parent companies. Sometimes the current companies are transformations from the orginal company (for example, Super Mario Brothers have not been around for over a hundred years). A few of the companies listed have subsequently been bought by other companies; I left them on the list anyway because I thought they're contribution to the evolution of modern computing was significant enough or because I just wanted to. If you have corrections or updates or suggestions send them my way.

I stuck largely with companies that have name brand recognition in the United States. There are other large tech companies, in Asia for example, that I left off the list. I left off some big name tech companies that provide specialized (often B2B) software and services; and their names aren't widely known to the general population. Some well know tech companies were also left off the list because I chose to include other (perhaps more) well known tech companies started the same year.