Bill Gates, Ratan Tata, Jack Ma: Business Leaders Who Accepted Their Biggest Mistakes
Bill Gates recently said that his ‘greatest mistake ever’ — reportedly worth $400 billion — was to not create Android at Microsoft. A look at other regrets of businessmen.
(In pic from left: Bill Gates, Ratan Tata, Jack Ma)
In April 2018, Mark Zuckerberg told reporters that he made a ‘huge mistake’ in failing to take a broad enough view about Facebook’s responsibility to the world. This statement was also in the context of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data mining firm misused data to try and influence elections. In March 2018, Zuckerberg said that “one of the biggest mistakes” of Facebook was not digging deeper into the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Warren Buffett and his partners’ decision to take control of Berkshire Hathaway. In his letter to the shareholders, Buffett shared his biggest investment mistakes. He said that buying Berkshire was a “monumentally stupid decision” and that he had only bought the company because it was cheap. Buffett kept investing money in Berkshire’s textile mills, eventually shutting operations in 1985.
In July 2015, Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts and former head of Tata Sons, said his greatest mistake was branding of the Nano car as the cheapest instead of the ‘most affordable’, which was the intention of the company. Branding the car as the cheapest created a negative impact on the market, he said. “Success comes i f one took decisions that one thinks are the right ones,” Tata said.
In March 2018, Elon Musk participated in a Q&A at South by Southwest. While answering a variety of questions, the Tesla CEO said that the biggest career mistake he made was not being more involved with Tesla in its initial days. From 2004 to 2008, Musk was a lead investor in Tesla, but he was the CEO of SpaceX, a space exploration company. At the event, Musk said, “I think that was probably the biggest mistake of my career. Whenever you think you can have your cake and eat it too, you’re probably wrong.”
In April 2016, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder and CEO Jack Ma spoke at the 20th St Petersburg International Economic Forum. At the event, Ma reportedly said, “My biggest mistake was I made Alibaba. I never thought that this thing would change my life. I was just trying to do a small business and grow that big [sic], take that much responsibility and got so much trouble. Every day is like as busy as a president, and I don’t have any power. And then I don’t have my life.” In January 2018, Alibaba became the second Asian company to break the $500-billion valuation mark.