Below you'll find information on ten businesses from a variety of
industries, each of which took several years to become profitable.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's publishing efforts in the United States
began in 1973, and did not turn a profit until 1983:
"Starting out as a newspaper publisher in his native Australia, Rupert
Murdoch (born 1931) became a powerful media entrepreneur with wide
holdings in England and the United States...
Murdoch expanded into the American market in 1973 when he acquired the
San Antonio (Texas) Express and News. In early 1974 he started the
weekly tabloid the National Star (later renamed Star) to compete with
the popular Enquirer... In his quest for a big-city audience, Murdoch
surprised the publishing world in 1976 when he bought the New York
Post, a highly regarded liberal paper...
Murdoch's newspaper style, though, did not fare as well in the United
States as in Britain. The New York Post was a steady financial drain
despite its increased circulation. Murdoch's formula did not attract
advertisers. Collectively, led by the more subdued Star, Murdoch's
American papers did not show a profit until 1983."
BookRags: Biography of Rupert Murdoch
The cable sports network ESPN began in 1979, and did not turn a profit until 1985:
"ESPN began in 1979, and did not turn a profit until 1985 due to more
cable viewers and the desire on the part of the advertisers to reach
University of Washington - Waukesha: Sport and the Mass Media
"ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen... founded the company in 1979, but by
the end of 1980 had stepped down from a decision-making role in the
company and left as a member of the board of directors in 1981.
At that point, ESPN was still losing money. It didn't make a profit
until the mid-1980s."
Cached copy from Naples Daily News
The magazine "Sports Illustrated" was first published in 1953, and
remained unprofitable until 1964:
"Selected by Henry Luce to head the sports magazine, [Sidney] James
shielded the publication, titled 'Project X' upon its launch in 1953,
from critics who contended that it could not attract a viable audience
and would serve only to drain the considerable resources of media
giant Time Inc.
The magazine did not turn a profit until 1964, and by then James had
become publisher. Now in its 50th year and with a circulation of 3.15
million, Sports Illustrated is considered a powerhouse of American
Cached copy from Newsday
Turner Broadcasting System began in 1979, and did not turn a profit until 1991:
"After changing the company's name to Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
in 1979, [Ted] Turner got to work on creating the world's first
all-news network -- Cable News Network (CNN). It premiered on June 1,
1980, with 1.7 million subscribers.
At the time, few thought Turner could draw enough viewers to support
the new all-news channel. But just two years later, the company
launched Headline News, with updated newscasts every 30 minutes, as
Turner had been making waves in Atlanta for many years, but in 1985,
he topped his usual bravado by making a bid to take over CBS. When
that deal fell through, Turner bounced back a week later by announcing
a $1.5 billion friendly merger with MGM Entertainment Co., though it
would take him a while to come up with the cash for the deal.
Turner would later cash in on MGM's film vaults by running the movies
on several new cable channels.
The MGM merger, however, put financial strain on Turner Broadcasting.
The company wouldn't record an annual net profit until 1991."
BizJournals: Ted Turner's legacy
The robot manufacturer Unimation was founded in 1956, and did not make
a profit until 1975:
"In 1956 [George C.] Devol met Joseph F. Engelberger, a young engineer
in the aerospace industry. With others, they set up the world's first
robot company, Unimation, Inc., and built their first machine in 1958.
Their initiative was a great deal ahead of its time; according to
Engelberger, Unimation did not show a profit until 1975."
Ibotz: A Brief History of Robots
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus took 20 years to turn a profit:
"The cost of entering the large jet transport market and competing
against established American manufacturers (who received indirect
research & development subsidies as USAF, NASA contractors) was so
high, Airbus did not make a profit until 1990 -- 20 years after the
project was started. By this time, the company had surpassed
McDonnell-Douglas as the world's second largest civil aircraft
Space Policy Digest: Financial/Management Options for Large Space
The World Trade center did not turn a profit until it was 20 years old:
"The taller the building, the more floor space is lost to columns and
support structures and to elevator banks, so the less the rentable
space. As such, the project was always expected to be of marginal
profitability. In fact, the World Trade Center did not turn a profit
until twenty years after it was built."
The Ethical Spectacle: Huge
Office supplies giant OfficeMax started in 1988, and first turned a profit in 1994:
"OfficeMax was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988 and was initially
financed by individuals and private venture capitalists. The company
originally targeted small businesses. By 1990, 90% was purchased by
Kmart. Kmart was a large financial backer and let the business
implement it?s own strategy. Sales grew at a rate 141% from 1990
through 1993. During this time they purchased 96 BizMart superstores.
In 1994 they had 345 stores and over $1.4 billion dollars in Sales.
The company did not see a profit until 1994."
Free College Essays: Case Analysis of Office Max's Merger
The search engine Ask Jeeves, founded in 1996, made its first profit in 2003:
"Ask Jeeves, whose name is inspired by a butler in the books of
English novelist P.G. Wodehouse, was founded in 1996 by David Warthen,
the company's current chief technology officer, and Garrett Gruener, a
venture capitalist. The Web site, which encouraged users to type in
questions rather than simply entering keywords as was the norm, went
live a year later...
In 2003, Ask Jeeves earned a profit of $24.8 million on $107.3 million
San Francisco Chronicle: Ask Jeeves searches for profits, gets results
"Internet search engine Ask Jeeves has announced its first ever annual
profit. The US firm made a global operating profit of $22m (£12m) in
2003, compared to a loss of $5.4m in 2002."
BBC News: Ask Jeeves makes its first profit
The Internet survey firm Greenfield Online was founded in 1994, and
first made a profit in 2004:
"When was Greenfield Online founded?
The company was founded in 1994."
Greenfield Online Investor Relations
"But you know the market is getting frothy when Internet survey firm
Greenfield Online Inc. can raise $52 million from public investors, as
it did last week. The Wilton, Conn., firm eked out its first profit
last year -- $1.6 million on sales of $25.8 million. Greenfield
accumulated a deficit of $72 million over the past three years, yet
managed to pay its chief executive $666,667 last year. How 1999ish is
Washington Post: For Good or Ill, IPO Market Has Heated Up
Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: "did not * a profit until"
Google Web Search: "its first profit"
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