In 2014, Professor Matthew Jokers from the University of Washington analyzed the stories of 40 000 novels. As a result, he identified only six basic types of stories. In 2018, the employees of the Laboratory of computer stories (Computational Story Lab) of the University of Vermont explored the 1700 English novels and based on previous research determined the formula for each of the six plots.

“From rags to riches” — a gradual advancement.

“From riches to rags” tragedy, a gradual deterioration of the situation.

Icarus — the rise and fall.

Edip — fall, rise and again fall.

“Cinderella” — the rise, fall, rise.

“The man in the pit” — the fall and rise.

This classification is amenable to not only the novels but also real stories of technology companies. The level of drama the business compete with the most twisted plots of literature, and examples of the UPS and downs of the founders illustrate this.

Gradual improvement — the story of Oleg Tinkov

The story of “From rags to riches” resembles the path of Oleg Tinkov to launch “Tinkoff Bank”. His story is especially remarkable in comparison with other Russian IT-business: while Arkady Volozh, Eugene Kaspersky and David Yang systematically developed its digital products since the late 80s, Tinkov was doing offline business. His enterprise in the period from 1993 to 2004 were supplied to the Russian market electronics from Singapore, produce frozen foods, and beer was brewed.

In 1992 Tinkov founded the company, trading in electronics “Petrosib”, and five years later went out of business, selling shares to management for $7 million In 1998 launched the production of frozen semi-finished products “Daria,” which three years later sold to holding “Planeta Management” of Roman Abramovich and Andrew Bloch for $21 million Then he opened a beer restaurant “Tinkoff”, her eponymous brand of beer, and five years later, in 2003 he built his own brewery.

Selling beer brand concern Sun Interbrew for $200 million in 2005, in 2006, Tinkov bought “Himmelman” and created on its basis an online system “Tinkoff Bank”. He became the most high-tech project of a businessman and brought together all previous entrepreneurial experience and accumulated capital.

The plot of “From rags to riches” for example, Tinkov is the path from trade semi-finished products in the 90s to the creation of an online Bank without branches. By the end of 2017, the net profit of “Tinkoff Bank” amounted to 19 billion roubles by the end of 2018, he is among the top 30 Russian banks by total assets (383,6 billion). The Tinkoff Forbes estimated at $2.2 billion

Gradual deterioration — the history of the mobile business of Nokia

The type of story “From riches to rags” suitable for the destruction of the mobile business of Nokia Corporation. The tragedy resulted in the decision of the chief Executive officer Stephen Elopa: in 2011, he abandoned native for Nokia Symbian OS, and that was his fatal mistake.

In 2006, Nokia had reached the peak of its power. According to the research company ABI Research, the share of corporations in the mobile phone market was 56%. However, this period of dominance did not last long: already in 2007, Apple has exacerbated competition, presenting on the market the first iPhone. A year later, Google announced the launch of a competitor of Symbian OS — the mobile operating system Android, and Nokia in the smartphone market began to decline rapidly. The results of IV quarter 2010, the number of Android smartphones exceeded the number of Nokia Symbian: 33 million versus 31 million
In 2010, the share of Nokia in the global mobile phone market was still significant — 32%, but continued to decrease. In an attempt to reverse the course of events, Nokia has dismissed the head of the company Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, and in September 2011 he was appointed new CEO Stephen Elop, who joined from Microsoft. Four months later, he decided that eventually finished off the company: Elop announced the transition of Nokia’s mobile operating system Windows Phone instead of Symbian OS.

After that, the demand for mobile phones has accelerated and the gap has increased. In 2011, the share of Nokia in the smartphone market decreased to 23.4% in 2012 to 18% in 2013 to 3%. Then Vice-President of Nokia, Timo Ihamuotila acknowledged the failure of the company to meet the demand for the latest smartphone models.

In the same year Microsoft bought Nokia and all its patents for a mere $7 billion, Forbes named the amount of the transaction “shockingly low”. So the great and tragic history of Nokia was completed seven years of a gradual loss of competitiveness due to strategic mistakes.

