How some of the world’s most successful companies survived great recessions


Whether it’s work or real life, happiness (and opportunity) is often a matter of perspective. In other words, embracing the challenge can help us rise to the occasion and achieve great things. And saying it’s just too hard can leave us trapped in the status quo. 

So to help you stay positive when the whole world seems to say otherwise, here’s a look at some inspiring companies and entrepreneurs that not only made it through the tough times but went on to become huge successes. 

Researchers at found 126 companies that didn’t let anything stand in the way of success, including the biggest economic recessions in history. American Airlines and utility provider FirstEnergy are two of today’s Fortune 500 companies that decided to launch during the Great Depression of 1929-33. 

And then we’ve got telecommunications giant CenturyLink. It began trading in 1930 after company founder William Clark set up a $500 switchboard in his living room. CenturyLink changed its name to Lumen in 2020 and now has 45,000 employees. Collectively, they generate over $20billion. Not a bad return from a $500 investment.  

Entrepreneurs Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia proved that every crisis presents an opportunity when they unveiled AirBnb in 2008. At the time, companies, banks, and consumers were tightening the purse-strings following a global credit crunch. 

Airbnb offered better prices. But, more importantly, it showed consumers and budding innovators that there was a new way of delivering services in an increasingly digitised marketplace.  

This detailed timeline highlights all the other major companies that survived and thrived during massive economic downturns.

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