Can a Behemoth Company Reclaim its Underdog Status?

Everyone loves a good underdog story. In the tech world, we adore small startups that take on big David versus Goliath - chess imagecompanies and win. But what happens when a startup grows and starts to look a lot like its Goliath-like competitors? At some point, our perception of that company changes and we sometimes lose the love that we once felt for them.

When a big company starts to fall, the media and investors/industry analysts begin to examine what went wrong and criticize their leadership – as is the case with companies like RIM and AOL. In both instances, those businesses lost their entrepreneurial edge and didn’t innovate as quickly as their competitors – resulting in the loss of millions of customers to the competition. And down with those customers went AOL and RIM’s stock and media praise.

But sometimes those companies make a comeback and, in the case of AOL, they start to regain the media, analysts’ and investors’ love for them.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about whether AOL was making a comeback. Well, it seems that my assumptions might be right – and I’m not the only one to think so. Just last week, Mitch Joel commented on a recent Business Insider story which confirms that AOL’s stock and media love is on the upswing.

After years of changing strategies and trying on different CEOs for size (finding a fit with former Google Executive Tim Armstrong), AOL finally got its groove back. So, it seems that with time and the right vision, a behemoth company can reclaim its underdog status. I, like Mitch Joel and many others, am rooting for an AOL victory.

I also hope that in time RIM will make its way back onto the right track. But its future is still a little cloudy right now. Like AOL did in the past, RIM will likely shrink in employee size and re-think its direction in the years to come before growing again. So, let’s not lose all hope in the Canadian company just yet.

What do you think? Can former underdog companies be re-born? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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