The rise and fall — story of a startup Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes

Example story “Icarus” — startup Theranos, which has developed equipment for the rapid analysis of blood. In the period from 2003 to 2018, the founder of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes has gone from the title “Steve jobs in the skirt” to allegations of fraud, loss of 18.9 million shares and the risk of bankruptcy of the company.

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos when she was 19 years old. The rise of the startup was based on attracting increased investment to create a device that analyzes the patient’s health status on a few drops of blood. In 2006, Holmes drew on the development of the company’s $38.5 million, and over the next eight years, with another $445 million Then Elizabeth Holmes owned 50% of the company, which cost $9 billion in 30 years Holmes was in a $4.5 billion and was among the 400 richest Americans according to Forbes.

However, in 2015, the rise Theranos followed his fall. FDA — Management on sanitary inspection behind quality of foodstuff and medicines of the USA — initiated the certification of all developments Theranos. Prior to this, the company enjoyed the right to carry out inter-laboratory tests without special permission. In the result, the FDA has approved only one test, and all the rest of the development Theranos fell under the ban. A year later, the U.S. regulator of the quality of laboratory work CMS found five violations, which related to staff qualifications, equipment settings and quality tests.

In 2018, the Commission on securities and stock exchanges of the USA has accused Holmes in “a massive fraud” and ordered to pay a fine of $500 000 and forbidden to hold management positions for 10 years. At this point, the Holmes company has attracted more than $750 million, but never launched a full fledged product.

The allegations of the SEC were followed by a reduction of 80% of the staff in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy, and investors in the midst of a scandal demanded the return of about $1 billion After the U.S. Department of justice accused her of fraud, before Elizabeth Holmes loomed 20 years in prison. Now the businesswoman, who surrendered to the authorities, released on bail and is under investigation. So Ikar Theranos fell because of betrayed trust.

Fall, rise and again the fall — the story of Mark Karpeles, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Mt.Gox
The plot of “Oedipus” is the story of the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange Mt.Gox, which became briefly the largest platform for cryptocurrency trading. In 2013, long before the cryptocurrency boom, the exchange has experienced problems with safety, but the leadership of the Mt.Gox did not draw the right conclusions.

In 2010, entrepreneur jed McCaleb has launched a cryptocurrency exchange at Service was a streamlined online marketplace for trading card Board game Magic: The Gathering.

A year later, McCaleb sold his project to the French businessman Mark Karpeles, and then in the history of the project started the first crisis. In June of the same year, an unknown hacker hacked 478 accounts of clients and stole bitcoins worth $400 thousand Together with money from Mt.Gox leaked information about 61,000 accounts.

These problems have not deterred users: 70% of all transactions with bitcoin in January 2014 passed through Mt.Gox. Despite the rise in popularity, the level of security of clients ‘ funds still left much to be desired. By February 2014, the attackers stole from the accounts of users of Mt.Gox 750 000 bitcoins and another 100,000 bitcoins belonging to the exchange. In aggregate, this amount was equal to 7% of all the cryptocurrencies that have been in circulation. The bitcoin exchange rate at the time of the loss of Mt.Gox totaled $480 million
After that, mark Karpeles collected a press-conference on which declared bankruptcy Mt.Gox. A year later, police arrested the former owner of the exchange and charged with the theft of bitcoins. The History Of Mt.Gox is the story of the negligence of the business owner. Edip Karpeles has not learned its lesson from the first mistake, so the second was his last.

The rise, fall, rise — the story of Pavel Durov

The story of “Cinderella” in the technology business is reminiscent of the entrepreneurial path of Pavel Durov. Durov created the most popular Russian social network, scandalously withdrew from the shareholders, and now successfully develops the Telegram.

Durov founded Vkontakte in 2006: the social network, which began as a new stage of development of the student forum, St. Petersburg state University, the beginning of 2014 has risen to platform with 240 million users.

