companies will become irrelevant in less than 10 years

Ahmed Bousuwa
6 min readMar 1, 2024

It’s not the 1920s

Photo by Namroud Gorguis on Unsplash

The acceleration of technologies, innovations, and the introduction of new ideas have got me thinking.

All this is not happening out of thin air. Everyone talks about how fast new technology and development are rolling out. It’s not a sudden change nor magic.

What fuelled the acceleration of technology is the accumulation of success stories that have inspired many around the world.

Thanks to the connected world through the internet as infrastructure.

Also, thanks to online social media platforms, media, journalists, and creators who share with the globe.

Acceleration in technology brings about changes in needs, skills, and behaviours, creating new opportunities on top of it all.

All of these factors are sufficient to put companies behind.

Now, becoming irrelevant and outdated as a company can happen swiftly in 5 to 10 years’ time, whereas in the past, it might have taken up to 50 years to become outdated.

The notion that a tech company can become irrelevant in a few years hasn’t occurred to many technologists.

In the past, the acceleration in tech and development wasn’t as fast as it is now.

Because the spread of information and stories at the country and global scale was too slow or nonexistent.

So, stories weren’t shared to create motivation, inspiration, and the will to build better things.

The space for creating, building, and developing new ideas and companies was empty.

That’s why less competition created the large organizations that you see today.

Hundreds of years ago, I am not sure why the entrepreneurial gene was present in only a few people who saw opportunities, while most people were either focused on getting educated or finding a job.

This is a topic worth investigating. In contrast to the last hundred years, more and more companies are popping up.

Life Span of Companies

Since the revolution in information technology, the time it takes for a company to become outdated has shortened.

The average lifespan of a US S&P 500 company has fallen by 80% in the last 80 years (from 67 to 15 years).

And 76% of UK FTSE 100 companies have disappeared in the last 30 years.

In contrast, organizations in other sectors celebrate their 100th birthday. How do they do it?

In a five years study, Organizations who have been successful for 100 years or more. They do two things at the same time.

  1. First, they have a stable core, or an unchanging organizational purpose. As part of this, many of organizations that last 100 years seek to engage society, especially through reaching out to children. And they look for leaders who will last 10 years or more.
  2. The second step is to have a disruptive edge, which involves bringing in outside expertise and learning from other sectors. Balancing the radical and the traditional helps them stay on top, decade after decade

Source: HBR

What makes a company irrelevant

What turns good companies into outdated ones?

  • Faced with significant changes in their environment, they often fail to respond effectively.
  • Unable to defend themselves against competitors armed with new products, technologies, innovations, or strategies.
  • They don’t spot new trends and refuse to do things in a new way.
  • Traditional mindsets and skills are what keep companies from doing things differently.

From my observation, it now takes 5 to 10 years for a company to become outdated.

If a company doesn’t respond, adopt market changes, reinvent, and innovate, it won’t take three to five decades for it to become outdated and traditional.

Companies that are irrelevant or at the brink of becoming so struggle to appeal to a wide range of younger demographics.

It’s a fierce competition to stay afloat and relevant in your consumers’ perceptions.

Once you are perceived as outdated or out of style, you are done. It’s highly unlikely to regain popularity.

Facebook (Meta) is a 19-year-old company and is perceived as an old and outdated social network. If not, it would still be popular among young generations.

It has only changed its brand name for now, but there isn’t any reinvention or new ideas to it.

In contrast, Twitter has been reinvented under new ownership by X, introduced new features, and is still undergoing massive changes.

Google is a 25-year-old company. It’s on the brink of becoming outdated.

If it weren’t for OpenAI waking it up to introduce their AI, it would still be offering a conventional search engine.

It’s still under threat with the rise of OpenAI and xAI; they are still at the beginning.

Snapchat is a 12-year-old company. It is on the decline; the number of daily users fell for a second consecutive quarter to 186 million.

So is the case for Zynga, WeWork, HTC, etc.

It didn’t take 50 years for these companies to be irrelevant or reach perceptional irrelevance.

Factors speed up technology, introduce new ideas, and push companies to become outdated in the new era

You often hear people saying, ‘You can’t keep up with new technologies and concepts.’ Things don’t happen out of the void.

From my observations the following factors are accelerating technology and putting companies behind:

  • There is an ongoing global desire inspired by success stories of serial entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos. The list is long and not necessarily features entrepreneurs who have built global companies. Many around the globe want to build something, do something meaningful in their life, and bring about change. From my perspective, this is the main driving factor. What fuelled this desire is:
  • Global connectivity — the interconnectedness of the globe through the internet — facilitates the sharing and spreading of stories. It enables access to resources, markets, and talent, and facilitates the spread of entrepreneurial culture. This factor has paved the way for:
  • Societies have a growing need to innovate and make progress, striving to compete globally by addressing and enhancing people’s lives through new technology. What supported this factor is:
  • Access to venture capital and investment attracts investors and venture capitalists to new opportunities that have the potential for significant returns. Funding innovative startups and technologies drove growth in various industries,
  • In addition to the need for job creation, economic growth, and changes in consumer needs, rapid advancements in technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and biotechnology created new possibilities for entrepreneurs to capitalize on these emerging tech.

If companies aren’t aware or making an effort to reinvent and innovate, these factors are enough to put them behind within a short period — 5 to 10 years.

It’s not the 19th century, and to innovate, you need to source and hire the right skills and mindsets.

Back then, companies were relaxed and didn’t see a need to think differently, but they still took action when there was a new player.

And respond to new competition with their sweet time, because there aren’t that many.

Today, it’s a different game; you need to respond faster than a blink of an eye.

One thing I always say is that to carry on your legacy, you need to connect with the youngest generations of your time.

In the last 20 years, there has been a global and effective acceleration across many sectors and industries when compared to 100 years ago.

I came across a site that includes the oldest companies in the world. The oldest business is a company in Japan called Kongō Gumi, which has been in operation since 578.

check it out:

Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions or need help, please reach out.

Best, Ahmed Bousuwa


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1. Run a discovery process, finding opportunities and designing the blocks of solution. within any area: transformation, improvement, innovation, strategy, or product.

2. Guiding and advising you on a challenge you are working on.

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Ahmed Bousuwa

Design Strategist. Help companies & ventures with complex challenges. Setting direction for strategic initiatives & desired goals.