10 Worst Business Decisions Ever Made

Excite Passes on Google for $750,000
Pierre-Yves Paques, managing director for France for Excite Group ATT, posed in a 2000 picture -- a year after the company turned down an offer to buy Google. © Philippe Lesage/Elipsa/Sygma/Corbis

Physicists argue that time travel is impossible, but if you want to be transported instantly back to 1999, simply visit excite.com. This is what the Internet used to look like. Without an accurate search engine like Google, Web portals like AOL and Excite categorized the early Internet by subject and posted the day's news and weather. Incredibly, this is exactly what Excite is still doing.

Imagine, then, how different life would be for Excite — and for all of us — if Excite had bought Google back in 1999 for the bargain basement price of $750,000 [source: Siegler]. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin first offered to sell their fledgling search technology to Excite for $1 million, but dropped the price further when Excite showed no interest.

To Excite's credit, Google was just an unproven bundle of algorithms back in 1999, not the world-dominating technology goliath it is today. Still, to think that Excite could now be worth $361 billion, instead of sputtering along as a subsidiary of Ask.com, is fairly mind-blowing.