Since 2010, the holding Group gradually began to absorb the social network, during the year, increasing its share to 40%, despite the fact that the actor resisted the takeover. He believed that Group will turn his offspring into mediocrity. But partners founder Lev Leviev and Vyacheslav Mirilashvili thought otherwise and was prepared to sell the holding company owned 55.5% of social network for $1 billion, the film provoked a scandal by posting on Twitter a link to your photo with a raised middle finger and the caption: “the Official response to the trash-holding on his next attempt to absorb Vkontakte. So the founder of “Vkontakte” has blown the deal partners Group and escalated the situation to the limit.

In April 2013 Leviev and Mirilashvili found another buyer. They sold 48% of shares of “Vkontakte” the Fund UCP Ilya Sherbovich, who immediately began to exert pressure on Durov. Shcherbovich has accused the founder of the social network in the work on a competitive project Telegram and expressed his dissatisfaction with the launch of the mobile messenger without approval of the shareholders of “Vkontakte”. Then, in January 2014, Durov sold 11,99% of shares of the social network the head of “MegaFon” Ivan Taurino, and in April scandalously left the post of General Director of “Vkontakte”, stating that “the shareholders did not have the courage to do it right” and about his mysterious dismissal he learned from the press. In March Group acquired the shares of “Vkontakte” Tavrin, and in September — from UCP. The Corporation have absorbed the social network, despite the resistance of the founder.

Despite the release of “Vkontakte”, Durov continued successfully to develop Telegram and has attracted investments in the amount of $1.7 billion for the development of the messenger, the audience reached 200 million users. So in the history of culture is intertwined UPS and downs under the leadership of “Vkontakte”, a change of a new UPS and problems after the launch of the Telegram.

Fall and rise — the story of the Winklevoss brothers

The plot of “the Man in the pit” is the story of the Winklevoss brothers. Twins Tyler and Cameron guessed two of the global digital trend: in 2003, it was a social network, but after ten years of cryptocurrency. The first time they missed their billions, but in December 2017 all became billionaires by investing in bitcoin.

In November 2003, while studying at Harvard, Tyler and Cameron drew, Mark Zuckerberg, for revision of code student social network HarvardConnection in exchange for a stake in the future of the company. Zuckerberg accepted their offer, but instead of working with Winclose in February 2004 launched your startup After that, the twins accused the Facebook founder in the theft of intellectual property and have begun the lawsuit, which lasted four years. As a result, in 2008, the brothers had to settle for an amicable agreement, according to which Zuckerberg, then owning a fortune of $1.5 billion and paid them $65 million
In 2013 Winklevoss invested $11 million in bitcoin, bought about 100 000 coins. In December 2017, when the cost of bitcoin reached an historical high of $20 000, as the twins reached $2 billion despite a fall in the exchange rate of bitcoin for 2018, the amount of cryptocurrency which has acquired Winklevoss remains substantial. At the rate at the beginning of December 2018, 100 00 bitcoin was $350 million Drop at the origin of Facebook has not prevented Winklevosses to fly through investment in “cryptocurrency gold.”


Each literary plot sooner or later, comes the denouement. In this sense, the history of the businesses and their founders is much more versatile. The storyline brings together the entrepreneur and his child just in time, sooner or later, their paths diverge, and plots continue to develop independently from each other. The company can survive the founder, as the founder of his own company.

So Oleg Tinkov has survived three of his company and for more than 12 years developing “Tinkoff Bank”. Nokia lost the competition in the smartphone market, and its former CEO Steven Elop since then managed to come back once again to leave Microsoft. Theranos is still in the verge of bankruptcy, and Elizabeth Holmes is already looking for investment for a new startup. Exchange Mt.Gox is bankrupt, and mark Karpeles was released on bail and works as a technical Director of a VPN provider London Trust Media. “VKontakte” — the second most popular website on the Internet, although Durov for four years has nothing to do with social relationships and busy Telegram, and the Winklevoss brothers have missed Facebook, but successfully invested compensation of Zuckerberg to bitcoin and launched a cryptocurrency exchange Gemini.

Companies and their founders are choosing the path of development that seem to them the only true among all the other options. But, as experience shows, their fates are fairly predictable and develop one of the six scenarios. UPS in the end depend on the viability of ideas and entrepreneurial talent of the founder. But they still will not be enough, if not enough good luck.

See also

The money from the future. How to answer investors ‘ questions

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