Famous Companies Founded During an Economic Recession

Posted by on April 16, 2009 in Business News, Uncategorized [ 1 Comment ]

In a recent speech that addressed national concerns with the recent AIG bonuses scandal, President Obama urged Americans not to blame people’s fundamental desire for profits for the collapse of the U.S. economy, as it is this entrepreneurial (and oftentimes essentially opportunistic) drive that will motivate people to create new industries and business models that will lift the nation out of its current recession.

Contrary to many people’s belief, a recession is just as good a time as any to launch a successful new business. All that is required is that businesses find a way to cater to the needs of consumers. Recent history is filled with examples of companies that were founded during economic recessions and have gone on to become some of the biggest brand names today. Here are a few examples of companies that got their start during some of the harshest economic climates.

Hyatt Corp.

One of the largest international hotel chains in the world today, Hyatt opened its first hotel right next to the Los Angeles International Airport during the Eisenhower recession, which lasted from 1957 to 1958. There are now more than 365 Hyatt hotels in 25 different countries, offering top quality services.

General Electric

One of the oldest and most established corporate giants in America, GE was founded during the financial panic of 1873, which went on to become a full-on recession lasting six years. GE began with the invention of the first incandescent light bulb by American inventor Thomas Edison. GE ranks as the worlds tenth largest company today.

IHOP Corp.

The famous IHOP national restaurant chain first opened its doors to the public in Toluca Lake, California in July of 1958, during the Eisenhower recession. The company began franchising three years later, and today it boasts over 1,300 locations nationwide.


HP is one the biggest computer software and hardware manufacturers in the world. In 2007 it became the first tech company to exceed $100 billion in revenue, earning $104 billion. But HP, founded by William Hewlett and David Packard, started off as an electronics company run from a garage in Palo Alto, California at the end of the Great Depression. Its two founders formalized their partnership in 1939. Their original investment: $538.

Fortune Magazine

Fortune Magazine was founded by Time-cofounder Henry Booth Luce in February of 1930, only four months after Wall Street crashed and marked the beginning of the Great Depression.

Burger King

The famous fast food chain first opened in Miami, Florida in 1954. During the Eisenhower recession of 1957, its founders, James McLamore and David Edgerton, introduced Burger King’s signature Whopper burger. Today, the company has 11,000 locations in 65 countries.

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft began in 1975. Its founder, Bill Gates, was a Harvard University dropout. His little company was located in Albuquerque, N.M. and it worked with rudimentary computing languages. Microsoft began its climb during the recessions of the early 80s with the introduction of its MS-DOS. Today, Microsoft is an international company that offers a huge range of computer products and services and boasts an estimated $60 billion in annual revenue.

Revlon Cosmetics

Started in 1932, with the Great Depression in full swing, Revlon went on to become one of the most recognized names in cosmetics today. Its founders, Charles and Joseph Revson and chemist Charles Lachman, pooled their resources to develop a new kind of opaque nail enamel. In the course of the next six years, Revlon became a multimillion dollar company.

Trader Joe’s

Another Eisenhower recession era company, Trader Joe’s began in 1958 as a chain of local convenience stores called Pronto Markets. In 1967, the company changed its name to Trader Joe’s. Today, it operates over 280 stores nationwide, and offers exclusive products under its own name brand.

Cable News Network (CNN)

Ted Turner founded CNN during the 1980s recession. It offered the first 24-hour news channel. Today, around 1.5 million people around the world tune in to watch CNN.

Sports Illustrated

The famous sports magazine was founded in 1954, at the tail end of the economic recession. It turned out to be an ideal time for Sports Illustrated’s launching, as it preceded a sudden boom in professional sports. The company now sells about 3 million copies of its magazine each week.

Clif Bar

The Clif Bar, a famous energy bar in the U.S., was created in the middle of the early 90s recession. Its founder, Gary Erickson got the idea for the product when he decided, during a 175 mile bike ride, that he could no longer stand the poor-tasting energy bar he was carrying with him. The Clif Bar is a tasty and environmentally friendly energy bar.

The Jim Henson Company

Famous for its puppet characters, the Jim Henson Company was founded by puppeteer Jim Henson in 1958. Today, the company is managed by Henson’s children and it continues to create popular kid-friendly television shows and films.

MTV Networks

MTV first aired during the economic recession in 1981. It showed only music videos that were hosted by various “video jockeys”. MTV went on to become one of the biggest pop culture influences throughout the world.

FedEx Corporation

FedEx was founded by Frederick W. Smith in April 1973 as Federal Express. Today, FedEx manages over 7.5 million shipments a day from all over the world.


A computerized legal research service, LexisNexis lunched during the 1973 oil crisis, which led the U.S. into a severe recession. Since then LexisNexis has grown to be used in 100 countries by members of law, government, business and educational institutions.

For more information on this topic, visit a similar article on Fastupfront.com.

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