Four Companies That Defied the Odds and Avoided Going Bankrupt

Four Companies That Defied the Odds and Avoided Going Bankrupt

The corporate world is quite similar to gambling. There are the odds of bankruptcy. There’s the chance of loss. But there’s also the chance of earning – and of course, you are supposed to earn more often in business. 

Like in gambling, where knowing about the NBA odds helps you choose the right team, corporate folks also need to know their own odds. Sometimes, though, the odds are just stacked too hard. These are 4 companies that went against that.


Apple’s rise from the ashes is quite the famous tale, and it can mostly be credited to Steve Jobs and the designer of the iconic 1998 iMac, Johnathan Ive. Back in 1997, the company hadn’t seen a successful product launch since two years before, in 1995. A series of expensive launches that failed miserably left the company on the brink of bankruptcy. 

Steve Jobs returned to the helm of the company once again, nearly thirteen years after his leave, and decided to revolutionize the company’s products. He restructured the company’s corporate organization, laying off over 3000 employees and discontinuing a majority of the company’s product lines.

Microsoft also lent the company its support with a $150 million investment in exchange for a Mac-updated version of Microsoft Office, and with some insanely successful launches of new products like the iPod and iPhone. Apple is now the world’s most valuable company with its revenue crossing the $300 billion threshold. 


FedEx’s story of how it managed to evade bankruptcy can be called nothing short of a divinely blessed event. The owner of FedEx, Fred Smith, started out his operations back in 1973 and his business quickly grew. At a glance, it could have immediately been considered a successful venture. 

However, this initial success was short-lived, as the company quickly found itself in millions of dollars of debt. Most of this could be attributed to the rising fuel costs. Soon, the company was only left with $5,000 of its $80 million in investments. Smith put in the $5,000 in a game of blackjack when he took a detour to Las Vegas – and surprisingly won $27,000.

He put that money, as well as another $11 million which he had raised, back into FedEx. By 1976, the company was already back on its feet and managed to make $75 million. At present, FedEx is one of the top US government contractors and raked in a revenue of nearly $84 billion last year.

Marvel Entertainment 

Like the larger-than-life tales that Marvel likes to bring to life, the company itself has had quite the tumultuous journey, too. After Stan Lee took over the company, it initially saw some commendable success in the comic book industry. However, the combined effect of the decline of the comic book industry in the 90s, as well as some previous failed attempts of Marvel trying to branch into the television and movie industries, left the company bankrupt in 1996. 

This wasn’t the company’s first stint with bankruptcy, either, and its comeback was just around the corner. Several corporate squabbles ensued as different people wanted to gain control over different chunks of the company. However, a few key people – including the likes of Isaac Perlmutter and Avi Arad – took over the company. 

They saw the potential Marvel’s superheroes had in the film industry, and with the creative direction of Kevin Feige, Iron Man came out. To nobody’s surprise, it was a smash hit. The company was then bought by Disney for $4 billion, and that was the birth of the Marvel cinematic universe as we know it now. 


IHOP’s pancakes are pretty famous, so the news that the company was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy came as quite a shock. It can be credited to the effects of the pandemic, because not only was the restaurant business tanking, but IHOP’s niche breakfast menu wasn’t really what the people wanted in that setting. 

IHOP’s franchisee CFRA Holdings filed for bankruptcy in May of 2021 and, after its sales dropped down by a whopping 33%, they were forced to close down 49 locations across the nation. However, the company started a rebranding campaign, expanding its menu to both lunch and dinner options and also including alcoholic beverages. 

This made IHOP the perfect stop for any meal, rather than just for breakfast. In turn, this reflected on the chain’s sales when they proceeded to go up by 120%. Right now, things look like they’re going on an upward trajectory for the chain with a new digital loyalty program coming up. 


If there’s anything that we can learn from these success stories, it’s that resilience and good planning pay off. Sure, you do need a healthy dose of luck. However, by making the right choices and having a visionary mindset, you can get through pretty much any business slump.